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Tony Armeni is an artist, educator, and musician who has worked in the arts for over 40 years. He is a sculptor whose work consists mainly of welded steel.

Venise Harris-Abell is a native of Youngstown, Ohio. Her work focuses on narratives taken from life experiences regarding racism, family, and community issues. A 14-year Navy Veteran, she received a BFA in Photography and MFA in Interdisciplinary Visual Arts at YSU. Her work has been exhibited in various museums and magazines including The Butler Institute of Art, Box 13 Artspace in Houston Texas, SPE 8th Annual International Combined Caucus Magazine and Timothy A. Cassey, Youngstown-Warren African American History Magazine. Two works were displayed on the WRTA City Buses as part of the Power of the Arts.

Cindy Casto DiRusso
has worked on popular series such as The Jimmy Kimmel Show and The Voice. Some of her most prolific work includes casting Gordon Ramsay's, Kitchen Nightmares as well as other hit reality TV shows on Fox, NAT GEO, and other major networks. Her first feature film, Worst. Christmas. Ever., was distributed during the worldwide pandemic. As for her current projects, a feature thriller, The Housekeeper, starring Denise Richards and Richard Gunn, will be released in the Fall 2023.

As an English Professor at Westminster College,  Elizabeth Ford got to teach and write about great literature. As a watercolor artist, and as co-chair of several local art groups, she can see the wonderful work our Valley produces.

Adam Lee is the Program Director for Youngstown CityScape, the downtown community development organization. At CityScape, Adam works to plan community events and projects such as the Holiday Parade, First Fridays, community art, and the annual Streetscape Planting Day with business associations, community stakeholders, and residents. Other efforts include cycling infrastructure and advocacy as well as tree and native species plantings. He recently joined the Thrive Mahoning Valley and Friends of the Mahoning River boards and is an active member of the Loop Advisory Council. His artistic work focuses primarily on the culinary arts with a farm to table, wild foraged, and plating focus. In the past, he put on pop-up dinners with a collaboration called The Sprouted Table. Other artistic passions include interior design and coloring.

Robyn Maas is an artist, designer and museum professional with over 20 years of experience.

Melissa Miller is a farmer and food grower in Kinsman, Ohio, and is a passionate advocate for things grown and made by hand in our local community. She enjoys engaging with her creativity when designing her home and outdoor space and feels fortunate to be able to include the work of many local makers in the artwork, pottery, and wearable art items she utilizes every day. 

A working artist for 20+ years, Tony Nicholas is former director of the non-profit Artists of the Rust Belt and adjunct faculty at YSU. He holds a BFA from YSU and an MFA from The Rochester Institute of Technology.

Regina Rees has been an educator for nearly 40 years. She holds a Bachelor of Education, Masters in Literacy, and a doctorate in Curricular & Instructional Studies. Her experience includes teaching grades 4-12 and serving as an Associate Professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Youngstown State University. She has been involved with several professional and community organizations including the Poland Historical Society, Mahoning County Historical Society, and Altrusa of Youngstown. Regina has participated in community theater throughout the Youngstown area. She has appeared on stage and behind the scenes at the Youngstown Playhouse, Oakland Center for the Arts, Salem Community Theater, and Hopewell Theatre, where she is currently president of the Board of Trustees.

Kristina Rule is a regionally recognized local artist who began with classes at the YMCA and then became employed by the YMCA ArtReach Program to provide art classes to the community. She has also been involved with Random Acts of Artists and the Canfield Fair Fine Arts.

Katelyn Urs earned a B.A. in English with a minor in creative writing from Youngstown State University. During her undergraduate career, she served as a flash fiction editor for Jenny, a writing consultant at the Writing Center, and a writing intern at the Jewish Community Center. In the spring of 2022, she interned at the literary arts organization Lit Youngstown and was hired on as a development coordinator. Katelyn is currently pursuing an M.A. in English with a certificate in public and professional writing and teaching freshman composition courses at YSU. She also volunteers at YSU’s English Festival as a workshop leader and is a member of the Student Nonprofit Leadership Organization.

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