Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Digital Town Hall: Navigating COVID-19 for Immigrant Arts Workers: Rights, Relief and Resources


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Photo by Albin Lohr-Jones


When: Tuesday, April 28th, 2020, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Where: Facebook Live (video posted)

Session was free and open to the public. 

Accessibility: Session includes ASL interpretation & closed captioning.

About: Navigating COVID-19 for Immigrant Arts Workers: Rights, Relief and Resources
Dance/NYC, immigrant advocates and legal advisors led a town hall event discussing resources for immigrant dance makers and cultural workers as they navigate the impacts of COVID-19. Panelists provided insight on an arts worker's legal rights as an immigrant regardless of immigration status; resources for undocumented artists and disabled immigrant artists; access to pandemic support with consideration for the Public Charge rule including community-led resources; and advocacy tools for how organisations can support immigrant artists and arts workers.


  • Alejandra Duque Cifuentes, Executive Director, Dance/NYC
  • Anu Joshi, Vice President of Policy, The New York Immigration Coalition
  • Candace Thompson-Zachery, Manager of Justice, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives, Dance/NYC
  • State Senator Jessica Ramos, (D, WF) 13th Senate District & Chair of Committee on Labor
  • May Malik, Deputy Commissioner of External Affairs at the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs
  • Michael Cataliotti, Business Immigration & Corporate Transactions Lawyer, Cataliotti Law P.C.; Dance/NYC Legal Committee
  • Samantha Johnson, Education and Outreach Coordinator, Center for Independence of the Disabled


Panelist Bios: 

ALEJANDRA DUQUE CIFUENTES is an immigrant, activist, artist, producer, and educator. These multiple proficiencies position her as the Executive Director of Dance/NYC to play an integral part in advancing a more equitable arts and cultural ecology, by working on measures to increase access, justice, equity, and inclusion within dance for disabled artists, immigrant artists, and artists of color in the five boroughs of New York City. She was born in Medellin, Colombia and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and Theatre Arts from Columbia University School of General Studies.  Photo credit: Alejandra Duque Cifuentes by Jo Chiang.


ANU JOSHI is the Vice President of Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition where she leads the organization's work on issues relating to immigration status and enforcement. She has worked for over ten years in the immigrant rights movement, including with the Center for New Community in Chicago and the American Immigration Lawyers Association in Washington, D.C. Previously, Anu organized around issues relating to access to education and foreign policy and spent three years as a child services social worker in the Bay Area. She is a native Californian and has her Masters in Social Welfare from UC Berkeley.



CANDACE THOMPSON-ZACHERY is Dance/NYC's Manager of Justice, Equity & Inclusion Initiatives. She was born in Trinidad and Tobago, now local to Brooklyn, NY, and operates between the spheres of dance, cultural production and fitness and wellness. She is the founder of Dance Caribbean COLLECTIVE, an initiative that supports and presents Caribbean dance performance in NYC and is currently a candidate in the M.A. in Performance Curation program at the Institute for Curatorial Practice in Performance at Wesleyan University. Photo credit: Candace Thompson-Zachery by Jo Chiang. 



STATE SENATOR JESSICA RAMOS has spent her life fighting for working families, advocating for labor, and organizing her local community. Born in Elmhurst to an undocumented seamstress and a printing pressman, Jessica was raised in Astoria, attended Queens public schools, and now lives in Jackson Heights with her two sons.

A strong union advocate, Ramos worked with Build Up NYC to fight for construction, building and hotel maintenance workers in New York City. Ramos also worked with SSEU Local 371 and 32BJ SEIU, where she helped building maintenance workers, office cleaners and public schools cleaners win contracts that protected their rights, wages, and benefits.

Jessica was a member of Queens Community Board 3 and served as Democratic District Leader in the 39th Assembly District. Jessica sat on the boards of the Jackson Heights Beautification Group and Farmspot, Jackson Heights’ community-supported agriculture (CSA) program. She has received awards for her work with the LGBTQ community and her advocacy on behalf of Women and Minority-Owned Businesses.

