Laura Griebel, President
Laura currently serves as the Senior Director of Employment and Community Services, Easterseals Central Texas, and has worked in the not-for-profit industry in the Austin area for over 25 years. She has an extensive background in employment and training services working with and on behalf of youth and adults with disabilities. She has a master’s degree in Education from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from St. Edward’s University. Laura has served as a volunteer board member for several Austin area not-for-profit organizations including Goodwill of Central Texas and Open Door Preschool and is now thrilled to return to the Art Spark Board of Directors.
Susan Loughran, Secretary
A couple of years ago I made a donation of some art supplies to Mobile Arts. I am grateful that that small act led to a connection with Art Spark Texas - or VSA as it was known then - and eventually to an invitation to serve on the Board. It was an invitation that I happily accepted. I spent many years working in the performing arts, as an actress, director, and costume designer. In addition, I spent 40 years teaching the arts at St. Edward's University. Some of those years were spent teaching theater and film in the SEU General Education curriculum. That meant teaching the arts to people who were not necessarily interested and, in some cases, openly hostile to the idea of "having to take a d*** arts class to fulfill a d*** General Education requirement." Working with that population and almost always winning them over, I was continuously struck with the intense power of the arts - the power to help people grow and develop in exciting and unexpected ways and the power to help people communicate and come together in wonderful and enriching ways. Art Spark Texas opens these kinds of "arts doors" for a population who, sadly, might otherwise be shut out. I'm proud to be a small part of that process.
Larry Raper, Treasurer
MSSW, Assistant Director of the UT Austin Services for Students with Disabilities
As a social worker, Emily is passionate about educating and empowering people to work toward accessible, inclusive, and welcoming communities for people with disabilities. She has served on various boards of directors and enjoys supporting non-profits in accomplishing their goals. Emily believes in the power of art to create connections, develop confidence and contribute to positive change in individuals and communities.
Educator - Private tutor
Afra Al-Mussawir taught Biology and general science in a public high school in Brooklyn, New York City, before moving to Austin in 1999. She completed graduate study at The University of Texas at Austin while focusing on the fields of cultural anthropology, linguistic anthropology, and Middle East Studies. Her interest in Art Spark Texas is another extension of her lifelong interest in education and social issues.
M.Ed., Product Consultant for Watermark Insights
Susy has been interested and involved in the arts, education, and the disability community for more than 20 years. She previously served on the VSA Arts of Texas Board for nine years, from 2005-2014. As a former choir teacher, she always knew the profound power that the arts has on everyone. For Susy, it's the diversity of the arts programs that Art Spark Texas offers our community-veterans and seniors with disabilities - to providing audio description for a variety of live performances and films for those visually impaired, which is truly inspiring. An avid supporter of the visual and creative arts, she is excited to bring her enthusiasm and experience back to Art Spark Texas.
Ms. Randi Turner is the Accessibility and Disability Rights Coordinator of the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities. Turner is a graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Applied Arts and Sciences. She received the Outstanding Service and Excellence in Academics” award when she graduated. She holds Advanced level sign language interpreter certification from HHSC-ODHHS, and a Certificate of Interpretation and Certificate of Transliteration from the National Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf.
Juan M. Muñoz
Born with Cerebral Palsy, Juan Munoz has devoted his life to spreading awareness among society to dispel common myths about people with disabilities. Presently, he is working with Imagine Art to become certified as a Peer-to-Peer Specialist for people with IDD and is helping develop guidelines that different cities/states can use to start their own peer-to-peer program. Previous jobs include: job developer, job coach, and personal driver for people who have disabilities. Juan’s love for the arts started in 2008 when he found Art Spark Texas. His roles have included actor, mixed-ability improv dancer, certified DanceAbility teacher (a specific method of mixed-ability dance developed by Alito Alessi), and board member from 2010-2016 and 2019-present. Juan also recently joined TILT Performance Group. He not only wants to learn from TILT performers, but he feels he has things to pass on to them too.