Immigrants. Dance. Arts. Conference
Thursday, November 8, 2018
12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Registration and service fair open at 11:00 a.m.
Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College
65-30 Kissena Blvd, Flushing, NY 11367
Reeves Avenue between 61st Road and the Horace Harding Expressway
Speakers are organized in alphabetical order.
Abdel R. Salaam is the Executive Artistic Director/Co-Founder of Forces of Nature Dance Theatre (FONDT) founded in 1981. Born in Harlem, New York, Abdel, is a critically acclaimed director and choreographer. In the past, he served as a dancer, teacher and/or performing artist in five continents throughout his 48-year career in the Dance World. Mr. Salaam has received numerous awards and fellowships for excellence in Dance including the National Endowment for the Arts, The New England Foundation on the Arts, Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York Foundation for the Arts, The New York State Council for Arts, The National Council for Arts and Culture and Herbert H. Lehman College. Abdel and his company are the recipient of the 2017 Bessie NY Dance and Performance Award for Outstanding Production. He and his company also received the 2013 Audelco Award for Dance Company of the Year. He has served as a choreographer and/or director for the New York Shakespeare Festival, The Billie Holiday Theater, The Apollo Theater, The Winter Solstice at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, The New York Musical Theater Festival, BAM, Black Dance USA and The Tennessee Performing Arts Festival. Some of his specific commercial credits in theater , film and television include: “Measure for Measure,” New York Shakespeare Festival (Choreographer ) ; “Pecong”, Newark Symphony Hall (Choreographer); “TUT”, New York Musical Theatre Festival, (Director /Choreographer); ”Ebony Magic: The Life and Legend of Marie Laveau”, Aaronow Theater, (Director/Choreographer); “JuJu Man“ , Billie holiday Theater (Director/ Choreographer); “ The Liberation of Mother Goose”, Billie Holiday Theater ( Director Choreographer); “Eclipse; Visions of the Crescent and the Cross”, Tennessee Performing Arts Center (Director/Choreographer); “Free to Dance “, PBS Channel 13 (Choreographer); “ Expressions in Black; The Story of a People, ABC ( Choreographer); “ The Richard Pryor Show”, NBC ( Dancer); and “ Black Nativity” Fox Searchlight Films ( Performing Artist). Abdel has created ballets for Philadanco, Joan Miller Chamber Arts/ Dance Players, The Chuck Davis Dance Company, Union Dance Theater (London), Ballet Islenos ( Puerto Rico), Sakoba Dance Theater (London), Muntu Dance Theater, The Nashville Ballet, The African American Dance Ensemble and Gywa Maten. Mr. Salaam has served on the faculties of the American Dance Festivals in the United States and Seoul, Korea, Herbert H. Lehman College, The Alvin Ailey American Dance Center, The Restoration Youth Arts Academy and The Harlem Children’s Zone. Mr. Salaam is the creator of the Kwanzaa Regeneration Night Celebration in Harlem, now 37 years old, which was inspired by the teachings of its visionary creator and founder of Kwanzaa, Dr. Maulana Karenga. Mr. Salaam is also the new Artistic Director of Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Dance Africa, originally founded by Baba Chuck Davis in 1977.
Abou Farman is an anthropologist, writer, artist, and author of the book Clerks of the Passage (2012). He is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at The New School for Social Research. As part of the artist duo caraballo-farman, he has exhibited internationally, including at the Tate Modern, UK, and PS1/MOMA, NY, and received several grants and awards, including NYFA and Guggenheim Fellowships. He is producer and co-writer on several feature films most recently Icaros: A Vision.
