Selected Bios


                  Liza Politi, Founder & Artistic Director:

Liza Politi is a producer, photographer, actor and teacher. Her first full-length documentary feature, “By The People” won a prestigious HUGO award and was broadcast nationwide on PBS. Currently shooting “Best Seat in the House,” a documentary focusing on Rock-star drummers, Liza is also in post-production on a new full-length feature, “Suck It Up Buttercup.”  She has produced “Impact On the Gulf,” a multimedia, action-oriented human rights festival that debuted in New York City for the world-renowned Culture Project; and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, her USO-style Gulf Coast tour, “Broadway on the Bayou” received national attention and was featured on MSNBC. For the past 6 years, Liza has worked with National Geographic and their legendary photographers, producing expeditions and photography workshops around the world.  

Inspired by her work with Kids With Cameras, the non-profit that stemmed from the Academy Award winning film, “Born Into Brothels,” Liza co-founded Statement Arts.  For almost a decade, she has taught acting and creative thinking to underserved teenagers in New York City.

Liza graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a BFA, winning the Lee Strasberg Award for acting in her final semester. Before moving to the production side of the camera, Liza spent 15 years performing Off Broadway, in independent films, was a spokesperson for Sensodyne, Volvo, Gerber’s, Olive Garden, and has appeared in Martha Stewart Living, O! The Oprah Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Good Housekeeping.  The Screen Actors Guild presented her with the Joseph P. Reilly Award in recognition for her efforts in resolving a national strike (2000). 

And in response to the events of September 11th, she spent nine months at Ground Zero working as a Volunteer Relief Worker with the American Red Cross and The Salvation Army. In 2003, the FDNY honored her for a community outreach program that she co-founded for them in 2001.


Zahaira Curiel, Board Secretary:

One of Statement Arts’ pioneer students, Zahaira Curiel recently graduated from Hunter College, where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Music. Zahaira made her off-Broadway debut in “Platanos and Collard Greens" and can be seen at Baruch College’s Engelman Recital Hall portraying Julia. With roots firmly planted in the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, Zahaira was raised in Washington Heights.  Proudly associated with R.Evolución Latina and the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors, Zahaira joins Statement Arts, to collaborate on their new summer program, Empower Youth Through Performance. This singer/actress is also a talented baker who can make an amazing batch of Red Velvet Cupcakes with delicious Cream Cheese Buttercream.


Madison McCullough,  Executive Director:

Madison McCullough is a Licensed Master of Social Work in the state of New York.  Prior to joining the Statement Arts team, Madison worked for two years as a Youth Therapist at Covenant  House  New York, a shelter for youth experiencing homelessness. Madison developed a passion for working with young people in marginalized communities through an internship in the psychiatric emergency room at Bellevue Hospital in 2009, where she consulted on pediatric psychiatric emergency cases. Since that time, Madison has received additional training at a number of nonprofit organizations serving diverse communities throughout New York City, including the International Rescue Committee, The Center for Urban Community Services, and The Hetrick-Martin Institute.

In 2014, Madison received her Master's Degree in Social Work from Columbia University, where she studied advanced clinical practice with a concentration in health, mental health, and disabilities. More recently, Madison earned a Post-Master's Certificate in Executive Leadership in the Nonprofit Sector from New York University's Silver School of Social Work. In addition to her interests in social justice and nonprofit work, Madison was classically trained in vocal performance and enjoys writing. Every summer, Madison teaches the writing class for Statement Arts' Expanding Horizons College Preparatory Program.


 Caroline Selia, Vocal Coach:

Caroline Selia, originally from Pittsburgh, PA, is a NYC based singer/actress/voice teacher that was most recently hired as the National Anthem Singer for the NY Knicks. Caroline has performed in many musicals & concerts with her favorite role as Jane in the world premiere of the Electronica Opera "One Hot Kitchen" with Medicine Shop Theatre. She is also the Co-Founder/CEO of the audition education startup Polish Your Passion ( (Education: B.F.A. from Carnegie Mellon University & M. M. from University of Tennessee, Knoxville) For more info check out:


Alexis Tener Petrus, Tener Petrus Associates, PLLC,  Board Member:

