Arts Internship Program (for Students) - Peer Groups

Students will have the opportunity to participate in monthly activities lead by different Peer Group Leaders. These spaces are meant to complement students’ experiences within their host organizations by allowing them to explore other facets of finding (or securing) a job, creating and maintaining an artistic practice, and more. Each event, led by a local arts professional, supports students in meeting other interns, building their network, and learning more about the arts ecology of the region.  As part of the Arts Internship Program, students are required to attend at least one of these Peer Group events during their internship.

The below information has been updated for the 2024 program.

Larry Laboe

Larry Laboe

Larry Laboe is Co-Founder and Executive Director of NewFilmmakers Los Angeles (NFMLA), an organization championing filmmakers and storytellers worldwide. Larry is a member of the Producers Guild of America and has been a Faculty Member at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) and L Art University. He is a Board Member of the BRIC Foundation and Film Festival Alliance (FFA) and a Committee Member of SAGindie. Larry has produced content directed by talent such as Joseph Gordon Levitt, for some of the world’s leading brands, networks and studios, including Disney, NBC, VEVO, Dailymotion, MTV, DEFY Media, Comedy Central, Verizon, Amazon, Complex Media, Mountain Dew, Samsung, Coca-Cola, Verizon and Smuckers. These productions have been official selections at top festivals including South by Southwest (SXSW) and have won major awards including a BANFF World Media Festival Rockie Award.

Tahnee Freda

A headshot of Tahnee Freda

Tahnee Freda is a writer, instructor and arts administrator in Los Angeles. She's currently the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Music and Art School, as well as the Managing Director at Ojai Playwrights Conference.

Tahnee is a graduate of the University of Southern California's School of Dramatic Arts, and holds a BA in Visual and Performing Arts Studies with a concentration in Playwriting.  She received her certification in Nonprofit Management from the Center for Nonprofit Management in 2023 and is a member of the Teaching Artists Guild's National Advisory Committee.

Sayon Syprasoeuth

A headshot of Sayon Syprasoeuth

Sayon Syprasoeuth is an artist, a community activist and a teacher. He received his Master of Fine Art (MFA) from Claremont Graduate University (CGU, 2007), Sayon’s collages and images are reflective of his own journey as a Cambodian refugee – from his shocking exile from his childhood village on the Cambodian-Thai border (June 1975), to his scary passage into Thailand countryside and his lost boyhood in a refugee camp where making art was his imagination safeguard – to his passage from his Buddhist-animist land to Christian America (March 1980). His work holds fast his connection to the Cambodian spirit-enhancing land, cross-cultural dimensions, and his drive to animate Apsara and other essential images of beauty alongside the grotesque. For the last nine years he has been working as an artist, community activist, social justice in the AAPI community in a nonprofit (United Cambodian Community) in Long Beach, California.

Sayon is certified Youth Mental Health First Aid trainer, and Community Resiliency Model (CRM) trainer.

Amy Eriksen

A headshot of Amy Eriksen

Amy Eriksen has had a long career in arts education and passion for bringing the arts to all ages and groups. She has worked in the non-profit and education sectors for over 25 years and loves how arts and education convene at Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro, where she serves as Executive Director. Amy is dedicated to community and collaboration; she spends much of her free time on community task forces and is the Past Chair of the Long Beach Human Relations Commission. Amy holds a BA in Music Education from the University of Redlands. In addition, she holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Management.

Jennifer Fukutomi-Jones


Jennifer Fukutomi-Jones currently serves as Principal Arts & Culture Administrator with the City of Glendale’s Library, Arts and Culture department, and works directly with the Arts and Culture Commission to oversee public art initiatives of the Urban Art Program. Prior to working with the City of Glendale, Jennifer held previous roles with Arts for LA, Ford Theatre Foundation, The Unusual Suspects Theatre Company and LA Opera. Jennifer received her B.A. in American Literature and Culture with a minor in Theatre from UCLA.

Elisa Bocanegra

A headshot of Elisa Bocanegra

Elisa Bocanegra is a Puerto Rican producer-director-actor. She is the founder and artistic director of HERO Theatre, a social and environmental justice community-based theatre company in Los Angeles. She is a Fulbright scholar and mentor. Elisa is currently in residence at Instituto Humboldt, a biodiversity research center, in Bogota, Colombia where she was commissioned to write and direct a play about environmental justice issues in Colombia.

Christie Rios

Christie Rios headshot

Christie Rios- is the newly appointed Artistic Director to Danza Floricanto/USA. She is a graduate of Cal State, Los Angeles with a degree in English and a minor in Anthropology.

She has danced with Danza Floricanto since 1980 and has toured with the company throughout the American Southwest and Mexico. She has mastered the company’s repertory – from the Azteca dances to the flirtatious skirt-work of Jalisco, as well as the fandango style of dancing from Veracruz.

Christie is also the coordinator of the Floricanto Institute, the teaching arm of the company now celebrating its 21st year. And she is responsible for its current 170+ student enrollment. As Artistic Director for The Floricanto Center, she is responsible for the coordination and implementation of all events at our space. She supervises all volunteers during our events, as well as our LA County summer interns. She works directly under the organization’s Board of Directors.

