Santina Protopapa, Class of 2009
Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow, Founder and Executive Director of Progressive Arts Alliance
I was a Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellow in Social Entrepreneurship while completing my master’s degree in the Arts in Education Program at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.
Today, I am the Executive Director of Progressive Arts Alliance (PAA), a non-profit organization I founded in 2002 in my hometown of Cleveland, Ohio. PAA exists to inspire students to reach their full potential by providing unique and relevant learning experiences using contemporary arts and 21st century media. We are working to increase our students’ academic achievement through arts-integrated education.
At PAA I am leading the development of a network of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) schools that are committed to infusing the arts into the project-based learning curriculum for students in grades K-8. Through this network, our professional artists have become highly effective partners to classroom teachers. This work has invigorated classroom learning as well as expanded the world of possibilities for the students we serve, many of whom live at or below the federal poverty line. Our mission is to establish best practices in the field of arts education and STEM curriculum design that can be implemented on a national scale.
My work at Progressive Arts Alliance has been strengthened as a result of the time I spent as a Reynolds Foundation Fellow. Following my experiences as a Reynolds Fellow, I returned to my position at PAA with new strategies to make our organization more successful and sustainable. I brought best practices — in financial management strategies, earned income strategies, and scaling an organization — into our strategic planning and we have successfully implemented these practices.
I’d like to thank the Reynolds Foundation for giving me the opportunity to strengthen my leadership and entrepreneurial skills through the rigorous experience of the Fellowship program and the academic curriculum at Harvard. Every day that I serve my community provides another opportunity to share what I learned as a Reynolds Fellow.