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About Us

Snow City Arts is the innovator in bringing the arts to Chicago’s hospitalized children.
Our staff is comprised of artists, musicians, writers, photographers, and filmmakers drawn from Chicago’s deep cultural pool. By working side-by-side with local arts organizations, performance groups, music ensembles, and prominent universities, we help ensure our children are learning from Chicago’s brightest artistic minds. Learn more about our staff from their bios below.


Carrie Spitler, Executive Director

Image of Carrie Spitler, Executive DirectorCarrie Spitler joined Snow City Arts in January 2013 as Executive Director. She joined the Snow City Arts team after spending 10 years as the Executive Director of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance and Publisher of the Journal of Ordinary Thought where, during her tenure, she led the organization through strategic planning, increased its budget by 20%, and expanded its neighborhood efforts and partnerships.  Carrie is currently a member of the Steering Committee of the Southside Arts and Humanities Network and a member of the Chicago Literary Advisory Council of the American Writers Museum. From 1997 to 2002, Carrie was the Director of Development at Access Living where she increased government support, organized record-setting annual galas, and facilitated the creation of a major gift program and Access Living’s first endowment effort. She holds a BS in Political Science from Central Michigan University and a Certificate in Baking and Pastry from Kendall College.

Julia deBettencourt, Director of Academic Programs

Julia Beck PhotoJulia deBettencourt joined Snow City Arts as the Director of Academic Programs in May 2013.  A graduate of Northwestern University’s Theatre program, she previously worked at Chicago Children’s Theatre as their Education Associate overseeing their education and outreach initiatives, until leaving to pursue advanced study.  She received her MA in Applied Theatre with a focus in Theatre and Disability from The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London, England.  She has worked with several companies, such as Access All Areas, WAC and VSA Massachusetts, facilitating projects for people with disabilities.  In 2012, Julia received a prestigious Leverhulme Trust grant to travel to Cape Town, South Africa and bring theatre to the Vera School for Learners with Autism. Upon her return, Julia enrolled in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, where she recently completed her Ed.M in Arts in Education.  In addition to her work with young people with disabilities, Julia teaches musical theatre at The Music Institute of Chicago.

Artists in Residence

Allison Spicer

Allison Spicer is a Visual Artist-in-Residence at Rush Children’s Hospital and Stroger Hospital of Cook County. She is an exhibiting 2D artist in Chicago who works primarily in traditional drawing (graphite) and painting (gouache and oils) mediums. Allison did her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and graduate work at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has been a teaching artist since 2002, developing her pedagogy at Detroit and Chicago Public Schools, the Smart Museum, MCA, Marwen, Hyde Park Arts Center, Rush Day School, and Street Level Youth Media. In 2013 Allison was select for the Artigiana Artist Residency in Sicily, which resulted in her first international exhibition, Ombre Triangulari, held at the Castello di Milazzo, by the Italian Consulate.


Bernie McGovern

Bernie McGovern is a Visual Artist-in-Residence at Rush Children’s Hospital and Children’s Hospital University of Illinois. Bernie is a puppet designer, art director, animator, illustrator, and graphic novelist. His theatrical adventures have brought him into the company of the Actors Theatre of Louisville, the Neo-Futurists, Dog & Pony, and Sansculottes Theater. Between bouts of theatrical frenzy, Bernie spends his free time lovingly chipping away at his epic graphic novel in progress An Army of Lovers Will Be Beaten, leaving xeroxed mini’s and ten foot paintings in his wake. He holds a BFA from Maryland Institute, College of Art.


Dan Kerr-Hobert

Dan Kerr-Hobert is a Theatre Artist-In-Residence at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.  He is an ensemble member of Blair Thomas and Company, former Artistic Director of Sans-culottes Theater and Manifest Theatre, and a regular collaborator with the Chicago Neofuturists. As a renowned director, deviser, performer, and puppet designer, his work has been seen throughout the United States at venues such as the MCA, the DIA, NJPAC, Steppenwolf, the Pritzker Pavilion, HERE Arts Center in New York, Dad’s Garage in Atlanta and The Actors Theatre of Louisville. Additionally, he has taught at The Theatre School at DePaul University and the Art Institute of Chicago. Dan is an alum of the Acting program at The Theatre School at DePaul University.


