Our staff is responsible for the mission fulfillment, programs and 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 who guide our vision and philosophy. 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.
Our team is experienced in building dynamic programs that pivot to meet the changing needs of our communities. Each draws upon broad experience in art and social impact with deep understanding of the communities we serve. Our 5 core staff work closely to assess and integrate programs into multi-faceted service to youth and adults representative of Albuquerque’s rich diversity. We practice collaborative leadership amongst our staff honoring the unique wisdom of each. We celebrate whole-person development, integrating various experiences and viewpoints in an inclusive approach to program development.
Director of Outreach
Jen is a socially engaged artist and community organizer working toward a more just and loving world. Jen earned a Liberal Arts Degree in Art and Writing from Houghton College and later moved to Albuquerque to pursue her MFA at the University of New Mexico where she also studied race, class and gender in American culture. She participated in UNM’s Land Arts of the American West program as a Teaching Assistant and maintains a strong ecological focus in her work. Jen is a nationally exhibiting artist and published author with works appearing in Ceramics: Art and Perception, Ceramics Monthly, Pottery Illustrated, and Edible Magazine. Jen works with teams of artists, growers, chefs and activists toward experiential art events designed to strengthen and celebrate social networks.
In 2008, Jen held her MFA exhibition, Home Economics, at the Harwood Art Center where she currently serves as Director of Outreach. In this role, Jen develops and directs three branches of community outreach that engage youth and adults in hands-on learning and collaborative art making, including Harwood’s paid summer Apprenticeship in Art & Social Justice. Jen manages teams of apprentices, artists and a network of contractors, city officials and community partners toward the creation of community-driven public artworks. She builds strong coalitions to sustain these projects and foster greater economic and professional growth for students and apprentices. Jen develops and manages Harwood’s Grant program, writing, administering and accounting contracts and awards that sustain programs across the organization.
Arts Education Coordinator
Ruby Rodriguez is a dedicated professional with a diverse professional background which includes child care, retail buying, non-profit administration, event management, and program coordination. Ruby’s passion for creative expression is what has motivated her exploration and support for Albuquerque’s rich creative community. In addition to her work with Warehouse 508 by NMX Sports Ruby has also developed working relationships with a variety of local creators who inspire her own creative development as a seamstress and designer
Associate Director of Engagement
Jordyn is an artist born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. Holding a BA of Studio Art from the University of New Mexico with a minor in Arts Management, she is a ceramicist, painter, mosaic artist, and a mother who believes that art is a form of therapy and works to provide creative opportunities to those in need.
She is a co-founder of Plates Against Patriarchy, a female organized pottery project that celebrates the resilience of women and gives a voice to our patriarchal horror stories. She has led numerous public mosaic artworks around the city: including mosaics installed at the Albuquerque Convention Center, Juan Tabo Library, University of New Mexico, Martineztown and with UNM Hospital Children’s Cancer Center’s “Erin’s Place”. As the Associate Director of Engagement at the Harwood Art Center she co-coordinates the Galleries & Exhibition program, mangages over 30 artist studios, and designs and manages public communications.
She started at Harwood in 2013 in Harwood’s summer apprenticeship program, since then she has contributed to almost all of the programs Harwood offers: as a teaching artist for Creative Roots, Summer Art Camp and Art & Sol, as a studio artist, and as an exhibiting artist who showcased Plates Against Patriarchy for Harwood’s annual Art and Social Justice capstone event. She has even substituted for Harwood’s parent organization, Escuela Del Sol. Jordyn loves working with children and strives to collaborate with her community in any way that she can.
Service Adventure Volunteer
Ronja was born and raised in Germany. She is a high school graduate taking a gap year through Mennonite Mission Network’s program Service Adventure. She is volunteering for Harwood Art Center for this year. Ronja does art in the form of painting, folding paper cranes as well as crocheting and making music.
Helen Juliet Atkins
Associate Director of Opportunity
Helen Juliet Atkins is an artist, curator and arts organizer from Albuquerque, New Mexico. She received a BA in Studio Arts from the University of New Mexico in 2016. Her studio practice and public works are human focused and socially engaged.
Atkins has created public murals in Albuquerque, NM that honor everyday people, especially women whose labor and influence often remain invisible. She was a selected artist for the Lowe’s Home Improvement “100 Murals” national project. She also collaborates with her partner Will Guesz on public works across the country. In 2021, they were artists in residence at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. While working on collaborative projects, she is also building a body of work that explores notions of beauty, divinity and identity; this work has been shown in galleries locally and internationally in Berlin, Germany.
