March 15, 2022
ECCF Announces Next Cohort of Creative County ChangeMakers

Danvers, MA — Essex County Community Foundation is excited to announce the second cohort of creative leaders who will participate in the foundation’s Creative County ChangeMakers program, set to begin March 28.

Twelve artists, nonprofit and municipal heads will spend the next eight months immersed in facilitated and project-based learning, peer networking and leadership trainings, all designed to support a new network of creative civic leaders with the knowledge and skills to help build a more inclusive and sustainable arts and culture ecosystem in Essex County.

The 2022 ChangeMakers are:

Kerrie Bates, Director, Ipswich ReCreation & Culture
Aliana de la Guardia, Founder and Director, Guerilla Opera, Haverhill
Donna Keefe, Salisbury Cultural Council Arts and Cultural Initiative, Town of Salisbury Cultural Council
Nathan Lewis, Head Curator, The Satanic Temple Salem/Salem Art Gallery
Monica Manoski, Executive Director, Essex Art Center, Lawrence
John Mayer, Director, Amesbury Carriage Museum
Lisa Miller Gillespie, Co-Founder/President, Lawrence Festival of the Arts
Courtney Richardson, Director, Rocky Neck Art Colony, Gloucester
Yaya Rodriguez, Founder/CEO, Cultura Latina Dance Academy Inc  Lynn
Jay Salois, Owner, VRtical Media, Salem
Sarah Slifer Swift, Director, Movement Arts Gloucester MA (MAGMA)
LaCrecia Thomson, Arts and Culture Planner, City of Lynn

The program is being facilitated by Karen Ristuben, program manager for Creative County, ECCF’s efforts to strengthen arts, culture and creative enterprise in Essex County, and Doneeca Thurston, executive director of Lynn Museum/LynnArts.

“We are thrilled to begin the second year of ChangeMakers with this passionate and talented group,” said Ristuben. “Our goal is to help each participant recognize and be a catalyst for needed change in their organizations and communities.”

“We also want to build on the success of last year’s program and begin to widen this network of creative leaders who can really lean on each other for support and inspiration, share ideas and collaborate,” she added.

ChangeMakers, like much of ECCF’s work, is rooted in this collaborative process of local and regional ecosystem building and the interconnectedness of people with diverse perspectives and different backgrounds.

“It’s really what enables us, as a community and as a region, to solve challenges holistically and equitably, and create sustainability and resilience in our systems,” said ECCF Executive Vice President and COO Stratton Lloyd.

During the ChangeMakers program, each participant will leverage what they learn to develop a collaborative arts or culture-based project – for which they will receive $1,000 to seed – meant to inspire additional work in their respective communities.

“By supporting our ChangeMakers in this work, we have the chance to help build trust, form innovative partnerships and empower this group to implement lasting change in their cities and towns,” said Ristuben.

Last year’s ChangeMaker projects included a Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month festival in Methuen; a creative apprenticeship program in Haverhill; a mobile, multi-media exhibit exploring the isolation experienced by disabled residents; and a spatial justice project for longtime survivors of HIV on the North Shore, which went on to receive additional funding from the New England Foundation for the Arts.

“Being a part of this cohort was definitely inspiring for me in terms of what we’ve learned and just hearing from everyone and exchanging our knowledge base on how to overcome obstacles when trying to make the case for public art,” said musician and Methuen City Councilor Eunice Zeigler, who was a 2021 ChangeMaker.

For more information on ChangeMakers, and to explore other Creative County programs and projects, please visit

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