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
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.
Ron Finley is an internationally-renowned artist, gardener, and community activist, based in South Central Los Angeles. Ron started in fashion as a designer, manufacturing for high end department stores and designing haute couture for professional athletes and entertainers. He is also a collector of original African American film posters, and a proponent of urban community gardening. Ron is known for his TED talk on urban gardening and food inequity, which has received millions of views and counting. Raised in South Los Angeles, a “food prison” demonstrating racism by design, Finley is deeply familiar with the area’s lack of fresh produce and its effects on the people of his community. Finley’s work changed LA policies around planting food and beautifying our public parkways, decriminalizing it. He has appeared in several documentary films about urban farming, including Urban Fruit, Ice on Fire and Executive producing, Can You Dig This. Ron Finley is a thought leader whose work has inspired individuals and institutions around the world to develop community gardens and changing the way people think from ground up.
Naima J. Keith
Naima J. Keith is the Vice President of Education and Public Programs at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Prior to holding this position, Keith was the Deputy Director and Chief Curator at the California African American Museum. She has also held curatorial positions at The Studio Museum in Harlem and Hammer Museum. She was the 2017 recipient of the David C. Driskell Prize and is Co-artistic Director (with Diana Nawi) of Prospect.5 in New Orleans, opening in 2020. Keith holds degrees from Spelman College and UCLA and is a proud native of Los Angeles.
Larry Earl is a Leimert Park resident and owner of 1619 Exhibits, a dynamic arts firm that specializes in designing distinct exhibitions, providing expert archival solutions, producing engaging public programming, and activating public spaces with vibrant civic art installations. He also serves as Sr. Curator for The Kinsey African American Art & History Collection. With well over two decades of experience in museums and the field of cultural arts, Earl has been associated with some of our nation’s preeminent cultural institutions. Prior to founding 1619 Exhibits, Earl served as Executive Director of the Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum located in Culver City, CA and was the Founding Executive Director of the Houston Museum of African American Culture (HMAAC). Earl also worked as: Manager of Planning & Administration for the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation; Director of Education & Public Programs at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, Michigan; Associate Director of Reinterpretation at Historic Valley in Tarrytown, New York; and served on the Westchester County African American Advisory Board.
Mark Steven Greenfield
A native Angeleno, Mark Steven Greenfield dedicated his work to exploring the complexities of the African American experience. In between earning his Bachelor’s degree in Arts Education from CSU Long Beach and his Master of Fine Arts in painting and drawing from CSU Los Angeles, Greenfield worked as a visual display artist, a graphic design instructor, and a police artist. From 1993 to 2010, he served as an arts administrator for the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs, working as the director of several art centers throughout Los Angeles, including the Watts Arts Center and the Barnsdall Arts Center. Moreover, in addition to serving on the boards of the Downtown Arts Development Association and the Korean American Museum, Greenfield has produced artwork that has been exhibited extensively throughout the United States. Now, he teaches at LA City College and just finished his year as an artist in residence at California State University, Los Angeles.
jill moniz’s interests focus on building understanding, creativity and inclusivity through the arts. She worked in community engagement at the Museum of Latin American Art before becoming head curator at the California African American Museum in 2006. moniz with Dr. Carlos Silveira founded Transformative Arts, a nonprofit with a mission to build citizenship and place through the arts. She served as curator to Dr. Leon O Banks, a founding Trustee of MOCA before returning in 2013 to large-scale exhibitions in museums and galleries around the world. In 2016, she co-founded with Francine Kelly Quotidian, a curatorial investigative space supporting local artists and building visual literacy. Dr. moniz serves as an independent curator and an advisor on community engagement and programming to museums and galleries, and sits on advisory boards throughout the state. Before moving to California, moniz conceptualized a contemporary art museum for the Efroymson Foundation and taught social theory and discursive practice for colleges on Philadelphia’s Main Line. She holds a doctorate in cultural anthropology from Indiana University and lives in Los Angeles.
