The following participants from South Arts' region have been selected for the Leaders of Color cohorts. Each cohort participates in networking, professional development and have opportunities to network with alumni from prior years.
Building on the success of WESTAF’s Leaders of Color program which has been attracting, training, networking and promoting a new generation of diverse arts leaders since 2010, the South Arts program serves to advance Southern vitality through the arts through leadership development.
Leaders of Color Cohort 4 (2024)
- Nybria Acklin, Friends of Freedom House | New Orleans, Louisiana
Nybria Acklin is an artist and administrator based in New Orleans. She is a human resources manager at an education and capacity building nonprofit, and she is a deeply invested supporter of the arts and equity initiatives. Over the past two years, she’s worked with Friends of the Freedom House — a house museum and community space in New Orleans — as a lead project manager doing grant writing, research, and coordination support; strategic planning support; and administrative support for the organization's museum and archives projects. She commits to transition into the arts full-time with hopes of supporting BIPOC artists and culture workers to gain more access to funding, opportunities, and connections. Acklin graduated from Smith College in 2018 with a bachelors in Sociology. She is also a Venture for America and Coro Fellowship in Public Affairs alumna. Acklin is excited to participate in the National Leaders of Color Fellowship program, where she hopes to connect with like-minded individuals, and to better educate herself on the arts landscape and equity in the arts in order to make a positive impact in the field.
- Xavier Blake, One Columbia for Arts and Culture | Columbia, South Carolina
A native of Bamberg, South Carolina, Xavier Blake earned a bachelor of arts in communication from Newberry College and a certificate in diversity and inclusion from the University of South Florida. He spent over two decades at South Carolina Educational Television, working with creatives and communities creating and amplifying representative content, leading to important community conversations.
Driven by his passion to infuse diversity into leadership and content creation spaces, he most recently held positions as the community programming and engagement coordinator at Nickelodeon Theater and the content and engagement manager at WMHT. He also serves as a creative mentor for the South Carolina Arts Commission, The Art of Community: Rural SC, which helps advance creative placemaking initiatives in rural South Carolina.
Blake believes that centering historically marginalized voices is imperative to build the kind of society where everyone is able to thrive.
Currently, he serves as the executive director of One Columbia for Arts and Culture, the city's local arts agency. Blake is committed to collaborating with citizens, the cultural community, and city government, with the mission of enhancing the quality of life for all residents, attracting tourism, building sustainable and equitable pipelines for artists, and connecting our diverse cultural community.
- Kiana Del, Louisville Public Media | Louisville, Kentucky
Kiana Del is a vocalist, radio host, and educator hailing from the valleys of Carrollton, Kentucky. She uses music to tell the story of our complex humanity, and to foster a safe space for others to create freely without the barrier of judgment. She is the engagement manager for Music Education and 90.5 WUOL afternoon host at Louisville Public Media by day and can be found performing her own music with her band Kiana & the Sun Kings by night. She demonstrates her activism by dedicating her time to local arts non-profits who she believes are stirring up good trouble, including sitting on multiple boards such as the Fund for the Arts, as the director of communications for the Louisville Jazz Initiative, and as the current Hadley Creatives program coordinator. Del strives to continue weaving the importance of community and connection into her music-making.
- Lauren Fitzgerald, Intercultural Leadership Institute | Nashville, Tennessee
Lauren Fitzgerald (Black Womxn from the South) is the managing director of the Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI), the founder and Lead Executive Strategist for Strategize/619, a cultural strategy firm, and the interim director of the Jefferson Street United Merchants Partnership (JUMP Nashville). She has worked with and performed at several art institutions and theaters such as the Carpetbag Theatre (Knoxville TN), The Walnut Street Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), The York Theatre Company (New York, NY), The Weathervane Theatre Company (Whitefield, NH), The Nashville Children’s Theatre, and with the Metro Nashville Arts Commission as the Neighborhood and Artists development coordinator managing the THRIVE funding program for community art projects.
- Kayla Fuentes, Meridian Symphony Orchestra | Meridian, Mississippi
Kayla Fuentes was born in Comayaguela, Honduras but currently resides in Meridian, Mississippi. She is a mezzo-soprano, vocal pedagogue, and quirky theater teacher from Starkville, Mississippi, where her passion for music and singing found its roots. She joins the Meridian Symphony Orchestra as the director of education and community engagement as she returns for her “reprise” role in Mississippi from a nine-year stint in NYC. She graduated with a bachelor of music degree from Mississippi College (2014) under the guidance of Meridian native, Dr. Kristen Johnson-Gunn. She then went on to graduate from Manhattan School of Music with a master of music in classical vocal performance (2016), under the tutelage of Mignon Dunn. While in New York, Fuentes found herself called to inspire, motivate, and entertain. Upon graduation, she invested her musical talent and passion back into the community while working for Opera America’s outreach program as their Education Assistant. She taught voice and piano privately and at Larchmont Music Academy for five years working with students of all ages. She thrived as an acting coach, and voice instructor for Manhattan School of Music summer program for six years and had the honor of performing on many great stages in NYC. She has joyfully spent the majority of her nine years in New York combining performance, educational outreach, and diversity to re-energize the allure of the musical arts. Fuentes looks forward to continuing her passion for education, performing, and music at MSA. She wishes to excite young minds, pique the interest of the musical weary, and maintain a current and diverse future audience of music appreciators for years to come.
- Kerri-Noelle Humphrey, Alabama Dance Council | Huntsville, Alabama
Kerri-Noelle Humphrey works as an independent teaching artist in Huntsville and Birmingham metro public schools and as the director of programming for the Alabama Dance Council. She holds notable recognitions, including a 2022 Arts Educator Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the title of 2019-2020 Academy for Academics and Arts Middle School Teacher of the Year.