As the first American-born in her family, Jessica feels a deep sense of responsibility in bridging the gap between immigrant and non-immigrant communities. Jessica’s mother crossed the Mexican border by herself at 24, and her father was arrested in a workplace immigration raid in the early 1980’s and spent days held in a detention center. 

Even as a teenager, Jessica was outspoken against poverty and the internal displacement of Colombians. She was elected President of the NYC Colombian Liberal Youth Council in 2002 and subsequently elected President of the NYC Colombian Liberal Party in 2005. 

Most recently, Jessica served as Director of Latino Media for the City of New York. As the city’s chief Latina spokesperson, Jessica helped keep our city’s 1.87 million Spanish-speaking residents, and the community and ethnic media at large, informed about government services and initiatives.

Jessica credits her love for activism and public service to her parents, Colombian immigrants who fought for and won the right to dual citizenship for Colombian-Americans and founded Siempre Colombia, a not-for-profit organization in Jackson Heights.

Jessica does not have a driver’s license—she rides the subway every day. 


MAY MALIK serves as the Deputy Commissioner of External Affairs at the Mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. Previously, she served as the Director of Public-Private Partnerships with NYC Service at the Mayor's Office, where she designed and led strategic cross-sector partnerships to leverage financial and people power in addressing the City's greatest needs. May also worked in Sudan as part of an effort between Save the Children and the Federal Ministry of Education to provide psycho-social intervention programming to children in conflict/post-conflict zones; helped to design communications and support fundraising strategies for Lalela, which provides arts and life skills training to youth in South Africa, Northern Uganda, and the South Bronx; and traveled to 40+ countries and 100+ cities as a Tour Publicist for Depeche Mode. May received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and her M.A. in International Educational Development from Columbia University.

MICHAEL CATALIOTTI is the Principal of Cataliotti Law P.C., a law firm concentrating on business immigration & corporate transactions. His clientele includes individuals & entities from diverse industries, such as sports, music, fashion, film, art, theatre, television, new media, technology, journalism & science. Michael is a regular contributor to the NYSBA Entertainment, Arts & Sports Law Journal about immigration; a faculty member at Lawline CLE; a frequent speaker on the topics of business immigration, corporate transactions, & entrepreneurship; a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) where he is an active participant on several committees; was most recently recognized as a "Rising Star" in 2019's Super Lawyers; and a member of the Legal Committee of Dance/NYC.


SAMANTHA JOHNSON is a Fort Greene, Brooklyn resident and grassroots community organizer with a focus on BIPOC, LBTQAI+ and marginalized communities. Her present role of Education Outreach Coordinator with Center For Independence of the Disabled and her work with the NY Connects program, has deepened her advocacy and knowledge of resources to provide services to individuals and families with disabilities. Samantha believes in love, liberation, abolition and black safety.  





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Resources from April 28th, 2020 DigiTownHall:



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Dance/NYC’s Digital Town Hall and other Immigrants. Dance. Arts. initiatives are made possible with founding and leadership support from the The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. 


Dance/NYC seeks partners and speakers with a variety of viewpoints for its events with the goal of generating discussion. The inclusion of any partner or speaker does not constitute an endorsement by Dance/NYC of that partner's or speaker's views.


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In shades of grey and taupe, a dancer reaches one hand toward her outstretched foot. He other hand brushes her ribs. Large text reads GALLIM Summer Intensive 2020, August 10-14 & 17-21. Curated virtual classes with Andrea Miller, GALLIM dancers, & international guest artists


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in shades of grey and taupe, a dancer reaches one hand toward her outstretched foot. He other hand brushes her ribs. Large text reads GALLIM Summer Intensive 2020, August 10-14 & 17-21. Curated virtual classes with Andrea Miller, GALLIM dancers, & international guest artists

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