The JJs List Blog

Say Hello to Tina Zemen, Visibility Arts and Community Education Division Manager!

Posted by on September 29, 2022 - 0 Comments

Say Hello to Tina Zemen, a long-time Search team member!

Tina started at Search in January 2000, and has held several positions in Search’s Adult Learning Programs throughout her 22 years. Most notably, Tina founded Visibility Arts at Search in 2002, after program participants began requesting opportunities express themselves through art.

Today, Visibility Arts supports 60+ artists throughout all 4 of our Adult Learning sites, and through virtual classes online. In 2020, Tina led the creation of NeurodiVERSED, an annual awareness campaign designed to give people who think differently a platform where they can share their voices and educate the community on mental health and intellectual disabilities.

We are thrilled to announce that Tina has been promoted to a new position at Search – Visibility Arts and Community Education Division Manager – as of September 1st! Tina is now leading JJ’s List Disability Awareness Trainings, Hop on the Bus Trainings and more.

We are excited for Tina as she undertakes her new role at Search. In honor of the occasion we sat down with Tina to talk about her time at Search and her new position.

Read more about Tina:

  1. How long have you been at Search? Tell us about your career path here at Search.

Tina: I have been with Search for 22 years. It will be 23 years in January. I started out as a Q (case manager) in training, then 8 months in, I became the Coordinator at our Lincoln site. I started the art program on the side on Fridays.

A few years later, I oversaw our two in-house programs at Mosaic and California Gardens. In June 2013, managing Visibility Arts became my full-time role, which is when participation in the program expanded agency-wide. Then, in 2018, the Visibility Arts team grew, which allowed for us to branch out into developing Visibility Arts products such as glassware, candles and textiles. From then until just recently, I was the Visibility Arts Manager. Now, I have moved into the new Division Manager role as of September 1!

  1. What are you most proud of regarding your work at Search?

Tina: There are so many things that I enjoy. I love elevating the voices of the individuals we support and our artists both their art and their voices. I enjoy finding opportunities to show their work, for them to express themselves and to be active in their community. The ability to continue to grow these opportunities is very special to me. The simple thing of seeing someone who is more timid change into feeling more powerful over time with experience and connections is huge. With the NeurodiVERSED project, I enjoy continuing to empower people through different media.

  1. Tell us a bit more about community education at Search. What are your goals for the upcoming year?

Tina: Within community education, there are different avenues. There’s empowerment of the people we support, empowering them with things like Hop on the Bus to Independence workshops, as well as forming partnerships and mentorships with places like City Elementary in our communities.

Additionally, educating the community on what it is like to be a person with disabilities and bridging that gap between everyone is important work. It’s great for us to be able to bridge that gap to help evolve the culture of our communities to be more inclusive and equitable, and ultimately more diverse as well.

Along with continuing to grow our Disability Awareness Trainings and Hop on the Bus workshops, I am looking forward to developing the newest addition to the advocacy and training we do, our NeurodiVERSED initiative.

  1. What are you excited for in your new position?

Tina: I am excited to have greater opportunities to connect with the community, and the ability to reach a bigger audience. I am excited to work with the Players, and getting to know them and their experience through the trainings we do.

  1. Tell us about yourself! What are some of your hobbies? What brings you small joys?

Tina: I’m an artist. I enjoy painting. I have two kiddos and enjoy doing things with my family. We like to go kayaking and canoeing. I also love roller skating. I listen to music a lot, which gets me through all of the household tasks.

What brings me small joys? There are things that my kiddos will say or do, or people I work with, that tickle me. When people share their perspectives and thoughts through humor, it can be so amusing.

Tina shared one last sentiment, saying “I love being a part of a team and am excited to continue my experience with Search, and my new role with the community at large, the collaboration that will continue to grow and develop.”

Congratulations to Tina! We look forward to seeing your successes in the years to come!


Learn about Disability Awareness Trainings and Hop on the Bus Trainings.

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