Leslie G. Kelen, CDEA Executive and Artistic Director, was born in Budapest, Hungary, and emigrated to the United States in 1959 with his parents, grandmother, and younger sister. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics from Lehman College in the Bronx, a Master of Arts in Creative Writing from the City College of New York, and he completed course-work for a Doctorate in Creative Writing at the University of Utah.
In the late 1970s, Kelen began working on documentary-style oral history projects. In 1983, he and Sandra T. Fuller (with guidance from Bob Doherty, director of the SLC Art Center, now UMOCA) co-founded the Oral History Institute, which became the Center for Documentary Arts in 2000 and the Center for Documentary Expression and Art in 2011. He curated most CDEA exhibits; developed CDEA’s statewide education-outreach program titled: “Exhibits That Teach: Artists/Scholars-in-Residence”; and is author, co-author, or editor of five books; plus two chapbooks of poetry.
His published works include: The Other Utahns: A Photographic Portfolio (1988); Missing Stories: An Oral History of Ethnic and Minority Groups in Utah (1995); Sacred Images: A Vision of Native American Rock Art (1996); Reawakened Beauty: The Past, Present, and Future of the Jordan River (2011); and This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement (2011.)
In July 2003, he and his wife received the National Education Association’s Applegate-Dorros “Peace and International Understanding Award” for their work on Faces and Voices of Refugee Youth (2002), an exhibit, catalogue, and 30-minute film co-produced with KUED, Utah’s PBS affiliate.
Kent Miles, CDEA Coordinator of Exhibits and Collections, is a native of Salt Lake City. After attending the University of Utah, he graduated from the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles.
Kent has worked with the CDEA for more than 30 years and was a principal contributor to many CDEA exhibit and book projects, including The Other Utahns: A Photographic Portfolio (1988); Missing Stories: An Oral History of Ethnic and Minority Groups in Utah (1995); Streaked with Light and Shadow: Portraits Of Former Soviet Jews in Utah (2000); and This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement (2011). Kent was the exclusive photographer on the award-winning Faces and Voices of Refugee Youth (2002) exhibit and the sole printer for the 157 black-and-white photos that comprise the exhibit, This Light of Ours: Activist Photographers of the Civil Rights Movement.
In 1987, Eastman Kodak and Maine Photographic Workshop’s Annual Awards recognized him as one of the “Top One Hundred New Photographers.” He also was a regional finalist in the Leica Medal of Excellence awards. From 1994 to 2006, he taught business practices in photography at Brigham Young University. He currently teaches photography at the Utah Valley University and the Salt Lake Community College.
Talia Hansen has an abiding interest in museums, public education, and the successful development of children, particularly minority children. Her museum experiences include exhibit design and fabrication and community outreach. She was part of the team that prepared The Leonardo’s 2011 opening displays.
She later joined the Utah Museum of Natural History, where she wrote science curriculum and trained educators on techniques that promote student engagement and learning through inquiry.
More recently, Talia has been a guest speaker, advocating for girls and women in science. She currently works for the Salt Lake City School District’s Community Education Department, and she is Executive Assistant to Leslie Kelen, director of the Center for Documentary Expression and Art.
Mary Lee Peters is CDEA’s Development Coordinator Emerita. After working with CDEA for seven years as Development Coordinator, she retired to spend more time with her art, her writing, and her large family.
Mary Lee had taught visual arts to elementary students in Madison, Wisconsin, public schools for 15 years and also supervised student teachers and taught art education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She is the former executive director of the Riverside (California) Arts Council, a position she held for nine years before returning to Salt Lake City to join her family. Mary Lee also served as director of the Salt Lake City Arts Council for five years, and she was a board member of Friends of Gilgal Garden and Art Access. She hopes to stay involved with CDEA in a consultant capacity.
Dr. Joyce Kelen serves as CDEA’s Education-Outreach Consultant, Intern Supervisor, and occasional interviewer.
Dr. Kelen was the catalyst behind the development of CDEA’s Faces and Voices of Refugee Youth project. She conceived the project in 1999 while working as a school social worker in Salt Lake City. She sought to draw attention to, and provide deeper understanding and compassion for, the thousands of refugees children (many traumatized) then entering Salt Lake City schools.
She currently spearheads the effort to update the exhibit’s photo and interview content. Dr. Kelen worked for 33 years as a school social worker in Utah and has been a family and child therapist in private practice for more than 30 years.
In July 2003, together with her husband, she received the National Education Association’s Applegate-Dorros “Peace and International Understanding Award.” She also has received the Pete Suazo Social Justice Award and the Utah School Counselor Association’s Human Rights Award.
Chris Frazier, editor of CDEA’s quarterly newsletter, is also the managing editor of a national magazine published by another non-profit organization headquartered in Salt Lake City.
She started her writing career as a newspaper reporter following the Watergate and Washington Post fervors of the 1970s. Later, her interest in developmental disabilities in Children resulted in an independent, five-year, research and writing project, wherein she investigated the warehousing of innocent, disabled people in Utah and the impact this had on them because of the limited value placed on their lives. These experiences (and other related activities, some of which involved additional research and writing) explain her interest in the documentary work CDEA produces.
She strongly believes that an awareness of individuals who have been, or are currently compelled to live outside of society’s mainstream protections, brings everyone closer to a shared humanity.
Laury Haley, CDEA bookkeeper, has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Accounting from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. She has over 25 years of accounting and business experience, which include six years as a Revenue Agent for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), where she audited individual and business tax returns; and several years’ experience in buying, renovating, and selling homes, with the addition of managing rental properties.
She also has owned and managed a pizza restaurant; and, for three years, she performed accounting duties as a controller for an Esthetician school.
Over the past seven years, she created, developed, and now operates her own bookkeeping business. She is committed to whatever work she is doing, whether it is working on a client’s cash-flow projection or preparing financial statements. She is detail oriented and gives her best effort to provide accurate accounting and financial information. Laury also loves spending time with her four children; she enjoys bike riding, hiking, traveling, and having fun.
Robert H. Hirschi is a multimedia artist, VFX specialist, and computer programmer.
He worked at The Salt Lake Tribune for 23 years as their webmaster. He is currently working on Virtual Reality software, website automation applications, running multiple websites, and making animation and VFX for film.
Robert also is an established musician that has played diverse arenas from The Hardcore House in L.A. to the Utah Arts Festival in Salt Lake City. He is a board member of Friends of Gilgal Garden.