Announcing the 2022-2023 National Leaders of Color Fellows

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The first cohort of the National Leaders of Color Fellowship (LoCF) program has been selected, representing 53 leaders from across the United States including nine from the South Arts region. The cohort will participate in a strategic leadership development program for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) leaders committed to the advancement of cultural equity in the arts that emphasizes policy and data in the arts, leadership, culture of care, and strategic foresight through an advocacy lens. 

Leaders of Color Fellowship recipients

An expansion of WESTAF’s Emerging Leaders of Color (ELC) program, this collective support and commitment from the collaborative of the six U.S. regional arts organizations (USRAOs) (Arts Midwest, Mid-America Arts Alliance, Mid Atlantic Arts, New England Foundation for the Arts, South Arts and WESTAF, the convener) aims to invest in diverse arts leadership in each respective region and across the nation. This inaugural national cohort will build on the success of WESTAF's ELC program, which has been partnering with and supporting 100+ BIPOC arts and culture leaders since 2010.

The National Leaders of Color Fellowship program will take place virtually over an eight-month period. Each session will support fellows through meaningful experiences of validation, community, enlightenment, and accomplishment. Since its inception, the program has been intentionally led by BIPOC faculty, artists, and leaders and has not been institutionally driven—a facet that is precious and will remain intact in the program’s national expansion.

Meet the nine Leaders of Color fellows from the South Arts region:

Davelyn AthenaDavelyn Athena, Greer, South Carolina
Executive Director, Speaking Down Barriers

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 HamdanLeila Hamdan, Memphis, Tennessee
Collections Manager and Archivist, Stax Museum of American Soul Music

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 HinrichsDr. Marguerite Hinrichs, York, Alabama
Director, California State University, East Bay

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 KozorozJenny Snyder Kozoroz, Brevard, North Carolina
Program Director, Brevard Music Center

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. McPhersonJude C. McPherson, Lexington, Kentucky
Agent, Kentucky Black Writers Collaborative

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 RayonJeri Rayon, Miami, Florida
Veteran Arts Administrator, Cultural Worker, and Founder, The Black Donors Project

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 SeguíJacky Seguí, Suwanee, Georgia
Director of Community Impact, Aurora Theatre

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. WhitEJavette O. White, Cleveland/Clarksdale, Mississippi
Director of Dance and Movement, Griot Arts Center

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. YoungCourtney C. Young, 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.