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(Left to right) Heidi Duckler, Olga Garay-English & Dr. Kerry English, photo by Victoria Looseleaf

Foster Up: Bringing Foster Youth and the Arts together

Heidi Duckler Dance (HDD) announces the establishment of the Dr. Kerry English Creative Fellowship. English passed away in April of this year. The program is being underwritten by his widow Olga Garay-English at $15,000 per year for the first 5 years of the program which will fund two artists and two students for a six-month residency per year.

“Kerry dedicated nearly half a century to serving abused and foster children in South LA. He spent nearly as much time as an avid arts supporter. The Dr. Kerry English Creative Fellowship in association with Heidi Duckler Dance FOSTER UP program marries his two great passions: helping foster youth and the arts. It is a privilege to establish this Fellowship to honor such a compassionate and giving human being.”

– Olga Garay-English

HDD will serve as the lead agency for the fellowship and will be in conjunction with HDD’s program FOSTER UP, which believes innovation in the youth foster care sphere is critical to the future development and long-term growth of the youth. Exposure to the arts is key to assuring them a strong, successful transition to adulthood and freeing them from the intergenerational cycle of foster care, poverty, and hopelessness.

(Left to right) Dr. Janet Arnold-Clark & Dr. Kerry English

“Dr. English was a dedicated and caring physician who devoted his career to protecting children and enriching families in South Los Angeles. In his private life he was a passionate proponent of the arts. He brought much joy to his patients and colleagues, and inspired us all to pursue social justice in our community and treat those around us with kindness. This creative fellowship will continue his legacy of supporting foster youth by giving them an incredible opportunity to express themselves through the arts.”

– Dr. Janet Arnold-Clark, Senior Physician at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center Pediatric Hub

FOSTER UP provides opportunities for foster care youth to develop their cultural literacy, confidence, creativity, and educational goals. The goals of FOSTER UP align perfectly with Dr. Kerry English’s life-long dedication to both foster and abused youth as well as to the arts. It is within this program, the fellowship awarded to 2 artists and 2 students will take place.

“I am so honored to carry on this legacy and will do my very best to fulfill this covenant. Kerry and Olga have meant so much to me and my work at the MLK Medical Center campus these past few years has only amplified my core belief in social justice and the arts.”

– Heidi Duckler

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About Dr. English:

Dr. Kerry English, pediatrician, long time director of the pediatric division at Martin Luther King, Jr. Outpatient Center and a board member for several nonprofit family and child support organizations, was also a well-known Los Angeles theatre and arts aficionado. English was committed to caring for children and engaging with diverse communities throughout his life. His long-term relationships testify to his belief in diversity and inclusion. Raised in Southern California, Kerry spent his life as a mainstay for the medical and theatre/arts communities of Los Angeles. Throughout his life and career as a pediatrician and teacher, Kerry worked with and supported diverse and disadvantaged communities. He was medical director of the MLK Outpatient Center Foster Care HUB Clinic in Watts, director of the Child Development Division of the Pediatric Department of Drew University of Medicine and Science, and the Pediatric Department of the King/Drew Medical Center, where he worked for over 40 years.

He taught at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, as well as his medical alma mater UCLA. He did fellowships at Yale Child Study Center and King’s College London. His undergraduate studies were at Washington University in St. Louis. Kerry served on the board and as chair of Drew Child Development Corporation, an organization dedicated to the education and wellbeing of at- risk children; and on the boards of El Nido Family Centers, an agency that provides support services to disadvantaged communities; and SHIELDS for Families, serving high-risk families in South Los Angeles.