Equity, Diversity & Inclusion

In 2021 the NYSATA Board took action to establish an Equity, Diversity & Inclusion Committee. 

NYSATA’s charge to the ED&I Committee: 
  • to do the difficult and ongoing work of examining and making recommendations for dismantling systemic inequities that reinforce inaccessibility, stagnate membership, and foster a general resistance to new perspectives, particularly as a means for inciting organizational change within NYSATA
  • to ensure equal access to the benefits of membership and positions of leadership for all
  • to increase the capacity of art educators to enact change that ultimately fosters greater diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility throughout their circle of influence and within their own  professional practice
  • to serve students and support educators—including those who are often marginalized due to their identity including but not restricted to cultural race, ethnicity, class, age, gender, religion, sexual orientation, special needs and other characteristics
  • to identify, guide, and support opportunities for professional development in local, regional, and state level Initiatives such as NYSED’s Culturally Responsive Sustaining Education guidance
  • to work with NYSATA leaders and program coordinators to evaluate the accessibility of NYSATA programs and to provide students with equitable opportunities for success
  • to establish goals by targeting and identifying areas for improvement regarding equity within the NYSATA community in order to create and maintain a safe, inclusive and welcoming environment

Meet the Committee Members

Caitlin Chan

Catilin Chan 
Committee Co-Chair

Caitlin Chan (they/them) is an educator, artist, biracial and queer intersectional feminist. As a child, they wondered if their identity belonged in the classroom curriculum and culture. After becoming a teacher, Mx. Chan made it a priority to ensure that students studied a broad array of visual narratives. They strongly believe that through art all individuals can be seen and through art compassion and empathy can be developed. Since 2013, Mx. Chan has taught in public schools in: Ithaca, Binghamton, the Bronx, Bloomfield, NY and Tempe, AZ. Caitlin has repeatedly presented at NYSATA and NAEA. In 2022, they received the NAEA ED&I scholarship. Caitlin aspires for educators to transform their teaching practices through a communal dialogue and sharing of knowledge. They attended the University of Rochester for a C.A.S. in Educational Leadership, Rochester Institute of Technology for a M.S.T in Visual Arts Education, and Rhode Island School of Design for a B.F.A in Film/Animation/Video and concentration in History of Art and Visual Culture.


Janika Hawthorne

Janika Hawthorne

Janika Hawthorne is a dancer, choreographer, and educator, with 17 years of teaching experience. Janika received a variety of dance training over the years while attending Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center, Harlem School of the Arts, The Alvin Ailey School, and Stony Brook University. As an artist and educator, Janika works to use dance as a practice of liberation and as a tool for social justice. Her student-centered pedagogy encourages expression, critical inquiry, and embodied knowledge as they promote the self-empowerment of all students, including those who are otherized under the systemic inequities present in education. She received an M.A in Art, Education, & Community Practice from New York University.


Diana Leiker

Diana Leiker

Diana Leiker is a retired art teacher from Lancaster, NY.  Most of her career was spent with 4-6 graders. Diana has an empathetic heart for those who are marginalized, and has spent her career focused on bringing people together. She had residents of an assisted living facility join my students for art class, worked with the social worker to bring art and counseling to at-risk boys, and wrote a grant that brought together students from a city school with students from the suburbs. Students exchanged letters, created art that represented our neighborhood, had an art show with lunch, and met at a newly opened community outreach center.

Since retiring, Diana has served on a committee to dismantle racism and discrimination, looking at ways to introduce people to the hard work of learning about the systems that exist to promote racism and how we are all part of the problem as well as the solution. She has engaged in many classes and read many books that have opened her eyes to the injustice that has perpetuated within American culture. She is pleased to be able to bring together her passion for both art education and social justice as she serves NYSATA on the ED&I committee.


Dan Napolitano

Dan Napolitano

Dan Napolitano is Chief of Staff for The New School in Manhattan, New York City.


Rachel Lyons

Rachel Lyons
Committee Co-Chair

Rachel Lyons is in her 24th year as an art teacher for the Buffalo Public Schools. She has been at Buffalo Academy for Visual and Performing Arts for the past 20 years.  During that time, she has worked to help develop art specific curriculum that integrates the District’s Culturally and Linguistically Responsive Initiatives. She also serves as a mentor teacher for new teachers in the district. Lyons integrates Culturally Responsive Initiatives and Social Justice projects into her classroom and frequently engages her students in projects that give back to the community.  She believes that one of her most important roles as a teacher is to be an advocate and ally for her students. Lyons is also a mother of four and sees her role as a parent as another important reason for her advocacy.


