Press Releases

Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes Launches Online Visual Arts Professional Development Initiative With New ARTEFFECT Ambassadors

October 25, 2023

Fort Scott, Kan. – The Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (LMC) has announced its inaugural cohort of ARTEFFECT Ambassadors, a prestigious online fellowship for educators working directly with K-12 students to foster the visual arts. The 28 individuals in the first ARTEFFECT Ambassadors cohort hail from diverse educational, professional, and geographic backgrounds and specialize in areas including visual arts, social studies, general education, special education, and nonprofits. 

This year's ARTEFFECT Ambassadors will participate in themed virtual professional development sessions, collaborating with and learning from other high-level practitioners. Their work will inspire others through art-centered project-based education in an engaging and collegial environment and will create new pathways in visual art education by harnessing the ARTEFFECT Unsung Heroes curriculum. These online sessions—several of which are also open to all interested educators and free to join—encompass varied themes and subject areas, including STEAM, character education, Holocaust studies and narrative art-making. 

In each session, participants will:

  • Examine their relationships to the diverse stories of Unsung Heroes from history.
  • Collaborate with other educators to deepen their instructional practices.
  • Explore lesson plans that provide step-by-step modeling to creatively and visually interpret the stories of the LMC Unsung Heroes: individuals, largely unrecognized by society, who took extraordinary actions to improve the lives of others and made a profound and positive impact on the course of history. 

Said LMC Founder Lowell Milken, the "voices and collective impact are proof positive that celebrating the qualities and character embodied in the Unsung Heroes can generate these qualities in younger generations." 

In addition to participating in professional development modules―as well as opportunities to advocate for visual arts education and inspire leadership among educators and learners in the classroom and community—ARTEFFECT Ambassadors receive an unrestricted stipend of $1,250, $250 credit towards materials, and a Certificate of Participation upon completion. The professional development program will culminate with Ambassadors developing and delivering a capstone project, such as creating a new lesson plan, student art exhibition or workshop. Ambassadors will then implement these projects within their classrooms and communities, allowing each participant to make an impact that extends the stories of the Unsung Heroes into various educational contexts.

"LMC received an overwhelming response among a very competitive pool of applications and accepted more participants for this inaugural cohort than originally anticipated," said Director of ARTEFFECT, Toni Guglielmo, Ph.D. "The creativity and enthusiasm expressed by the Ambassadors in their initial capstone project ideas underscore the value of teaching and learning through the stories of LMC Unsung Heroes as role models." 

Since 2016, ARTEFFECT has run an annual visual art competition for middle and high school students. Last year’s competition awarded $20,000 to teachers and students, and the next cycle will accept submissions from November 1, 2023, through May 1, 2024. The new Ambassadors initiative further supports visual arts education by directly engaging educators to bring these remarkable stories into their classrooms and communities—and inspire students to recognize their own ability to make a positive impact on the world through art. 

Introducing the 2023-2024 ARTEFFECT Ambassadors

Rose Elise Aitken
Visual Art Teacher - North Thurston High School, Lacey, WA

Avery Vanessa Ayers-Berry
Art Teacher - Shawnee Heights High School, Tecumseh, KS

Deborah Lynn Bober Ed.D.
K-8 Art Specialist - Cubberley School, Long Beach, CA

Kevin Dailey

U.S. History Teacher - Ballyshannon Middle School, Union, KY

Kyle Denman

Executive Director - Arts Bridging the Gap, West Hollywood, CA

Megan Henry
Visual Arts Teacher - West Anchorage High School, Anchorage, AK

Sandra L. Hutton
Junior and Middle School Arts Program Lead - St. Mildred's-Lightbourn SchoolOakville, Ontario, Canada

Sue Mary Kenney Ph.D.
Social Studies Teacher - Immaculate Heart Academy, Township of Washington, NJ

Mimi Klabon
Art and Design Teacher - Milken Community School, Los Angeles, CA 

Jill M. Kokesh
Art Instructor - T.F. Riggs High School, Pierre, SD 

Konstantinos Kovoros
Social Studies Teacher - Jericho High School, Jericho, NY

Athanasia H. Kyriakakos
Educator - Baltimore City Public Schools, Cockeysville, MD

Luctrica Lewis
Visual Arts Teacher - Kipp Summit Academy, San Lorenzo, CA 

Sarah Elizabeth Luttrell
9-12 Art Educator - Waynesville High School, Waynesville, MO 

Brian Adam Matta
Visual Arts Teacher - Truman High School, Bronx, NY 

Renna Georgia Moore-Edwards
Visual Art Teacher - Ida B. Wells Academic and Performing Arts Complex, Jackson, MS 

Catharine Morris
Art Educator - Holton High School, Holton, KS 

Summer Nation
Art Teacher - Germantown High School, Madison, MS 

Alyssa M. Navapanich
Art Teacher - Lemon Grove School District, Lemon Grove, CA 

Kristin Ponden
Visual Arts Department Chair - The Unquowa School, Fairfield, CT 

Jayda Elaine Pugliese
Principal - St. Mary Interparochial School, Philadelphia, PA 

Shelley Kathleen Self
High School Art Teacher - Coweta Public Schools, Coweta, OK 

Johnna Faith Stoffregen
Visual Art Educator - Andover Middle School, Andover, KS 

Leslie Sullivan
Social Studies Teacher and Department Chair, Senior Capstone Coordinator - Palmetto Scholars Academy, North Charleston, SC 

Melissa J. Sylvester
Art Teacher - Yarmouth High School, Yarmouth, ME 

Addison River Tobias
Programs Manager - Museum Hue, Brooklyn, NY

Mevlida Turkes-Habibovic Ph.D.
Teacher - Tom Benson School, Kenner, LA 

Kimberly Jean Vandervert
Art Teacher - Peperzak Middle School, Spokane, WA 

For more about the ARTEFFECT Ambassadors, visit:

About LM
Established in 2007, the Lowell Milken Center for Unsung Heroes (LMC) discovers, develops, and celebrates the stories of Unsung Heroes who have made a profound and positive impact on history, yet are largely unrecognized by contemporary generations. LMC has reached over 3,000,000 students and 30,000 schools in all 50 states and countries around the world. Learn more about the LMC , the Discovery Awardand the ARTEFFECT Competition. Connect with LMC on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube. Additionally, interested educators are welcome to join the newly formed ARTEFFECT art educators Facebook group. 

About LMFF
The Lowell Milken Family Foundation (LMFF) creates and supports initiatives that cultivate human capital—that is, the knowledge, skills, and experiences essential to leading productive and satisfying lives. LMFF pursues this mission through education programs that are both groundbreaking and comprehensive. By fostering and inspiring excellence, creativity, and responsibility within the formal education environment and beyond, LMFF equips people to pursue and attain lives that have value to themselves as well as to others. To learn more, visit



For media inquiries, contact:
Sarah Haufrect
ARTEFFECT – Media and Programming