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Zac Carr

Zac Carr

"It got dark. I took my pot and went to get water but had to scramble through so much underbrush that when I got back to my camp most of the water had splashed out. I mixed it in my new plastic shaker with orange-juice concentrate and shook up an ice-cold orange, then I spread nutted cream cheese on the whole-wheat bread and ate content. "Tonight," I thought, "I sleep tight and long and pray under the stars for the Lord to bring me to Buddhahood after my Buddhawork is done, amen." And as it was Christmas, I added "Lord bless you all and merry tender Christmas on all your rooftops and I hope angels squat there the night of the big rich real Star, amen." And then I thought, later, lying on my bag smoking, "Everything is possible. I am God, I am Buddha, I am imperfect Ray Smith, all at the same time, I am empty space, I am all things. I have all the time in the world from life to life to do what is to do, to do what is done, to do the timeless doing, infinitely perfect within, why cry, why worry, perfect like mind essence and the minds of banana peels" I added laughing remembering my poetic Zen Lunatic Dharma Bum friends of San Francisco whom I was beginning to miss now. And I added a little prayer for Rosie."

Zac Carr is an actor, improviser, musical comedian, and arts educator in the Austin community, collaborating with many groups since 2011. When he's not performing in the meta-comedy musical duo SNACKS, or singing kids' songs with his band The Other Other Brothers, he's working with a wide range of the incredible talent present in the city's theatre community, from an outdoor production of "Henry V" in Round Rock, to a Hidden Room in a masonic temple performing the lamentable tragedy of "Arden of Faversham", to the ensemble-based production of "We Are Proud to Present a Presentation..." at Hyde Park Theater. He can't wait to get back onstage, but he kind of has to.


Rachel Dennis

"It is a great privilege to be conscious in this universe. Those who understand, shine like stars."

-Robert Anton Wilson

I vividly dream of a world full of creative richness, endless possibilities, and new depths of love. My art visualizes the mysterious and magical aspects of consciousness and identity as a means of cultivating new and exciting realities. I believe that art is humanity's tool for unifying our inner and outer worlds. My work is an interdisciplinary exploration that utilizes illustration, deep listening, dreamwork, ceremony, and experimentations in consciousness.

I'm committed to learning how to better weave my personal artistic and wellness goals into a larger social and environmental tapestry. I began this journey as a former mentee recipient of the Austin Emerging Arts Leaders mentorship program. I now am beyond grateful to have the opportunity to serve for my third year on this board and to support the development and growth of its wonderful programming alongside the exceptional humans involved.

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Jess Griggs

"And now you say I changed Like I'm doing all of this to stay the same" 

Anderson Paak & Knxwledge "Starlite"

Jess Griggs is currently the Director of Community and Music Engagement at Austin Classical Guitar where she helps with project management, community partnerships, and day-to-day administrative tasks. Jess’s introduction into music was the trombone, but over the past few years she has branched out into many other facets of the music industry. Past experience includes symphony operations, music journalism, radio, and recording technology.

Mitch Harris

Mitch Harris

"To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty, to find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mitch believes in amplifying the stories of his communities as a tool for positive change. In his role as Story Wrangler Program Director at the Paramount Theatre, he teaches creative writing and performance to elementary school students and performs those stories in a life, musical, confetti-filled live show. In his volunteer roles for Austin and the Austin EAL board, he aims to lift up the stories of multidisciplinary creative professionals and share their new work..

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Lucas Loredo

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.” -Roald Dahl

Lucas Loredo is a writer from Austin, Texas, whose work has appeared in Texas Highways, The Oxford American, The Masters Review, and others and has been featured in Best American Short Stories and Best American Travel Writing. He is a graduate of Stanford University and the Michener Center for Writers. His super power is understanding people's feelings, and he works his hardest to make sure people feel seen, heard, and loved.


Kate Murray

"The destiny of the world is determined less by the battles that are lost and won than by the stories it loves and believes in."

- Harold Clarke Goddard


As Founder of Unfine Arts, Kate currently supports the important work of multiple non-profits, small businesses, and individual artists, helping them solve problems and achieve more through the application of design and systems thinking. In particular, she currently serves Texas Folklife in Grants Coordination and Project Management roles. She has spent the past six years working in the non-profit and arts realms. Most recently she served as the Managing Director of local non-profit Golden Hornet, working alongside composer-bandleader Graham Reynolds as Artistic Director and wearing at least seven hats at any given moment, from graphic design and donor database optimization to facilitating meetings with young composers and producing full-scale performances at the historic Bellas Artes in Mexico City.


Between June 2016 and March 2017, she lived on two wheels, riding a motorcycle from Alaska to Antarctica. Along the way, she visited with educators, artists, makers, and storytellers of all kinds. She is invigorated by all forms of learning and collaboration, and is particularly driven by efforts focused on equity and social justice. She has helped facilitate lessons in podcasting techniques and explorations of folklore with local students and community members, as well as spent time teaching (and learning from) 8 to 12 year olds in a maker space at Thinkery. Alongside inspiring kids and colleagues, she tinkered with circuits, sewing machines, soldering irons, storytelling, and more...