In 2021, she founded the Evalyn Washington Humphrey Foundation for Arts and Education, showcasing her dedication to advancing arts in education. During the 2022-2023 academic year, Humphrey collaborated with local arts organizations to launch a transformative dance outreach program that reached nearly 2,000 underserved K-3 students during regular school hours. This initiative demonstrated her ability to address educational disparities and aligned with the foundation's mission.
Her research, "Dancing the Diaspora...," listed on esteemed platforms such as Dancemagazine.com and DanceTeacher.com, was the catalyst for the annual Dance Africa festival in Huntsville, Alabama. Serving as the festival's visionary and founder, Humphrey passionately champions inclusivity and cultural representation. This free community dance festival doubles as an educational platform, elucidating the profound connection between West African dance and African American dance forms for students. Her academic achievements include a bachelors in Mathematics from Howard University, a masters from Barry University, and a masters in Dance Education from UNCO Greeley, which seamlessly integrates her diverse education into the arts and culture sector. Possessing an Alabama Professional Educator Certificate in Dance (P-12), she skillfully combines her academic background with her role as a dedicated educator in the dance community.
- Patrick Arthur Jackson, The Woodson African American Museum of Florida | St. Petersburg, Florida
Patrick Arthur Jackson, a Richmond, Virginia native now residing in St. Petersburg, Florida, is a dynamic creative, producer, director, actor, and teaching artist deeply committed to connection through storytelling. A Morehouse College drama graduate, he honed his skills at the British American Drama Academy and the Florida Studio Theatre Apprentice Program.
With a Certificate in Leadership from the Nonprofit Leadership Center and prior Fellowship in Advancing Racial Equity on Nonprofit Boards, Jackson serves as the manager of education, outreach, and program design at The Woodson African American Museum of Florida. A versatile artist, he has showcased his talents across Southeast arts organizations, including directing acts of faith at American Stage and earning recognition as a 2023 Emerging Artist with Creative Pinellas.
Off-stage, Jackson is the host of The Black Hand Side Podcast, celebrating black culture, connection, and conversation. In addition to serving on the ministerial staff at Today’s Church Tampa Bay, he further engages with the community through The Black Excellence Collective, Actor’s Equity Association, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Grateful for the gift of storytelling, Jackson, the proud son of Cynthia B. Jackson-Ward and Patrick D. Jackson, envisions its power inspiring change globally.
- Dasan Ahanu, Black Poetry Theatre | Chapel Hill, North Carolina
A self-described introvert with a very public profession, Ahanu is a North Carolina-based cultural organizer, artist, and scholar. As an accomplished cultural leader and poet, Ahanu has appeared on NPR, TV One’s Verses and Flow, and the documentary Poet Son, among other features. He is a resident artist with the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation/Hayti Heritage Center, co-founder and managing director of Black Poetry Theatre, and a visiting professor at UNC-Chapel Hill, teaching Hip-Hop and Black culture courses. A respected recording artist, Ahanu has collaborated with many Jazz, Soul, and Hip-Hop artists in North Carolina. He is an alumnus of the Nasir Jones Fellowship with the Hip Hop Archive at Harvard University’s Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. In 2023, he was named the 15th Piedmont Laureate for poetry. He has published extensively and is the author of five poetry collections. Dasan also works with organizations as a strategist and builder who uses art & culture as a foundation and framework for creative solutions to internal and external needs. An imagination worker, he develops programs, collaborates on projects, helps map out initiatives, coordinates resources, and fosters ideation with groups looking to increase impact and embrace possibilities.
- Harvee White, History Cherokee | Canton, Georgia
Harvee White is the education and programs manager at History Cherokee in Cherokee County, Georgia. Naturally gregarious, Harvee loves bringing diverse and inclusive stories to the forefront of the community, and her work emphasizes the importance of shared authority and engagement. Harvee’s upbringing in Bossier City, Louisiana and the Atlanta, Georgia area has informed her love of Black Southern culture and history. She holds a bachelors in art history from Georgia State University and a masters in public history and museum studies from the University of West, Georgia. Harvee prides herself on her ability to keep multiple houseplants alive, and will never say no to sour gummy worms.
Leaders of Color Cohort 3 (2023)
- Davelyn Athena, Speaking Down Barriers | Greer, South Carolina
Davelyn Hill is a Womanist. She is a Queer abolitionist who believes abolition is about creating beloved community and making things. Athena is the executive director for Speaking Down Barriers (SDB). SDB is an organization whose mission is equity for all. SDB seeks to build community across all that seeks to divide us by ending oppression and valuing everyone. Athena has a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and an MFA in creative writing with an emphasis in poetry from Converse University. Alongside providing counseling services, Athena has led support groups, presented research, and conducted university presentations around racial trauma and oppression. She enjoys facilitating groups and presenting about equity and journeying with folx through the grieving process. She is a spiritual director, healer, and spiritual midwife. Athena, also known as Davelyn Athena, is also an author, poet, and intuitive painter. Her art and poetry have been featured digitally and in various literary journals.
- Leila Hamdan, Stax Museum of American Soul Music | Memphis, Tennessee
Leila Hamdan is an art historian with almost twenty years of experience in archiving, curating, and preserving works, as well as serving as a vital channel in educating the public about those works. Her knowledge and curiosity have helped nationally recognized cultural institutions such as the Metal Museum and Penland School of Craft to preserve priceless American artifacts. A lifelong steward of art and material culture, Hamdan’s dedication to its research, record, and care has been rewarded with a breadth of opportunity to share the stories told by both visual and audio pieces and their creators. Hamdan is a Lebanese American from the Deep South delta region who specializes in American and African American art and history. She processes, catalogs, and preserves ephemera and objects belonging to arts and cultural institutions to make information useful and accessible. As an academic, she studies works of art, music, photographs, and documents to illustrate a more nuanced and detailed story about historical events and individuals centered around the counter-narrative and the underrepresented subject.
