Juanita Espinosa has been an advocate for young voices since the early days of In Progress. She has served on the board of directors since 2003 and has been actively leading the board since 2010. Her experience in supporting Native artists in the state of Minnesota has given In Progress keen insight into deepening its partnerships with tribal communities.
1. Considering all your experience with In Progress, what is one achievement that you personally are most proud of? Why is this achievement important to you? What does it represent?: I am most proud of the fact that we now have a presence with a street level studio. It is a new experience, especially since with Kris her work is often on the road and then back to the studio. It broadens our audience and gives us the room to develop ideas about what we can bloom into while continuing to feed the artistic dreams of our artists.
2. What did it take for us at In Progress to achieve this accomplishment? What strengths do we have that helped us succeed?: I used to be concerned about Kris not having enough of her own time. That In Progress (especially when we were downtown) did not allow for her to have a personal life. The office and studio and meeting space was all her work space. But now I am really happy that Kris explored the idea of the store front studio and a base of operation for a staff to grown into.
3. What do you think makes In Progress unique? What 2-3 things are at our very core that make us stand out from other arts programs or youth development programs?: The hidden nuggets - Here's what I learned, what I know, and what I achieved. Telling stories! Traditional methods don't represent how In Progress works, but its the core programming that captures the stories that makes it unique. Participants are the ones that own what happens. It is a generational model.
4. As you think about In Progress, what do you value most? What keeps you engaged here?: The term "youth organization" can be troubling, as In Progress develops life-long relationships. It takes a person for who they are at the moment they walk into In Progress. In progress gives the participant a "big picture" of what is possible but it is the participant that chooses how they will function within that big picture. The new range of programming also encourages moving throughout the center and learning new skills. Its all related to telling the story, their story.