Where in the world is Alyssa Wilson?

Alyssa Wilson is a first year online master’s student living and working in Denver, Colorado with big plans for the future — and we can’t wait to learn more!

I had the pleasure of meeting Alyssa when I was a student of the LEAP program. I was working on my LEAP 660- Arts Collaboration and the Community project, You Can’t Buy Me, when my professor at the time, Sandy Ceas, suggested I meet with her.The project was a public art installation that sought to activate advocacy around improved support systems for victims of human trafficking. Alyssa was working (and still is) for Freedom 58 Project, a nonprofit that fights slavery and violent oppression through advocacy, education, and action. We met for coffee and chatted about my project and her work at Freedom 58. I could tell right away she was smart, well travelled, and no doubt “going somewhere in life.”

This past summer, I had to the chance to meet Alyssa again. We were both traveling to India to be apart of LEAP’s International Arts Collaboration program. Though we were working on different projects, in the time between and in our downtown, I had the pleasure of getting to know Alyssa on a friend level.

Alyssa was born in Canada and holds dual citizenship between there and the US, but she grew up in China. She holds a BFA in studio art with a focus in collage and mixed media arts. Alyssa has worked on tons of projects throughout the world that bring together her two passions: art and social change. She was part of a community art exhibition in NYC, has done art therapy in Costa Rica and worked on an art project with Blackfeet Reservation in Montana, to name a few. She also travels the world as Art Director for Freedom 58 Project.

So why has Alyssa chosen to pursue her master’s in Arts Leadership and Cultural Management with LEAP? I had a chance to catch up with her at the beginning of the semester to learn more. Turns out, the same professor who introduced us while I was a student, had become a mentor a few years earlier. Alyssa met a friend of Sandy’s while working on a project in New York City and connected the two while they were both in Colorado. They have been meeting monthly ever since! Sandy was leading the Arts Collaboration Project in India and Alyssa decided she wanted to join, since the program aligned with her passion for arts and social change. Eventually, that led to her starting the LEAP program.

In speaking with Alyssa, she told me how after India she led a trip to Mexico with three dancers to do dance and movement therapy, and had a huge breakthrough with one of the dancers down there. While in Mexico she shared the work she had done in India with potential collaborators and community partners, who took an interest in her stories. This inspired her to think about the next steps in her career as an arts leader and social entrepreneur. She explained to me her plans of starting a non project in Mexico City, Mexico to do more hands on work with people rescued from human trafficking. She plans to partner with other local nonprofits and community members and hopes that the LEAP program will give her the tools to make this dream a reality. In the program she hopes to focus on collaboration and a conscious understanding of community for the betterment of people that it serves.

We’re excited to have her apart of the LEAP program and we can’t wait to see what she does next! Welcome to the family of arts leaders, Alyssa!