- Dr. Marguerite Hinrichs, California State University | York, Alabama
Dr. Marguerite Hinrichs, also known as The PR Lady, is an energetic and innovative leader from Oakland, California, bringing with her a wealth of arts and entertainment, public relations and marketing, and community engagement experience to the Black Belt. Hinrichs holds a bachelor’s degree in communication, a master’s degree in recreation and tourism, and an Ed.D. in education, with an emphasis in educational leadership for social justice. A lifelong performing artist with an art-centered family, Hinrichs looks forward to collaborating with the arts community to support the mission and vision of the Coleman Center for the Arts.
- Jenny Snyder Kozoroz, Brevard Music Center | Brevard, North Carolina
Jenny Snyder Kozoroz is an active performer and enthusiastic educator committed to positively impacting the lives of the next generation of artists and musicians. As program director at the Brevard Music Center, Kozoroz is deeply committed to providing the intensive training and mentoring crucial to the success of young artists pursuing careers in classical music. She previously served as director of the Milwaukee Youth Symphony Orchestra’s award-winning Progressions program—an intense string training program designed to increase participation by students from populations that face barriers of access and equity in music study. Kozoroz has served as assistant principal violist with the Virginia Symphony, performed with the Milwaukee Symphony, and was violist and founding member of the Ambrosia String Trio. She has also performed with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra, the Harrington String Quartet, and ProMusica Chamber Orchestra. She has been on the viola faculty at Old Dominion University, Denison University, Christopher Newport University, West Texas A&M, The Sewanee Music Festival, The New England Music Camp, and for more than a decade at the Brevard Music Center. She continues to be a strong advocate and advisor for the Sphinx Organization (Music Scholarship Assistance Fund), and currently serves on the board of directors for the NIMAN Organization. Kozoroz currently serves on the faculty of Brevard College and performs with the Asheville Symphony. She earned a bachelor’s degree in music at the Ohio State University and a master’s degree in music at the Juilliard School.
- Jude C. McPherson, Kentucky Black Writers Collective | Lexington, Kentucky
Jude C. McPherson is a Kentucky Colonel Goodwill Ambassador. He has a background in creative writing, electricity, and general troubleshooting. Currently, he is an agent for the Kentucky Black Writers Collaborative, a creative writing instructor, and building manager at the Carnegie Center for Literacy & Learning. A member of the Affrilachian Poets, he is the author of On My Mind (blacoetry press) and Hey Batta Batta (Lefthanded JuJu). In his spare time, he likes to watch baseball and college basketball, have good conversations, and look at the sky.
- Jeri Rayon, The Black Donors Project | Miami, Florida
Jeri Rayon is a veteran arts administrator, cultural worker, and founder of The Black Donors Project—a participatory research project that surveys Black charitable giving in the arts and sponsors Give Black Arts Day, a 24-hour national giving campaign dedicated to supporting Black artists, which launches in August 2023. Known for creating opportunities for the voices of emerging change-makers and cultural workers in the arts, Rayon has a proven track record in leveraging existing networks in order to implement measured, logical campaigns that ensure visibility and representation. Her work is rooted in advancing discourse regarding the influence of Hip Hop culture on Black art, Black philanthropy, and contributions to the arts ecosystem. Previously, she served as the executive director for Rennie Harris Puremovement (2002-2016), the world’s first and longest-running Hip Hop dance company. During her tenure, Rayon played an integral role in positioning the company as a cultural catalyst by aggregating support for work synonymous with advancing social justice, creative cultural exchanges, and addressing fundamental human rights through the arts. She is the creator of Artist Within Reach: Notes to My Younger Self, a three-year initiative launched in 2016, and initiated conversations between popular artists and South Florida’s young creators regarding issues specific to navigating adolescence, contemporary youth culture, overcoming obstacles, and their hopes for the future. The project hosted two Grammy Award winners, two Tony Award winners, one Academy Award winner, two Guggenheim Fellows, and two NAACP Image Award winners.
- Jacky Seguí, Aurora Theatre | Suwanee, Georgia
Jacky Seguí was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Ever since she was a little girl, she was passionate about the arts. After moving to the states to pursue a career in the arts, Seguí obtained a masters degree in presenting and live entertainment management from the University of Miami and a master’s degree in performing arts from Savannah College of Art and Design. She feels fortunate to be able to currently work as director of community impact at Aurora Theatre in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where she started as an apprentice in 2019. This position is very important to Seguí, as she has the opportunity to collaborate with different organizations, connect to new communities, and work to create programming that welcomes the beautiful diversity that surrounds us all. She is also a performer and novice playwright who enjoys visiting festivals and traveling with family and friends.
- Javette O. White, Griot Arts Center | Cleveland/Clarksdale, Mississippi
Javette O. White currently serves as the director of dance and movement at Griot Arts Center. As a native of Cleveland, Mississippi, White is a graduate of East Side High School, Mississippi Delta Community College, and Delta State University. She served 13 years as a dance educator and arts consultant in the Clarksdale Municipal School District and 3 years with Memphis/Shelby County School District teaching kindergarten through 8th grade. White began her dance education at Lynn Pace Dance School at age four and then continued her dance aspirations as a member and senior captain of the Golden Dolls Majorette Squad at East Side High School and as a Delta Dancer at Mississippi Delta Community College and captain and co-captain of the Delta Belles at Delta State University. White spent much of her spare time enhancing the lives and dance aspirations of young people through the Delta Arts Alliance in Cleveland and Griot Arts after-school program in Clarksdale and served as the artistic director and choreographer of the Jazzy Divas Dance Studio, where she performed in several competitions and community events in the state of Mississippi and other states. White has choreographed routines for pageants, middle/high school dance teams, and community college dance teams and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and the National Dance Education Organization.
