Meet The Team
Terry and Janet Kaldhusdal
Terry and Janet have been helping with the conference for decades as writing teachers, presenters, editors of the Art of Writing anthology, photographers, and videographers.
When John and Pat Hallagan, founders of the conference, decided to retire, Terry and Janet were honored to take the baton and continue to carry the vision the Hallagans created back in 1988.
Terry teaches in the Kettle Moraine School District and together, Janet and Terry also coach the middle school's Forensics Speech Team and the KM National History Day team.
Educator of School & Teacher Programs
Sarah Ozurumba is the educator of school and teacher programs in the education department of the Milwaukee Art Museum. Using her experience as a former art teacher, she develops and facilitates programming for school groups, teachers, and docents and coordinates the Junior Docent School Program for over 4,000 students annually. As a Museum educator, she advocates for the powerful impact visual arts bring to education.
The inspiration for student contributions to the Art of Writing book comes from the Collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum and is possible with hands-on support from many Museum departments. Sarah works closely with Events, Security, Curatorial, and Preparation staff to plan and implement the conference within the galleries of the Museum and welcome young authors and artists to create by exploring works of art from past to present.
John Hallagan, M.Ed and Patricia Hallagan
Founders of Young Authors & Artists Conference
In 1988, a passionate young teacher named John Hallagan sat down at the kitchen table with his wife, Pat, to discuss an idea, a dream. A talented writer, John pictured a uniquely collaborative educational event where aspiring writers from diverse backgrounds could experience a day outside their typical school environment celebrating a shared passion for the art of writing. With the publication of Art of Writing, the book, the young writers would become young authors.
As a teacher, John was keenly aware of the differences in educational opportunities based on economic class divides. His dream started to take shape. Why not draw students from every race, religion, and economic background together to explore something they all had in common – a love of writing? Invite the best teachers. Hold the event outside the normal school environment. Find a place of inspiration and beauty that will enhance the experience. The Milwaukee Art Museum understood John’s dream and graciously opened its doors on a cold day in early December 1988 to the 225 students and teachers who arrived to collaborate on the first Art of Writing book. Over 15,000 students have attended the Young Authors & Artists Conferences and have been published in Art of Writing books.
The Art of Writing conference didn't just happen because John had a dream. It happened and became an annual event due to the ground work Pat established and perfected each year. Her organizational skills and attention to detail were instrumental in ensuring a successful conference each year.
There are many reasons to thank John and Pat, especially for their founding of the conference, tireless work over the years, and their eternal optimism that made it happen and allows it to continue to bring the best and brightest together for one magical day.
Jason Van Roo
Conference Art Director
Jason is an artist and educator who takes inspiration from his experience with the Wisconsin landscape and responds through traditional, contemporary, and intuitive methods on found or salvaged wood.
Jason has been integral in raising the level of teaching and student art during the conference. His ability to build community in a single day, which allows the young artists to share and receive feedback from one another, improves each and every artist and that improvement is obviously in the book, Art of Writing.
His personal artwork reflects a balance between the observable and the unobservable, the knowable and the unknowable, with reverence for new understandings through subject matter and material.
He shares this philosophy with students in schools and in private lessons.