Founder & Director
Busy Graham has devoted most of her life to the arts and education, with a special focus on arts outreach to under-served audiences. After living abroad in Tunisia where her Dad was Peace Corps director, and in Switzerland during her gap year (working at the Ecole d'Humanite), she taught music, dance and French in Vermont, North Carolina, Denmark and France before embarking on a career in arts administration. From 1985-1994, she represented folk, jazz and world music artists in the national market and produced concerts and special events in the Baltimore/DC area.
In 1995, while serving as the Director of the Institute of Musical Traditions, Busy founded Class Acts Arts with the goal of bringing traditional music, dance, and storytelling into DC area schools and communities. Partnering with a large roster of master teaching and performing artists, Class Acts reaches an audience of more than 200,000 each year, facilitating upwards of 2,000 culturally diverse programs (visual, literary and performing arts) throughout Maryland, DC and northern Virginia.
During her 10-year tenure as founder/director of Class Acts Arts (recently renamed Artivate), Busy launched numerous initiatives including Project Youth ArtReach (serving youth in correctional settings), Carpe Diem Choral Arts Residency Project (a cross-cultural, multi-generational performance-based program), Jump Start with the Arts (outreach to Head Start programs and early learning centers), several public performance series (Kaleidoscope Family Series, Jump Start, and Arts Alive @ Montgomery College), and Arts for Life (outreach to seniors). She was a founding board member of Lumina Studio Theatre, and served two terms on the board of the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation.
As the founding director of Carpe Diem Arts, Busy facilitates after-school programs, workshops, community dances, and song gatherings, French and Spanish immersion camps, Ukes-on-the-Move classes and concerts, outreach to special needs facilities, correctional institutions, senior centers and care facilities, and co-presents the Free Minds Write Night in Takoma, DC -- along with visual, literary and performing arts retreats and residencies, both on Maryland's Eastern Shore and in the DC area. Monthly public events in Silver Spring, Maryland include the Carpe Diem-Revels Community Sing (21st of every month) and the Silver Spring Community Dance (2nd Thursdays), as well as Jump Start with the Arts "Family Fun Night Out" series at El Golfo on the 1st Thursday of the month.
Carpe Diem Arts is currently partnered with AIRF, CPDC (Community Preservation and Development Corporation), DaVinci's Notebook, Sharp Insight, and others in facilitating the ACE (African Arts Culture and Education) Academy project.
Busy has received numerous awards in recognition of her arts outreach and advocacy work, including the Montgomery County Community Award for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities and a Certificate of Honor from the Smithsonian Discovery Theater for a “Legacy of 20 Years of Excellence in Service to the Arts and Education of Young People.” She also received a certificate of appreciation from the CHI Centers for her work in bringing the arts to those with special needs. In 2013, Busy was honored to receive the “Lifetime Impact Award” from the County Executive and Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County -- and the Takoma Foundation's "Azalea Award" for arts leadership (2016) -- sharing the honor with one of her long-time heroes, Yvonne Edwards. In 2017, Busy received the prestigious Sue Hess Award as "Arts Advocate of the Year" at Maryland Arts Day in Annapolis c/o Maryland Citizens for the Arts.
Youth ArtBeat Project Director, Teaching Artist, Co-Director of Summer Arts and Language Immersion Camps
Alé is an enthusiastic project manager, web-designer, and art instructor. She is a graduate of Concordia University, with a degree in design and sustainability studies. In addition to having assisted with workshops at Pyramid Atlantic, ArtSpring, and at Gala Artisans, Alessandra has worked as an event coordinator and camp counselor, and loves to introduce games into her curriculum - engaging students and campers in a variety of 2D, 3D and digital projects. Her goal is to give students a place to express themselves and further develop their love for the arts. This is Alessandra's sixth year working with Carpe Diem Arts and she is always developing new projects for her students. During her eight-week residency with the Wheaton Cultural Project, she will introduce kids to basic foundations of photoshop and graphic design - skills they can build on in the future. In addition to her role as teaching artist, she is serving as the Project Director for Carpe Diem Arts’ Youth ArtBeat after-school program in Wheaton as part of the AHCMC-funded Wheaton Cultural Project, and as co-director of the Carpe Diem Arts Summer Camps. She is also the Senior Designer for AMP Marketing. She is fluent in English, Spanish, French and is currently learning Italian.