- Courtney C. Young, Writer | Lafayette, Louisiana
Courtney Young is a writer of fiction, screenplays, popular culture criticism and creative nonfiction. She is a recipient of residencies from Willapa Bay Air, Vermont Studio Center, Faber, Hambidge, Hedgebrook, Bainbridge and Chateau D’Orquevaux. A graduate of Spelman College and New York University, she received her bachelor’s degree in English with a minor in management and her master’s degree from the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, completing an interdisciplinary program that combined entertainment business, performance, and Africana studies. She was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Leaders of Color Cohort 2 (2022)
- Karla Aguayo, Arts4All Florida | Tampa, FL
Karla Aguayo is a first generation Mexican-American. She is the Program Director at Arts4All Florida with experience in hospitality, museum education, event management, and adjunct teaching. She earned her M.A. in Art History from the University of South Florida; her Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of Florida. Karla has held positions at The Harn Museum of Art in Gainesville, The Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Pete, and the Tampa Museum of Art. She transitioned to teaching hybrid courses in 2020 at USF and the University of Tampa. Karla is passionate about engaging with community members through accessible youth and family programs. She hopes to connect young creatives to opportunities as diverse as they are. Her research interests include Renaissance art and cross-cultural exchanges from the early modern period, especially the translation of consumer and material culture. Most recently, she has been exploring issues in Latinx representation and identity, art, as well as the consumption of Latinx culture in the U.S. In her leisure time, Karla experiments in baking and cooking -- seeking to further her understanding of the world through the food on her plate. She lives in Tampa with her husband and two furry rascals.
- Arthur (Trey) Carlisle, Music in Common | Atlanta, GA
Arthur (Trey) Carlisle is an artivist (artist + activist) passionate about advancing peace, social justice, and reconciliation between communities in conflict through music, dance, and storytelling. A graduate from Soka University of America, Trey has spent the past 10 years creating films, writing songs, and teaching dance & Black history classes (in the U.S. and in China), aimed to build bridges and foster empathy between people of diverse racial, religious, and cultural identities. Trey is the former Youth Development Director of the L.O.V.E is the Answer Movement, which works to heal and transform the historically violent relationship between Law Enforcement and communities of color. Currently, Trey serves as the Senior Fellow for the nonprofit Music in Common (MIC), which repairs the fractures dividing communities worldwide through facilitated dialogue and collaborative songwriting, and as the Co-Director of MIC's Black Legacy Project, an innovative conflict transformation initiative and musical collaboration that celebrates Black history and builds solidarity to advance racial justice, equity, and equality.
- Elizabeth Colón Nelson, Actors Theatre of Louisville | Louisville, Kentucky
I am the daughter of Carmen Gloria Colón, who is the daughter of Ana Rosa Gonzales Martinez Colón. I learned to become my ancestors understanding of a mother because of my son, Silas Raphael. As a member of the Caribbean Diaspora raised in Atlanta, Georgia, by my mother who’s family moved to South Carolina from Puerto Rico in 1955, I hold my ancestors close for wisdom and release. My mother rose out of the racist tyranny she experienced as a young girl growing up in the Jim Crow South and instilled in me that art can be infused in every aspect of life: how and whom I love, the clothes I wear, the work I do, the soup I make or any other thing I bring into my life. Valuing my lived experience as artistic expression led me to receive an MFA from Dell’Arte International. From there, my creative calling led me to perform as a lead clown in Spiegelworld shows, including ABSINTHE at Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Later, I co-founded the Womxn of Color Arts Festival in Las Vegas, and the Leadership Collective at Dell’Arte International. Most recently, I joined Actors Theatre of Louisville as their Radical Hospitality Coordinator. I envision an art world woven into the fabric of communities to share stories that acknowledge the past and hold us collectively accountable for the present and connect to a sustainable future.
- Jerald Crook, Higher Ground Society | Auburn, AL
Jerald hails from Bay Minette, Alabama. He attended Auburn University where he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and a minor in Sustainability. He began his professional career working in public and academic libraries before joining the Alabama Bicentennial Commission staff as community relations specialist. There he served as liaison between the commission, local and state organizations, and bicentennial community committees. As of May 2019 he holds a Master of Public Administration from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and he Jerald currently serves as grants and communications manager for the Georgia Humanities Council. In 2013, Jerald founded High Ground Society, (then Young Man Visions, Old Man Dreams) with a desire to get the people around him excited about the things he was passionate about: the arts, the humanities, and social and environmental justice. Through his work with Higher Ground Society he hopes to be a part of meaningful, positive change in Alabama’s social and cultural landscape by building inclusive, sustainable communities steeped in love and appreciation for the arts and humanities.
- Kimberlyn Elliott, Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center | St. Augustine, FL
Kimberlyn Elliott is a student of history and a museum professional from Gainesville, Florida. She earned a B.A. in American History and Masters of Applied Social Science with a Concentration in History from Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU). Drawn to a career in diplomacy, she discovered that she wasn’t enraptured by visas or economic policy, but instead the chance to connect across geopolitical divides through cultural exchange. By the end of grad school, she’d been fortunate enough to travel to Europe, Ghana and Cuba, where she grappled with how her identity as a U.S. citizen took on an extra dimension as a Black American abroad and she connected with a diasporic heritage only experienced in her studies. The conundrum of identity and the multitudes that make up each of us has continued to inform her work. As a public history worker, she enjoys bringing new discoveries in Black history and culture from college classrooms and university presses to youth and communities. She currently serves as the Associate Director of the Lincolnville Museum and Cultural Center in St. Augustine, FL. Through her career, she excitedly explores the fullness of Black life and culture and illuminates the vast contributions of the Black community to the State of Florida and the nation. Her latest collaborative project, “Resilience: Black Heritage in St. Augustine” was a year-long collaboration in 2021 that inspired the creation of Black history centered exhibitions, programming, and educational content from over 15 cultural and historical institutions in the St. Augustine area.