Between 2011 and 2015, Kate spent time studying, living, and working in Uganda and Rwanda, exploring critiques of the aid industry and gaining a new worldview. It was in sharing dinner with her homestay families every night that she began her education in Anti-Racism, particularly in deconstructing her own white savior complex, which remains an ongoing effort. Along the way, she has become passionate about humanizing global interactions and connecting narratives back to the voices of their subjects -- whether that is conveyed as an educator, through written word, in a podcast or broadcast, as an archivist, or through interactive art and engaging spaces. Most importantly, human interaction is Kate's favorite artistic medium.


She excels at turning visions into actionable timelines, thrives on creating administrative processes for optimum performance, and works hard to ensure that all members of a team feel not only heard, but valued. With Austin Emerging Arts Leaders, she helped to establish the [Working Title] monthly series, and continues to curate and facilitate series alongside Rachel Dennis and other members. She also lends to the organizations strategic vision and sustainability through her role as Board Chair and Treasurer, though she believes in a more cooperative and flattened power structure than Board structures traditionally enforce. 

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Kalyn Saylor

"Sorprenditi: Surprise Yourself"

Kalyn is inspired by initiatives that position the arts and cultural leaders for meaningful societal change. Her first job in the arts was during a year-of-service with AmeriCorps where she worked to alleviate poverty through arts education serving with LEAF Community Arts in Asheville, NC. She also supported the Association of Performing Arts Professionals, a national service and advocacy organization in Washington DC, for four years managing conference programming, professional development and grant initiatives.


Kalyn managed educational workshops for Art With Impact, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing conversations surrounding mental health using short film, theater and poetry. Recently, she accepted the position of Graduate Coordinator for the new School of Design and Creative Technologies at the University of Texas at Austin.


Before setting down roots in Austin, Kalyn spent a year-and-a-half traveling the country full-time and working remotely as an independent consultant. She graduated cum laude from Virginia Tech earning her B.A. in Art History and Public Relations. She also received her M.A. in Arts Management along with a certificate in Special Events and Festivals from George Mason University. She has volunteered with the International Child Art Foundation, SOHO - Creative Mentoring, Fusebox Festival, and other organizations working to positively impact perspectives and communities through the arts.

Ciyadh Wells

Ciyadh Wells

"Friendship is magic"

Ciyadh Wells is a multifaceted musician who prides herself in not only being an artist but also an activist, and a scholar. As a scholar and educator, Wells believes everyone deserves access to diverse and inclusive art, which she advocates as being essential to society. Ciyadh’s mission is to utilize the impact of music old and new, to manifest moments of meaningful change and to inspire community therein. She is the Artistic & Executive Director of Margins Guitar Collective and she is a former member of the Sphinx LEAD program. Ciyadh is one half of guitar duo, Duo Charango, and lives in Austin, Texas where she works at Austin Classical Guitar.



The Austin EAL believes in building a collaborative community and values the diversity we all bring to the table. We commit ourselves to creating an inclusive community, and see this as central to our mission of cultivating the next generation of arts leaders. We are proud to support diversity in our community.

Austin EAL will not practice or permit any unlawful discrimination on the basis of sex or gender, age, race, color, national or ethnic origin, religion or religious creed, physical handicap or disability, sexual orientation or gender-identity/expression, marital status, veteran’s status, political service or affiliation or any other basis prohibited by law.


Austin Emerging Arts Leaders began in 2012. After meeting at the Americans for the Arts National Convention in San Antonio, Sarah Rucker and Anne-Marie Mckaskle-Davis formed and facilitated the first gatherings, providing participants with a community in which to share experiences as early-career creative professionals, and a space to address challenges and fulfill needs through peer support. The very first membership meeting took place at Austin’s City Hall in August 2012, in conjunction with the People’s Gallery Artist Talk.

Official status as Texas’ first Americans for the Arts chapter followed shortly thereafter (Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston were quick to follow suit). The Board of Directors structure was formalized in 2013, and facilitated events and activities began to grow out of the community of members and volunteers, including quarterly panel discussions, scholarships for emerging artists, and networking events. A general partnership was established in 2015 to further formalize operations, with Austin Creative Alliance serving as Austin Emerging Arts Leaders’ fiscal sponsor.

 More recently, the board has shifted to focusing on diversity and inclusivity in the creative sector of Austin. The New Philanthropists Board Inclusion Assessment resulted in candid conversations and a task to be more inclusive moving forward.


Towards the end of 2018, following the successful establishment of the EAL Mentorship program, the last of the original founding members moved on to their own personal endeavors and the organization saw an influx of new board leadership. The board shifted from a membership-based model to that of a non-profit that focused on mentorship, scholarship, and workshop opportunities for the Austin region and beyond. 

Over the course of 2019, due in particular to the contributions of Skyla Lowery and Heather Arnos, the original goal to become of 501(c)3 finally came into the picture. As of January 2020, we are an IRS designated non-profit with the mission of cultivating the next generation of arts leaders by developing inclusive systems for creative and personal growth.

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