- Salvador Acevedo, Faculty
Salvador has over 20 years of experience helping organizations link their design and innovation strategies with various cultures within the US. Being bilingual and bicultural gives him the ability to recognize the cultural markers that signal inclusion, and he’s committed to open opportunities for all.
For the last 15 years, he’s been professionally invested in helping organizations increase diversity, deepen inclusion, and advancing equity, in a broad range of fields, from arts & culture, to informal education and urban planning.
He’s a founding member of the Emerging Leaders of Color network managed by the Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) with the goal of increasing POC leadership in policy and arts administration. He is a regular speaker at conferences on DEI topics and is a TED Talk speaker with the talk I’m Mestizo.
- Jade Elyssa Cariaga, WESTAF Staff
In addition to their role as Grants and Equity Manager at the Western States Arts Federation, Jade Elyssa Cariaga (they/we) serves as Chair of UCLA Committee on LGBTQ Affairs and Board Co-Chair of UCLA Lambda (LGBTQ+) Alumni Association. With their breadth of leadership across advocacy efforts, they are well positioned to address the dynamic dimensions that define health, safety, and success of LGBTQ+ community within the University of California system and beyond.
They have been selected as an arts consultant for projects funded by California Office of the Small Business Advocate and Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture, as well as affiliated with the National Assembly of States Arts Agencies and Californians for the Arts, where they have been instrumental in scaling equity work on the municipal, statewide, and national levels. In their previous work in program direction, cultural research, and arts policy, they have received commendation, endorsement, and recognition from Supervisor Kuehl of Los Angeles County's Third District, the American Educational Research Association, and UCLA's Chancellor for Students. Their work has been included in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences' report by the Commission on the Arts and American for the Art's national COVID-19 arts recovery policy proposal.
They began their career in 2015 as Director of Cesar Chavez Middle School Color Guard, where they worked with Title I students to achieve regionally-unprecedented levels of success. They earned a bachelor's degree in dance from the Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA, where they served as ambassador of First Lady Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative.
- David Holland, WESTAF Faculty
David Holland is the deputy director at WESTAF. He joined the organization in 2019 as director of public policy to lead its advocacy and public policy programs and services and serve as the primary liaison with federal agencies, regional arts organizations, state and local arts agencies, and state arts advocacy groups. His role has evolved to also drive the impact of WESTAF’s leadership and professional development programming, grantmaking, and technical assistance and consulting services across teams. Since joining WESTAF, he has co-directed the inaugural Creative Vitality™ Summit; authored the Creative Economies and Economic Recovery report in partnership with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies; co-led the redesign of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Performing Arts Discovery program in collaboration with regional and national partners; established the Western Arts Advocacy Network (WAAN); collaborated on developing new equity-focused relief and resilience grantmaking programs in the West and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands; spearheaded WESTAF’s Arts and the Rural West and Arts Leadership and Advocacy Seminars; and secured private and public investment for WESTAF’s programs. Holland previously served as associate director of the Arts and Business Council of Greater Boston, where he oversaw programs and services, operations, and fund development. Holland’s prior roles include leadership and senior management positions with Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) da Vinci Center for Innovation, VCU School of the Arts, ART 180, the Latin Ballet of Virginia, Arts & Business, and the UK innovation foundation Nesta. Holland began his career with BOP Consulting, a global consultancy on culture and the creative industries, leading projects for government departments, public agencies, universities, and international organizations as a senior consultant. For more than 11 years, he has served as an independent management consultant working primarily with clients in the arts and culture field both nationally and internationally. He serves as a panelist for the National Endowment for the Arts and Colorado Creative Industries. He is also an elected member of the Americans for the Arts Private Sector Network Advisory Council and serves on the national Cultural Advocacy Group. He formerly served as a panelist for Colorado’s Arts and Society Program, the Boston Foundation, the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and Virginians for the Arts and as a site reviewer for Massachusetts Cultural Council. Holland has also served on the boards of several nonprofits, including the Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia. His writings have been published by Arts Council England, the British Council, the Routledge International Handbook of Creative Learning, and others. He is a Salzburg Global Fellow, Evan Carroll Commager Fellow, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Holland holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and asian studies from Amherst College and master’s degrees in international studies and diplomacy and the history of art from the University of London, SOAS.