- Frank Estrada, The University of Mississippi Department of Art & Art History | Oxford, MS
A Memphis native, Estrada is an artist and printmaker living in Oxford for almost 15 years. He earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts with an emphasis in Printmaking, a Bachelor's of Arts in Sociology, and is in the process of earning his Master's of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication. His work is composed of imagery from his Mexican heritage and Southern upbringing. With his knowledge of art and sociology, he creates relief prints that explore and question the American experience as a first-generation American. Estrada’s artwork has been displayed throughout the country and has been awarded several honors including, the Double Decker Arts Festival featured artist (2015) and a Mississippi Arts Commission Visual Arts Fellowship Grant recipient (2016).
- Patrice Johnson, Arts Huntsville | Huntsville, AL
Patrice Johnson serves as the Arts Equity and Marketing Manager for Arts Huntsville –– an arts nonprofit–– in Huntsville, AL., and has experience in arts advocacy, marketing, public relations, strategy, project management, web development, design, and event management. She earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Alabama-Birmingham in Business Administration with minors in Marketing and Public Relations and a Master of Science in Integrated Marketing Communication from West Virginia University with concentrations in Business Administration and Public Affairs. Patrice is passionate about community arts and broadening access in Huntsville; and strives to drive equity, visibility, ambiguity, and resources to her local arts community as she believes they are all necessary for the arts to continue to thrive. She enjoys bringing people together and seeing the beautiful outcome of incredible creatives. Patrice is excited to expand her knowledge to serve her community and continue advocating for the arts efficiently and effectively.
- Ferin Jones, West Baton Rouge Museum | Port Allen, LA
I’m Ferin Jones, a Black museum professional from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. I started my adult journey as a freshman at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, an HBCU in Tallahassee, Florida. After two years I transferred to my hometown to attend Louisiana State University where I earned a Bachelor of Arts in History. During my time at LSU, I interned at Louisiana’s Old State Capitol for one semester digitizing their archives. A few months after graduating in the Spring of 2015, I was hired as a Tour Guide at The West Baton Rouge Museum. Since then, I’ve held various roles from managing social media and publicity while still working on school field trips and tours. In the fall of 2018, I began a graduate program at LSU in the Department of History while I continued to work at the West Baton Rouge Museum. In the Summer of 2020, I earned a Master of Arts in History. I was promoted to Curator of Exhibits in November of 2020. Since then, I've led and assisted the curatorial team on temporary exhibits."
- Vaughn Newman, Vaughn Newman Dance | Greenville, SC
Born in Philadelphia, PA, I began dancing at William Penn Arts Charter and continued training at Freedom Theater, PHILADANCO, & New World School of the Arts, Miami, FL. While at New World, I began performing with MOMENTUM DANCE COMPANY and Brazz Dance Theater until I moved to Upstate SC in 2009. After choreographing for local theaters, dance studios, and the Peace Center for the Performing Arts, The Studio–Home of Vaughn Newman Dance(VND) opened its’ doors in 2018 offering dance instruction to Upstate communities, students, hobbyists, and pre-professional dancers. The Studio is the home of Greenville’s first Afro-American and professional contemporary dance company. I founded ZAKI West African Drum & Dance Ensemble and ADAM Arts as community outreach programs that cross socio-economical barriers by making the arts accessible to the community, especially misaligned and underserved youths. Together, these outreach programs and Vaughn Newman Dance narrow the cultural divide through curated interactive performing arts experiences, Traditional West African drum & dance classes, and workshops.
- Leigha Porter, PARC Village | Lafayette, LA
A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Leigha Porter M.Ed is the founder and artistic director of F.I.R.E. Expressions Performing Arts Conservatory, Co-Creator of The Creole Nutcracker and owner of PARC Village, a Community Art Center that supplies resources to empower creatives of color. Leigha has a bachelor degree from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (Major: Dance, 2010), a Masters of Education from Grand Canyon University (2016), studied Theater Arts at Dillard University in New Orleans, trained in ballet, modern and jazz techniques with world renowned choreographers such as Debbie Allen, Lula Washington, and Walter Hull. In 2015, Leigha attended the Horton Pedagogy Teacher Workshop at The Ailey School in New York City to study the Horton Technique and is a candidate with the Institute for Dunham Technique Certification, to allow her to teach this technique in her community and globally. Leigha provides community service as an adjudicator for the NAACP National Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics and has been the recipient of a number of awards, including the Delta Women in Business Award (2019), Spoken Red Enterprise Small Business Award (2019), and Grand Canyon University Success Spotlight (2019). For the past 8 years, Ms.Porter has served as an arts advocate, arts administrator, and movement artist and continues to serve the North side of Lafayette, a historically black and economically and culturally under-served community.
- Jacquelyn Pritz, DanceATL Incorporated | Atlanta, GA
Jacquelyn (Jacque) Pritz is a Filipino-American dancer, arts administrator, and choreographer from Windermere, Florida now living in Atlanta, GA. She graduated from the University of Florida (UF) in 2018 with her BFA in Dance Performance and BSBA in Marketing. She is now the Operations Manager of DanceATL Incorporated. In this position, she led the efforts to turn the company into a 501c3 incorporated and fully operating service organization. She works closely with staff, interns, volunteers, and the board of directors to offer programming and services that serve the Atlanta dance community. Additionally, Jacque is the Program Coordinator at Emory Arts where she manages the Arts and Social Justice Fellows program.
