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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

 Carrie Spitler joined Snow City Arts in 2013 and has led the organization through strategic planning, strengthened assessment efforts, and increased fundraising capacity to fully support the mission.  She was selected through a competitive process for the University of Chicago’s inaugural cohort of the 2015 Chicago Leadership Academy and is a member of the Steering Committee of the Civic Knowledge Project’s Southside Arts and Humanities Network. Prior to joining Snow City Arts, Carrie serve for 10 years as the Executive Director of the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, a social justice and popular education literary arts organization, and as Publisher of the Journal of Ordinary Thought. From 1997 to 2002, she was the Director of Development at Access Living. Carrie holds a BS in Political Science from Central Michigan University, and a Certificate in Baking and Pastry from Kendall College.

Julia deBettencourt – Program director

Julia deBettencourt was recently named Program Director at Snow City Arts, after having worked there as the Director of Academic Programs since May 2013.  A graduate of Northwestern University’s prestigious Theatre program, she previously worked with 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 as a teaching artist with several companies, such as Access All Areas, WAC, Boston Children’s Theatre, and VSA Massachusetts, with a special focus on facilitating projects for people with disabilities.  In 2012, Julia received a prestigious Leverhulme Trust grant to travel to Cape Town, South Africa and make theatre with the students of the Vera School for Learners with Autism. Upon her return, Julia enrolled in Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, where she completed her Ed.M in Arts in Education in 2013.  In addition to her work with young people with disabilities, Julia teaches musical theatre at The Music Institute of Chicago and is a teaching artist for Northlight Theatre.

JONATHAN HEURING – Development and Communications Director

 Jonathan Heuring has recently joined Snow City Arts as Development and Communications Director, having spent nearly 20 years as an active member of the Chicago arts and non-profit community.  Most recently he was Individual Giving Manager at Inspiration Corporation, where he has been an active volunteer for 14 years. His theatrical experience includes 6 years at Porchlight Music Theatre in a variety of capacities, and 10 years at Victory Gardens Theater, where he helped produce over 60 world or regional premiere productions. He was also an integral part of the multi-year renovation of the historic Biograph Theater into the Zacek-McVay Mainstage and Richard Christiansen Theatre. He has worked with countless other companies in the Midwest, including Indiana Repertory, Emerald City, TimeLine, Famous Door, Lifeline, International Voices Project, Jam Theatricals and Oak Park Festival Theatres. He is a proud graduate of Indiana University-Bloomington, and still serves as an original member of the Joseph Jefferson Awards Arts & Technical Committee.

Maya L. Chandran – Program coordinator

 Maya L. Chandran joined Snow City Arts as Program Coordinator in August 2015. Maya is a Columbia College Chicago graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Arts Management and a minor in Education. A former classical Indian dancer, Maya’s love for performing arts and nonprofit administration blossomed during internships at Lookingglass Theatre Company, the American Lung Association in Greater Chicago, and 2nd Story. Prior to joining Snow City Arts, she spent a year an Education Apprentice at Imagination Stage, where she gained invaluable administrative, teaching, and leadership experience. She is particularly passionate about Snow City Arts’ programming because she herself was visited by artists-in-residence from Snow City Arts during stays at Children’s Memorial Hospital in her adolescence. Through these artists-in-residence, Maya learned first-hand what a profound impact arts education can have on hospitalized children and teenagers; these personal experiences led her to pursue a career in arts education and arts administration.

Jess Martinez – Development and Communications Associate

Jess Martinez joined Snow City Arts as Development and Communications Associate in February of 2015. Jess is an artist and arts administrator who has served in administrative support roles with small and nonprofit organizations including Foundations of Music, May I Have This Dance, Chicago Artists Coalition, and Carroll University’s Office of Cultural Diversity. She continues to work with May I Have This Dance as a Volunteer Host where she has developed a working knowledge in a variety of dance genres. Jess received her B.A. in Fine Arts with a minor in Business Entrepreneurship from Carroll University.

Artists in Residence

John Lyons


John Lyons is a filmmaker-in-residence at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. John is an Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker and a teaching artist, who has been making films with students in the Chicago area for over 10 years with various arts organizations. He is a graduate of Columbia College Chicago and is also the Assistant Director of Technology and Administration at Marwen. When he’s not teaching, he enjoys hiking with his wife Jessica and discussing outer space with his daughters Catie and Annie.


Emmy Bean


Emmy Bean is a musician-in-residence at Children’s Hospital University of Illinois, and is a singer, theater artist and teacher living in Chicago. She performs frequently with Theatre Oobleck, Curious Theater Branch, and The Neo-Futurists. She writes songs and performs with Chris Schoen and T-Roy Martin in the trio 80 Foots Per Minute. Other performance work includes appearances at the Parlor in Philadelphia, Judson Church in New York City, Studio Theater in Washington DC, and Sandglass Theater in Putney, VT.  She has toured with Amanda Maddock’s play “Mrs. Wright’s Escape” and co-created the “Three Piggy Opera” at Links Hall in Chicago. Since 2008, she has worked as an Associate Curator at the Great Small Works International Toy Theater Festival in New York City. She holds an M.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College Chicago and a B.A. in Religion from Vassar College, with a concentration in Music and Culture.



Miguel Aguilar


Miguel Aguilar is a visual artist in residence at Stroger Hospital of Cook County. An artist, educator and researcher, Miguel has been painting graffiti in Chicago since 1989. He founded Graffiti Institute in 2012, and in 2013 curated Outside In: The Mexican-American Street Art Movement in Chicago at the National Museum of Mexican Art.  Miguel holds BFA(200) and MAT(2011) degrees from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a recipient of the 3Arts Teaching Artist award. He currently lectures at SAIC, is the Executive Director of The Remix Project and works independently as a visual artist and community organizer.


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.


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, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, the University of Chicago, and the Better Boys Foundation. 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. His most recent book, This Thin Memory A-ha, was just published by Verge Books. Additionally, Eric is the editor of the on-line poetry press Beard ofBees. 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.


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.