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executive Director 

Ami Yares is a singer/songwriter, educator and social activist. Ami’s experience in arts programming ranges from research on the arts’ impact on social wellness to conflict transformation programming and design. Ami uses music as means to convey understandings about society and culture and has traveled the world, performing and teaching. BuildaBridge captures Ami’s passion for the necessity and urgency for the arts to play a more integral role in the healing and wellbeing of society. The organization is a natural nexus of Ami’s passion and he looks forward to seeing BuildaBridge develop into an even more impactful organization. 

Learn more about Ami here

Zein is an arts and culture enthusiast, educator and activist from Cairo, Egypt, by way of Portland, OR. Growing up with one foot in the Egyptian underground metal scene and the other in western classical voice, he pursued his undergraduate studies in music history, vocal performance and biology in Portland, OR and cultivated his passion for nonprofit arts. Since moving to Phila. Hassanein studied Music Therapy and Counseling and has worked in community music therapy settings, and thrown himself into the incredible arts scene. He currently works as a music therapist at an inpatient psychiatric hospital in Kensington, sits on the advisory board of Yallapunk, and a teaching artist with BuildaBridge.


Zein Hassanein
Teaching Artist


Caitlin Green

Caitlin is a dance artist based in Philadelphia, originally from Huntingdon, PA.  In her work, Caitlin aims to activate conversation, self evaluation, and vitality. She tends to concentrate on the body's role in wellness, individuality, and expressions of personal and collective narratives. Caitlin earned her Master's degree in Dance/Movement Therapy from Drexel University in 2019, where she particularly studied the use of dance improvisation for exploring and expressing self and identity. As a freelance dance artist, Caitlin has choreographed and co-created works featured in Philly Fringe Festival 2019, RAW Artist showcase, and EMERGE Earthdance multidisciplinary artist residency. 

Chelsea Faulkner is an Art Therapy and Counseling student in Drexel University’s Master Program. She really enjoys learning about new cultures, music, and foods. Chelsea is a musician and artist. She is classically trained on the violin. She also is a photographer, but enjoys creating with many other art mediums, such as ceramics, painting, and sculpture. Chelsea designs lots of social media posts, teaches compassionate yoga, has taught violin and music theory, and has led a variety of restorative visual art classes for BuildaBridge. In her free time, she enjoys being active by running, hiking, and gardening!



Teaching Artist



Mariadela Belle Alvarez is a dance artist. Alvarez creates and collaborates with the belief that dance is futuristic technology for organizing, healing and liberation. Her choreography has been presented by the Painted Bride Art Center, Asian Arts Initiative, and PGM ONE, to name a few. Teaching credits include Swarthmore College, Temple University, Spelman College, Friends Central School, and numerous community arts organizations; for which Alvarez was recognized locally by the Bartol Foundation for her leadership as a teaching artist. 

Learn more about Belle  here

Hailing from the popular Philadelphia band Fathead, Tony is one of the most versatile and eclectic drummers in the Philadelphia music scene. His played in numerous groups over the years: Robots in Disguise, Fantasy Square Garden, Alex and the Kaleidoscope, Jason Fraticelli Band, Tritide and more. Tony produces music for TV and advertising agencies and continues to create music for surfboard companies. You can also find him hosting some pretty epic open jams Chesire Brewing Company. Tony performs at weddings and with a DJ/drum duo. With over 25 years of experience playing music with Philly's greats, Tony can play pretty much any style of music from Pop jazz, funk, reggae, Latin, Afrobeat, rock, punk, and metal.


Tony Flagiello
Teaching Artist

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Julian Davenport
teaching artist 

As a teacher, Julian tries to bring out how the students see their lives. He models for them ways to describe their experiences revealing emotions beneath them. Everyone has a valuable perspective shaped by their experiences, even young children. Julian inspire them by feeling perspective and experience through his poetry and writing. Then, if they can catch the emotions I communicate, they can focus on their own and try to bring them out. It here where Julian facilitates partipants to lead and Julian becomes the audience for them,  so he can feel what they want to share. 

Learn more about Julian here

Parker Sera is an actor, theatre maker, singer, poet and teaching artist from Minneapolis, MN. She believes that the role of the artist is to help humans understand ourselves and one another. 


Parker's teaching emphasizes mindfulness, somatics, and theatre as a tool for presence and connection. In addition to her work with BuildABridge, she teaches at Philly ASAP and Temple University, where she also received her MFA in acting. More at


Parker SerA
Teaching Artist

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Jacob Sapon
teaching artist 

Jake is a poet, songwriter, and educator. Working with students of all ages and abilities, Jake values joy, community, and authentic expression in his teaching. As a teaching-artist, Jake is most passionate about teaching deep listening and communication skills. He also loves teaching people to discover their own creative voice. A recording artist, Jake's latest album is titled "Dreams of Loss and Light."

Brandon Howard is a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and avid discoverer of music. Throughout their creative career they have explored genres, textures, and dynamics in search of the largest palette possible to bring emotional abstractions into a physical sonic space. They've spent the past decade performing, teaching and composing, sharing the communal spirit of music. They hope that their sociological academic background and their longtime love of music can be shared to promote healing and create positive change.

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Brandon Howard
TEaching Artist


jihan Thomas
Teaching artist 

Jihan Thomas is a Philadelphia visual artist, artivist and community arts educator. Her work consists of painting, drawing, ceramics. She uses her creativity to encourage people to use art as a way for self expression and autonomy. As a teaching artist, Jihan uses modes of art therapy, trauma informed art practises and culturally relevant learning.

Davey Levson graduated in 2019 from the University of the Arts with a BFA in Illustration, minoring in Creative Writing. They’ve worked as a painter for Mural Arts Philadelphia. They have been working as a freelance animator, making music videos for various musicians both in the Philadelphia area and beyond. 

Learn more about Davey here.

Davey Levson.heic

DAvey levson
Teaching Artist


Chase Tan is a clinical psychologist, self-compassion practitioner, trauma-informed advocate and a fellow from the Community Engagement Exchange program. Chase works as a community psychologist and his role ranges from conducting mental health interventions to  spearheading community mental health programs for communities. In relation to arts, not only he believes that a person's wellbeing can be enhanced by tapping him/herself into the world of arts but he trusts arts can bring people together, creating a long-lasting belongingness in a community. Hence, he hopes to integrate different types of arts form into the context of community mental health.

Yen "chase" ZhoNg

Sanovia is a trauma-informed creative with an MA in Urban Studies (Community Arts) from Eastern University. She is a guitarist, vocalist, recording artist, and movement facilitator who "plays with music, movement, and communication to infuse joy to shift culture." You can find her at or @iamsanovia on social. 

Instagram / YouTubeWebsite / Portfolio


Sanovia Garrett
Teaching Artist


Teaching ARtist 

Lizzy is an interdisciplinary, gender queer artist who plays with otherworldly textures and tones to invite, envelope, and transport. Lizzy has worked as a teaching artist with Build-a-Bridge since 2015, teaching songwriting and creative collaboration using a loop pedal. They compose / perform music for dance, theater, podcast, and film. Lizzy’s work has been featured on NPR’s Invisibilia, at the Smithsonian Hirshorn, and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Their band Lizdelise released their most recent record Sept 2023, which centers themes of moving through grief by seeking radical joy and acceptance of self. Lizzy currently performs with David Dorfman Dance, Canadian indie band Housewife, and Yara Travieso.

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