ArtsConnection | Teen Programs Staff

allison
Allison Whorton
Teen Programs Manager
Art2Art
High 5 Tickets to the Arts
Teen Advisory Council

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Los Angeles, California (the valley, to be exact.)

What college did you go to?
Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York. There I studied theatre, literature, and psychology.

How did you become involved in the arts?
I grew up performing in elementary school plays and summer camp musicals. In high school, I became more serious about acting – I participated in each school play and musical (and even directed a bit) and ended up being the president of the Thespian’s Society my senior year. I discovered the world of arts education, theatre outreach, and the performing arts for social change in college. I began teaching drama to students at nearby elementary schools where my passion for providing young people with access to the arts was ignited.

What’s your favorite thing about living in NYC?
The culture that we’re surrounded by every single day; listening to that incredible performer on the subway platform on my way to seeing a new off-Broadway play. I try to see and listen to and experience as much art as possible because we’re so lucky to have it all around us. That, and the incredible FOOD.

One interesting fact about you from high school:
I was voted “Most Dramatic” in my senior high school year book. (Not much has changed.)

ag
Amanda Guest
Teen Programs Manager – Exhibitions
Art2Art
Student Art Program
Teens Curate Teens

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in London, England.

What college did you go to?
I attended Harvard College initially in pre-med and then as a Visual Environmental Studies Major.

How did you become involved in the arts?
As a kid I constantly drew what I saw around me. My father was an architect with an office at home and I saw the building designs taking shape on his drawing table and visited construction sites with him. Museum visits were a big part of our family time. When I took a year off from college, I worked in a hospital lab while taking evening life drawing classes. There was an “aha!” moment when I learned that in drawing there were endless things I wanted to explore and to find a way to have the time to do that. After graduation, I came to NYC to study drawing and sculpting from the figure at The New York Studio School. Fast forward through an art career, having a child… I got involved in creating art opportunities at my daughter’s school for the students and the community and this brought me to work at ArtsConnection.

What’s your favorite thing about living in NYC?
The people and the passions that draw us here. I also love exploring new neighborhoods- and getting to know new school communities.

One interesting fact about you from high school:
I was the one with the big hair.

briana
Briana Thomas
Assistant Program Manager – Teen Programs
High 5 Tickets to the Arts
Pizza and a Movie

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in The Boogie Down Bronx.

What college did you go to? 
I majored in Art History and Spanish at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

How did you become involved in the arts? 
My high school Art History class really hooked me. On one hand,  I was excited looking over the images and the museum trips for the semester.  On the other hand, I remember being intimidated by names I wasn’t sure how to pronounce and long lists of vocabulary terms.  My professor was amazing, he taught me that I already had the best tools : my eyes and a perspective that was all my own; the vocabulary you’ll learn, that’s no problem.  With those words, that became my favorite class and a place where I knew my voice was always heard.
I continued with Art History on through college where I worked at my school’s art museum giving tours to school groups. What I gained from that class drives me to keeping looking for ways to break down barriers and connect students to art.

What’s your favorite thing about living in NYC? 
It never sleeps! No matter the time; stores are open, trains are running, people are out and the city is filled with possibilities (and material for the best stories you’ll ever tell).

One interesting fact about you from high school: 
My fifth period Conversational Spanish was better than any gossip magazine or telenovela. My professor tended to go on tangents about his younger years and we gladly encouraged him.



Kristina Gonzalez
Teen Programs Manager
Teens Curate Teens
Teen Reviewers and Critics (TRaC)

Where did you grow up?
I’m a born and bred Brooklynite.

What college did you go to?
I studied Advertising and Marketing Communications at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I was constantly inspired by my career driven classmates and industry professional professors.

How did you become involved in the arts?
In elementary school, I loved to be on stage. I was a glee club nerd and still proud of it. Unfortunately, puberty hit and I soon became tone deaf, so my dreams of becoming an international popstar were over. It was also the same time my dad gave me his old Nikon SLR camera and I soon had a newfound love for photography. That camera went everywhere with me, whether it was a birthday party or just a day at the park with friends. In 2008, my photography teacher encouraged us to enter this “contest” and we’d have the chance to win a $100 gift card from B&H photo. While that may have excited my classmates, I was more thrilled about having my photo potentially displayed in a fancy Manhattan office. That contest ended up being ArtsConnection’s Student Art Program and it was the highlight of my high school career. I was selected three different times between Junior and Senior Year. It was the first time I could develop on my work ethic and have it be something I was passionate about. Ten years later, I am now on the Teen Programs team and it has been the most rewarding experience overall.

What’s your favorite thing to do in NYC?
I’m a major foodie and am constantly looking up new restaurants or dishes I can try via Instagram. I’ve always felt so lucky to grow up in a city where different cultures and their cuisines are not only celebrated, but also accessible to try.

One interesting fact about you from high school:
In all four years of high school, I spent every free period in the darkroom developing my photos.