Adriana Gallego’s artwork is forged from ideals about equity and understanding rooted in the Civil Rights and Feminist movements, with sensibilities born out of her upbringing alongside the United States-Mexico border. Her current work is based on the multiplicity of roles women have performed in movements of resistance, rebellion and war. Mapping is used as a point of departure. Without regard for space and time, new imaginary mappings are created by juxtaposing different political, geographical and historical cartographies. Commemorative in nature, the series charts a course for a global, transhistorical account of multiple feminisms engaged in battles. As an artist at the service of other artists, Gallego's work in arts administration and education is motivated by human rights, where she seeks to connect people with meaningful resources that grow personal and organizational capacity, build community, foster collaboration and bridge cultural understanding. Leading from this perspective, Gallego is the first Chief Operating Officer of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) and co-chairs the Grantmakers in the Arts Support for Individual Artist Committee. Previously, she was Director of Strategic Initiatives with the Arizona Commission on the Arts, Educational Assistant at the Norton Simon Museum, and arts educator throughout the Southwest. She has served on many review panels, advisory boards, and committees including the National Endowment for the Arts, Arizona Mexico Commission, Arizona Public Art Network, Transportation Enhancement Review Committee, Asset Building for Artists of Color Advisory Board and Flagstaff Cultural Partners Arts Advisory Board. Gallego continues an active repertoire of national board and panel service. She is recipient of the Border-Ford Bi-national Painting Award, and her artwork is featured in publications such as Contemporary Chicana and Chicano Art" and "Triumph of Our Communities: Four Decades of Mexican American Art." In Tucson, she was a co-founder of Raíces Taller 222 Gallery and Workshop, a Latino based contemporary nonprofit cooperative art gallery and workshop. Adriana Gallego graduated magna cum laude from the University of Arizona, College of Fine Arts.
Alejandra Duque Cifuentes, Acting Co-Executive Director, Programming and Justice Initiatives, Dance/NYC is an activist, artist, producer, and educator. With more than 10 years of production and stage management experience in theatre and dance, she has toured nationally and internationally with Zaccho Dance Theatre, Bandaloop, Dancing in The Streets, The Foundry Theatre, and Columbia University School of the Arts, among others. As a teaching artist, Duque Cifuentes taught children and adults of all ages how to express themselves through theater and movement practice in over 100 NYC public schools and through community theatre programs. In 2011 she founded an educational and community theatre organization, Theatre That Transcends, which taught local, underserved communities how to express themselves and address community issues through the art of theater. As an activist, she plays 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 is a member of the Children's Museum of Manhattan’s Dance Portal Advisory Board, Eva Yaa Asantewaa’s Curatorial Advisory Team at Gibney, and is an advisor for the Latinx Artists Retreat, an annual convening for Latinx cultural producers across all artistic disciplines and fields. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Drama and Theatre Arts from Columbia University School of General Studies.
Ana Nery Fragoso grew up in the Canary Islands, Spain, where she performed and choreographed extensively. She studied at the Alvin Nikolais Dance Lab (NYC) for two years, graduated from Hunter College with a B.A. in Dance and Education and earned a M.F.A. in Choreography from Sarah Lawrence College. She has been the recipient of two grants from the Ministry of Culture in Spain and a J. Javits Fellowship award. For twelve years, Ana Nery taught at P.S. 315, a Performing Arts Elementary School in Brooklyn, where she created a dance curriculum supported by the Laban Movement Analysis framework that emphasized improvisation, technique and dance making. She was the dance specialist at the East Village Community School in Manhattan as well where she created a brand new dance program. Mrs. Fragoso was a member of the New York City Department of Education Dance Blueprint Writing Committee and since 2004, she worked as a NYCDOE dance facilitator co-designing professional development workshops for New York City Department of Education dance specialists. She worked as a dance coach for the Artful Learning Community Grant (ALC) doing action research to develop strategies for collaborative inquiry around formative assessment practices and student learning in dance for six years and was part of the Arts Achieve team, a four-year project that developed innovative dance assessment tools and strategies. In 2017 she was a member of the NYS Dance Learning Standards writing team. Mrs. Fragoso was a faculty member of the Dance Education Laboratory (DEL) at the 92nd St Y from 2007 to 2014 and she is currently the Director of Dance for the NYCDOE Office of Arts and Special Projects.
