Board of Directors
Angela Lowden, B.S. ED- AST
Founder/Executive Director, Art Expression, Inc.
Angela Lowden created the Art Expression foundation with her husband James in 2001 as an expression of their passion for alleviating the social inequalities that exist among children of different abilities and backgrounds. It is a fully inclusive after-school program that focuses on developing the social skills of children through art in the Pittsburgh area.
Art has always been important to Angela and she believes that it can change lives. Beginning at a very young age, she used art as a way to bolster her own self-esteem and used it to solve problems. Art helped get her through a childhood that she describes as challenging, with early parental loss.
The idea for Art Expression germinated a few years after Angela and James became parents in 1986. As Angela watched her son James interact with his peers, she noticed that some children lack the social skills to join in school activities and make friends. The goal of Art Expression is to help children develop social skills through art.
Art Expression began in the middle schools of the Mt. Lebanon School District and quickly expanded to nine schools by 2007. Today, the program serves 11 school districts located in five counties throughout southwestern Pennsylvania, in addition to providing workshops in 12 area homeless shelters and in a variety of community organizations through its various partnerships. As of 2016, over 8,000 children have been served by Art Expression’s inclusive programming.
Angela holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Education from Duquesne University and a degree in Applied Specialized Technology from the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.
Cheryl Silinskas, M.A.
Art Expression offers a way for me to do what I love most, and to give back to others who need it. I love writing, and creating new art activities to inspire students.
Being part of the Board of Directors allows me to learn about the different aspects that go into running the foundation, and helps me to select projects that are a good fit for my experience. I have helped pilot the HCEF program and professional development series, designed logos, and worked on some of our STEAM programs.
Most of all, I enjoy working with the students and co-facilitators. I am inspired each time I work with our participants and the triumphs they see in their artwork. At the heart of it, what Art Expression offers is something very meaningful at all levels of involvement.
Don Klins, C.P.A.
Certified Public Accountant
I originally got involved with Art Expression Inc. as a financial advisor. I was asked to be a Board Member because of my skill set. I had no previous experience with organizations helping children and having no children of my own, I looked at this as more of a business related function. As time progressed, although I had never personally attended one of Art Expression’s sessions, I was able to see the results of the dedication of the art therapists and facilitators through videos and personal testimonials of the children attending the sessions. It was heart-warming to see children developing a sense of self and building self- confidence through the projects and interaction with other children. It was only recently, when I heard a personal testimonial from a prior student, that I remembered being extremely shy growing up and realizing that Art Expression is providing a vehicle to help children overcome self-consciousness and provide a safe, nurturing environment where they can just be themselves.
Kathy Foster, Ed.D
Former Assistant Superintendent, Keystone Oaks School District
I am a former Assistant Superintendent of the Keystone Oaks School District. In this capacity, I had the opportunity to observe the Art Expression Program operating in two of our elementary buildings. First-hand, I witnessed the mission of this organization, the facilitation of positive socialization with children and adolescents through expressive art activities in an inclusive educational environment, come alive! The engagement of special education students and regular education students with the stimulating projects and conversations surrounding these classes was readily apparent. Enthusiastic students and staff were the hallmark of this program. Consistently, students requested more classes and longer after-school sessions. A waiting list for the program was a testimony to its positive influence on our students. The relationship of student engagement and connectedness to school is a researched-based factor in improved achievement. Art Expression provided the students in the Keystone Oaks School District an opportunity to become both engaged and connected through meaningful art activities which supported both academic and social growth.
Jaclyn Faulds, J.D.
Attorney, Houston Harbaugh. P.C.
Lisa Heap, M.A. ATR-BC (Advisory Board Member)
Board Certified, Registered Art Therapist
It is rare in one’s life to find something that one can be an advocate for and I consider myself fortunate to have found Art Expression Incorporated. This organization is a unique program that utilizes my personal passions of art therapy, helping children, and volunteering for a wonderful cause. Being a board member since its nonprofit inception has been one of the best experiences of my life. I consider myself lucky to be a part of a team of like-minded individuals, whose ultimate goal is to help others. The positive results of the program are seen in participant’s behaviors, attitudes, and personal stories. I have seen the program grow and change over the last few years to help not only those in schools but also within the military, homeless shelters, and within various community-based programs. Even with its expansions it continues to hold its core principals and ideals closely. I look forward to seeing the program grow, expand, and change in the coming years.
Brad Peterson, B.A.
Accounting, Office Manager, Spherion
Hoda Ammar, B.A.
Psychology, MA Counseling