Our Story

Express Yourself was founded on belief in the power of artistic expression to change lives.

Paula Conrad on Express YourselfIn 1988, Paula Conrad – educator, choreographer, and dancer – founded Express Yourself to bring creative arts programs to youth in residential and outpatient treatment facilities. Stan Strickland – educator and award-winning musician and performer – joined her as co-executive director in 1995, and together they expanded Express Yourself into a network of professionals, affecting the lives of young people in over 50 Massachusetts cities and towns.

From the beginning, nationally recognized guest artists joined with Express Yourself to collaborate, create, and perform with program youth at our annual year-end celebration. Artists have included Blue Man Group, STOMP, Boston Pops Conductor Keith Lockhart, Broadway dancers, and many others.

Over the past 25 years, we’ve developed a team of creative professionals who care deeply about our community. We know that art can heal and change lives — we see it happen every day. Our team is committed to being a positive, consistent presence in the lives of the youth we serve.

Awards and Recognition

We’re honored that our work has been recognized in the following ways:

  • Coming Up Taller Award Winner | President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities
  • Robert F. Kennedy Embracing the Legacy Award | Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps
  • EXYO Television Spotlight/ Public Service Announcement on Ovation Television | Ovation Television’s Arts Education Initiative
  • Recognition of 15 Years of Outstanding Contribution | Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
  • Commonwealth Award for Excellence in Education | Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • Creative Minds: YouthReach Model Program | Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • Keith A. Brodkin Award Nominee as a Significant Community Partner | The Home for Little Wanderers
  • Outstanding Collaborative Arts Organization | Massachusetts Alliance for Arts Education
  • Express Yourself, Keeping Kids on Track | WCVB-TV, Channel 5, Boston
  • Artists Associates | North Shore Music Theater
  • Distinguished Service Award | Department of Mental Health
  • Outstanding Ten-Year Contribution Award | Executive Office of Health and Human Services