Ben Espinosa serves as Arts Partnership Manager at the New York City Department of Education, responsible for promoting partnerships between NYC public schools and the city’s arts and cultural community. In this role, Ben develops resources to help school leaders research, identify, fund, and manage high-quality, school-based partnerships in dance, music, theater, and visual arts education. Ben’s five years at the DOE also includes time working within the Fund for Public Schools, where he managed major grants from individuals, corporations, and foundations to help carry out the DOE’s priority reform initiatives. Ben holds an MPA in Nonprofit Management & Policy from NYU Wagner, and a Bachelor’s in Business Administration from the University of California, Riverside.
Dr. Derrick León Washington is a cultural anthropologist with a specialization in dance and performance. His ethnographic work on the dance traditions of Brazil, Cuba, U.S., Spain, and coast of Mexico has contributed to numerous exhibitions, performance workshops, and multidisciplinary projects. Mr. Washington worked on the Will to Adorn exhibition/project at the Smithsonian Center of Folklore and Cultural Heritage. As a Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Museum of the City of New York, he was the curator of Rhythm & Power: Salsa in New York (June 15, 2017-November 26, 2017), a groundbreaking exhibition and expansive, interactive program series on salsa as an artistic social movement presented at the Museum. He is the co-editor of the book, Rhythm & Power: Performing Salsa in Puerto Rican and Latino Communities (Centro Publications, 2017). He’s the curator of Dreams and Defiance: A World Re-Imagined, an interactive program series and upcoming exhibition that explores the links between music/dance forms practiced in Spain, West-Central Africa and Americas. He’s the director of Urban Stomp: From Swing to Mambo, a multinational collaborative of artists-historians pushing the boundaries of art and educational practice. He has created a network of partnerships with institutions such as the National Jazz Museum in Harlem, Ballet Hispánico, City Park’s SummerStage, NYU, and the New York International Salsa Congress. His work speaks to the ways dance can directly influence society.
A graduate of The Juilliard School, Dian Dong’s career included performing in the companies of H.T. Chen & Dancers, Anna Sokolow, Kathryn Posin, Kazuko Hirabayashi, touring with The King & I, working with Lincoln Center Institute, and New York Young Audiences. She has taught at NYU School of Ed., Montclair State College, the Center for Modern Dance Ed. and Chen Dance Center. Dian designs and organizes education programs for Chen Dance homebased and national activities that include a year-round School in Chinatown, NY, an educational performance series for young audiences, early childhood and after-school dance programs for community children, special projects at LaGuardia HS Dance Dept, and residencies. Dian has also participated in the Kennedy Center’s Capacity Building Program led by Michael Kaiser, and attended the Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders - Arts at Stanford Graduate Business School. She and H.T. Chen are the proud recipients of the 2012 Mid-Career Award from the Martha Hill Dance Fund.
Eduardo Vilaro joined Ballet Hispánico as Artistic Director in August 2009, becoming only the second person to head the company since it was founded in 1970. In 2015, Mr. Vilaro took on the additional role of Chief Executive Officer of Ballet Hispánico. He has been part of the Ballet Hispánico family since 1985 as a dancer and educator, after which he began a ten-year record of achievement as founder and Artistic Director of Luna Negra Dance Theater in Chicago. Mr. Vilaro has infused Ballet Hispánico’s legacy with a bold and eclectic brand of contemporary dance that reflects America’s changing cultural landscape. Born in Cuba and raised in New York from the age of six, he is a frequent speaker on the merits of cultural diversity and dance education. Mr. Vilaro’s own choreography is devoted to capturing the spiritual, sensual and historical essence of Latino cultures. He created over 20 ballets for Luna Negra and has received commissions from the Ravinia Festival, the Chicago Sinfonietta, the Grant Park Festival, the Lexington Ballet and the Chicago Symphony. In 2001, he was a recipient of a Ruth Page Award for choreography, and in 2003, he was honored for his choreographic work at Panama’s II International Festival of Ballet.
