Giving Compass' Take:

• Ms. Erika Atkins gives her personal lessons and insights on arts education, how to balance creativity with pragmatism, and merging collaboration and delegation. 

• What opportunities are there for funders to support arts education for young people? What can students gain from arts education?

• Here's a look inside prison art programs. 


In early May 2019, I had the honor of being one of 75 participants of the Spring 2019 American Express Leadership Academy (AELA). I gathered with others from across the country to explore our own personal strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and to collaborate on strategies to take that information and be better.

Previous to AELA, we took a series of assessments, including a 360° review (completed by our superiors, bosses, peers, direct reports and others), the Change Style Indicator, The Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior™, and Influence Style Indicator. We spend three days digging into those assessments through conversations and activities. We also got to hear from panelists including alumni of the program, other non-profit leaders, and representatives from American Express, such as American for the Arts Board Member Timothy J. McClimon.

Towards the end of the week, we each met for 90 minutes with an executive coach who’d reviewed all of our assessments, self-reflection, and organization information. We also began to reflect on how we could practically use our epiphanies and discoveries. The experience was incredible. Never before have I been afforded the luxury of three and a half days to focus on myself, not just myself in the context of the work I do.

Read the full article about leadership in arts education by Ms. Erika Atkins at Americans for the Arts.