Dr. Darnell Hunt
Dr. Darnell Hunt is Dean of Social Sciences at UCLA, former Director of the Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies, and Professor of Sociology and African American Studies. Dr. Hunt has written extensively on race and media, including four books and numerous book chapters and articles. Most recently, he co-edited (with Ana-Christina Ramon) Black Los Angeles: American Dreams and Racial Realities (New York University Press, 2010), culminating an eight-year Bunche Center study of the past, present, and future of black life in Los Angeles. Prior to his work at UCLA, Dr. Hunt chaired the Department of Sociology at the University of Southern California (USC). He preceded his academic career by working in the media (for NBC) and as a media researcher for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights’ 1993 hearings on diversity in Hollywood.
Felicia Filer leverages her background to design systems to facilitate governmental support of innovative models of public art as the Public Art Director for the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs. She has overseen the commission and fulfillment of over 200 permanent public art projects throughout the city and 30 temporary public art projects in nontraditional spaces. In summer 2016, Filer co-produced the city’s inaugural Public Art Biennial, CURRENT: LA Water, commissioning 15 original, temporary public art installations and over 150 public programs and events at 16 locations. Previously, Filer worked as a senior management consultant and loan fund manager for ARTS, Inc., a Los Angeles nonprofit arts management consulting organization. A native of South Los Angeles, she earned a BS in economics from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and an MBA in finance and marketing from the Peter F. Drucker and Masatoshi Ito Graduate School of Management, Claremont Graduate University.
Alberto Retana is the President and CEO of Community Coalition (CoCo), a South Los Angeles non-profit organization, and one of the most effective community organizing groups in the Nation. From 2009 to 2011, Retana worked for the Obama administration in the U.S. Department of Education as Director of Community Outreach. During his time in D.C., he organized the Department’s first National Youth Summit, and worked with thousands of community leaders across the country to turn around the nation’s “push-out” crisis. In 2011, Retana returned to Community Coalition to lead its civic engagement strategy to organize 40,000 African American and Latino voters in various campaigns. Retana also helped to build Community Coalition’s cultural arm by launching PowerFest—South Los Angeles’ premier political concert drawing thousands of South Los Angeles residents to a day of celebration and empowerment.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, ARCHERONE is a seasoned artist with deep roots in the LA street art scene. From captivating murals, decorating various areas in LA, to legendary album cover art, ARCHERONE is a strong force in design for the “culture.” He quickly transitioned from street art legend to fashion innovator and a principal pillar in today’s hypebeast culture. He’s designed for American rapper and actress, Eve, and her clothing line, Fetish. In the early 2000s ARCHERONE joined forces with Nipsey Hussle and became the illustrator and designer at The Marathon Store. Since then he has had multiple projects creating art for Grammy-nominated artists. ARCHERONE is on the cutting edge of urban street art as the first to create “Urban Emojis” and then “Playpix App” to make these emojis accessible to all. ARCHERONE gives back to his community by giving talks at middle and high schools in low-income neighborhoods.
Amanda Hunt is currently the Director of Education and Senior Curator of Programs at MOCA, Los Angeles. Amanda’s passion for art and community has led her to various organizations around the nation, including her work as a curator on the 2012 Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival while at LAXART, and the Studio Museum in Harlem, where she worked as associate curator. Her exhibitions included: “Black Cowboy”; “A Constellation”; “Lorraine O’Grady: Art Is”; “Rashaad Newsome: THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO SEE” and “Tenses: Artists in Residence 2015-16”. Hunt was also the curator of “in Harlem: Kevin Beasley, Simone Leigh, Kori Newkirk, and Rudy Shepherd”, a multi-site public art initiative with commissions in four Historic Harlem Parks. Hunt earned her Master’s in Curatorial Practice at California College for the Arts; her most recent essays can be found in publications for Jordan Casteel (New Museum), Mohamed Bourouissa (Barnes Foundation) and in Among Others: Blackness at MoMA (MoMA).