Kayvon Pourazar was born in Tehran, Iran in 1977 during a time of revolutionary upheaval and war. After fleeing the country at age 6, Kayvon and his family relocated several times in several continents before settling in London at age 12. Due to beurocratic difficulties related to immigration to the United States, Kayvon was forced to live alone in London as an illegal immigrant starting at age 14 where he began studying dance, unbeknownst to his old-world parents who had immigrated to the US. He began his studies at the BRIT School for Performing Arts & Technology in South London where he started his training in Contemporary and Ballet techniques simultaneously and spent his extracurricular time completing honors and certificates at the Royal Academy of Dance. At age 18, Kayvon received his GreenCard to immigrate to the United States just in time to save him from being deported back to Iran. After reuniting with his family for a brief period in California, he moved to New York to study at SUNY Purchase where he continued his dance training and received his BFA in Dance in the year 2000. He has since lived in New York City navigating a rich landscape of artists and dance-makers as a dancer and collaborator. He teaches regularly, he occasionally ventures to make his own dances and spends much of his time exploring and developing a self-guided, interoceptive somatic practice which cultivates an equitable relationship among the varied and mosiac-like forms of consciousness that exist within and make up a human being.
Karesia Batan, born in Flushing and based in Long Island City for over 10 years, is a Queens-based modern dancer, choreographer, and producer under her group The Physical Plant. She founded the Queensboro Dance Festival (QDF) in 2014, with the mission to strengthen the dance community in Queens and garner a greater appreciation for Queens dance. As an annual 6-month tour, QDF presents Queens dance companies across Queens’ theaters, parks, plazas, libraries, and streets, and offers dancers access to teaching opportunities, rehearsal space, and networking events. The festival aims to strengthen connections among Queens’ diverse neighborhoods, represent the range of Queens dance cultures, and cultivate a community of dancers who are active members of their neighborhoods. QDF has been recognized for its community impact in the 2017 Create NYC Cultural Plan, and was a 2018 honoree of Queens Pride with recognition from NYS Comptroller's Office Thomas P. DiNapoli and NYC Public Advocate Letitia James. Karesia also presents DANCE SHORTS film screenings and curates the Site Moves Series movement installations for the annual LIC Arts Open. Her Queens-centric programs are dedicated to bridging the gaps among artist communities, as well as between Queens artists and public. As a choreographer, Karesia’s works are inspired by her Filipino heritage and practice of Aikido, and has been presented throughout NYC. She currently dances for Craig Hoke Zarah and Beth Soll & Co.
María Cioè-Peña completed her PhD in May 2018 at the CUNY Graduate Center. She has expertise in both inclusive education/disability studies in education and bilingual education and previously worked as a bilingual special education teacher and as an instructional coach. She has published several peer-reviewed articles and a book chapter. Her research focuses on bilingual children who are identified as disabled and their parents. She is involved in several research projects, including the CUNY-New York State Initiative for Emergent Bilinguals Project (CUNY-NYSIEB).
