Beth Wilbur Van Mierlo, Executive Director
Beth Wilbur Van Mierlo is an artist and an educator. She has dedicated her professional and adult life to promoting the importance of art and education. Beth has had the opportunity to work with a variety of community organizations facilitating insightful and productive connections through the arts. Over a decade ago, Beth founded Oak Street Studios, A Young People’s Art Institute, where she serves as director, curriculum developer, and instructor. In the spring of 2013, she co-founded Side x Side. Beth holds a BFA in Sculpture and Drawing from the University of Southern Maine. She lives with her husband and three children in Portland.
Kelly Hrenko, Ph.D., Director of Professional Development & Program Dissemination
Associate Professor of Art Education at University of Southern Maine, Dr. Hrenko’s current scholarship is within the field of integrated arts and multimodal creative literacies. She uses her position as a teacher educator in the visual arts as a place where several intersections occur; between art and culture, community and school; and interdisciplinary education. She comes from the Midwest where she worked in public and Native American BIA schools, assisting K-12 teachers as they work to integrate the visual arts and Native cultures across curricula.
Gretchen Berg, Lead Teaching Artist & Curriculum Consultant
Gretchen Berg is a teaching artist/educator with more than 30 years of experience. She is known for her collaborative approach, working with educators and students to integrate theater, dance, visual arts and classroom curriculum in New England schools, community centers and museums. She received the Maine Alliance for Art Education’s 2007 Bill Bonyun Award for her contribution to the arts in Maine schools. Gretchen has taught at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education (“Learning & Teaching about Diversity through Performance Art”), Bowdoin College, Bates College and the University of Southern Maine and holds an EdM Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Louisa Donelson, Organizational Director
Louisa has worked in youth arts and museum education for 12 years. She believes arts education is a vehicle to encourage empathy, social bridging, and to foster deep, interpersonal relationships with each other and the world. She believes each of us have something to teach and something to learn from each other. Louisa holds a BFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design and keeps her fine art practice in her back pocket. She lives in Portland with her husband and two young daughters.
Meghan Scribner, Program Documentation and Research Coordinator
Meghan is an interdisciplinary artist and educator who enjoys working with a wide range of ages and abilities. She is passionate about using the arts as a learning avenue and recently completed a rigorous course in arts integration. Meghan holds masters degrees in counseling/art therapy and fine arts. She is an avid learner and has always been curious about resiliency and adaptability in education. Her breadth of experience supports current best practices in education including Social Emotional Learning. Her work has included curriculum and program development, collaborative teaching and professional development implementation. When she is not busy with her academic and artist endeavors, she can be found outside, likely at the beach, with her husband and three kids.
Perryn Anable Ferris, Director of Communications and Design
Perryn has been a freelance web and graphic designer for almost two decades and has a background in software design and development. Since moving to Portland in 2002, she has co-founded an online magazine, MainelyKids.com, and has worked with many of Maine’s leading nonprofits and government organizations while working for Shoestring Agency in various roles including senior web designer, creative consultant and copy editor. She holds a BFA in painting from Boston University. Perryn enjoys living in downtown Portland with her husband and two daughters.
Anne Ackerman, Teaching Artist Coordinator
Anne earned her BA in Art from the University of Southern Maine and returned to earn her BFA in Art Education with a studio concentration in photography. Anne is a certified K-12 visual arts teacher and received the Art Education Discipline Award from USM for her approach to curriculum and her volunteer work with at-risk youth. Originally from Oregon, Anne moved to Maine at a young age. Time spent on both coasts has influenced Anne’s artwork. As a photographer, Anne is interested in capturing the textures, lines, shapes and patterns found within nature and her environment. Anne’s studio work includes black and white photography, collage, mixed media and clay.
Megan Pollino, Program Support and Budget Administrator
Megan Pollino is a Maine native and educator with experience working with students pre-K through high school. She has pursued her passion of hands-on, student focused and inquiry based program development through various placements as a Program Director, Visual Arts Instructor and most recently, middle school Special Education teacher. Megan holds a BFA in Art Education and a MS in Special Education from the University of Southern Maine. Megan lives in Kennebunk with her husband and daughter.
Joel Ellis Brown, Photographer
Joel is a lifelong Mainer who has lived in Portland for 26 years. She received her B.A. in Art from the University of Southern Maine and has worked as an artist and in other self-employed ventures as a landscape gardener, baker and seat weaver ever since. Photography has been her main creative outlet for the past few years and she is delighted to be able to combine her love for the medium with her work for Side x Side. She loves spending her extra time on adventures with her son. In addition to taking photos and painting watercolors, she enjoys cooking and baking, hiking and camping, books and films, gardening and animals.