- Heather Infantry, Guest
Heather Infantry is the Founder of the Atlanta Taskforce for Philanthropic Reparations which was created in response to her public call out of the Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta’s exclusion of Black arts organization in COVID relief funding resulting in an unprecedented contribution of nearly $1.4M to 33 Black organizations. Heather is also the Managing Director for the TransFormation Alliance, a collective advancing equitable transit-oriented development as a pathway to Black prosperity. Throughout her career Heather has fostered an ongoing curiosity for people, places and ideas at the intersection of culture and equity. As a cultural worker she sits on the arts councils for MARTA, HDDC (Historic District Development Corporation) and on the board of ADAMA (African Diaspora Art Museum of Atlanta). Heather holds a B.A. in Theater from Georgia State University and an MBA in Nonprofit Management from Trinity University.
- Anika Kwinana, WESTAF Staff
Anika Kwinana serves as WESTAF’s director of social responsibility and inclusion. In this role, she informs and develops a range of equity-centered learning experiences that connect and inspire leaders and communities to build a more inclusive arts and culture sector. She joins WESTAF from her position as manager of national education initiatives at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts where she ensured that arts professionals were equipped with relevant professional learning and support as they sought to provide equitable access to the arts among public school students. Kwinana has worked with a number of arts organizations as a stage manager, producer, gallery coordinator, and subscriptions sales associate. She also served as assistant director of national college fairs, programs and services for the National Association for College Admission Counselling where she piloted and scaled STEM college and career fairs reaching over 20,000 attendees annually. Kwinana is chair of the Arlington County Commission for the Arts and co-founder of Arlington for Justice; chair of the Arts Administrators of Color Network and served as co-chair of the organization’s 2020 convening; and is a part of artEquity’s BIPOC Leadership Circle, working with other arts leaders from across the nation to develop social justice leadership models. Kwinana earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University and a master’s degree in arts management from George Mason University, where her capstone focused on the need for diversity in arts organizational leadership. She also holds a master’s degree in public anthropology from American University and a postgraduate degree in management from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
- Ethan Messere, South Arts staff
- Ethan Messere is the Assistant Director of Presenting & Touring for South Arts. In addition to working on a number of grant programs for organizations and communities, Ethan manages Individual Artist Career Opportunity grants, acts as administrator for Emerging Leaders of Color, and liaises with Southern state presenter networks. He also serves as Co-Chair for South Arts' Equity Committee. Previously, Ethan was responsible for registration and showcases for the Performing Arts Exchange and administered professional development programming for performing arts professionals.
Ethan holds a Masters of Music in Orchestral Performance from Georgia State University and a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration in music performance from Syracuse University. Prior to his work in arts administration, he worked as a freelance trumpet player in Atlanta and in his home region of Upstate New York. A lifelong fan of all things basketball, Ethan cheers on the Syracuse Orange whenever he can.
- Margie Johnson Reese, Faculty
Margie Johnson Reese has a 35-year portfolio as an arts advocate and arts management professional. She received a BA from Washington State University in Pullman, Washington and an MFA in Theater from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. She is an advisor to the International Council of African Museums based in Nairobi, Kenya and is a Fellow at the Salzburg Global Institute in Salzburg, Austria. She continues to serve as an advisor to the Wichita Falls Alliance for Arts and Culture in Wichita Falls, Texas, a local arts agency that was seeded and developed under her guidance as the organization’s first Executive Director.
Her work in the local arts agency arena also includes a six-year tenure as Director of the Office of Cultural Affairs for the City of Dallas and General Manager for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. She held that position under three mayoral administrations managing grant making, arts education, festival production, cultural facilities and public art staff teams.
Margie’s expertise as a grant maker was tapped by the Ford Foundation to advance cultural projects in West Africa. Based in Lagos, Nigeria and serving 14 West African countries, her work centered on cultural policy development and conservation of West Africa’s tangible and intangible cultural heritage. Through her vision and commitment to restoring dignity to West African antiquities, she became known as the “mother of the Lagos Museum.”
Following her three-year service in West Africa, Margie returned to Dallas and took the position of Vice President for Programs at Big Thought. Her time was spent leveraging public and private sector resources to provide arts education experiences for children and their families. Margie created the Teaching Artists Fellows Initiative at Big Thought, training a cohort of master artist to guide creative learning experiences for children in out of school environments.
Margie continues to contribute to the field of Arts Administration as a consultant to local arts agencies and local municipalities, helping them develop inclusive arts policies that respond to contemporary community goals. Recent clients include The Houston Arts Alliance, The Greater Baton Rouge Area Arts Council, One Columbia (Columbia, South Carolina) and Asante Children’s Theater in Indianapolis, Indiana. She often serves as the keynote speaker at arts conferences around the globe and is an adjunct professor at Goucher College in their graduate school of arts administration.
