DFA Advisors & Consultants

Program Advisors

Laurel Lawson
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ID: Laurel, a white woman with creamy skin, cropped silvery hair, and hazel eyes, looks thoughtfully to one side. Crimson lipstick punctuates a slight smile.

Choreographer, designer, and artist-engineer: Laurel is a transdisciplinary artist making work which imagines new kinds of experience, reinterprets traditional stories, and questions cultural assumptions. Her performing arts career began in music before serendipity brought her to dance, where she found a discipline combining her lifelong loves of athleticism and art. Featuring synthesistic mythology and partnering, her work includes both traditional choreography and novel ways of extending and creating art through technology and design; in the creation of worlds and products experienced, installed, embodied, or virtual. Whether beginning in the studio or with code, her art is grounded in and enriched by liminality, the in-between, and arises from her experience as a queer and genderqueer disabled woman and understanding of disability and access as aesthetic forces.


Laurel began her dance career with Full Radius Dance in 2004 and is part of the disabled artists’ collective Kinetic Light, where in addition to choreographic collaboration and performance in such award-winning works as DESCENT she contributes production design and leads both access and technical research and innovation, including projects such as Audimance and Access ALLways, a holistic approach to equitable accessibility in the arts informed by user experience and hospitality. Co-founder and CTO of CyCore Systems, she brings two decades of expertise in UI/X and product architecture to both technological and artistic work to create impactful experiences, and is also the founder and director of Rose Tree Productions, an Atlanta-based nonprofit. Laurel teaches and speaks internationally on a range of topics.

Michèle Steinwald
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ID: White female-identified middle-aged person with a wide smile and squinting eyes, wearing a yellow V-neck top, along with dangling earrings and shoulder-length medium brown and grey streaked straight hair. Blurred in the background is the back of some houses and a wooden fence.

Marked by five major influences, Michèle Steinwald is a feminist, DIY, artist-centered, pseudo-forensic, embodied, community-driven, cultural organizer:


- At age 14, she saw Anne Teresa de Keersmaeker in Rosas’ Bartok and fell in love with contemporary dance (1986)


- At age 15, she produced her friend’s post-punk band Pestilence at the all-ages music venue One Step Beyond in Ottawa, Canada (1987). Seven people came. She knew all but one.


- At age 21, she studied with choreographer Deborah Hay and was forever changed (1994).


- At age 25, she attended Easter service with pastor Cecil Williams preaching at Glide Memorial Church in San Francisco and saw/felt what true inclusion was (1998).


- Since her teen years, she has deliberately watched the TV series Law & Order, noting human behavior and gut instincts through problem-solving.


Steinwald holds an MA from the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance and was published in Curating Live Arts (Berghahn Books – New York/Oxford). Committed to social justice in the arts, she has researched and facilitated original sessions at conferences and gatherings such as APAP (2018 & 2019) in partnership with American Realness, Interrarium at Banff Centre (2018), National Performance Network (2017 & 2018), Arts Midwest (2011 & 2014), and DanceUSA (2012 & 2013 + 2014 host). Although Canadian, Steinwald is working in the US as an independent curator, dramaturg, and occasional writer.

Program Consultants

Francisco echo Eraso
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ID: A picture of Francisco smiling and leaning his head to the left against a white wall background. He is a white latinx trans man with long wavy dark hair, a short beard, grey eyes and is wearing a black shirt, pinstriped blazer and gold chain. Photo Credit: Shawn Inglima

Francisco echo Eraso (he/él; Brooklyn, NY) is a disabled, autistic, chronically ill, trans, Colombian-American interdisciplinary textile artist, curator, educator, access worker and arts administrator. He is interested in grassroots approaches to Disability Justice, Trans Liberation, Indigenous and Latinx textile histories and cooperative models for the creative redistribution of resources. He has been an Artist in Residence at Textile Arts Center, 77Art and Art and Disability Residency. His work has been presented at a variety of venues including Mead Museum, Ford Foundation Gallery, Chashama Gallery, A.P.E. Gallery, Textile Arts Center, The Real House, Franklin Street Works, Amos Eno Gallery, The Flux Factory, The Sheila C. Johnson Gallery, among others.


He currently works as the Associate Manager of Access and Inclusion at the Whitney Museum of American Art and serves on the Mid Atlantic Accessibility Resource Committee. Francisco often works on disability community centered projects including his previous positions as the Curatorial Coordinator for Disability Arts..., the latest book project by Simi Linton through NYU's Center for Disability Studies and Convening Assistant for the Disability Futures Fellowship Festival at the Ford Foundation. He has worked as an access doula in different settings such as for Kinetic Light's professional development web series for artists and in his daily life with his own crip community. His favorite jobs are those that think through decolonization and textiles such as in his work as the Artist Programs Manager and Residency Director at Textile Arts Center and Artistic Director at Camp Friendship, pairing local sanctuary spaces for Indigenous and Latinx families with radical textile education. He holds a dual degree in Fine Arts and Visual Studies with minors in Gender Studies and Race and Ethnicity from The New School.