Eric Elshtain

Eric Elshtain is a poet-in-residence at Stroger Hospital of Cook County and Children’s Hospital University of Illinois. He has taught poetry and other subjects through the Poetry Center of Chicago’s Hands on Stanzas program, at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and at the University of Chicago. His poetry, reviews and interviews have been published in such journals as the Notre Dame Review, McSweeney’s, American Letters & Commentary, among many others.  His book, Here In Premonition, was published in 2006. Additionally, Eric is the editor of the on-line poetry press Beard of Bees. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.


Jonathan Stein

JJon-Stien-9-28-12-e1348842135332-228x300onathan Stein is Visual Artist-in-Residence at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. He is an abstract painter and printmaker, as well as being an art educator who has been working with Snow City Arts since 2007. He exhibits his own artwork at Thomas Masters Gallery in Chicago. Also, his artwork has been shown in galleries and exhibitions in New York, London, Miami, Chicago and throughout Illinois. He is an Illinois Arts Council grant recipient. As an educator Jonathan has also been working in the Kraft Artabounds Studio program at the Chicago Children’s Museum since 2004.


Kurt Chiang

Kurt_ChiangKurt Chiang is a Writing/Theater Artist-In-Residence at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Kurt is a company member with The Neo-Futurists, his artistic home since 2008. As a Neo-Futurist, he has written over 200 small plays within the long-running Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind: 30 Plays in 60 Minutes, in addition to working as a writer/performer and sound-designer for many of the theater’s “prime-time” work, including Daredevil’s Hamlet; BEER!: The Musical; A Very Neo-Futurist Christmas Carol; Contraption; Picked-Up; and The Fool Returns To His Chair. In 2013 he created his full-length show Analog, a combination of non-fiction narrative, ensemble performance, and installation art. He has also worked with The Hypocrites (Ivywild), Drinking & Writing Theater, The Paper Machete, 30 Days In the Whole, and Pillow Talk with Michael Hamilton. He will be directing The Neo-Futurist prime-time show Haymaker, created by Trevor Dawkins, in summer of 2014.


Lenny Zieben

Image of Lenny Zieben, teaching artistLenny Zieben is a musician-in-residence at Stroger Hospital of Cook County and Rush Children’s Hospital and has worked at Snow City Arts since 2011. He is thrilled to be here. When not at Snow City, Lenny teaches children’s music classes, works as a sound engineer and composes music under the name Voluptuous Tusk. He is a graduate of DePaul University and has worked with kids at The Old Town School, Lincoln Park Cultural Center, Women’s Athletic Club and led recording workshops at Music Industry Workshop and Waukegan School District. Lenny has performed throughout the USA but mostly in Chicago, Minneapolis and Texas.


Mikey Peterson

Mikey Peterson is a filmmaker-in-residence at Stroger Hospital of Cook County and Rush Children’s Hospital. He is a video/audio artist and singer/songwriter who actively exhibits and performs at galleries, festivals and clubs internationally. His video work is also shown on the Paris/London-based satellite television channel, Art Television and the New York-based website, Videoart.net. Additionally, he teaches video/audio art, filmmaking, animation, and music to elementary and high school students at Marwen Foundation and Chicago Arts Partnerships in Education.


Ronnie Kuller

Image of Ronnie Kuller, Musician-in-ResidenceRonnie Kuller is a Musician-in-Residence at Stroger Hospital of Cook County and Rush Children’s Hospital. She is a faculty member at both Sherwood Community Music School at Columbia College and at the Old Town School of Folk Music. She received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, and went on to receive her teaching credential from the American Montessori Society. She is now a multi-instrumentalist performing in many capacities and various collaborations, and is a member of Mucca Pazza, Chicago’s premier circus punk marching band.