Sarah Crisp- Volunteer-Founding Executive Director
Founded Awakening Minds in April, 2009 BA of Psychology from The University of Findlay, 2008 Certification in Behavior Tools, PCMA 2011
Sarah Crisp is the founding director of the nonprofit organization Awakening Minds. The organization was created in 2009 in Findlay, Ohio after Sarah saw the need in the community for therapeutic programming, with no restrictions, to children and adults with special needs. Originally, Sarah is from Spencerville, Ohio which is a small farm town near Lima, Ohio. As a child, art was Sarah's primary outlet that led her to the nick name "A-C" which stood for "Arts & Crafts". Art made Sarah feel calm, complete and accepted, which is a huge driver in the creation of programming at Awakening Minds Art. Throughout her high school years, Sarah was on the track & golf teams, competition Cheerleading squad and led the Yearbook Committee. The University of Findlay is what drew Sarah to Findlay, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Sarah later earned a certificate of competence from PCMA (Professional Crisis Management Association). Through several years of observing and being mentored by professionals in Occupational Therapy and Behavior Analysis, Sarah found the world of special needs to be natural for her to understand. Today, Sarah’s team at Awakening Minds is made up of professionals ranging from Behavior Specialists, Occupational Therapy mentors and students, Art Therapists, Music Therapists and licensed educators to make up the well-rounded organization that shares knowledge and experiences with each other, creating a power team for special needs individuals. The staff working for Awakening Minds Art make it possible for Sarah to live and breathe her vision every single day.
Congratulations to Sarah for being a 20 Under 40 Award Recipient in 2019! "Sarah Crisp serves as the Founding Executive Director of Awakening Minds Art in Findlay, a nonprofit organization created in 2009 that provides therapeutic and educational programs to all ages and abilities. Crisp has helped grow the organization to serve over 10,000 people in northwest Ohio, leading a full board of directors that assists with governance and fundraising. The organization has fundraised to a total income of $1 million since it's inception, and it recently completed a capital campaign that allowed it to move into a new custom-built facility. Over the years, the organization has won a variety of awards, including the "Go Local" Small Business Champion award; the Arts Partnership Community Arts Awareness award; and multiple Findlay Area Family awards. Crisp earned her Bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Findlay in 2008. She is active in the community and serves as the vice-chair of the Hancock Leadership Alumni Association, a member of The Arts & Heritage Council in Findlay, and volunteers her time advising start up charities." -Toledo Business Journal Vol 35, No. 11
Megan Hall- Instructor
Joined AMA in June, 2012. Bachelors of Art Education 2010 University of Findlay Bachelors of Studio Art 2010 University of Findlay Minor in Art History 2011 University of Findlay
Originally from a small town outside of Defiance, Ohio, Megan first decided to come to Findlay to attend the University of Findlay on a golf scholarship. Graduation led her to a job working with Children on the Autism Spectrum for 5 years where she worked her way up from being a classroom aide to a classroom teacher. It was in these 5 years that she grew her passion for working with children with special needs. “I have always used art as a personal outlet and I think that is why I was always implementing art into my general education classes I taught to children with special needs. Art was used as a multi-faceted tool in my classroom. To learn, as incentive, and as a way to build trust, connection and understanding. When I found Awakening Minds Art it kind of just clicked and the organization was a natural fit for me…We give them the tools to accomplish feats, build confidence, and grow in not only their art but in life!” Megan is the lead instructor for the Therapeutic Department at Awakening Minds. She is also the Program Director and Volunteer Coordinator, in charge of creating, staffing, and overseeing Awakening Minds’ programs.
"I find it very interesting how art in general and our painting techniques can increase cognitive function and re-maping through the release of dopamine and whole brain synchronization. I've witnessed first hand how whole brain stimulation and sustained attentive focus have brought a client from being somewhat unresponsive at the beginning of the session to the end of a session being 'reawakened'. I see motor control improve, receptive and expressive language, memory and motor planning all change in sessions, especially within the nursing homes. It all makes sense how painting, which naturally triggers dopamine release, increases these things."
Emily Sullivan- Development Director, Instructor
Joined AMA in May, 2017 Bachelors of Fine Arts, 2009, University of Dayton Masters of Fine Arts, 2012, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
Emily is from Bowling Green, Ohio. She earned her degrees in the Fine Arts, specifically for painting. After graduating and moving back from the St. Louis area, she began teaching art and art history classes at Terra State and Owens Community Colleges. When Emily found Awakening Minds Art in 2017, the change in careers made sense. “I began teaching at AMA to continue my passion for art and to spread an appreciation for the arts to as many people as possible. Art is an important part of everyday life, not just as an outlet for emotions or as a way of expressing ideas, but as a way to improve your mind and body. I am so happy to work in a place that celebrates that!” In addition to teaching, Emily is the in-house grant writer and directs the operations and development of the organization.
Awakening Minds Art, founded in 2009, is a nonprofit organization. THE MISSION To provide therapeutic and educational visual art programs to all ages & abilities.
THE VISION To create affirming, all-inclusive spaces where people have the confidence to develop into the best version of themselves. Awakening Minds works towards building skills that help people not only feel success within our community, but to be successful throughout their lives.