Francisco thinks about access as an ongoing collective process to create inclusive and liberating space.

Mariclare Hulbert
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ID: A white woman with long brown hair smiles, she wears a black and white polka dot top. Photo Credit: Christopher Duggan

Mariclare Hulbert (she/her; Pittsford, NY) serves as a Marketing & PR Advisor for the DFA program. She has 18+ years of experience in the arts and nonprofit fields, specializing in strategic marketing, communications, public relations, and outreach. She worked at the internationally renowned Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival for nearly 10 years, serving as Director of Marketing & Communication. At the Pillow, she led a team of marketing, PR, and ticket services staff, graphic designers, photographers, and videographers in all matters related to traditional and digital marketing, press and communications, branding, and the sale of $2 million in tickets each year. As a consultant, she supports clients with an array of marketing and communications needs. Recent projects and clients include Dance/NYC, Dance/USA, the National Center for Choreography-Akron, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Kinetic Light/Alice Sheppard, Bridge Live Arts, Portland’s Regional Arts & Culture Council, the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati, and others. She is based in Rochester, NY, the ancestral lands of the Onondaga or Seneca people. For more information, visit mariclarehulbert.com.

Nicole Y. McClam
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ID: A dark-skinned Black woman with shoulder length dark brown twists wearing a red patterned long-sleeved top is laughing at something past the camera. Photo Credit: Whitney Browne

Nicole Y. McClam (she/her; Queens, NY) enjoys exploring the awesomeness of dance with students at Queensborough Community College and bouncing to and fro as a founding member of B3W Performance Group and performing with Kayla Hamilton Projects and danceTactics. Nicole enjoys knitting, vegan cupcakes, hanging with her tween, and researching zombies.













Keryl McCord
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ID: Keryl McCord, CEO Equity Quotient, LLC., faces the camera, smiling. She is a Black woman with short salt-and-pepper curly hair, tortoiseshell glasses, black turtleneck, red lipstick, and hamsa-shaped earrings.

Ms. McCord (she/her; Sandy Springs, GA) is President and CEO of EQ, The Equity Quotient, a national training, organizational development firm supporting nonprofits interested in becoming more just and equitable community partners, with equity, diversity, and inclusion as outcomes of their work. EQ’s expertise and its curriculum provide Dismantling Racism training for the field of arts and culture, grounded in an analysis of the history, policies, and practices of the field.


Keryl McCord is a veteran arts manager and administrator with forty years of experience in many facets of the arts. Her background includes managing director of two equity theater companies: Oakland Ensemble Theater Company, a five-hundred seat equity theater in downtown Oakland, CA, and Crossroads Theater Company, New Brunswick, NJ, the only black run LORT theater at the time, and the first such company to receive the Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theater. Crossroads Theater Company also received 4 Tony nominations for It Ain’t Nothing But the Blues, transferring to Broadway in 1999. Ms. McCord led the League of Chicago Theaters/ League of Chicago Theaters Foundation, leaving Chicago to take a post at the National Endowment for the Arts as Assistant Director of Theater Programs, and then Director of Theater Programs.


She served on the executive committee of the National Black Theater Summit on Golden Pond in 1998, convened by the late Pulitzer Prize winning playwright, August Wilson. She was a founding board member, and Senior Vice President of the African Grove Institute for the Arts (AGIA), Newark, NJ, of which Mr. Wilson served as chairman. She remained with AGIA until Mr. Wilson’s passing, when she then went on to serve as Director of Institutional Development for New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.


In December 2016, after more than seven years as Managing Director, she retired from Alternate ROOTS to launch EQ. ROOTS is a 40-year-old nationally recognized, regionally focused network and service organization for activist artists in the South. Ms. McCord was responsible for overall day-to-day management, including fundraising and development, shepherding the organization through a period of unprecedented growth.

Azure D. Osborne-Lee
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ID: A photo of a disabled, fat Black nonbinary person in front of a light grey backdrop. They have shoulder-length thin locs and wear a black t-shirt and a silver necklace. He looks into the camera and smiles a tiny bit. Photo Credit: Gaspar Marquez

Azure D. Osborne-Lee (he/they; Brooklyn, NY) is a multi-award-winning Black queer & trans theatre maker from south of the Mason-Dixon Line. He holds an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice (2011) from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama as well as an MA in Women’s & Gender Studies (2008) and a BA in English & Spanish from The University of Texas at Austin (2005). Azure teaches at New York University and The New School. azureosbornelee.com.






