Councilmember Harris-Dawson brought together leaders from South LA to ensure that Destination Crenshaw is built for and by the community. We also want to acknowledge and honor the role and support of Nipsey Hussle, who played an irreplaceable role as one of our most supportive community partners from the inception of Destination Crenshaw. The Destination Crenshaw community celebrates the life and legacy of Nipsey.
Ben Caldwell is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, educator and community activist. Ben runs the Leimert Park Art Walk. He owns and manages a community media lab called Kaos Network, which empowers youth by providing training on digital art and multimedia while also collaborating with the USC Annenberg School for Communication to create national art installations. Ben is a member of the LA Rebellion, a group of young Black artists who create independent films as an alternative to Hollywood and produced 22 feature and short films. Caldwell worked on several, including Project Blowed as a cinematographer, editor, and writer. Project Blowed, an open mic workshop for young hip-hop artists, rappers, and graffiti artists was a successor to the Good Life Cafe, and one of Kos Network’s biggest successes. Artists and groups such as Ava DuVernay, Abstract Rude, Jurassic Five, and others gained global popularity from Project Blowed. Caldwell also serves as a full-time faculty member at the California Institute of Arts.
Born in raised in Los Angeles, Berlinda Fontenot-Jamerson is the President of the Museum of African American Art at Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza. Prior to leading the museum, Fontenot-Jamerson had a long and distinguished corporate career in Human Resources Management and Community Affairs. She championed diversity in the workplace and marketplace of key corporations in Southern California. She is highly regarded as a trailblazer in the field of diversity management. Through her leadership and direction, she and the companies for whom she has worked have received several prestigious awards in the fields of diversity and community relations, including: Sempra Energy, Health Net Corporation, and Disney ABC Television Group. Fontenot-Jamerson has been involved in numerous professional and community-based organizations and has a demonstrated track-record of championing causes that bolster, mentor, and coach minorities, women, and the youth. Berlinda received a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Psychology and a Master’s degree in Business Administration.
James Burks has been the Director of Special Projects for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs since 1985. He is known for organizing residents and organizations around public policy, museum policy, festival policy, and the inclusion of urban communities in cultural tourism and economic development. James has helped Japan, Pakistan, Morocco, and Nigeria produce successful cultural events in Los Angeles. He has produced over 450 theater and musical events, directed the installation of over 100 museum and art exhibitions, and produces over 60 special events annually in Los Angeles. He is the Founder of the African Marketplace, Inc. and the Annual African Marketplace and Cultural Faire, an internationally recognized celebration of African themed businesses, African Diaspora art and culture, travel and trade, and was named one of the “Top 100 Events in North America” in 1996 and 2002 by the American Bus Association, a national trade association for tour companies.
Dr. Joy Simmons is an avid African American art collector and advocate, who has deeply influenced the cultural landscape, especially in her hometown of Los Angeles. An abiding commitment to community service and cultivating new artists and their work has guided her leadership of cultural organizations throughout the City, including service as Chair of the Santa Monica Museum of Art, LA X ART, Friends of the California African American Museum, Venice Arts, and the Mistake Room. She is also an active supporter of her alma mater, Stanford University, and was a founding member of the Stanford Black Alumni of Southern California, and former member of the Stanford University Board of Trustees. Lifelong Angeleno and a proud graduate of Crenshaw High School, Simmons’ work with Destination Crenshaw brings together her love for culture and community.