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Our Staff

We are a diverse and versatile group of impassioned change makers and artists. Here at the core of the Creative Alliance you will find a dedicated crew with years of experience over a broad range of disciplines including community building, education, music, performance, film and video, and visual arts.

Gregory S. Smith

Executive Director

Smith arrives at the Creative Alliance with over twenty years of experience in arts non-profit and business management. His business experience includes executive operations, fundraising, staff management, and long-range planning, with additional experience in arts education, community engagement and community building events, and arts programming. Most recently at Minnesota Public Radio and the Fitzgerald Theater, Smith was accountable for revenue goals, newly imagined guest experiences that led to increased sales, and was the producer for the monthly community conversations series, In Focus, which centered conversations on issues impacting BIPOC communities. Smith started his career as an actor, director and choreographer, and will be bringing these experiences and his passion for the performing arts to the Creative Alliance as we continue to support diverse arts programming in Baltimore. Smith’s career has been committed to making arts and cultural programming accessible to all people through a mission-based lens of collaboration and strong fiscal management.

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Creative Alliance | The Patterson, exterior

Heather Keating

Marketing and Communications Director

Heather Keating grew up in an creative family and has been around art and photography all her life. In her time at the Maryland Institute College of art, where she studied Graphic Design and Photography, she fell in love with Baltimore and all of its eccentricities. She is a photographer, designer, event planner, and long-time resident of Patterson Park. Heather has worked in design, advertising, and event planning in Baltimore for more than a decade. She worked as a graphic designer for Baltimore Office of Promotion & the Arts (BOPA) where she learned the ins and outs of large-scale events. She has done marketing and design for many for Baltimore companies such as John Yuhanick Associates, Phillips Seafood, Birroteca, Johns Hopkins, Saint Agnes Hospital, the Fells Point Festival, the Baltimore Rock Opera Society, among others. She received her B.A. from the Maryland Institute College of Art.

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Creative Alliance | Heather Keating

Candace Mitchell

Director of Finance & Administration

Candace recently returned as Director of Finance & Administration with Creative Alliance after serving as a nonprofit capacity building volunteer in Peace Corps Botswana for two years. Candace previously held the position with Creative Alliance for ten years. While in Botswana, Candace utilized her passion for art and advocacy honed at Creative Alliance to collaborate with a former Baltimore-based artist to conduct a photography workshop with HIV positive girls to help them share their stories, as well as learn photography skills.

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Creative Alliance |

Yesenia Mejia

CIELO Director & Artesanas Coordinator

We honor Latin-American traditions by presenting three generations of women demonstrating, sharing, and teaching Latin American folkloric arts, crafts, and traditions taking root and thriving in Southeast Baltimore. The Artesanas focus on artist exchanges, workshops, and public events. The program includes professional development training in Spanish for immigrant artists, after-school enrichment programs, as well as public community workshops at family festivals and area schools. We organize bilingual cultural events for all ages including Día de los Muertos and traditional Posadas!

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Creative Alliance |

Adam Cooke

Technical Director

A Baltimore native, Adam Cooke has over 20 years experience as an audio engineer, mixing bands in various recording studios and venues in Baltimore and on tour. He started at Creative Alliance in 2003, and now serves as Technical Director, overseeing audio, lighting and video for the theater and Marquee Lounge, and supervising the technical staff. Adam is a drummer and holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Music Production & Engineering from Berklee College of Music.

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Creative Alliance |

Rachel Rush

Education Coordinator

Rachel Rush has worked in education, the arts, and event coordinating for over a decade in Baltimore. She has also coordinated community events such as Park After Dark in Patterson Park and taught Fine Arts at Friends School of Baltimore and Living Classrooms Foundation. As Education Coordinator, she assist in coordination of all Education offerings. After graduating from The University of the Arts with a BFA in Painting, she was awarded the Ted Carey prize. Rachel continues making her large scale jungle paintings and shows her work in the Baltimore area.

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Creative Alliance |

Vic Yambao

Development Associate

Victor Yambao has been involved in the arts and theater since graduating from Lesley University. He has worked for the Harvard Box Office in Cambridge, MA and the Improv Asylum in Boston. He’s a painter and has also worked as an illustrator, prop manager, and graphic designer for various theater groups. He moved to Baltimore and joined Creative Alliance in 2016 as a Box Office Assistant transitioning to Office Manager in 2017. Currently, he is the Creative Alliance Development Associate.

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Creative Alliance |

Joy Davis

Visual Arts Director

Joy Davis is an experienced curator, curatorial director, and an independent scholar of cultural and fashion history. In her tenure at the Walters Art Museum she, along with her staff, drove the museum forward with digital programming that encompassed some of the most diverse programming in the museum’s history. From 2015 to present she co-hosts and produces Unravel Podcast, a fashion history and culture podcast. Her scholarly projects include subject matter that is underdeveloped in academia and transcends many fields of study: fashion, history, art, media, and performance among people of color throughout history. She received her B.A. degrees in History and Media Studies from the University of Maryland, and her M.A. in Fashion and Museum Studies from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

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Creative Alliance |

Dr Tinku Bhattacharyya

Performance Director

Over the course of her quarter century plus career in the music industry. Tinku Bhattacharyya has engaged in a multitude of unique, groundbreaking roles driven by her enduring passion and creative approaches to artist development and fierce advocacy for artist rights administration and protection. Since launching her career as a club promoter and DJ with Thelonious Junk (Big Beat) and Café Graffiti in Edinburgh in 1995, the UK bred, New York and Baltimore based visionary has defined what it means to be an innovative Renaissance Woman in the fast moving, ever-evolving music industry. Tinku has been an international artist development mentor, rights activist, event producer, production and tour manager, label owner, director of talent booking and label product manager.

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Creative Alliance |

James Pollard

Finance & Administration Associate

James Pollard serves as the Finance & Administration Associate for Creative Alliance. He holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Stevenson University. He worked in the banking industry for 4.5 years before making the transition to the not-for-profit world. He is an avid learner of life, and always eager to take on new challenges.

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Creative Alliance |

Margaret Footner


After co-founding the Creative Alliance at her café and gallery in Fells Point in 1995, Margaret served as the Creative Alliance’s Executive Director from 1995-2018. She co-led the development of The Patterson, Baltimore’s premier multi-arts center. Creative Alliance built The Patterson in 2003 to champion Baltimore’s creative community, spearhead Greater Highlandtown’s revival, and build community through accessible arts and education programs. As Executive Director, Margaret led the organization’s growth from a small group of visionary volunteers into a transformative cultural force. After transitioning from executive leadership, Margaret continued as a volunteer to help develop the new Creativity Center to provide facilities and opportunities for education and community programs. She now lives on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.

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Creative Alliance |

Ari Pluznik

Community Arts and Volunteer Program Manager

Ari Pluznik joins Creative Alliance after serving as a volunteer in Peace Corps Mozambique for two years as a high school educator and youth development facilitator. With a passion for cross-cultural collaboration and creative expression, Ari worked with Mozambican artists to write and produce an album dedicated to Mozambican youth entitled “Somos Todos Iguais / We Are All Equal.” Ari graduated from St. Mary’s College of Maryland with a degree in Spanish and Biology and speaks both Spanish and Portuguese.

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Creative Alliance |