Gene Pendon
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ID: Black & White image of artist standing in front of wall drawing mapping out research project while smoking a cigar. Wearing wire-rimmed glasses, a hat, plaid shirt, dark pants, and sneakers, face is obscured by puff of smoke. Photo Credit: Gene Pendon

Gene Pendon (he/him; Montreal, Canada) is a graduate of Concordia University’s Fine Art Bachelor’s Program in Painting & Drawing in the early 90's, and has worked as a painter and project producer in various spheres of mural work, street art and music marketing, graphic illustration and fine art, animation, installation, art direction for stage spanning the last 30 years out of Montréal, Canada.


After over a decade of project development and production work for U.S. and international-based street & contemporary art, plus branding & music marketing campaigns during the 2000's, Gene re-establish earlier interests in contributing mural proposals in Montréal’s public cultural life.


Meanwhile, Gene’s interest in painting animation was showcased in various video and stage projects including the 2016 presentation of “Fractals of You” by the Montréal-based contemporary dance company, Tentacle Tribe, at La 5ième Salle theatre at Place-Des-Arts, Montréal.


In 2017, Gene collaborated on the mural tribute for the Leonard Cohen family and the city of Montréal during the city’s dedication to the late artist, at the one-year anniversary of Leonard’s passing.


In 2019, as an art director/designer, Gene proposed and produced a permanent photo installation for the John Lennon and Yoko Ono Suite entrance at Montréal’s Fairmount Queen Elizabeth Hotel for the 50th anniversary of the Bed-In Protest for Peace in 1969, with exclusively licensed photography of the late U.S. photojournalist, Gerry Deiter.


For the past decade, Gene has been involved in personal and professional research of Canada's Copyright Act, exploring various ideas of moral rights, the artist's body politic, and Canadian authorship in the public sphere.

Proposal Coaches

Lily Kharrazi
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ID: Brown-skinned Middle Eastern Woman in a grey sweater is standing outside looking directly at the camera with a slight smile. Photo Credit: Shweta Saraswat

Lily Kharrazi is Director of Special Initiatives at the Alliance for California Traditional Arts (ACTA) where she has had the privilege of meeting and working with many cultural communities by supporting the genres and expressions that animate their values, aesthetics, and way of life. She has been with ACTA for 16 years. She has studied Ethnic Arts and Dance Ethnology (UCLA) with Allegra Fuller Snyder, a pioneer in the field of dance and anthropology. Lily has worked in refugee resettlement and was formerly program director at World Arts West, producing nine seasons of the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival curating such seasons as Dance of the Islamic World. She serves as a consultant to both local and national projects involved with arts and culture for funders such as the Flora and James Hewlett Foundation, Walter & Elise Haas Fund, the Ford Foundation, California Arts Council, and with Dance/USA. Her involvement with the inaugural Fellows program led to co-editing the publication, “Voices From the Field: Dance USA Artist Fellows In Practice and Community”.(2020)


As a first-generation American of Iranian- Jewish descent, she brings her multi-lingual and minority status along with embodied pride in this otherness to her work. The through-line in her work and practice continues to be a dedication to create respect for the myriad ways in which we as human societies order and create meaning in our lives through the arts, particularly through dance and movement.

Yvonne Montoya, MS
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ID: A black and white picture of Yvonne wearing a black sleeveless top, against a nondescript black and white background. Yvonne is smiling. She has brown eyes, curly brown hair with highlights. She is a Nuevomexicana/Xicana with skin the color of biscochitos.

Yvonne Montoya is a mother, dancemaker, bi-national artist, thought leader, writer, speaker, and the founding director of Safos Dance Theatre. Based in Tucson, AZ and originally from Albuquerque, NM, her work is grounded in and inspired by the landscapes, languages, cultures, and aesthetics of the U.S. Southwest.


Montoya is a process-based dancemaker who creates low-tech, site-specific and site-adaptive pieces for nontraditional dance spaces. Though most well-known in the U.S. Southwest, her choreography has been staged across the United States and in Guatemala, and her dance films screened, at Queens University of Charlotte, NC and the University of Exeter (U.K.) Under her direction, Safos Dance Theatre won the Tucson Pima Arts Council’s Lumie Award for Emerging Organization in 2015. She is currently working on Stories from Home, a series of dances based on her family’s oral histories.