Los Angeles native Kohshin Finley earned his BFA from Otis College of Art and Design. Finley’s artwork depicts his friends and community as they deserve to be seen by the world. The subjects of his artworks are captured in a way that highlights them as humans, before they are labeled as anything else.His artwork has been exhibited domestically in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Mesa and Honolulu. Notable venues he has shown at include the California American American Museum, The Honolulu Museum of Art School and Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, The Cut, Cultured, Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Hyperallergic, and Artillery. Notable printed publications include Studio Visit Magazine, LALA Magazine and Artists’ Magazine.
Born and raised in South Los Angeles, Tafarai Bayne is Chief Strategist at CicLAvia and appointed commissioner to the City of Los Angeles Transportation Commission. In addition, Bayne is a lead producer for the annual South Los Angeles Power Fest hosted by Community Coalition. He spent seven years as a community organizer at TRUST South L.A., an organization that addresses affordable housing and mobility challenges. He has extensive organizational development experience having served on the board of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy during a critical executive transition and he recently served on the Board of CicLAvia, having helped spearhead expansion efforts into South Los Angeles.
Adam Ayala is the curator and the driving force behind the organization Smile South Central, one of the leaders of a people’s street art movement in South Los Angeles. When the call went out for walls and artists for the art project #earthdaystreet2014, Adam quickly organized 9 artists to paint in his neighborhood of South Central Los Angeles. This was the beginning of a mural movement which became “Smile South Central.“ Over fifty murals have been completed to date. Some of their most recognizable are located at the iconic local treasures, such as Slauson Donuts and Ramona’s Mexican Food sites. There is also a cluster of murals at 48th and Western that have received high praise by locals and beyond.
Karen Mack is founder and Executive Director of LA Commons in Leimert Park, an organization dedicated to promoting Los Angeles’ diverse neighborhoods through locally based, interactive, artistic and cultural programming. Through community partnerships, LA Commons develops community-based public art projects that give voice to local narratives from neighborhoods. Mack received her Masters in Public Administration from Harvard University and is a former Vice President of Community Partners. Mack is an appointed member of the City’s Planning Commission and of the LA County Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative.
Allison Agsten is a curator and cultural organizer. As Arts for LA’s 2019 Laura Zucker for Policy and Research, she authored a major study on affordability for artists in Los Angeles. Prior to that, she led The Main Museum, an institution noted for its commitment to access and community, which expanded upon her work as Curator of Public Engagement at the Hammer Museum. In the latter role, she developed a precedent-setting program devoted to creating an exchange between visitors and the museum through works of art. Previous to her time at the Hammer, Agsten was Director of Communications at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), spearheading key institutional initiatives related to accessibility. Agsten began her career at CNN, covering the arts, entertainment, and financial news as a producer in the Los Angeles bureau.
Mandla Kayise is an education innovator who has pioneered student empowerment and success strategies. He is one of the most prolific mentors of student activists of color in Los Angeles, having influenced the pathways of nearly three decades of UCLA graduates. Kayise is founder and CEO of new world education (nwe), an education and community planning consulting agency that has served thousands of students and residents across the Nation. nwe specializes in college access, student retention and student and parent leadership development. Kayise has led successful campaigns to: improve food quality in local supermarkets, involve residents in the planning and development of their local library, and increase African American enrollment at UCLA and throughout the UC system, more than doubling Black freshman enrollment at UCLA, from less than 100 to more than 200, in a single year. A native of Chicago, Illinois, Kayise was raised and lives in Los Angeles. He attended Hamilton High School and UCLA, where he earned a BA in Economics and studied Urban Planning at UCLA’s Graduate School of Public Policy. He is a former Vice-President of the Leimert Park Merchants’ Association, a founding Co-Chair of the Alliance for Equal Opportunity in Education and an organizer for the Black Community, Clergy, and Labor Alliance’s Education Committee. He also serves on the Boards of the Hyde Park Organizational Partnership for Empowerment (HOPE), the UCLA Black Alumni Association, CADRE, and the Community Advisory Board for Cal Poly Pomona Pre-College Programs.