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Staff and Board
Union Project Staff
Jeffrey Dorsey, Executive Director
Jeffrey Dorsey’s expertise in arts-related community development and non-profit management has earned him broad recognition across various sectors in and around Pittsburgh. His background includes working as an artist, performer, arts-educator, economic development strategist, non-profit turn around specialist and speaker. He has helped shape many of the East End’s most progressive community building initiative’s including managing the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative, co-founding the East End Partnership of Pittsburgh, directing the Friendship Development Associates, and chairing the expansion of the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh.
Committed to helping people access their fullest potential, Jeffrey’s work consistently aims to inspire and educate people towards more simple and meaningful lives, creating more livable and sustainable neighborhoods, and working toward social renewal. Jeffrey credits his deep interest in community to his own family, remembering his parents who could “talk to anyone about anything, loved hosting gatherings, and were experts at making people feel comfortable.”
Jeffrey balances his work life with enjoying time playing with his wife and two children, spending time outdoors, practicing yoga, running, playing soccer, renovating his old house and making anything with his hands.
Michelle Clesse, Director of Engagement
Michelle Clesse has lived in five different states, but fell in love with Pittsburgh’s hefty winters, arts organizations, library system, and friendly neighbors. With over ten years of experience as a visual artist, arts educator, and arts manager; Michelle values communication and knowledge-sharing as essential ties strengthening and binding a community together. She is excited to contribute her skills to Union Project.
Michelle received her Master of Arts Management degree from Carnegie Mellon University, and her MFA in Ceramics and Sculpture from Washington State University.
In her spare time, Michelle makes things out of clay, reads stories, and makes lots of lists. She has a great fondness and appreciation for alliteration, rabbits, eating really good food that other people cook, and excel spreadsheets.
Jenna Vanden Brink, Ceramics Program Manager
Growing up in Detroit, MI as the daughter of artistic parents, Jenna Vanden Brink learned to love the arts and care for community from a young age. After graduating from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI with a double major in Studio Art and English, she moved to Pittsburgh with ten college friends to volunteer for a year. She was attracted to Union Project’s core values, values she shares - creative expression, community and its development, serving leadership, faith, and reconciliation.
After a year of service at Union Project, Jenna was hired as Arts Coordinator to help re-shape Union Project’s Studio Arts Program. Jenna’s bright enthusiasm and decisiveness helped grow the program from a few dozen adult learners to over 1,000 youth, adults, and families. Additionally Jenna has strengthened UP’s ceramic cooperative and successfully managed our community restored stained glass window project to completion.
She loves serving in her neighborhood, teaching young artists, making pots cooperatively in a community studio, and spreading love and appreciation for the arts. As well, she enjoys music, dressing small dogs up in costumes, eating tomatoes from the garden, lawn games (and all games).
Abbie Miller, Community Program Manager
Abbie Miller originally joined the Union Project staff in September 2013 as a PULSE fellow, and was hired on full time in July 2015. Abbie has a love for the arts in community and fell in love with the energy and spirit at Union Project. She is from Iowa and graduated from Goshen College with a B.A. in Art and Women’s Studies.
In the past, Abbie has worked at the Midwest Museum of American Art, the University of Iowa’s Immigration Services, and Goshen College’s Office of Conferences and Events. Her love for organization, hosting, and creating spaces with good vibes lends itself well to her position as Community Program Manager.
Kevin Fernando, Marketing Coordinator, PULSE Fellow
Coming from Pittston, a small valley town in northeastern Pennsylvania, Kevin fled to Pittsburgh in 2010 to pursue an arts education and experience urban life. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh with a B.A. in Art History and Architectural Studies, Kevin is partaking in a year of service as a PULSE fellow.
Since moving to Pittsburgh, Kevin has worked in visitor services at the Andy Warhol Museum, as the art camp supervisor of the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, and the Conservation Assistant of the University of Pittsburgh Art Gallery. He has held internships with the Allegheny Land Trust and Silver Eye Center for Photography, volunteered with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, and co-founded the art market research project, Dear Pittsburgh.
In his down time, Kevin enjoys spending his savings on photography, vinyl record collecting, and traveling throughout the United States.
Tim Poellnitz, Custodian
Tim Poellnitz first found out about Union Project from a friend eight years ago and has since been an invaluable member of the UP Staff. In his spare time, he likes playing football, basketball, and cooking with his family. Tim is happy to have been present to see the many changes that have happened to Union Project through the years, most recently the finished stained glass windows and the newly renovated Great Hall. What Tim has come to value most about his job are the people he works with and the fact that he is helping the community every day.
Union Project Board
Mark Heckmann (Chair)
Suzanne Pace (Co-Chair)
Lindsay Lechner (Treasurer)
Nathaniel Hanson (Secretary)