Founder & Executive Director
Busy Graham has devoted most of her life to the arts and education, from music teacher to artist representative to nonprofit administrator and arts advocate. In 1995, while serving as the director of the Institute of Musical Traditions, Busy founded Class Acts Arts (now Artivate) with the goal of bringing high-quality and culturally diverse traditions of music, dance, storytelling and theater to schools and under-resourced communities throughout the National Capital Region. In 1999, she launched Project Youth ArtReach, serving youth and women in corrections.
After leaving Class Acts/Artivate in 2005, Busy founded Carpe Diem Arts with a focus on community building through the arts, creating cross-cultural, multi-generational opportunities to participate in the visual, literary and performing arts. She has received numerous awards in recognition of her work on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, including Maryland’s Sue Hess Award as "Arts Advocate of the Year," and the “Lifetime Impact Award” from Montgomery County. She believes that the arts matter – in our towns, our schools, our communities, in the life of every citizen -- and that through creative partnerships, we can make the power of the arts accessible and beneficial to all.
Chief Financial Officer
Diane Dowling brings over 20 years of experience in finance, accounting, and strategy to Carpe Diem Arts as she shifts to the nonprofit sector to make a positive contribution to the lives of others.
Diane currently also serves as Performance Coordinator for Harmony Express, a barbershop style mixed a cappella chorus out of Germantown, MD. She has previously served as troop leader for a Girl Scout troop as they progressed from 2nd through 8th grades and for 12 years as Catechist at her church working with 3rd graders.
Diane says she got her love for music from her father and her appreciation for art from her mother. She enjoys dabbling in drawing and painting, while her husband sings with Harmony Express and her daughter is studying theatre.
Diane is a graduate of the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and earned her M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. Her career has taken her to many locales around the U.S., including Florida, Missouri, Illinois, Tennessee, and Nevada.
Project Director, Jump Start with the Arts
and Ukes on the Move!
Munit Mesfin is an Ethiopian singer and songwriter, teaching and international touring and recording artist, entrepreneur, arts advocate, and a celebrated cultural ambassador. She believes in the power of culture to unite and build bridges. She is the Music Creative Director for Yegna, an innovative radio drama turned TV series that addresses difficult social issues surrounding girls in Ethiopia and uses the arts (storytelling and music) for positive social change. She currently splits her time between Ethiopia and the US.
Alongside music performances, Munit works as a teaching artist at the Wolf Trap Center for Performing Arts, a Youth Programs Coordinator at the Ethiopian Community Center in Washington DC and consults with other organizations working on out of school and library programming. She also works extensively as an emcee and moderator for conferences, workshops, festivals, fundraisers, launches and more. Munit is currently working on her third album slated for release in 2020.
Besides her role as program manager for two programs, Munit serves as a teaching artist with Carpe Diem's Youth ArtBeat afterschool program and Jump Start with the Arts program for preschoolers, teaches children to play the ukulele at our summer camps, and is a performing artist for Carpe Diem Arts, as a solo artist, as a member of Project Locrea, and as leader of Munit & z Lovebugs. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Munit_Mesfin /
Program Manager, Arts Alive!
Smita Khatri is an accomplished dance and movement instructor with experience in Bollywood, Indian folk dance, Creative Dance for kids, and NIA Technique. She also is a yoga instructor and blends mindfulness practice with her dance programs.
Smita brings to Carpe Diem a wealth of nonprofit experience and strong organizational skills, with a law degree to boot!
At Carpe Diem Arts, Smita will be managing the seniors program, Arts Alive! This program will benefit from Smita's very intentional approach to life and her calming personality.
Graphics & Social Media
Katie is a native Marylander and lifetime art user. From an early age she found solace by putting her pen to the paper. She developed a love for the performing arts at Blair High School, right here in Montgomery County, then went on to receive her BFA in Media and Performing Arts from Savannah College of Art & Design. Her degree brought her to New Orleans--the Hollywood of the South--where she spent many years working in the film industry. But, missing the necessary collaboration borne out of the lesser-funded live theater, Katie realized that her degree and training would serve a greater good in New Orleans schools. She taught for five years at Bricolage Academy, one of the most diverse public charter schools in the city, first as an associate Kindergarten teacher, then as a 1st grade homeroom teacher, and finally as K-2 Visual Arts teacher.
Sad to leave her students and the vibrancy of New Orleans, Katie returned to Maryland to be closer to family. Here, Katie has found time to illustrate, design, and create for friends, for commission, and for fun. (https://kaboudou.myportfolio.com/) Her education-sector experience positions her well as a teaching artist, and she brings her artistic talents to Carpe Diem Arts' graphics and social media accounts.
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.
Program Director, Daily Antidote of Song
Jo joined the staff of Carpe Diem Arts to direct the Daily Antidote of Song, a program she created at the start of the pandemic. By creating community through song, she hoped to curb the mental health challenges that arise from loneliness and isolation. Jo previously served on the board of Carpe Diem Arts for several years.
Jo is inspired daily by her work with artists from many corners of our planet. She brings her training in ethnomusicology, folklore and folklife, and traditional arts to all her projects. As an arts consultant, artistic director, and events producer, she has served non-profits and federal and local government agencies for over 30 years. Previous clients include The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, The National Council for the Traditional Arts, The Grateful Dead, the North American Folk Alliance, the Town of Herndon, and others. Jo has an MA in Performing Arts Studies from American University, a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Georgetown University, had fellowships to study with inspiring scholars at Wesleyan University, The Library of Congress, and George Washington University. Jo also studied at Brown University, Université Laval, Gettysburg College, and The Peddie School. She is on the board of Pinewoods Camp, and has served on boards for the National Council for the Traditional Arts, Slow Food DC, and the Institute of Musical Traditions.
Program Assistant, Daily Antidote of Song
Jadyn Brick grew up in Silver Spring, MD, where she received an amazing education in dance and theatre. She continued her arts education at Dickinson College where she studied dance, discovering her love of improvisation and somatic work. Jadyn is grateful to have had opportunities in her youth where her artistic self was nurtured.
Through college and summer experiences, Jadyn gained experience in leadership and management of organizational details, making her well-suited to serve as administrative assistant here at Carpe Diem Arts.
Jadyn is passionate about increasing access to the arts for everyone, which is why she is so excited to be working at Carpe Diem Arts. She explains, "I have deep gratitude for the work Carpe Diem Arts does to celebrate the arts and expand opportunities for folks to engage with artistic communities."
BETH & VINNY MWANO
Beth and Vinny Mwano were house parents and teaching artists at the Carpe Diem Arts Summer 2021 Sleepaway Camps and were in training to be Camp Directors, which is their current role. Beth taught yoga, singing, and creative dance while Vinny taught hip hop and photography.
Beth and Vinny are both creative beings who use dance, film, music, photography and more to explore ideas that they find challenging and inspiring. They have both been dance teachers for a while and have partnered with several non-profits as artistic collaborators, including Dance Exchange in Takoma Park, Body Wise Dance, and now, Carpe Diem Arts.
Beth currently is a private dance teacher, yoga teacher and spiritual guide. She is also attending Maryland University of Integrative Health to get her M.S. in Yoga Therapy. Vinny is working as a Filmmaker, Editor, Business Creative Marketing Consultant, Teacher (photography) and is a guest teacher at Dance Exchange.