Our Staff | Harwood Art Center

Our staff

Our staff is responsible for the programming and daily operations of Harwood Art Center, the multifaceted community outreach program of Escuela del Sol Montessori. As a single organization, Harwood and Escuela share a Board of Trustees which facilitates the direction and philosophy of the organization. Harwood also looks to several advisory committees and to our fantastic volunteer corps for inspiration, input and support. We are particularly thankful to our facilities and maintenance team and our 75+ teaching artists and apprentices for their invaluable contributions to our programs.

Friedje vanGils

Executive Director and Head of School
The driving force behind Friedje's work with Escuela del Sol and Harwood Art Center is her passion for creating supportive and collaborative environments that provide access to both academia and the arts. Friedje has directed the organization for 30 years, taking the Montessori school from a small one-room preschool to one of Albuquerque’s preeminent early childhood and elementary schools, and making possible the creation of what has become our city’s leading arts organization, Harwood Art Center.

Julia Mandeville

Chief Programs Officer
Julia came to our organization with over a decade of professional experience in arts and humanities, program building and community organizing. In her role at Escuela, Julia manages projects, planning initiatives, Harwood's team and program portfolio. She collaborates with our constellation of artists, educators and administrators to engage the arts as a catalyst for positive change and build a more vibrant community. Julia's work is rooted in cultivating and curating artistic, exhibition and professional development opportunities in New Mexico, as well as in coordinating platforms that allow artists of all ages chances for reciprocal enrichment of and connection with our city.

GuruAmrit Khalsa

Director of Operations
GuruAmrit has a background in Art History and Business Administration with experience working with galleries, museums and art centers in New Mexico and Texas. Her job at Harwood includes co-curating Harwood’s two galleries and annual exhibitions, as well as co-coordinating Emerging Artists, Harvest CSA, Summer Art Camp, and 12x12. Her responsibilities also include graphic design, bookkeeping, database management, oversight of 45 on-site artist studios as well as general administrative and staff support.

Jennifer DePaolo

Associate Director of Community Outreach 

Jen DePaolo is the Associate Director of Community Outreach at the Harwood Art Center. Her work at Harwood involves grant research, writing and administration and overseeing and integrating Harwood's outreach programs across our events, program development, and community networking. She curates community arts exhibitions including an exhibition of work by youth in our Creative Roots Outreach Program at12x12 and Encompass. In addition to her work at Harwood, Jen is a nationally exhibited studio artist and community organizer. She and Ebony Booth co-founded Burque Noir, a mulit-media showcase for visual and performing African American artists in Albuquerque. Jen leads the What Becomes project, which won a Fulcrum Fund from 516 Arts and the Andy Warhol Foundation. She partners with Edible NM Magazine owner Stephanie Cameron on Gathered: Pop-up Celebrations of Art and Food. Jennifer’s writing has been published in the international journal, Ceramics, Art and Perception and Ceramics Monthly.

Staci Drangmeister

Programs & Operations Coordinator
Staci is a visual artist, arts educator, and arts administrator. She first began her work with Harwood in 2009 as an apprentice in the Mayor's Art Institute, and she has been involved in the Harwood community ever since. Staci is an Albuquerque native and holds a BA in Art Studio from UNM. Her roles at Harwood include co-managing and serving as registrar of Art Camp, overseeing our on-site artist studios, bookkeeping, communications and social media management, co-curating Harwood’s galleries and exhibtions program and general administrative and staff support.

Becky Weishampel

Community Relations Coordinator
Becky is excited to utilize nearly a decade of office administrative experience with her BFA earned at Tyler School of Art of Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.  Soon after relocating to New Mexico, she volunteered at two Harwood events and fell in love with how our establishment connects with the community.  Becky is an artist whose most rewarding projects have included working on a mural at a child guidance center, and donating pet portraits to an animal shelter to help increase visibility for dogs and cats up for adoption.  She is inspired by her new South Western environment, and has created a series of mixed media collage and watercolor landscapes among other art series.  In her role at Escuela and Harwood, she will manage visitors' first impressions and our volunteer program, organize donor and member relations, and co-coordinate special events.

