About Us


Open Hearts Art Center was developed by three women who had a passion for creating a program that combined their love for art with their desire to make a difference in the lives of differently-abled adults. Based on a holistic approach to habilitative care combined with the use of multiple forms of expression, Open Hearts Art Center has been serving adults with disabilities since June of 2005.  With only a small amount of day programs for adults with intellectual disabilities in the western North Carolina area, and none that focused solely on the arts as a therapeutic approach, Open Hearts has been a one of a kind program for the members of our community.

Seeing inherent value in each individual’s artwork as an avenue for self-growth Open Hearts emphasizes the visual arts. Our staff encourages daily reflection of each student’s rich history and personal story as a source of inspiration for their work.  In addition to two-dimensional and three-dimensional forms of art, Open Hearts also encourages expression through performing arts such as music, dance, movement, drama and theater. Offering a variety of choices increases the opportunity for everyone to exercise their imagination.

Open Hearts became incorporated and received their 501-c3 nonprofit status in 2004. In 2005 they received their Medicaid provider identification number to provide billable services though the Division of Medical Assistance as well as state funded services through our Local Management Entity, Western Highlands.  The Board of Directors was developed consisting of students, parents, case managers, art advocates and community members.  The directors fund raised, acquired in kind donations and received support from community members to procure monies needed to begin serving this population.  June 1st2005 Open Hearts began offering classes and have grown ten-fold since their inception.


  • Sonia Pitts, Jessie Francis, Debbie Harris

    Sonia Pitts, Jessie Francis, Debbie Harris

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  • Alexandra Love

    Alexandra Love

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  • Brit Davis

    Brit Davis

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  • Bryan Ottaviano ~ Program Manager

    Bryan Ottaviano ~ Program Manager

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  • Christina Torres

    Christina Torres

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  • Dylan Webb

    Dylan Webb
  • Erica Deaton

    Erica Deaton

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  • Jaime Lauren Webb

    Jaime Lauren Webb

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  • Julie Newton ~ Studio Manager

    Julie Newton ~ Studio Manager

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  • Karen Snyder

    Karen Snyder

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  • Marshall Hammer

    Marshall Hammer

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  • Salley Williamson ~ Development & Communications Manager

    Salley Williamson ~ Development & Communications Manager

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  • Sarah Cohen

    Sarah Cohen

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  • Seth McPherson

    Seth McPherson

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  • Sidney Guida

    Sidney Guida
  • Stacy McPherson ~ Assistant Program Manager

    Stacy McPherson ~ Assistant Program Manager

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  • Steven Hooper

    Steven Hooper
  • Tara Brummett ~ Qualified Professional

    Tara Brummett ~ Qualified Professional

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  • Tim Slusher

    Tim Slusher

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Board of Directors

  • Danielle Despathy Rottenberg

    Danielle Despathy Rottenberg
  • Jim and Sheila Kindley

    Jim  and Sheila Kindley
  • Ann-Marie Kilpatrick

    Ann-Marie Kilpatrick