She currently resides in Atlanta, Georgia.
- Madalena Salazar, Faculty
Madalena Salazar is a creative focused on issues of cultural equity with extensive experience as a nonprofit administrator, DEI consultant, educator/facilitator, organizer, and cultural producer. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director for Working Classroom, the Principal of 3rd Space Vision LLC. She is also a faculty member for WESTAF’s Emerging Leaders of Color and a community lead for Coffee + Creatives in Albuquerque. Through all her efforts, she works to center the assets of marginalized cultural experiences in non-profits, civic and educational institutions, cultural organizations, and museum settings. In addition to those mentioned above, Madalena has had the opportunity to work on behalf of Solutions Journalism Network, Explora Science Center, the University of New Mexico, The Denver Botanic Gardens, The Mexican Cultural Center of Denver, Museo de las Américas, Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, the Smithsonian’s Latino Museum Studies Program, and the Americas Latino Eco Festival. She is also a published author, public speaker, workshop facilitator and has served as a grant panelist for the NEA. Madalena is commissioner for the City of Albuquerque's Urban Enhancement Trust Fund, a founding member of Denver’s LatinasGive! philanthropic circle, a former Commissioner for Cultural Affairs (Denver), and an alumnus of WESTAF’s Emerging Leaders of Color program and the Circle of Latina Leadership. She values engaging creatively as one’s whole self, collaboratively, and intersectionally across generations, in relationship. Madalena was born, raised, and resides in Tiwa territory aka Albuquerque, New Mexico (after returning from several impactful years in Denver, CO). She loves music, cooking (and eating), nature, traveling, reading, gardening, and the healing arts. Madalena received a B.A. in Anthropology, and an M.A. in Art History from the University of New Mexico. Madalena is most proud of being a mother, and spends her remaining time with her children, partner, and her extended and chosen familix.
- Wideman Davis Dance, Tanya Wideman-Davis and Thaddeus Davis, Guests
Wideman Davis Dance, founded in 2003, is deeply committed to revealing social and political issues through an African American perspective. We make work that is inspired by and engaged with current issues including race, social class, gender, and location.
Viewing education as essential, Wideman Davis Dance connects with communities of all ages through residencies and by increasing their awareness of these social and political issues, and the ways in which those issues play out in today’s world.
Wideman Davis Dance make dances that have the capacity to tell the truth and move the spirit, giving voice to the people who both perform and view them. They create a space for truths to be told, rupturing the silence of denial, and retelling history about the African American experience.
Telling such truths can foster a range of reactions, from inspiration to discomfort, from inquiry to debate. In their artistic encounters, the company highly values the exchange that occurs with their audiences as they respond.
They have created and performed with legendary companies and artists, including Dance Theater of Harlem, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, Donald Byrd/The Group, Ballet NY, and Complexions Contemporary Ballet.
- Joy Young, South Arts Faculty
Joy Young, Ph.D. has more than 25 years of experience in the arts as an entrepreneurial performing artist, arts administrator, and academic. Joy’s work as a performing artist included owning a successful music studio and performing as a recitalist, sanctuary soloist, studio and background vocalist. Her 14-year tenure with the South Carolina Arts Commission was highlighted by serving on the executive leadership team as the agency Director of Administration, Human Resources, and Operations. Joy also implemented a variety of programs at the South Carolina Arts Commission to include arts/artist entrepreneurship; nonprofit leadership and organizational development; cultural tourism; statewide conferences and convening; and the AIR Institute. Joy’s contribution to the arts at the national level include service as a grant reviewer for the National Endowment for the Arts, member of the Committee for Individual Artists with Grantmakers in the Arts, and a mentor for the NASAA DEI Mentorship Program.
Most recently, Joy served the Executive Director of the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville. Her work saw her committed to a team who worked together implementing innovative programs, developing and executing proactive and quantifiable arts and culture initiatives, and broadening relationships with new networks and stakeholders. Joy found tremendous success capitalizing on the power of public-private partnerships as a strategy to significantly increase the Cultural Council’s earned revenue.
Joy enjoys sharing her experiences from the field in the classroom by preparing the next generation of arts administrators in the Master of Arts in Arts Administration at Winthrop University to be adaptive leaders. Joy holds a Bachelor of Arts in Music, Master of Arts in Voice Performance, and the Ph.D. in Organizational Leadership. Her research interests include arts leadership, program assessment and evaluation, and organization and leadership adaptations amid dynamic environmental paradigms.