Dani Belvin 

Programs & Education Coordinator
Dani is a New Mexican theatre artist, educator, and arts administrator who is driven by the desire to make a positive impact in Albuquerque through spreading her lifelong love of learning and art. She holds an M.F.A. in Theatre (Asian Performance) from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and a B.A. in Theatre Education and Asian Studies from the University of New Mexico. Before that she studied Early Childhood Education at CNM. As an educator, she has worked with students of all ages in New Mexico, Hawai’i, Japan, and China which has instilled in her the joy of using the diversity of human experience as an education resource in creating curriculum and teaching. As a performer, she has studied 12 different Asian theatre/dance forms (from Japan, Bali, West Sumatra, India, Thailand, and the Philippines), and is particularly interested in dance, puppetry, devised theatre, new works, and theatre for educational and social change. Her other artistic interests include fiber art, knitting, cross-stitch, and multimedia collage. In addition to her work at Harwood, she also teaches theatre at CNM, is part of the artistic core at Blackout Theatre, and runs the small urban farm, Solarpunk Farm, with her husband.

Florian Herrmann

Outreach & Education Intern
Florian Herrmann was born in Hannover, Germany in 1999. He grew up in an
artistic household where his older sister had a strong impact on his creative development by serving as inspiration and motivation. Florian has played the drums since the age of 7 and participated in various bands and ensembles. His practiced art forms include small-scale woodcarvings and painting in watercolors. After graduating from high school in Germany in the summer of 2018, he joined the Service Adventure Program with Albuquerque Mennonite Church. As part of his service, Florian will volunteer at Harwood Art Center as the Outreach and Education Intern for the 2018/19 school year. His responsibilities include: preparing art materials and teaching environments, working as a teaching assistant, providing customer support, supporting Escuela programs, maintaining student attendance, assisting in the collection and preparation of student artwork for exhibition, assisting in the installation of the Creative Roots exhibit at Encompass and providing general program and organizational support. After his service Florian will return to Germany to attend at University.

Arts Education Lead Staff

Our Arts Education and Community Outreach Programs would not be possible without the lead staff members that work in their respective programs.  In addition to these lead staff members, there are numerous program support staff that makes Harwood’s programming possible.

Helen Atkins

Creative Roots Program Assistant
Helen Atkins is an emerging artist from New Mexico. She is graduating from UNM in 2016 with her Bachelor’s in Studio Arts with minors in Arts Management and English Composition. In her position at Harwood, Helen is the Creative Roots Program Assistant, helping run both the Wells Park workshops and both branches of Youth Mural Project. Outside of Harwood, Helen is a lead apprentice at the Mayor’s Art Institute where she has worked since 2012. She is also the Director of the ASUMN Arts and Crafts Studio.

Shardae LeDouix

Lead Guide, Summer Art Camp
Shardae LeDouix is from Santa Fe, New Mexico and transitioned to the city of Albuquerque in 2008. Shardae graduated from the University of New Mexico, where she received her bachelors degree in Family Studies and Psychology. Shardae has been with Escuela del Sol Montessori since 2011, and currently works with the primary children.  Shardae is also the Lead Guide for the Harwood Summer Art Camp, overseeing all the camp Guides and serving as a liaison between Harwood and camp staff.

Adelina Cruz

Teaching Artist, Youth Mural Project
Adelina Cruz is an emerging local community oriented visual artist who works primarily with painting, drawing and graphic design. Adelina’s work explores themes of identity, gender expression, and culture. Adelina strongly believes that art can be utilized as a tool for activism, education, personal and community healing. Adelina has worked with various community and national organizations as a guest/teaching artist facilitating classes and art workshops focusing on self-expression, storytelling and social justice. Adelina has a great passion for creative expression, inspiring others and a strong sense of responsibility to give back to our community by working/mentoring youth through art.

Jordyn Bernicke

Supply Manager, Summer Art Camp
Jordyn Bernicke is a young artist currently finishing up her Bachelor’s degree of Fine Arts with a minor in Arts Management at the University of New Mexico. Though she is primarily a student, she is the Executive Director of a ceramic studio located on the University's campus and has her hands full from working on a few various projects that entail community effort. She has lead a number of different workshops around the city, these workshops entail community experience and the collaborative process. Her goal is to continue to provide therapy or self exploration with her community and those in need. She is overwhelmed with joy to be working with Harwood again as a Summer Art Camp teacher and the Supply Manager for Art Camp.


John Garrett
John Garrett


I seem to have known about Harwood Art Center since I moved to Albuquerque in 1996. I have always enjoyed seeing the exhibits there and visiting the studios when they are open to the public. I have taken a couple of classes there, and this last year I have taught a class there myself. This last spring I also had an exhibit of my wire sculptures and wall works at Harwood. I am pleased to contribute work which supports the work of the [Harwood] Art Center.

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