My path towards racial equity work began at Nathan Hale High School, in Ms. Burnett’s history class. Her teaching centered the Civil Rights movement and from then I wanted to do something that forced me to be brave and made an impact. My time there inspired my desire to create space where more people felt seen and valued. This led to my degrees in American Ethnic Studies/Communications, first at Shoreline Community College, then at UW Seattle, and later the Master of Arts in Cultural Studies Program at UW Bothell. To this day, that want to create space for people to be themselves continues to be the heart of the work that I do.
My passion translated into a fundraising career at the University of Washington: first at Meany Hall for the Performing Arts, then the UW Office of Minority Affairs & Diversity, and finally at UW Bothell. That work involved cultivating relationships, securing funds, planning events, doing social media, etc. There I learned and grew from the life lessons, from the people who supported me, and from the ability to navigate different arenas that allowed me to be creative, learn about myself, and figure out my sweet spot: authentic relationship building.
In doing the research, we found only two other museums in the US that have a director level position like this, so to get to help lead this type of work not only for SAM, but to model the way nationally fills me with hope that we can build out structures and plans to collectively move this work along within the museum field as a whole. It is certainly needed! I hope this type of investment can encourage more museums to incorporate this kind of leadership role as a necessity, not as an add-on. The prioritization of this work was what attracted me to SAM initially and the support I have received over the years has been uplifting both professionally and personally. It has allowed me to grow in this work, to take risks, and show up as my full and authentic self while doing it. I have been able to use my background in fundraising, relationship building, art curation, and community partnership work to build out unique programs, collaborations, and opportunities for visibility and I look forward to doing that more within my new role while working closely with our CEO & Director, Amada Cruz, and the board.
It’s the people in it who have influenced my journey through their examples of what it means to do authentic community building work. I have worked in in arts administration for 15+ years, and I have seen what it means to use art as a vessel of bringing people together in spaces that can create change and build community. To be seen is to be valued in all the ways that you come, without having to leave parts of yourself at the door. People such as Elisheba Johnson, David Pierre Louis, and the late and beloved Rahwa Habte made this happen in Seattle. Their leadership created spaces for artists, collaborators, musicians, techies, foodies, and so many others to find a home, one that centered BIPOC communities. They have heavily influenced how I do my work, why I do it, and why I continue to find hope and joy within it.
I’m excited to be a connecter and convener of all the various equity related initiatives happening at SAM, both internally and externally. It’s everyone’s job to push this work forward, but for me to get to be in the middle of it all – helping to steer and communicate that work out – and to collaborate with leadership to assess what their needs are and help build out strategies for how they can center anti-racism within their individual departments is truly exciting. I’m in a unique position where I get to focus on this work full time now and the opportunities feel endless! I’m inspired that department heads are approaching me, eager to work together and see how they can continue to create culture shift from where they are. I am also looking forward to exploring with my colleagues what it means to be committed to anti-racist work – the investment in starting with the self, centering vulnerability, and having courageous conversations (while recognizing discomfort) is part of what effective leadership is and I’m excited to explore how that can be nurtured at SAM. We must collectively bring everyone along in order to be most effective and keep this work going long term.
SO MANY!!! HOW DO I CHOOSE!!?? Here are a few:
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