Getting to Know You: Dina Jean-Philippe, Nonprofit Founder

Dina Jean-Philippe is an artist, activist, and teacher from Miami, Florida. Dina is the founder of an inclusive arts organization dedicated to providing education to children who are typically underrepresented in the arts.

The organization’s work is rooted in the fundamental belief that the arts have the power to transform lives and energize communities.

Dina Jean-Phillip is well known throughout the Miami arts community as a creative, philanthropic and passionate individual with a deep desire to make the world a better place. He has extensive training in education and has been involved in the non-profit sector for over ten years. In her role as the founder of a renowned arts education non-profit organization, Dina Jean-Philippe spends much of her time educating children from a wide variety of backgrounds on the arts. She is also a highly respected artist in her own right, having displayed her work in many venues throughout Florida.

What do you currently do at your non-profit organization?

As the founder, I am one of the heads of the organization. One of the key aspects of my role is being a community youth educator. I spend a few hours each week visiting local schools and clubs, encouraging traditionally underrepresented children to appreciate and create art as a means of therapy and healthy self-expression. There is also an administrative element to my position.

What was the inspiration behind founding your non-profit organization?

When I was young, there was no non-profit organization or anything like that. I always wanted this to happen, as it could have provided me with much needed knowledge, experience and support during the initial years of my career. However, that being said, I have been very interested in art ever since I was a little girl. In many ways, I founded the organization for kids who weren’t like me at the time. I founded it to reach out to kids who have little or no exposure to the arts. These children usually come from disadvantaged backgrounds, so the arts are usually not a top priority for their schools, parents or guardians. I think this is very unfortunate. I believe there is much to be gained by simply presenting art to these children and giving them the opportunity to be involved. At the very least, it may help them gain a different outlook on life. At most, it may stimulate the minds of some creative and talented youth who otherwise may not have known that pursuing the arts was a viable path in life for them. The organization is all about education and encouragement.

What defines the way you do business?

in a few words? Creativity and Compassion. At least those are the qualities that I hold most dear, and that I hope I will use most in the course of carrying out the activities of the organization.

What key to being productive can you share?

In my administrative capacity, I find it always pays dividends to respond to any inquiries and communications as quickly as possible. I think doing this makes people feel valued, which makes them enjoy working with you. So, whenever I receive a text message, phone call or email, I do my best to respond quickly. When I’m in the studio, my focus is entirely on the project I’m working on. As far as my art is concerned, I free my mind from all administrative or extraneous work. I leave my phone in the other room and focus solely on creating.

Tell us a long term goal in your career.

I would love to expand the reach of the organization as much as possible. I want us to connect with as many children as possible. I feel that opening the eyes of usually underprivileged children to the beauty and magic of art is the best way the organization can spend its time and resources. I believe that inviting today’s young people to appreciate and engage with the arts – especially those who would normally have no exposure to the arts – will do more for the future than almost anything else. There is more we can do to positively change our lives.

What would you call your younger self?

If I could say something to my younger self, it would be this: “Dina—stop doubting your abilities. You are talented. Finding that talent will help you the most in life.”

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

i like to travel As someone once said, “Travel broadens the mind and nourishes the soul.”

How would your co-workers describe you?

I hope my colleagues would describe me as open-minded, accessible, and passionate about both education and the arts. I think they would also say that I work very hard to grow the organization.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

Being an artist and the founder of a non-profit organization is an unusual career choice, I will allow, but I will say that it allows for a better work life balance than many other professions. I guess I’m quite lucky in that regard.

What is the one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?

I conduct a great deal of the organization’s business using my smartphone, whether I’m calling people, texting, sending emails, or doing research.

What are some of your keys to success?

The number one thing is connecting with the kids. Furthermore, I attribute my success to my passion for art and my love for education.

How do you measure success?

In the field of arts education, metrics certainly don’t tell the whole story. However, that being said, I am always pleasantly surprised by the number of kids who come up to me after a presentation and ask follow-up questions, and this, I think, indicates that I am on the right track.

What advice would you give to people who want to be successful in their field?

I think some of the most important qualities to have in pursuing a career in artistic education are patience and an open mind. The other really important thing is to capture the sense of wonder that the art inspires within you and somehow translate it into something palatable for an audience – in this case, children. After all, the whole purpose of our organization is to provide the magic of art to the youth and inspire the next generation to appreciate it and create more of it.


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