Meet Our Co-Founders

Nancy Holter – Nancy can’t remember a time when she was not creating art. She received her first set of oil paints at age 9. A year later, her sister took her to a college ceramics class and the teacher allowed Nancy to create art alongside the students. These experiences helped develop Nancy’s love of creating art — and led her to pursue an artistic career. After earning a degree in advertising art and design in college, she gained employment in the field. But, commercial art was not fulfilling, and so she pursued the opportunity to become an art teacher beginning in Georgia in 2000. She started at her current position, teaching art within Baltimore City Public Schools in 2005, moving to Patterson High School, in 2008. In 2013, Nancy was introduced to the organization Arts Every Day and became an arts integration coach.

This experience reawakened her creative spirit, allowed her to collaborate with other artists, and involved her in meaningful professional development activities with the Maryland Artistry in Teaching Institute (MATI) and the National Art Education Association, which contributed to the founding of BAAM! Nancy’s creative vision incorporates her belief in the healing power of art: to empower individuals and communities to overcome past traumas and move forward with peace, hope and love. Nancy practices and leads mindfulness sessions with her students, and she has attended mindfulness teacher retreats, in Virginia 2014 and Germany 2015. Her current artistic practice involves work in oils, pastel, acrylics, ceramic, mosaic and mixed media.

Dennis Sykes – Dennis began his nonprofit career as the program director, later director of development and executive director of a citywide high school newspaper program in Chicago, Illinois. Since then he has specialized in program design, fundraising and marketing, serving as combined marketing and fundraising director for a regional theater company (where he also led its Theater for Young Girls program for special needs girls and adolescents and assisted with lighting design), for a DC-based Out-of-School-Time provider and a public/private partnership devoted to urban environmentalism. His fundraising experience also includes advancing a residential treatment facility for traumatized youth, a family counseling organization, and a youth mentoring program. Dennis is passionate about art, peace, opportunities for youth, justice, media awareness, and informed citizenship. He received his degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. He was born in Chicago, and grew up in Milwaukee, so he has much to discuss with NFC North football fans. He also enjoys traveling, gardening, cooking and eating.