Christie has studied dance with some of the most important folkloric and modern dance masters, including Rafael Zamarripa, Loretta Livingston and Lula Washington. She began choreographing 10 years ago, creating “Mama’s Lullaby” at Floricanto’s, Folklorico With a Point of View in 2014, “What If” as part of Immigrants Stories, “;” at Floricanto’s 14th Annual Fiesta del Día de Los Muertos, and “Tomorrow” at Floricanto’s 40th Anniversary Program. Christie collaborated in 2017 with molecular biologist, Dr. Paul Nerenberg on an innovative dance piece that combined science and movement, ‘Essence of Me’. In 2023, she created pieces for Floricanto’s Mujer: Ayer, Hoy y Siempre, on topics as varied as being ‘the other’, how woman can heal from the microaggressions placed on them, and honoring our ancestors with a dance called: Seeds and Flowers.

Christie finds inspiration and choreographs dances that relate to the human condition, always with her background of folklorico and percussive footwork in mind.

Raelle Dorfan

A headshot of Raelle Dorfan

Born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, Raélle immigrated to California where she went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude from UCLA World Arts and Culture Dance & Choreography Department. Beginning her performance training under the Royal Academy of Dance Ballet program, Raélle furthered her studies in various forms of dance, Pilates and Musical Theater and continued to pursue her passion for arts and culture as a Creative Director, Teaching Artist, Consultant, Educator, Performer, Choreographer, Trainer and Producer (festivals, performances, events, music videos, commercials, workshop programming etc). Raélle is Executive Director / Chief Financial Officer of Los Angeles' dance service organization, Dance Resource Center (DRC), Managing Director of UniverSOUL Hip Hop - transforming culture and restoring communities through dance, and is resident Teaching Artist & Choreographer at Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles for over a decade. Raélle serves as Board Director for The Simama Project based in Nanyuki, Kenya, and Fusion Performing Dance Academy located in East Los Angeles. Raélle sits on the Advisory Board of TeenTix/LA, and on the Entertainment Community Fund Western Council. Raélle has been involved in The Music Centers' Partner Network Initiative since inception, and is an affiliate of Dance/USA's Service Organization Council. Raélle's partnerships and collaborations have been vast and continue to expand and evolve, including work with Felicia Rosenfeld, Debbie Allen, JaQuel Knight and the City of LA to facilitate equitable resource sharing and emergency aid for creatives during the pandemic. Under Raélle's leadership, DRC has received the largest monetary grants across the organization's 35+ year history and has tripled the organization's operating budget and partnership programs/community offerings. Prior to her role at the DRC and UniverSOUL Hip Hop, Raélle was Associate Director at Cadence Arts Network, a boutique booking and consulting agency specializing in dance and world music and held the position of Education Director at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center as part of RKDC programming. Raélle coordinated and managed New York based Pentacle programming in Los Angeles, and was Managing Director of the Blaktinx Festival during formation and expansion. Raélle has served on various grant review and selection committees, and has been invited as a Guest Speaker for panels such as Arts For LA, City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, Entertainment Community Fund, USC, UCLA and more. Additionally, Raélle has served as a judge on various performance competitions such as Dancing with the South Bay Stars and Open Call at the McCallum Theater. Accomplished in the performing arts from a young age, Raélle has performed at some of California's most prestigious venues such as; Four Seasons Beverly Hills, McCallum Performing Arts Center, Cerritos PAC, Redlands Bowl, James Armstrong Theater, Levitt Pavilion Pasadena, LA Convention Center, Art Share LA, Barrio Action Center, UCLA’s Freud Playhouse & Fowler Museum, as well as Japan American Theatre, Los Angeles for Nisei Festival and Eagle Rock Festival, with Pacifico Dance Company, Fusion Dance Theater and featuring her own work. Raélle has choreographed and directed various music videos and commercials including; Barbie/Raise Our Voices, Bernie The Dolphin 'Best Friend', Made in 8 and Converse. She has released two independent solo music albums and her sound/videos have reached and engaged over a million YouTube viewers. Raélle's experience, relationships and expertise is diverse and all encompassing; ranging in programs and projects, production and management, advocacy and operations.


Piper Gourley

A headshot of Piper Gourley

Piper Gourley is a creative writer from Houston, Texas residing in Southern California. Their work has been published in Joyland, The Rumpus, Michigan Quarterly Review: Mixtape, Quarterly West, X-R-A-Y, Glassworks, TIMBER, Lindenwood Review, and elsewhere. They are a graduate of the University of Houston’s undergraduate Creative Writing program, where they won the Bryan Lawrence Prize for Nonfiction and the Provost Prize for Creative Writing. In 2023, they completed their MFA in Creative Writing through Chapman University with a focus on memoir. Piper is the Editor-in-Chief of The Institutionalized Review, a literary magazine which aims to elevate writing and artwork from formerly institutionalized, hospitalized, and incarcerated individuals. They are enthusiastic about supporting creatives in their unique and vulnerable journeys.

Karen Mack

A headshot of Karen Mack

Over 20 years ago, Karen Mack created the South LA based nonprofit LA Commons based on a vision of communities where everyone has the access and freedom to express themselves culturally and to tap the power that creativity provides.  Since that time, she and her team have worked in neighborhoods across the city, implementing artistic programs that foster interaction, dialogue and collaboration for a better Los Angeles.  LA Commons plays a unique role as a facilitator of local engagement in arts and culture as well as in other important issues - health, transportation and education to name a few, giving residents and particularly young people, a voice and an onramp to making positive change. Prior to work with LA Commons, she served as a Public Service Fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University where she researched the role of culture in community building.  She holds an MPA from Harvard University and an MBA from the John Anderson School of Management at UCLA and is currently a mayoral appointee to the City of Los Angeles Planning Commission (Equity Chair) and serves on the board of California Humanities.