Our Staff

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Heidi Rich, President & Executive Director

Heidi was elected as Executive Director in the summer of 2018. She brings her energy and focus to Art Buddies in making arts education accessible to children in the Twin Cities.

As a longtime community organizer, arts educator, and an innovative non-profit fund raiser, Heidi believes in bringing together business, neighborhood, and school communities to empower kids through mentorship and arts programming.

The power of googly eyes and duct tape

Heidi is inspired by the infinite imaginations, innate wisdom and pure joy of children, by seeing a child light up as they create a costume that reflects something they connect with deeply.

The combined experience of arts education and mentoring has endless positive effects on youth, to their self-esteem, cognitive, social, and behavioral development. She is committed to bringing the power of creative expression and personal empowerment to every Art Buddies participant.

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Sydnee Bickett-Rodriguez, Program Manager

Sydnee Bickett-Rodriguez joined the Art Buddies team as a part-time contractor in July 2017, and became our full-time Program Manager in May 2018.

Along with her passion for creativity and community service, Sydnee brings her professional experience as a lifestyle photographer, business owner and entrepreneur, plus years of nonprofit program coordination with organizations like Minneapolis Photography Studio and CreativeMornings/MSP.

From mentor to manager

Sydnee first volunteered with Art Buddies as a creative mentor in 2014. I loved watching the creative process through my buddy’s eyes; guiding her, and of course being the adult who got to use the hot glue gun!” she says.

Having experienced Art Buddies first-hand from the mentor perspective, Sydnee has an intimate understanding of our program and the impact it has on both volunteers and the children we serve.

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Juliann Cole, Program Assistant

Juliann Cole joined the Art Buddies team as a part-time program assistant in January 2018.

Juliann is currently a junior at North Central University studying social work and business administration. She is an Act Six Leadership scholar and has volunteered with youth-serving organizations for several years in the Twin Cities.  

Inspiring kids and volunteers

“I've always been passionate about working with and inspiring students,” Juliann says. “I'm excited to be a part of the Art Buddies team and help others discover their passion for service.”