Marlène Ramírez-Cancio is an interdisciplinary artist from Puerto Rico who co-founded and co-directs Fulana, a Latina video collective based in New York City. Using parody and satire as a critical tool, Fulana’s mock television commercials, music videos and print pieces respond to the ways ideologies and identities are marketed through the mass media. She is currently Associate Director of Arts & Media at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics, a multilingual, collaborative network of institutions, artists, scholars, activists and cultural creators from throughout the Americas who work at the intersection of art, scholarship and social change. Focusing on embodied practice—performance—and housed at New York University, the Institute promotes vibrant collaborations at the level of expressive practice and pedagogy, builds collections of artistic and academic materials for research and teaching across borders, and aims to develop the next generation of multidisciplinary scholars and performance-based artists. She heads up projects such as the Encuentros, week-long gatherings that bring together hundreds of participants to think and create together; the Hemispheric Institute Digital Video Library, an online archive of rare video documenting political performance in the Americas; EMERGENYC, a program for emerging performers in New York City focused on “artivist” (artist/activist) work; the Hemispheric New York Performance Network, an initiative funded by the Rockefeller Foundation's NYC Cultural Innovation Fund to provide creative support for politically engaged local artists; and the HELIX Queer Performance Network, a collaboration between La MaMa, BAX, and Hemi that seeks to nurture emerging queer performers, unite diverse communities, and celebrate the legacy of queer performance in NYC. In 2014, she received the BAX Honorary Artist Advocate Award for her work in the field. Her academic background is in Comparative Literature, having earned her BA in Literature at Harvard University, and her MA and PhD coursework (ABD) in Comparative Literature at Stanford University. During her time in California, Marlène studied with Cherríe Moraga, performed with the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the Red Rocket Theater, and was a member of the Latina Theatre Lab, a collective of writers, performers, and directors whose work dealt with Latina identities, pop culture, and the intricacies of belonging. In 2010, she received her MFA in Creative Writing in Spanish at New York University's Department of Spanish and Portuguese.
Mersiha Mesihovic (aHiZreM WORLD), born in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, is an interdisiciplinary artist working with elements of dance, theater, drawing, writing, sound and ethnography. Mesihovic initiated CIRCUITDEBRIS in 2011 to formally conceptualize her collaboration with artists across disciplines and passion for community engagement. Her work has been presented internationally and received support from New Dance Alliance and New York Foundation for the Arts. She was a resident artist at the Choreo Collision/Danza Venezia (2012), New Dance Alliance, NYC (2015), Atlantic Center for the Arts in Florida, (2015), Earth Dance in Massachusetts, (2016), BRIClab in Brooklyn (2016) and Denmark Arts Center, Portland, Maine (2017). Her work is interested in human behavior and the infinite possibilities of the human body, challenging our perception of what is possible. Vocabulary of displacement and non-fixity of identity found in diasporic cultures, the trans-national position of her birth land Bosnia and Herzegovina and her experience as a refugee gives birth to her movement language and her ability to facilitate transgressive & transformative community spaces. Mesihovic is actively developing her unique movement practice interested in re-connecting us to our energetic body and discovery of the spiral dynamic present within the body. She teaches at a wide range of institutions and cultural organizations in the U.S. and abroad.
Naomi Sturm formerly served as the Director of Folklife at Staten Island Arts, where she worked extensively with the island’s diverse folk and traditional artists. As the project director for Suriya NYC at CTMD, she builds upon her work started in Staten Island with the Sri Lankan community. She has worked for many years with immigrant and ethnic communities throughout the City on presenting traditional arts and developing educational and public programming. A specialist in folk arts and the immigrant experience, Naomi is a co-founder of the NY Quechua Initiative and Los Herederos (The Inheritors), which documents Latino storytellers in New York City, and previously worked for City Lore and CTMD’s Pachamama Peruvian Arts program. Naomi Sturm completed her graduate work in Ethnomusicology at Columbia University, where she worked extensively with Andean musical traditions in the diaspora.
