Claire Knowlton started taking art classes at McGroarty Art Center in Tujunga when she was just 3 years old.
Knowlton was appointed executive director of the center in 2006, and since that time, the La Crescenta resident has dedicated herself to improving the nonprofit's mission of providing access to the arts for all families in surrounding communities.
McGroarty,a Los Angeles historical landmark and center that has offered art instruction to low-income youths and families since 1953, was on the verge of closing due to financial difficulties when Knowlton joined the staff in 2006.
Knowlton felt the skills that she had accumulated while earning a bachelor's degree in economics and religious studies in 2005 from the University of the Pacific were the perfect match for the center's growth.
"I thought I could be really effective and ensure the longevity of the organization," she said.
Knowlton took over the tasks of long-range planning for the art center, oversight of old and new programs, and fundraising.