Upturn Arts Lead Staff

Dana Reed
Founding Executive Director

Dana M. Reed stands as the visionary force behind Upturn Arts, serving as its Founder and Executive Director since its inception in 2010. Originating from the bustling streets of NYC’s Wall Street, Dana orchestrated a remarkable shift, channeling her passion for dance into a transformative venture that brings high-quality arts education to the underrepresented youth of New Orleans.

After graduating with honors from the University of Southern Mississippi, Dana’s commitment to the art form has left an indelible mark. Her journey as a master dance educator has taken her across the globe, contributing her expertise to renowned institutions such as the Bates Dance Festival in Lewiston, Maine (2001-2014); Nightingale Bamford School in New York City (2006-2009); Cikal School in Jakarta, Indonesia (2008); and Tulane University in New Orleans (2012).

Dana M. Reed’s impactful journey in the realm of arts and education is punctuated by a series of esteemed accolades. Notably, she received the Community Enrichment Award at Tulane University’s Community Involvement Awards 2018, recognized as an Outstanding Millennial in Social Entrepreneurship and Change Maker by The Millennials Voices of a Generation, further solidifying her standing as a catalyst for transformative initiatives. Dana’s impact resonated widely, earning her a spot among the People to Watch, as voted by New Orleans Magazine 2013, affirming her position as a dynamic and influential force within the vibrant cultural landscape of New Orleans. Recognized for her leadership, Dana was recently chosen to participate in an ArtSpace Immersion program, a testament to her commitment to expanding the reach and impact of Upturn Arts.

In addition to her administrative role, Dana remains connected to her artistic roots, dancing and performing with The Sunshine Dancers. Dana M. Reed’s journey is not just one of personal success but a narrative of leveraging passion and storytelling to drive meaningful change through the transformative power of the arts.



Charlie Peeler
Administrative Assistant

Charlie Peeler moved to New Orleans for school six years ago and just never left. They primarily work in theatre as a stage manager, and have worked with the Tulane department of theatre and dance, the New Orleans Shakespeare Festival and Goat in the Road productions in the past. Charlie has been extremely passionate about the arts since they were a child and it has had a large impact on the person that they are today. They’ve dabbled in ceramics, stained glass, photography, printmaking, jewelry making, glass blowing and anything else they could get their hands on, along with a myriad of different crafts. They love being able to work with the kids and hopefully help them have similar formative experiences in the arts. 

Makayla Tate
Outreach Coordinator

Makayla Tate is our AmeriCorps VISTA outreach coordinator for 2023. She has prior institutional knowledge of Upturn Arts, having served as a classroom assistant and Tulane’s WaveCorps summer staffer in 2022. She utilizes this lived experience to develop new community events and programs to expand our accessibility to more young artists in our largest areas of need. Makayla is also a talented singer and songwriter studying to become an interior designer.

Jade Johnson
Registration Manager
Visual Arts

Jade Johnson is a New Orleans based illustrator specializing in children’s editorial and bookwork. Her work has been recognized by Creative Quarterly, Applied Arts, and the Society of Illustrators. After receiving her BFA in Illustration from the Savannah College of Art and Design, she taught visual arts in local arts education programs until hanging up her apron in 2021. As Registration Manager, Jade manages registration, processes financial aid, and coordinates field trips.

Christine Todd
Grants Coordinator

Christine Todd attended New Orleans dance schools and graduated from the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts. She began teaching in the metro NYC area elementary schools while earning her BA in dance and developmental psychology from Sarah Lawrence College. Since returning home, Christine has performed and taught dance locally. She believes in creating a supportive studio environment where young artists can become competent at seeking and sharing knowledge. She has been part of the Upturn Arts staff since its founding in 2010 and assists with researching, writing, and tracking our grant applications to fund our programs.

Meet Our Teachers

Get to know our community of awesome Teaching Artists!

2022 At
A Glance

Number of
Young Artists
Dollars Awarded in Financial Aid
$ 1
Number of
Teaching Artists