- Victoria Moore, TINYisPOWERFUL | North Charleston, SC
Victoria Rae Moore is a writer and co-founder of TINYisPOWERFUL — an interracial, intergenerational, grassroots organization and community hub linking artists, cultural workers, youth and tiny business partners to embrace THE ARTS AND THE SPIRIT OF THE ARTS as activators of sustainability; to support and promote TINY BUSINESS in the South as a vital part of neighborhood and commerce; and to build a MENTORSHIP LEGACY awakening in YOUTH a spirit of imagination, entrepreneurship and social engagement. Victoria is the executive director of TINYisPOWERFUL and received a three-year Partners For Change award from Alternate ROOTS and the Surdna Foundation, continuing a long history of art in/with community to affect structural and systemic change. Victoria's role as an arts administrator started in 2018 when she was hired as an assistant quickly advancing to the role of facilitator with an artist-led creative placemaking project - conNECKtedTOO by the Charleston Rhizome Collective - which was the only project in South Carolina supported by an ArtPlace America Award. As a multi-racial Black woman native to Charleston, SC, Victoria is committed to social change through the arts and to amplifying marginalized voices for more true, inclusive representation of the past and the present as we shape a future together. She studied dance at Charleston County School of the Arts and earned a BA in journalism and public relations from the University of South Carolina.
- Brandon Reid, National Museum of African American Music | Nashville, TN
A native of Detroit, Michigan, I am a representation of the impact the arts can have on a young, African American male growing up in an urban community and striving to form his own worldview opposite of what is shown through the media. I am a musician and scholar of Public History with a concentration on African American history, music, and culture, a focus that has been nurtured by my time at Tennessee State University (TSU) and Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). My participation in these programs have provided an interest in exploring, preserving, and interconnecting the experiences of historically marginalized communities to advocate for intentional change in the way the public understands and appreciates different cultures that ultimately impact and shape our communal identity and memory. This can be seen through my research interest in how African American music has influenced American history and popular culture. Parallel to my academic experience has been the growth of my professional career as a Public Historian. In my role at the National Museum of African American Music (NMAAM), I work to promote arts education programming and learning tactics in museums and through collaborative projects with schools, educators, and community organizations.
- Antonio Renteria, Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County | Fayetteville, NC
Antonio is the Director of Operations for the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County – serving more than 500,000 individuals annually through arts education, grants, festivals, and special events.
With over 5 years of experience in arts administration and event management, Antonio’s role at the Arts Council is focused on community engagement. Over the past 3 years, Antonio has grown the ArtScape public art program with over 25+ pieces of temporary and permanent public art within the City of Fayetteville. He is also the staff liaison to the Exhibits Committee for the Arts Council’s Board of Trustees. In this role, he manages the Arts Council’s gallery and exhibition schedule – highlighting the work of local, regional, and national artists who use traditional and multidisciplinary approaches to their work. Antonio’s key accomplishments at the Arts Council include production of large-scale events like the annual International Folk Festival and A Dickens Holiday. Antonio is also responsible for the day-to-day management of the Arts Council’s facilities.
As one of Fayetteville’s “40 under 40”, Antonio is actively involved in volunteerism and community service; he serves as a Board Member to many cultural nonprofits in the area. Antonio graduated from Montana State University-Bozeman with a Bachelors of Arts. Antonio is committed to building relationships with local artists, nonprofit organizations, and other community partners who make Fayetteville a vibrant and welcoming community for artists and other creatives.
- Shannon Stokes, Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County | Winston Salem, NC
Shannon Stokes (she/her/hers) is the new Director of Artist and Partner Services at Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County. She is dedicated to connecting individual artists with opportunities in arts entrepreneurship, and oversee the operations and programming of the Main Gallery and Community Arts Gift Shop at Milton Rhodes Center for the Arts. In her new role as Director, she has taken on grants administration while continuing to build and facilitate sustainable programming among local arts partners for greater community impact though the arts. Shannon is originally from West Palm Beach, Florida and received her bachelor's degree in arts administration from Salem College before earning her master of science in entertainment business from Full Sail University.
- Bernice Sykes, Quitman County Arts & Cultural Center | Marks, MS
Bernice Sykes has actively engaged in the performing arts for over 25 years as a concert singer, opera singer, and show choir performer. She leads with the intention of repositioning and creating a venue, removing roadblocks, and designing roadmaps to make arts and culture accessible to the BIPOC residents in her community.
Trained as a first and mezzo soprano singer, she has served as president of the Quitman County Arts Council for three years. It is here she realized that the BIPOC residents were being left out of the conversation. This became a game changer for her, and the Quitman County Arts & Cultural Center was birth.
Ms. Sykes earned her Bachelor of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Memphis in Memphis, Tennessee, and is a Master of Arts Degree candidate in Higher Education at the University of Mississippi.
- Gavin Wigginson, PRIZM Ensemble | Memphis, TN
Gavin Wigginson serves as the Executive Director of PRIZM Ensemble where he oversees operations and strategic direction for the nonprofit organization. The aim of PRIZM is to elevate chamber music education opportunities for youth in the Greater Memphis area. He previously served as a Fellowship Coach for Memphis Music Initiative where he partnered with dozens of local schools and managed a team of Music Engagement Fellows who taught more than 750 students each semester. Gavin has a Bachelor of Music and Master of Music in vocal performance from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Memphis born and raised, Gavin is devoted to serving the people of Memphis through music engagement. A classically trained tenor, Gavin is an active performer and uses his skills to help raise awareness of social challenges that plague Memphis and the world. Gavin also has extensive experience in higher education as he currently serves as Instructor of Voice at LeMoyne-Owen College, Memphis' only HBCU, and previously served as Visiting Assistant Professor of Voice at Kentucky State University. Ultimately, Gavin would like to identify inclusive spaces for diverse stakeholders to gather in an effort to bring necessary and just solutions for an evolving world through music engagement.
- Tassa-Nieta Wigginton, Whistle Work | Lexington, KY
My trajectory as an arts administrator has been non-traditional. Like a quilt-in-progress, my career path has been a stitching together of corporate and non-profit experiences leading me to my summative role as founder of Whistle Work(WW), an emerging non-profit providing youth and the adults who advocate for them layered programming and community events that include Art (i.e. visual and performing), Humanities and civic engagement. Consistent elements in the programming include the celebration of individuals from the African diaspora whose paths reflect triumphant mindsets- that when applied with their artistic calling - transformed the world. An alumna of Harvard Graduate School of Education and Howard University with 10+ years at a premier media conglomerate, I am a life-long learner, educator and performing artist who embraces the privilege of service. For 2 years I served as grants manager for LexArts (regional arts council and fund). Supporting 50+ organizations, I created empowering paths for small and under-resourced organizations. A KY Ambassador of Goodwill, I serve on community boards and was recently nominated as a 2021 KY UnApologetic Woman. In 2021, I committed fulltime to transitioning WW from a community light of 5 years to a regional beacon equipped for sustainability and succession.