BINTA COULIBALY: Co-Director of Carpe Diem Arts Summer Camps; Youth ArtBeat teaching artist
Binta Coulibaly is an undergraduate student at Columbia University and she loves all things arts-related. She has participated in several Carpe Diem events in the past few years and has loved every art-filled and fun-packed moment! Since 2006, Binta has been an active member of the Lumina Studio Theater company as an ensemble member and an assistant director, and has participated in over 20 productions. In addition to being a Carpe Diem counselor, Binta has worked at the Lumina Summerstock camp, and the Trawick-funded Camp Wings project with Artivate (formerly Class Acts Arts). She is a graduate of the Sligo Creek Elementary School French Immersion program, and of the IB Program at Richard Montgomery High School. She worked as a counselor at the Carpe Diem Youth ArtBeat Summer Week Programs in partnership with the African Immigrant and Refugee Foundation (AIRF), and was a soccer coach and counselor at Takoma Park Soccer Camp during the summers of 2011-2013. She has spent 8 years, including a month in Costa Rica, learning Spanish. Binta’s family is from Senegal and the Ivory Coast. She loves sharing her culture, and especially enjoys teaching theater, games, visual arts, French, Spanish, ukulele, international song and dance, poetry and creative writing, soccer, cooking/baking -- and also enjoys planning, coordinating and chaperoning field trips.
Michelle is an experienced early childhood and elementary educator who has always had a passion for the arts, especially music. She has a Masters Degree in Education from Loyola University and is a trained AMI (Association Montessori International) Montessori teacher. Michelle taught young children in Montessori schools for six years in both Montgomery County, MD, and Washington, DC, and always infused the arts, especially music and movement, into her teaching.
The birth of her daughter in 2012 reawakened Michelle's love of music. She enjoys listening to and teaching her daughter songs from many traditions represented by such luminaries as Ella Jenkins, Pete Seeger, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Elizabeth Mitchell, Dan Zanes, and local favorite Mr. Gabe. She and her daughter have enjoyed taking Music Together© classes and attending Washington Revels-Carpe Diem Arts Community Sings.
She joined Carpe Diem Arts in August 2015 and is excited to be part of an organization that provides meaningful arts and education opportunities to her community.
DENISE M. JONES
Community Engagement Director
Denise Jones is a meeting facilitator, instructional designer, teaching artist, and facilitator of K12 education and workforce development support training for parents and students. She has been an ardent supporter for parent advocacy and student achievement, especially targeting families of color, and parents in particular to encourage them to walk the school journey with their children.
Denise is also a passionate advocate for arts integration in education and in positive youth development programs, and has developed several artist residency projects that combine the visual arts with history, math and social studies.
In her work for community, youth and adult capacity building, she has been a member of the Montgomery County NAACP Parents Council, served as the NAACP Parents Council Representative on the PTA leadership team of two schools as well as their School Improvement Teams; and served four years on the Deputy Superintendent’s Minority Achievement Advisory Council of Montgomery County Public Schools. Denise’s commitment to parents and adult empowerment has been further fostered as a teacher of adult learners in Prince Georges County Public Schools and Prince Georges Community College; a facilitator for the Safe Silver Spring Summit conference; a training facilitator for Juvenile Justice Family Advocacy Initiative Resource; and as a consultant for the Impact in the Schools Initiative of Impact Silver Spring a capacity building community organizing non-profit in Montgomery County, MD.
Denise has designed and delivered trainings in MCPS schools, for the National Council of Negro Women, Community Preservation and Development Corporation, Takoma Park Youth Collaborative, ACE (African Arts, Culture and Education) Academy c/o Montgomery County Collaboration Council and Carpe Diem Arts, the League of Women Voters, and other community serving organizations. Her College Prep Seminar, Begin with the End in Mind is a celebrated community event.
Carrie Rose is a flutist, composer, and teacher in the Washington, DC area. She is producer, composer, and performer for the Origins Concert in Silver Spring, Maryland—a hub for adventurous music seekers that features a world premiere of her compositions on each concert. The series, in its fifth season, is supported by the Arts and Humanities Commission of Montgomery County. Her work has also received numerous grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, the Arts and Humanities Commission of Montgomery County, and the American Composers Forum. Rose is a member of the Beau Soir Ensemble – a flute, viola, and harp ensemble whose seasons have included performances at the Anderson House, the Harman Center, and the Dumbarton House. And she is a member of inHale - a flute collective that is on a mission to bring classical music of our time into the world. In DC’s City Paper, she was named a “favorite local composer”. In addition to the premiers at the Origins Concert Series, her compositions have been featured at the University of DC and Goucher College, played by the DC Youth Orchestra, and performed at Strathmore Mansion. Rose earned Master and Bachelor of Music degrees from the Cleveland Institute of Music, where she studied with Joshua Smith, principal flutist of the Cleveland Orchestra. She teaches flute in her private flute studio in Takoma Park, Maryland, and general music classes at the Oneness-Family School, an international peace academy in Bethesda, Maryland.