From 2017-2018 Montoya was a Post-Graduate Fellow in Dance at Arizona State University, where she founded and organized the inaugural Dance in the Desert: A Gathering of Latinx Dancemakers. Montoya is a 2021 Southwest Folk Alliance Plain View Fellow, a 2019-2020 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, a member of the 2019-2020 Dance/USA Fellowships to Artists pilot program, and a recipient of the 2019 National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) POD grant, the 2020 MAP Fund Award, and the first Arizona-based artist to receive the 2020 New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) National Dance Project Production Grant. For more information, visit www.yvonnemontoya.com.

Heena Patel
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ID: Picture of Heena, an Indian woman with shoulder-length curly hair, wearing a purple long-sleeved shirt, gold earrings, and a gold necklace looking into the camera with a smile on her face and her arms casually crossed. Photo Credit: Raashi Desai Photography

Heena Patel is a multi-hyphenate arts worker, coach for creatives and South Asian women, facilitator, and gathering designer. For nearly 15 years, she has been amplifying South Asian arts and culture in the dominant performing arts sector as a producer, agent-manager, mentor, artist, consultant, and curator. The CEO of MELA Arts Connect, her work has focused on nurturing the ecosystem around South Asian performing arts and community.


Recent credits as a producer and artistic director include the multidisciplinary stage show Bollywood Boulevard, immersive dance experience Garba360, and desi:NOW - a showcase of hyphenated South Asian identities. Heena Patel has facilitated the commissioning and/or presentation of numerous South Asian productions and artists such as Raghu Dixit, Indian Ocean, Mystic India, Shilo Shiv Suleman, and more at venues such as Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Wolf Trap, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, and the MET. As a cultural strategist and consultant, she supports organizations in developing long-term strategies for community building with the South Asian diaspora. She also works with South Asian creatives as a coach around strategy and mindset to build a career in the arts. Heena was an ISPA Fellow and APAP Leadership Fellow. She serves on the board of NAPAMA (North American Performing Arts Agents and Manager) and is a member of CIPA (Creative & Independent Producers Alliance) and WOCA (Women of Color in the Arts).

Kevin Seaman
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ID: A studio portrait of Kevin in front of a light grey background. They are wearing an olive green mesh tunic on top of a black long sleeve shirt with a quartz pendant on long silver chain and an oversized grey and black scarf draped around their body. Kevin is bearded and wearing olive green shadow and octagonal earrings, and looks directly into the camera. Photo Credit: Kevin Seaman

Kevin Seaman (they/them) is a San Francisco-based interdisciplinary artist and the Artistic Director of Diamond Wave. Their videos exploring queer history, symbolism and intersectionality were presented on SalesForce Tower in June 2021 in collaboration with Jim Campbell’s Studio. Their work has also been presented at The Stud, Brava, CounterPulse, YBCA, Frameline, the Tank NYC, the Austin International Drag Festival, SATTELITE ART SHOW Miami, the National Queer Arts Festival, Stockholm’s Stolt Scenkonst, Atlantic Center for the Arts, and Yale School of the Arts. They were an inaugural Association for Performing Arts Professionals Leadership Fellow, and received the 2017 Americans for the Arts Emerging Leader Award and the 2019 Theatre Bay Area Legacy Award. In their role at Diamond Wave, they are part of the leadership team of the Artists Adaptability Circles, a new, collaborative seed funding and leadership development program, and lead the THEYFRIEND nonbinary performance festival as well as the MASCellaneous creative queer masculinities workshop series.





Krista Smith
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ID: A picture of Krista beside a fence on a farm. She is a fat white woman with chin-length, dark brown hair. She is looking straight into the camera with a closed-mouth smile and wearing a thin silver necklace.

Krista Smith, Grant Specialist, is a white queer fat femme who lives in Columbus, Ohio, the ancestral and contemporary territory of the Shawnee, Potawatomi, Delaware, Miami, Peoria, Seneca, Wyandotte, Ojibwe, and Cherokee peoples. Smith founded Krista Smith Development in 2015 to provide grantwriting, strategic planning, and development training and coaching to LGBQ2S+, TGNC, BIPOC, and/including Disabled led arts organizations and artists. Smith is a lifelong dance and performing artist and the founder of several queer performance companies including the Queen Bees (Seattle 2001-2005) and ButchTap (Oakland 2007-12). Smith also served as the Program Director for the Institute for Civic Leadership at Mills College, a women’s leadership program. In addition to writing grants and facilitating strategic planning processes, Smith provides technical assistance to marginalized artists and arts organizations led by marginalized people to support them to secure grant funding; advocates locally and nationally for equity in grants funding; and has served on many review panels for arts funding.

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