Emerging Leaders in the Arts (ELA) is a prestigious and competitive program for dedicated BIPOC individuals pursuing art museum leadership. It is a 9-month-long commitment providing in-depth and personalized instruction and mentorship. This is an experience-based education fellowship that provides art-centered professional development training to individuals aged 18 - 28 who identify as people of color. ELA is an ongoing fellowship conceived of and facilitated by Museum of Contemporary Art Santa Barbara (MCASB). Working with diverse staff at MCASB and an individual mentor, Fellows are supported through various training, hands-on experience, museum tours and travel (covid-permitting), exclusive virtual interviews with various levels of regional, national, and international museum staff, networking opportunities, and a stipend to fund an individual Curatorial Project. All aspects of the Fellowship are rooted in group discourse about DEIA as it relates to contemporary art, culture, and current events.

This fellowship has a functional and adaptable structure that includes:

  • Bi-monthly group meetings with MCASB staff
  • A Foundational Leadership Retreat
  • Conversations with regional, national and international museum staff of all levels
  • Professional development training, Financial Literacy training, and hands-on experience focusing specifically on pursuing a career in curatorial or museum management
  • Fellow-managed Curatorial Projects, involving peer benchmarking and field research, followed by a presentation to the Santa Barbara Community
    • $1,000 stipends to fund Curatorial Projects
  • Presentations and/or studio visits of local artists and art professionals
  • Individual mentorship 

In November 2017 MCASB was one of 20 museums selected to participate in the Diversifying Art Museum Leadership Initiative (DAMLI). The two-year initiative, funded by the Walton Family Foundation and Ford Foundation, was committed to supporting creative solutions to diversify curatorial and management staff at art museums across the United States.


Arleen Arreola

ARLEEN ARREOLA is a fourth-year Ethnic Studies major at UC Berkeley. Outside of academia, she has a love for arthouse cinema, midnight snacks, and capturing life’s quieter moments through analog photography. Arleen currently runs Calming Ritual, a virtual curatorial screening project showcasing queer filmmakers.

Sydnie Pace

SYDNIE PACE is an interdisciplinary artist and Book Arts major in the College of Creative Studies at UCSB. Her work investigates personal narrative while exploring materials through contemporary craft. She is currently a tutor in the Ethnic Studies department at SBCC and with the goal of becoming an arts educator.

Tess Reinhardt

TESS C REINHARDT is an artist and writer graduating this Spring from UCSB with a BA in Art. During her time at UCSB, she has worked with her department on realizing student-led initiatives, such as UPROOT Coalition, a newly-founded organization for and by QBIPOC students in the Art Department. Currently, she is applying to jobs and preparing her artwork for her Senior Honors Thesis.

ELA 2021 received support from the City of Santa Barbara's Community Arts Grant Program.

2018 ELA Fellows

The 2018 ELA fellows were all based in Santa Barbara and were previously connected to MCASB in various capacities. The high school students involved had previously participated in MCASB’s Teen Arts Council (TAC) and were enrolled in the Visual Arts & Design Academy (VADA) at Santa Barbara High School during the ELA program. The college students had either interned at MCASB as Community Engagement Representatives or have previously served as art handlers at MCASB. The remainder of the participants were junior staff at MCASB during the ELA program. Participants’ ages ranged from 16 to 39.

Top row, from left to right: Elizabeth Arras, Alberto Lule, Julia Campos, Al Partida, and Ana Urquiaga.
Bottom row, from left to right: Thalia Martinez, and Sarah Dildine, ELA Program Manager & MCASB Exhibitions Manager.
2018 ELA Group Photo

2019 ELA Fellows

The 2019 ELA fellows were located in the tri-country area and were not been previously involved with MCASB. The high school students involved were currently enrolled in the Visual Arts & Design Academy (VADA) at Santa Barbara High School. The college students were enrolled at Santa Barbara City College, California State University, Northridge, and Mills College.

From left to right: Ana Urquiaga, ELA Program Coordinator, Maia Mislang, Samantha Atherton, Sage Gaspar, Sera Quinteros, and Sarah Dildine, ELA Program Manager & MCASB Exhibitions Manager.
Not Pictured: Gabriel Cardeñas.

Click here to access the 2022 ELA Fellow Application. 

For ways to get involved with Emerging Leaders in the Arts, please contact Sarah Dildine at sdildine@mcasantabarbara.org or at 805.966.5373 x 103