Atkins is the Associate Director of Opportunity, and Lead Artist of the Arts & Social Justice Apprenticeship at the Harwood Art Center. She was a 2018 recipient of the inaugural Women in Creativity “Shine” Award, which honors creative women and their community impact. Atkins co-founded Plates Against Patriarchy, a visual arts and storytelling project that challenges patriarchal systems of power. She is currently the Vice Chair of the Albuquerque Museum Board of Trustees, and the Treasurer of the governing board of 516 Arts.
Building & Facilities Manager
Chandler is an artist and educator who was born and raised in Durango, CO but moved to Albuquerque in late 2016 and is happy to be part of the community here. He holds a BA in Studio Art from Fort Lewis College in Durango, CO with a minor in history, and an MFA in painting from Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA. He started teaching in the art department at Central New Mexico Community College in 2018 where he still currently teaches courses in Drawing, 2D Design, Art Practices, Portraiture, and Life Drawing. He believes that art and education are for everyone, and that art is a powerful tool to help us expand our thinking into new and potentially unknown realms, as well as interact with our world in a multitude of different ways.
As an artist, Chandler tries to maintain a studio practice that is always changing, and is subject to the ebbs and flows of life. Broadly speaking, he is interested in abstraction, drawing, collage, printmaking, and bookbinding. He has exhibited work in Colorado, New Mexico, Rome, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and Peru, and has been featured in New American Paintings twice: in the 2015 West issue and the 2013 MFA issue.
Prior to joining the team at Harwood, Chandler worked for the Albuquerque Museum in collections, and did freelance art handling for UNM Art Museum, as well as other private and public institutions.
Chief Programs Officer
Julia is a writer, curator, and arts organizer who exists to love and springs of the belief that all people deserve security, dignity, and belonging as our primary experiences of being. Illuminated by Albuquerque’s creative community, Julia found home in New Mexico, and she is dedicated to building opportunity and contributing to quality of life in the place that so magnified them for her.
Julia has served an array of local cultural, economic, and municipal resource development efforts through volunteer, board, and or leadership service. Across her involvements, Julia champions and invests in the amplification of diverse voices. She has collaborated with thousands of artists across hundreds of platforms, including largescale sitespecific art commissions, immersive exhibition and installation programs, and community celebrations from closeknit circles to twentyfivethousand citizen spectacles. Her arts writing has appeared in local, regional, and international publications, and she has moderated public dialogues from artist talks to citywide summits to mayoral forums. For these efforts, Julia’s peers named her New Mexico’s outstanding young nonprofit professional of the year for the national philanthropy day awards.
In 2012, Julia joined Harwood with an invitation to grow our offerings in greater service to Greater Albuquerque. With the mentorship of visionary women and the model of exemplary co-creators, Julia rooted her approach in cooperative leadership, responsive program design, holistic strategic planning, and resilient mission stewardship. Working across all of Harwood’s offerings towards highest cohesion, inclusivity, impact, sustainability, and nurturance in the lives of those we serve, Julia’s most central responsibility is as support, guide, and strategic partner to Harwood’s family of core staff, artists, and collaborators.
Currently, Julia’s authoring practice is focused on daily reflection and personal storytelling, and she is further galvanized by the recognition of lifelong learning, self awareness, and personal expression as primary modes of civic action, collective healing, and peaceful (r)evolution.
Co-founder of Escuela Del Sol Montessori & Harwood Art Center
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 one of our city’s leading arts organizations, Harwood Art Center.
Executive Director of Escuela del Sol Montessori & Harwood Art Center
Kate Chavez is an alumna of Escuela del Sol, one of the first students to attend Escuela through Elementary, and she was the first alumna to give a commencement address. She has worked and studied all over the world and brings a variety of experiences in the arts, education, non-profit management, and government. In Madrid, Kate’s experience included working with economists in the Spanish government and the executive director of the Spanish Olympic bid. Upon returning to New Mexico, Kate joined the Legislative Finance Committee as a Fiscal Analyst in Education where she assisted on the state’s education budget, analyzed the fiscal impact of proposed legislation, and wrote policy briefs. Kate is also an educator who, for the past five and a half years, has taught and done administrative work at the New Mexico School for the Arts. She holds a BA(Hons) and a MA from Brown University and has completed graduate studies at the London International School of Performing Arts.
Most importantly, Kate brings with her a passion for Escuela del Sol and its mission, as well as a commitment to use her talents, experience, and connections to be in service to our institution. Her years at Escuela give Kate insight and caring for this school. It also gives her a solid grounding in the Montessori pedagogy and mission of our institution.
Building Caretaker & Jack of All Trades