Meet Lauren Iley-Spear
I am Lauren Iley-Spear and I work in Student Affairs as the Associate Director of Student Engagement in the Kenan Student Life Center. I work with students to create campus activities such as Beaux Arts. It is quite a sight to see hundreds of our students, many in costume, gathering on the dance floor to celebrate the end of year. There is lots of joy and gratitude. Employees that work the Beaux Arts Ball get high fives, hugs, and “thank yous” throughout the night. Even police officers working the event often say how fun UNCSA students are.
Another aspect of my job is working on student leadership and artist development initiatives. Partnering with ASTEP (Artist Striving to End Poverty) and working with its co-founder and alumna, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, and Alejandro Rodriguez to create the UNCSA Artist as Citizen Conference has been my favorite experience at UNCSA. We’ve offered this conference for the past two years to more than 50 students. In this conference, we spend three days exploring artistry, entrepreneurship, and activism. We’ve been fortunate to work with amazing UNCSA faculty, the Kenan Institute, Winston-Salem artists and community activists, who lead workshops, share stories, and facilitate the most incredible conversations.
I studied theatre and education, and came to work at UNCSA with a mix of professional experience in teaching, acting, playwriting and directing. I earned a Bachelor of Arts in theatre education at UNC Asheville, and a Master of Fine Arts in theatre for young audiences at Arizona State University. Having a background in the arts, I understand that being human and being an artist are not separate life experiences. Working in Student Engagement, I’m fortunate to be a part of initiatives that foster student community and leadership, and I love considering, not just the ways we serve students, but how our work can contribute to the well-being of artists.
The more we work with ASTEP, the more I’m compelled to volunteer as a teaching artist for one their international residency programs (hopefully in either India or South Africa). This is on my bucket list. I taught theatre for 10 years before I came to UNCSA, and I miss it more and more each year. ASTEP does incredible work in providing arts programming in underserved populations with a focus on sustainability and empowerment, and it would be a privilege to be able to work with them.
I share my hidden superpower with my husband. We’ve renovated three homes in the past 10 years, and currently love our 90-year-old home in Ardmore, where we rebuilt our kitchen two weeks before moving in with our two young children. My dad was a contractor, so he has been a great resource and inspiration, and living somewhat close to an IKEA helps too.