Damon McLeese talks about his life’s work helping artists with disabilities find their artistic genius and running a gallery that features their work.

Some people might be different, but in Damon McLeese’s mind, that doesn’t mean they are disabled. With a little bit of spit and gusto, he’s been mentoring differently abled folks in creative pursuits as the director of Access Gallery and its parent organization, VSA Colorado, for more than twenty years. As far as he’s concerned, anyone has the tools to make art: Grannies with dementia can write graffiti, the blind can take photographs, and kids with developmental challenges can make a buck painting pet portraits or creating public-art installations for corporate clients. It takes someone with an artist’s soul, an activist’s drive and the voice of a true believer to get this kind of work done every day, and the big-hearted McCleese is living proof.

About the speaker

Damon McLeese currently serves as the Executive Director of Access Gallery/VSA Colorado, an organization dedicated to enriching the lives of people with disabilities through the arts. He has held this position for more than fifteen years, taking over as the organization’s 5th executive director in 1997. Under his leadership, VSA Colorado has continued to promote the creative power of people with disabilities through focused outreach and innovative programming, while increasing awareness in the nonprofit community about the needs and gifts of people with disabilities.McLeese has worked in the fields of volunteer management and disability services for most of his career. Damon has worked for Colorado Special Olympics, Colorado Easter Seals and was the first director of the City of Aurora Volunteer Center where he worked with the Points of Light Foundation. In 2002, he was elected as the Region 8 Advisory Council Representative to the VSA National Office.

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