Student Spotlight with Ebony Ruffin

Mandisa Thomas
August 16, 2023
Alumni Stories

Ebony Ruffin is a LA native and earned her B.F.A. in Dance from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and an M.F.A. in Dance and Choreography from the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts). Currently, she worked at the Music Center as a Profesional Development Manager. Learn more about her background and experience in the program.

Social Impact Area

I am an arts administrator and currently work at The Music Center in Downtown Los Angeles as the Manager of Professional Development in the Education Department. I am deeply passionate about the arts because I’ve seen the way it heals and impacts lives and want to continue to dedicate my life’s work to this passion. I have seen the life-changing impact the exposure to the arts has had on young people, and I strive to provide arts experiences to a variety of people who find value in the arts.

Over the past six years, I have worked closely with K-12 educators, and teaching artists, designing and managing arts integrated Professional Development workshops in dance, music, theatre, visual and media arts, that are connected to various content and curricular areas. These workshops range from one-time experiences to in-depth trainings that consist of both conference style, in-person events and virtual workshops, to smaller professional developments that consist of a lecture or seminar format. It has been my mission to delve deeper into Social Emotional Learning (SEL), Diversity Equity, Inclusion, Access, and Belonging, and focusing on Culturally Responsive Teaching through the arts, giving the educators we work with tangible and practical approaches to further implement these values into their teaching practice.

Convening Memories

I have had several moments that have resonated with me throughout this course; however, my favorite moment was the in-person convening. Initially, I was nervous about the experience, but it turned out to be so rewarding. On day 1, I placed my belongings at an empty table and walked away to grab some coffee. When I returned, there were five other people from my PAKS group sitting at the table. It was serendipitous! I met so many incredible people both from within my PAKS group and those from other sectors. The information shared with us was extremely valuable. I thoroughly enjoyed the collaborative learning style and the way we were able to process and approach the tasks given. It was also refreshing to have many moments of pair-sharing and reflection. I’ve also experienced some very insightful moments and conversations with the teaching team and classmates during the weekly JamOuts.

Advice for future applicants

The advice I would give to future students would be to go for it! Initially, I was hesitant about starting the program and didn’t quite know what I was taking on. I have learned so much over the past several months, and I am so glad I believed in myself and have remained tenacious throughout the process. If you’d like to challenge yourself and move to a deeper level of understanding in your Social Impact work, this is the program for you!

Thank you, Ebony for sharing your experience in the Center for Social Impact Strategy! Follow our page to hear from more brilliant Changemakers, sign up for our upcoming information sessions to learn more about the Executive Programs, and read our 2023-2024 Program Outlook to start your journey towards making a social impact.

Did you know executive education graduates can apply to the Master of Science in Nonprofit Leadership (NPL) in an accelerated, on-campus, or online format? Learn more at the link provided above or reach out at

Applications are live for the Executive Program in Digital Media for Social Impact and the Executive Program in Social Impact Strategy. Apply by October 22, 2023, to receive a $500 discount!