Pascal Rioult a former track and field athlete in France, came to the United States on a fellowship from the French Ministry of Culture to study modern dance in 1981. After performing with the companies of May O’Donnell and Paul Sanasardo he was invited to join the Martha Graham Dance Company. He interpreted many of the most prestigious roles in the Graham repertory as a principal dancer, and in 1990, Ms. Graham created the central role (Death Figure) in her ballet Eye of the Goddess for him. Mr. Rioult performed opposite Mikhail Baryshnikov and Joyce Herring in El
Penitente and was featured in two television specials: “Martha Graham in Japan” and “Five Dances by Martha Graham,” filmed at the Paris Opera. Since starting his own company, RIOULT Dance NY in 1994, Mr. Rioult has dedicated his energies to developing his own choreographic style and nurturing a robust ensemble of dancers. Of his work, Black Diamond, Anna Kisselgoff of The New York Times wrote, “…he has met the challenge of comparison with George Balanchine.” Mr. Rioult’s works have been commissioned by the American Dance Festival; Cal Performances Zellerbach Hall in Berkeley, CA; the Ballet du Nord in Roubaix, France; the Geneva Ballet, Switzerland; The Orchestra of St. Luke’s; the Gordon & Harriet Greenfield Foundation; the Grand Marnier Foundation; the Théâtre de Saint Quentin en Yvelines France; Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA; and Marymount Manhattan College; among others. He is a two-time recipient of the Choo-San Goh Award for Choreography. On October 22, RIOULT Dance Center in Astoria, Queens, a culmination of a life’s work in dance, opened four spacious studios to the public. A home for the Company, it will host classes for dancers of all ages and abilities and in a range of genres reflecting the diversity of the borough and offer affordable rental space to the field creating a nexus for dance and dancers in northwest Queens.
Pelenakeke (Keke) Brown is a multi-disciplinary artist based in New York City. Her practice includes drawing, writing, storytelling and movement. All her work is rooted within the Samoan concept of the ‘va’ or 'in-between space.’ As a Aotearoa (New Zealand) born, afakasi Samoan, immigrant, disabled woman she is interested in the in-between spaces we each inhabit. This year she has formed the Alien Support Service collective with other immigrant artists and she is a member of Dance/NYC's Immigrant Artist Taskforce 2017-18, offering an immigrant indigenous multi-disciplinary artists perspective. She is a 2018 Create Change Fellow with the Laundromat Project and a 2016/17 NYFA Immigrant Artist Program alumni. She has attended residencies at the Vermont Studio Center (VT), Denniston Hill (NY) and Ana Pekapeka Studio (NZ). Her non-fiction creative work has been published in the James Franco Review, Hawaii Review, and in Apogee Journal's, Indigenous #NoDAPL special edition. Pelenakeke is a founding member of Touch Compass, New Zealand's first mixed-ability dance company. She has attended the National Academy School of Fine Art, Studio Intensive Program, NY and received a BA in English literature and Pacific Studies, focusing on art and literature by indigenous people as well as post-colonial theory, from Auckland University, NZ. Currently she is the Assistant Director of Culture Push, a NYC based non-profit arts organization.
Potri Ranka Manis Queano Nur is the Founder/Artistic Director and Tradition-Bearer of Kinding Sindaw, and a Storyteller). In July 23, 2005 Potri was enthroned as Bai a Labi a Gaus sa Borocot by the representatives from the 17 Pagawidan a Ranao in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur. Born and raised in the Southern Philippines, she is a daughter of the late Sultan a Gaus of the Royale House of Borocot the 15th Pagawidan of the Pat Pengempong a Ranao. She also learned the traditions of the neighboring indigenous communities She was commissioned by PETA (Philippine Educational Theatrical Association) to write Lemlunay originally as a play. in 1983. An award-winning poet-playwright, she has published Sandstorm in Jeddah , a collection of poetry of her experiences in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Recent works include: Conceived, Directed and choreographed: Bembaran with Perang sa Bayang Intertwined© (2007/LaMaMa), Sultan Kudarat© (2005/LaMaMa), Parang Sabil©(2004/LaMaMa), Lemlunay© (2003/LaMaMa), Rajah Mangandiri© (2000/LaMaMa), Irimun O Banag©, Pandibulan (2010/LaMaMa) and Disappeared. She founded Panata and co-authored and performed the Oratoyo-Bells of Balanggiga and acted a lead role in Dis-oriented, a feature film of Francisco Aliwalas. She was in Draupadi directed by Ellen Stewart, La Mama Great Jones Repertoire. She is a artist-teacher faculty of Lotus Fine Arts. She a practioner of Theater of the Oppressed and a producer and actor in Newyorkustan directed by Steven de Castro. Potri is an artist-activist who campaigns for self-determination of the Moro and indigenous people. She is a resident Artist of LaMaMa, Experimental Theater Club. Potri is also a Board Certified Medical- Surgical Registered Nurse. As a Nurse –Educator, Critical Care , Holistic Nurse, she created the healing modality called Resilient Ancestral Nurturing Knowledge and Arts (R.A.N.K.A.®). She is a member of the Philippines Nurses Association of New York, Founding Board of Director of Kalusugan Coalition, Board of Director of New York City Community Health Network. Potri is a recipient of the following awards and recognition: Gawad Award-Cultural Center of the Philippines, Carlos Bulosan award of Migrante Philippines for poetry, Association of Women Consul of New York, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall recognition, and Fansclub recognition of Excellence. Kinding Sindaw, the organization she founded received 2010 Philippine Presidential Banaag Award.