Leaders of Color Cohort 1 (2020-2021)
- Melanie Colclough, Sumter County Cultural Center/Patriot Hall | Sumter, SC
Melanie Colclough serves as the Executive Director of Patriot Hall and the Cultural Center in Sumter, SC. She has many years of experience working with organizations, committees, and boards to engage staff and volunteers in supporting mutually beneficial goals. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of South Carolina Columbia and a Master of Public Administration degree from CUNY/Baruch College. A connector and advocate, Melanie served as a nonprofit leader before taking over the Sumter County Cultural Center/Patriot Hall in 2017. She enjoys repositioning the Arts in her community, but is driven by the opportunity to bring people together through her work there. She believes the beauty, diversity, and ambiguity of the Arts give people a much-needed collective experience while offering space for individual ones, a philosophy she hopes people will learn at the cultural center and then transfer to other facets of life. She is a Guardian ad Litem, adoption advocate, National Urban Fellow, and serves on several local arts-related boards. She is a mother of six wonderful children, member of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority, Inc. and attends Bethesda Church of God, where she and her husband, David, work on the leadership team.
- Jemimah Ekeh, One Columbia for Arts and Culture | Columbia, SC
Jemimah Ekeh is a second-generation Nigerian-American. She is an arts administrator and freelance designer with experiences in arts advocacy, social media, marketing, web development, design and event management. Currently Jemimah works for One Columbia for Arts and Culture–the city of Columbia's de facto arts and culture organization. Jemimah manages the marketing, social media, and administration of the organization while providing support for the promotion of arts and culture in the city; utilizing her expertise to connect and provide information and resources to artists and buskers. Jemimah years of experience encompasses a variety of opportunities from Scenic Theater tech to Production Assistant, Film Festival volunteer for local film festivals to Graphic Designer–which for the last decade she has been freelancing for a variety of clients, most recently working as the Festival Designer for Indie Grits 2020. Jemimah has also worked for the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA), starting as a Visitor Services Representative, then as Special Events Staff and later as a Communications Assistant. She holds a bachelors in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of South Carolina (UofSC), with a major in Visual Communication and a minor in Studio Art. Jemimah is eager to use her experiences to develop meaningful arts and culture experiences for all, one step at a time.
- Nathalie Nia Faulk, Alternate ROOTS/Last Call | New Orleans, LA
N. Nathalie Nia Faulk (They/Them) is self described ebony southern belle born in Lafayette, Louisiana and living in New Orleans for the last eight years. Since her childhood, her work has lived at the the intersections of performance, history and storytelling, healing justice, individual and organizational development, and community building. They use these competencies as tools for the liberation of all people, centering trans and gender non confirming black and brown people. Currently, they serve as A Human Right Commissioner for the City of New Orleans, Co-Director of Southern Organizer Academy as well as Co-Director of Last Call Oral History Project, and as the Cultural Organizing Programs Coordinator for Alternate ROOTS. In addition to her service as Board member of Transcending Women, they currently serve both BreakOUT! and the LOUD Queer Youth Theater advisory Boards. They believe that everyone is inherently valuable and beautiful and collectively, we can manifest everything!
- Carey Fountain, Birmingham Museum of Art | Birmingham, AL
Carey Fountain is a visual artist, musician, and cultural producer based in Birmingham, AL. His art practice combines these disciplines hand in hand with the belief that art can inspire change to propel society forward. Fountain likes to explore what he calls "the language in the middle." He has exhibited nationally including exhibitions and performances at The Study, Los Angeles, CA, Artlanta Gallery, Atlanta, GA, Alabama School of Fine Art, Birmingham, AL and Gallery 905, Selma, AL. He is also the founder of Vibes & Virtues, an experimental art experience. Fountain has worked for Selma Arts, Selma, AL, Coleman Center of the Arts, York, AL, and currently is the Manager of Public Programs for the Birmingham Museum of Art. Fountain graduated from UA in 2014 with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies.
- Brandall C. Jones, Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company | Atlanta, GA
Brandall Jones is passionate about sharing multicultural stories and history, as well as building community partnerships within the Atlanta community. Jones is proud to be part of the True Colors Theatre Company family and is especially proud of the organization's commitment to providing career-making opportunities for emerging artists of color in the Atlanta community. Having graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) with a focus in Performing Arts and Arts Administration, Jones has applied his knowledge and experience by serving the Atlanta and South Fulton County areas for years through the development and implementation of a number of arts outreach programs with Fulton County Arts and Culture and The Serenbe Institute for Art, Culture, and the Environment. At True Colors, Jones continues to make an impact through building community partnerships and developing programs for public conversations and performances. An adamant belief that all, no matter what their zip code or background, deserve access to high quality arts has been the driving force of Jones' career.
- Carly Jones, North Carolina Arts Council | Raleigh, NC
Carly Jones is a performing artist and an arts administrator with experience in funding, community programming, arts advocacy, nonprofit development and cultural work. Jones attended Miami University of Ohio where she received a BM in vocal performance, a BA in Black music history, and a minor in arts management. She currently serves her home state of North Carolina as the Program Director for Artists & Organizations for the NC Arts Council. Jones started at the arts council as the Music Director, where she oversaw music grants/fellowships and spearheaded the statewide Come Hear NC campaign, celebrating NC's musicians. She also curated programming for the NC Executive Mansion, which showcased NC musicians from all cultures. Jones led the arts council's partnership with the African American Heritage Commission and National Trust for Historic Preservation on an awareness campaign to preserve the childhood home of civil rights musician, Nina Simone. As the Program Director, she now oversees grants for organizations and artist fellowships across disciplines and cultivates partnerships in communities across the field. Jones previously worked with a variety of arts organizations, including the multi-arts school Arts Together as the Director of Communications & Development, and as the Director of the African American Cultural Festival of Raleigh. Jones has led work around ways to make the arts sector more accessible across cultural and socio-economic boundaries for all artists and communities.
