Helen Dolas, Founder and CEO
Able ARTS Work, formerly known as Arts & Services for Disabled, Inc.
Helen Dolas, MS, MT-BC is a pioneer in the therapeutic application of creative arts for individuals with disabilities, and the Founder/CEO of Arts & Services for Disabled, Inc. in Long Beach, California, which she established in 1982 while completing a Masters degree in Special Education. A musician by training and a board-certified music therapist, Dolas adopted a personal mission to direct her considerable energy and creative attention to changing the therapeutic experience and quality of life offered to adults living with disabilities. Driven by Dolas’ life-affirming “Love Before Learning” philosophy, the nonprofit Arts & Services for Disabled (ASD) today serves more than 3,000 people annually through a variety of services including enrolled day programs, outreach programs, gallery shows and exhibitions, micro-enterprise initiatives and community partnerships.
As one of the largest employers of music therapists in the region, Ms. Dolas has been the Clinical Training Director of her American Music Therapy Association (AMTA)-approved music therapy internship program since 1984, and is currently on the music therapy faculty at California State University, Northridge. Previously, as an adjunct professor at Chapman University, she established several new music therapy clinical training sites: at a private school for youth with autism, at a center that serves traumatized at-risk youth, and at UC Irvine Medical Center's Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Ms. Dolas also recently co-founded the International Foundation for the Healing Arts to promote the development of music therapy services and has traveled widely as a sought-after speaker and panelist, including participating as one of 15 U.S. delegates invited by Her Highness Sheikah Mozah of Doha, Qatar, to participate in the Third Annual International Forum of Children with Special Needs. She has received numerous awards including a National Model Program Award presented to her at the U.S Senate.
Today, Ms. Dolas continues to expand the reach and prominence of creative arts therapies, launching in 2014 both a new Creative Health & Wellness Clinic for children with autism, and a new Mobile Arts Program to bring therapy sessions to homebound adults with disabilities.
Exemplary Business Woman, Women’s Business Council (2016)
Women of Distinction Award in Education, Soroptimist International Long Beach Chapter (2015)
Amazing Woman of the Year in Arts & Culture, Long Beach Press Telegram (2014)
State of the Arts, Distinguished Arts Leader, Arts Council for Long Beach (2013)
Betty Isern Howrey Award, Western Region American Music Therapy Association (2006)
National Professional Practice Award, American Music Therapy Award (2007)
National Model Program Award at the US Senate, National Coalition of Creative Art Therapies (2002)