Kira Feurstein

Kira Feurstein has dedicated over 15 years of her life to education. After her early career as a teacher’s assistant, she received her Master’s Degree in Childhood Education. She now works as the Visual Arts teacher for the Brown School in Schenectady, New York. Throughout her career, she has been committed to providing a foundation for success for all students who enter her classroom. She has created a nurturing and supportive atmosphere and encourages her students to share their thoughts, ideas, and feelings openly and without judgment. As a visual arts teacher, Kira understands the importance of including artists and artwork, in her lessons, that reflect the many different cultures, beliefs, and identities of her students.


olivia khristan

Olivia Kristan 

 Nichelle Rivers

Nichelle Rivers​​

Dr. Nichelle Rivers is a distinguished K-12 educator and a proven leader, with over twenty-six years of experience working in education; she currently serves as the Division Administrator of Human Resources for Eastern Suffolk BOCES. She sits on the Board of Directors for the Huntington Arts Council, is an active member of Sea of Visibility, is the President of the Nassau County, NY Alliance of Black School Educators, was recently elected as the Executive Board member for the NY State Council of Administrators of Music Education, and is a proud twenty-nine-year member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Dr. Rivers is a well sought-after diversity, equity, and inclusion consultant–she also serves on the equity committee for the Nassau Music Educators Association. Dr. Rivers is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and uses her art to advocate for inclusion and removal of the negative stigma associated with members of the LGBTQ+ community. She launched an initiative entitled the Stolen Lives project where she chronicles the disproportionate number of homicides of transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary individuals. Dr. Rivers paints portraits of these victims in an attempt to keep their memory and raise awareness of the pervasive violence that plagues gender-diverse people. She is considered a contemporary artist with a splash of abstract expressionism given her mood. Her bold and vibrant depictions are inspired by her culturally rich childhood growing up in the South combined with her love of music and movement that brings to life spatial relationships and patterns in her work. A graduate of Tennessee State University in Nashville, she holds a BS in Art Education, M.Ed. in Educational Administration, and a Doctorate of Education from the University of Memphis, she and her family reside in the Long Island area.

Interested in Serving on the NYSATA ED&I Team?

All persons eligible for NYSATA membership who have an interest and meet the criteria for serving on this important leadership team are encouraged to apply. ED&I Committee members must demonstrate a commitment to social justice work as it supports NYSATAs mission. We ask for a two year commitment to the committee work.Other qualifications and duties are as follows:

Relevant Experience:

  • maintains or is establishing a leadership track record with wide-ranging experience in equity, diversity, and inclusion initiatives
  • has a personal history of committed struggle against underrepresentation in social and professional contexts, and/or experience teaching/working successfully with underrepresented populations
  • advocates for equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility (willing to stand up and speak out on behalf of others who are marginalized or disenfranchised)
  • participates with other organizations, groups, or institutions who are doing equity, diversity, and inclusion work
  • has research experience and/or a strong interest in research

Committee Members are accepted on a rolling basis as needs arise.  

Here's what you will need to apply:  
Online Application—Applicants may wish to prepare the following responses in advance 

  • provide an overview of your experience, service, scholarship, and leadership in the work of establishing greater equity, diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility (limit 1500 characters)
  • explain how you have you increased your knowledge and awareness of issues surrounding equity, diversity, and inclusion (limit 1500 characters)
  • describe how your LEADERSHIP background, knowledge, and skills support your ability to contribute to diverse perspectives (limit 1500 characters)
  • list questions, challenges and issues you believe need to be addressed in the work of establishing greater equity, diversity, inclusivity, and accessibility (limit 1500 characters)

 2 References—name and contact info for 2 individuals who can provide testimony of your comitment to equity, diversity, and inclusion.



  ED&I Resources

National Art Education Association (NAEA) 
NYSATA aligns with NAEA in our joint committment to being an inclusive community and to better reflect the students and communities we serve. 

CLICK HERE for NAEA ED&I Resources


New York State Education Department (NYSED)

CLICK HERE for Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework and Resources