- Victoria Jones, The Collective The CLTV Inc. | Memphis, TN
In 2015, with the encouragement of artists, activists, and stakeholders, Victoria Jones gathered a group of Black artists and founded The CLTV (Collective) in an effort to empower the community they were charged to serve. The CLTV operates under the belief that Black artists and creators are the most thoughtful and brilliant change agents in the city. For that reason the CLTV is dedicated to elevating Black artists in Memphis, using their creative expression and thought energy to empower Black communities, and in execution shifting the culture of Memphis. The CLTV has been covered locally, nationally, and even internationally through publications like Essence Magazine, Vice, The Art Newspaper, and Madame Noire amongst many others.
Jones was named Leadership Memphis' 2019 Change Maker Honoree, Jones was also named by the Black Millennial Convention as 2019 Millennial Leader to Watch. In 2018 Jones was invited to join the Salzburg Global Forum for Young Cultural Innovators.
- Chad Locklear, Givens Performing Arts Center | Pembroke, NC
Chad Locklear is a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and has Tuscarora ancestry. He is the director of marketing for the Givens Performing Arts Center, a 1,600 seat theater on campus at UNC Pembroke. Chad is responsible for leading all marketing efforts for the center, including advertising, design, social media, student engagement, and sponsorships. Chad also serves as the Lumbee Film Festival's communications director. In 2015, Chad organized the 4th River People Music Festival, which highlighted local and national American Indian musicians. He previously worked as a graphic artist for UNC Wilmington and the Fayetteville Observer. He has performed at numerous venues as a member of the traditional native group, the Deer Clan Singers.
Chad earned a master's in liberal studies from UNC Wilmington and dual bachelor's degrees in communication and arts studies from N.C. State University. He is currently pursuing a second master's in digital communications at UNC-Chapel Hill.
- Chase Miller, Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra | Lexington, KY
Clarinetist Chase Miller is an active performer and Teaching Artist. In 2019 he was appointed Program Director of MusicWorks, which is Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra's El Sistema program. Prior to that he held the position of Education Coordinator with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra. Most recently, he was a co-presenter at the 2020 El Sistema USA Conference in Durham, North Carolina. The Kentucky Governors School for the Arts awarded Chase with the Annual Marlene M. Helm Alumni Achievement Award. Which was created to honor an outstanding alumnus or alumna for their contribution to the arts in their home community, their service to the Governor's School for the Arts, and the dedication to enriching the state's artistic future.
- Viola Ratcliffe, Bib & Tucker Sew-Op | Bessemer, AL
Viola Ratcliffe is an arts administrator and educator, whose work explores the intersection of art and activism. A native of Montgomery, Alabama; she earned her undergraduate degree in Art History from the University of Alabama and her master’s degree in Art History from Bowling Green State University. As the former Curator Specialist of the Troy University Rosa Parks Museum, Viola has travelled the country and the world studying the relationship between art, memorial, and activism. In 2014 she was selected to take part in Bowling Green State University’s Fulbright- Hays “Walking Witness” program, which provided her with the opportunity to travel to Europe to study the history of Ohio Holocaust survivors. Currently, Viola works as program manager for Bib & Tucker Sew-Op in Birmingham, AL; an arts non-profit that is a hub for sewing activities that promote empowerment, education, and economic opportunity. She is also the founder of Elynn & Rose, LLC, a venture that honors and celebrates the journey that is womanhood and girlhood, and whose mission is to create opportunities for women and girls through entrepreneurship, education, creation, and exploration. Viola currently lives in Bessemer, Alabama with her husband and her two young daughters.
- Cecilia Reyna, Community Citizen | Louisville, KY
Cecilia Reyna Lara is a human and arts administrator in Louisville, Kentucky. She is passionate about community arts and broadening access in Louisville, while remaining rooted in her home community and family in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky. Cecilia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Studio Art from Bellarmine University. She has worked with Kentucky Performing Arts, The Speed Art Museum and the Boys & Girls Club of Kentuckiana. In addition to her work, Cecilia has served as consultant for Backside Learning Center at Churchill Downs, a grant panelist for The Fund for the Arts, and Board Member for the West Louisville Women’s Collaborative. Cecilia loves to share art with the community and believes that art is for everyone.
- Stacey Wilson, Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience | Meridian, MS
Stacey Wilson-Curator, Project Manager, Exhibition Designer, and sometimes Artist. Wilson is the Curator of Exhibitions for the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience and has held multiple roles in this position. In the beginning she was an Exhibit Designer brought on as a Project Manager to coordinate a 14 million dollar 6,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art permanent exhibition. Now she is the Curator responsible for overseeing the maintenance and future development of said exhibition as well as organizing the changing exhibitions. All of that hard work paid off when Wilson received the SEMC Emerging Museum Professionals award in 2019.
Wilson loves history. She earned a M.A. and B.A. in history, with a concentration in Public History from Texas State University-San Marcos and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, respectively. Her studies focused on antebellum Louisiana and she previously worked as an interpreter at Destrehan Plantation. Portraying a free woman of color and a slave, she has presented laundry, indigo dyeing, and tignon tying demonstrations. Her tignon tying demonstration has transformed into a lecture delving into the history of headwraps and their meaning in early Louisiana history. Formerly, she was the Curator of Exhibitions/Lead Designer at the Louisiana State Museum.