Founded in 1977, Free Arts partners with domestic violence shelters, housing programs, and after school initiatives throughout Los Angeles to deliver therapeutic art programs and adult mentors to children. Programs are developed with the input of an Art Therapist, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Child Psychologist and Elementary School Art Teacher. 


Adult facilitators follow a pre-set curricula designed to help children feel safe, understand and express their emotions and restore self-esteem and hope. All mentors and facilitators complete a training course prior to mentoring children. 

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Children who live with abuse and poverty typically experience extremely low resiliency, self-esteem, and hope. They are likely to grow up and unwittingly repeat the patterns of behavior in which they were raised, experiencing mental illness, addiction, abusive relationships and criminal behavior as adults. Most will not go to college and many will never graduate high school, putting their futures at risk.

Studies show that engaging in art - dance, music, drawing, painting, writing or other - restores hope, resiliency and self-esteem in children and adults. Art has been found to uniquely help certain areas of the brain develop in children, particular areas related to critical thinking and other skills needed for a successful future.




Joan Ford has more than fifteen years of leadership and fundraising experience in the nonprofit community in Los Angeles, including CEO, Executive Direction and VP of Fundraising since 1999. Her expertise in fundraising, strategic planning, and managing teams has improved revenue, morale, visibility, efficiency and efficacy for numerous nonprofit throughout LA. Joan is a 1995 graduate of UCLA's Management and has completely trainings at the Center for Creative Leadership, Grantsmanship Center and Indiana University School of Fundraising.




Tom Earl has a background in strategic planning, executive coaching, training, and consulting for individuals and organizations across education, non-profit and private enterprise.  His focus is in leadership development, conflict mediation, team building, expression & creativity, and diversity & inclusion.

Tom is the Founder and Principal of T.H.E. Celebration Academy - an online learning platform which connects students with their purpose and gifts, while taking their leadership, communication and relationships to the next level.

Tom’s prolific music and spoken word career has afforded him the opportunity to perform both nationally and internationally.  He leads motivational leadership training to thousands of people every week through his weekly podcast and video series, T.H.E. Celebration.



With ambitious dreams, Karol received B.A. in Child Development in June of 2016. Karol is always exploring different ways to get involved in her community, focusing on providing support and positive interactions with children through volunteer opportunities with local preschools, childcare centers and other organizations. Karol began with Free Arts as a volunteer and soon became an Intern at the Courthouse Program. She served as President of the Child Development Association at Cal State Los Angeles for a year and is currently the Vice President. She always finds ways to keep her hands busy and is always excited to meet new people. Karol's next goal is to get her Masters Degree in Special Education for Early Childhood. Although she is extremely goal oriented, she still manages to keep close relationship with friends and family, and have fun exploring the world.

Tawana Carter, Office Manager

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Tawana Carter lives in Altadena with her husband, two daughters and dog Scruffy.

She graduated in 2008 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management with a concentration in Human Resources. She set a personal goal and completed her MBA in 2015 and continues to study for her Human Resources credentials.

She has always had a passion for working with local nonprofits, she has organized fundraising events, formed community partnerships and sat on several boards in various capacities.


Sara Ford, Development Manager

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Sara is driven by her passions for art, creativity and making real change happen. She received her Bachelor of Music in French Horn Performance from the University of Southern California in 2013, and then went on to get her Master of Music Performance from Indiana University in 2015. An LA native, she knew she would always end up back in California. While at USC, Sara's passion for community service was fostered, and she began her journey through the nonprofit world through various organizations and nonprofits. 



Free Arts Professional Facilitators and Teaching Artists

From Left to Right: Daniel Guadelupe Sanchez, Monica Ronquillo, Karol Hernandez, and Elizabeth Wang


Free Arts has an open policy of complete transparency. Below are the most recent 990, annual audit and 501c3 letter. If you require more documentation please email or call 310.313.4278.