Our Team

Lauren Dennis-Perelmuter
Founder and CEO
Sandy Willens
Director of Operations and Human Resources
Lara Bruce
Director of Curriculum
Christina Laybon
Studio Manager
Haru Hui
Lead Teacher for Campus Programs
Rachel Berkowitz
Lead Teacher for Campus Programs
Sarah Pucci
Studio Assistant

Lauren Dennis-Perelmuter has been involved in the arts for as long as she can remember and immersed herself in a dedicated art education path that included a B.A. degree in Fine Art from the University of California, Santa Barbara, a degree in Textile Design from the prestigious Otis Art Institute of Parsons School of Design and attended the University of Paris, France for immersive Art History Programs held at the renowned Musee D’Orsay Museum.

With a clear understanding of the essential role creativity plays in one’s life, Lauren knew her calling and mission was to develop opportunities that inspire children to be creative human beings and optimal thinkers, essential life skills that are needed now more than ever.

Lauren launched Art To Grow On Children’s Art Center in 2000 in the South Bay, Los Angeles and for 20 years grew the Art Education Company to reach tens of thousands of elementary and preschool students, dozens of private and public schools, school districts and both private and corporate day care facilities.

When the pandemic closed schools, camps, pediatric playrooms, resort kids clubs, and corporate day care facilities, Lauren and her team designed a Box and Kit model to ensure children still had opportunities to create while being home and or were limited in their learning environment.

What evolved was a curated, packaged, portioned and deliverable Art Activity Box and Art Kit model of distribution and sales took off.

From classrooms to school districts to children’s hospitals and mental health and wellness settings to resorts, hotels, and families, the need has continued to grow. This new model allowed more children to be reached and the creation of her second company, The Art Box Academy, was born, established in 2020.

Lauren and her team have seen firsthand the true benefit of giving children opportunities to create.

Self-esteem and self-confidence soars, academic performance can increase, anxiety decreases, language arts and mathematical skills can be enhanced, in academic settings absenteeism can decrease and attendance can increase.

2023 was an extraordinary year for The Art Box Academy, receiving two prestigious awards: The Excellence in Business Award, presented by The Palos Verdes Chamber of Commerce and the David Chow Humanitarian Award for their work with pediatric hospitals.

Lauren and The Art Box Academy Team truly believe that every child has the phenomenal ability to become an optimal thinker and creative human being.

Sandy Willens is our amazing Director of Operations and Human Resources.  Sandy brings an extensive background in both wholesale and retail operations, inventory management, buying and product development, and sales management.   Her successful background includes thirteen years as Managing Director of a plush toy manufacturer/distributor, and previous roles in retail/wholesale buying at Universal Studios, Caesars Entertainment, and for WH Smith in their US resort and airport concessionaire business.

She is a graduate of the University of Southern California (Fight On!) with a BS in Business Administration. Sandy is married and has a 16 year old daughter and a very cute rescue pup named Mitsy who likes to eat waffles.

Lara Bruce is the Director of Enrichment and Curriculum for both Art To Grow On Children’s Art Center and the Art Box Academy.  Originally from Honolulu, Hawaii, Lara has a dual background in Curriculum Development and Art History.  She received a degree in Art History from University of Massachusetts Amherst and worked 10 years at auction houses in Los Angeles, New York and Beverly Hills focusing on Fine Art, Decorative Art, and Hollywood Memorabilia auction estimates and insurance appraisals.

Mrs. Bruce has over 15 years developing, writing and teaching master art lessons and projects for children, adults and senior citizens.  She writes for private schools, parochial schools, non-profit organizations, and corporate events. Lara is a noted curriculum expert and exhibits extraordinary talent and reach throughout Southern California.  She elevates and integrates historical lesson plans for students ages 15 months through 12th grade.

She believes that imagination inspires compassion and empathy. Art is not supposed to always be a pretty picture, it’s supposed to make you feel deeply. Lara’s passions include museum visits with her two daughters, opera and cuddling with her giant Cane Corso.

Christina Laybon is a lead teacher for campus programs and a studio assistant for The Art Box Academy. Christina is a graduate of California State University Dominguez Hills with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History. She has participated in the University’s after school art program for elementary school students in Carson, CA, and has worked with local Southern California artists at the University’s campus gallery spaces. After graduating, Christina gained museum gallery experience and education working at The Broad Art Museum in Los Angeles, and has several years of training and practice in retail operations and management.

Teacher Christina wholeheartedly believes that the arts and art education should be accessible to everyone, at any age and that having creative outlets are essential for growth and learning. Creativity and art is one of the best ways to connect and understand others.

Christina enjoys painting with watercolors and gouache paints, and loves to spend time outdoors hiking or visiting museums and galleries.

Haru Hui is the Art Box Academy’s Lead Teacher for Campus Programs and graduated from the University of California, Irvine with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree, majoring in Studio Arts and minoring in Education.

Teacher Haru specializes in painting and performance art and loves creating portraits through digital and traditional mediums. Haru believes that nurturing creativity and imagination at a young age is incredibly important in children’s development. Haru likes to listen to music, draw, and spend time with family and friends. Out of the many artists that Haru likes, Renoir is a favorite due to his use of extraordinary colors in his paintings.

Rachel Berkowitz is a practicing fine artist living in Los Angeles. Between teaching art classes to both adults and children, Rachel is a painter and portrait fine art photographer. Her art has been displayed internationally in art fairs, galleries events and solo exhibitions. She regularly goes on Artist residencies to explore new areas of the world, making artwork from new experiences developing her crafts.

Rachel grew up in London, England but moved to Los Angeles in 2012 to attend UCLA, graduating with a BA in Fine Art and Art History. Rachel has always had a passion for teaching art to children, and has been running art classes and events for kids since she was in high school. Growing up in London allowed her to have an accessibly broad art education, and hopes to pass on inspiration to children in areas where this art education is less enforced. Rachel strongly believes that the more successful you can become as an artist, the more important it becomes to involve yourself in teaching and inspiring others. Rachel has been taught by some of her favorite practicing artists in the world who have impacted her greatly. They all had the same mentality about arts education, and demonstrated the importance of teaching young artists, providing a space for creativity.

Sarah Pucci is our Studio Assistant for The Art Box Academy and has an extensive background in graphic design, creating award-winning logos, print and digital materials recognized by Graphis, Print, Communication Arts, among many publications.

Sarah’s design philosophy is “proven conceptual design” with a focus on typography, color and content. For her, the grid is a must!

She is a graduate of Southern Methodist University in Dallas where she earned  BFA and did graduate studies at Texas A&M University, Commerce, studying Graphic Design.

When not in the studio, Sarah enjoys spending time with her husband and two boys along with her cat (who she is obsessed with), named Hugo. Cooking, gardening and playing tennis are a few of her favorite things to do with her family.