Alexis Tener Petrus graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance and Political Science.  In 2008, she received her Juris Doctorate from Washington & Lee University School of Law, where she participated in the Virginia Clearinghouse clinic dedicated to assisting death penalty defense cases in the state of Virginia.
In January 2009, Alexis joined the New York office of Jones Lang LaSalle, where she represented over 1M sf of office space for institutional and family landlords.  She has received numerous professional awards and recognitions including Jones Lang LaSalle’s “Associate of the Year” in 2010, Crain’s “Top 10 Under 30 – Property’s Next Generation,” in 2011, The Commercial Observer’s “30 under 30” in 2012 and honoree of Sokol Media for its annual “TOP Women in Real Estate” in 2013.  Alexis is currently principal at Tener Petrus Associates, PLLC, where she provides real estate tax advisory and consulting services to major landlords.  
Previously, Alexis served as both mentor and officer in Streetwise Partners, an organization focused on career readiness and networking for underprivileged NYC youth.


Cordelia D. Roosevelt, Founding Board Member:

Cordelia was born and raised in New York City. In her senior year at Harvard University she won the John Brookings Imrie Memorial Award. Bestowed annually, this honor is conferred by a review committee comprised of both faculty and students. Prior to co-founding Urban Arts, Cordelia served as a board member and director of the children's art program for A Window Between Worlds, an LA-based arts organization.

In response to September 11th, 2001, Cordelia co-founded and co-managed a donation-driven warehouse during the nine-month Rescue and Recovery mission at the World Trade Center. For her work, The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, in conjunction with The White House, honored her with the President’s Volunteer Service Award. Cordelia also received three individual FDNY commendations in addition to an American flag that had flown over the site.

In October 2005, in association with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Cordelia sponsored a group of anthropologists, aid workers, and journalists traveling to the Kakuma refugee camp in northwestern Kenya. In Africa, she oversaw "Project Kakuma," the return of handwritten biographies compiled nearly 20 years ago by Sweden Save the Children. The restoration of these papers to their rightful owners will help Sudanese refugees obtain passports and other legal documents when they return next year to Sudan.

 Cordelia is a member of the Harvard Club and the National Arts Club, as well as a trustee of the Theodore Roosevelt Association.


Ashley Garrett, Board Member:

Ashley Garrett is an American photographer based in New York City.

Ashley graduated from Smith College with a degree in Theater and received her MBA in Marketing and General Management from Harvard Business School.  She marketed credit cards at both Chemical Bank and MasterCard and for close to two decades managed the All Souls Soup Kitchen, a privately funded organization that serves over 22,000 meals annually. Ashley began her career as a theater teacher and over the last twenty-five years worked at a variety of schools, including the Amber Charter School and The Brearley School where she was a coach, an admission assistant and a lower school service learning coordinator.

Ashley serves on the boards of the New York Center for Autism Charter School, the Harvard Business School Fund for Leadership and Innovation, the George School Institutional Advancement Committee, and Statement Arts, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to bringing the creative and performing arts to underserved individuals.


Shelia Foster, Professor, Georgetown University, Advisory Board:

Sheila R. Foster, currently teaching at Georgetown University, was the Vice Dean and the Albert A. Walsh Professor of Real Estate, Land Use, and Property Law at Fordham University. Prior to teaching at Fordham, she was a Professor of Law at the Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey. She received her B.A. in English, with honors, from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor and J.D. from Boalt Hall School of Law at the University of California-Berkeley. 

Sheila is the author of numerous publications on land use, environmental law, and antidiscrimination law. Much of her work is dedicated to exploring the intersection of civil rights and environmental law, in a field called "environmental justice." Professor Foster is the co-author of From the Ground Up: Environmental Racism and the Rise of the Environmental Justice Movement, published by N.Y.U Press. Professor Foster has also published many articles in top law reviews, including the California Law Review, Notre Dame Law Review, and the Harvard Environmental Law Review.

Sheila has worked with, and on behalf of, a number of environmental justice and community-based organizations in New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.  While at Rutgers, she worked with South Camden Citizens in Action, a grassroots neighborhood group formed to make their community safer and more livable. She has also worked with West Harlem Environmental Action (“WE ACT”) for many years, a nonprofit dedicated to improving environmental conditions in Harlem.  

She has been awarded two grants by the Ford Foundation for projects on urban regional equity and international environmental justice. She is also a scholar member of the Center for Progressive Reform, a nonprofit research and educational organization dedicated to protecting health, safety, and the environment through analysis and commentary.