Sara Reisman is the Executive Director and Artistic Director of the Shelley & Donald Rubin Foundation. In her role, she oversees the Foundation’s initiative Art and Social Justice, which aims at broadening artistic and cultural access in New York City in order to promote more cohesive and resilient communities, and greater participation in civic life. Sara leads the realization of Art and Social Justice through programming and grantmaking. In addition to managing the Foundation’s annual programming budget, she curates exhibitions and events for The 8th Floor, an interdisciplinary space established in 2010 by Shelley and Donald Rubin dedicated to exploring the intersection of art, culture and philanthropy through public engagement. Sara also works on the Foundation’s grantmaking strategy to support art in all areas of civic life including arts education, public art, art in community and service centers, artistic activism, and community-based museums.
Tom Finkelpearl is the Commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs (DCLA). In this role he oversees City funding for nonprofit arts organizations across the five boroughs and directs the cultural policy for the City of New York. Under his leadership, DCLA has embarked on major new efforts to advance equity in the cultural sector, including the launch of a cultural workforce diversity initiative to promote a more inclusive arts sector; inviting the University of Pennsylvania’s Social Impact of the Arts Project to examine the effects of culture on New York’s communities; and, alongside Mayor de Blasio, releasing CreateNYC, NYC’s first-ever comprehensive cultural plan. Building on feedback from nearly 200,000 New Yorkers, CreateNYC lays out a blueprint for expanding on the unparalleled strengths of the city’s cultural sector, while targeting investments to address historically underserved communities across all five boroughs. Prior to his appointment by Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014, Commissioner Finkelpearl served as Executive Director of the Queens Museum starting in 2002, overseeing an expansion that doubled the museum’s size and positioning the organization as a vibrant center for social engagement in nearby communities. He also held positions at P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center (now MoMA PS1), and served as Director of the Department of Cultural Affairs Percent for Art program. Based on his public art experience and additional research, he published a book, Dialogues in Public Art (MIT Press), in 2000. His second book, What We Made: Conversations on Art and Social Cooperation (Duke University Press, 2013) examines the activist, participatory, coauthored aesthetic experiences being created in contemporary art. He received a BA from Princeton University (1979) and an MFA from Hunter College (1983).
Yasemin Ozumerzifon, a native of Istanbul, Turkey, enjoys her roles as an administrator, educator, and facilitator. After beginning her dance and psychology training in her hometown, she received a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to attend Connecticut College, where she continued her studies. To combine her two passions, she completed an M.A. at Columbia University in Developmental Psychology, with a focus on creativity and human development. As Director of Community Action at Gibney, Yasemin oversees programs that use movement to address gender-based violence including movement workshops at domestic violence shelters; violence prevention assemblies for middle and high schools; ongoing trainings, workshops and resources for artists and mental health professionals working at the intersection of arts and social justice internationally.
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