New Rutgers Leadership Program Selects Local Arts Professionals

Training Program Aims to Increase Diversity in Arts Leadership

  

NEWARK — The Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership and Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation are pleased to announce six New Jersey arts professionals are among the first class of a new training program designed to increase the diversity of the leadership of arts and culture organizations.

Kim Chan of Maplewood, Evonne Davis of Newark, Rodney Gilbert of Newark, Jeremy Johnson of Newark, Marshell Jones Kumahor of Montclair, and Desi Shelton of Camden were selected to participate in the Institute’s Rutgers Executive Cultural and Ethnic Arts Leadership Program. The full list of 18 professionals from throughout the United States and Philippines may be found on the program’s website.

The Rutgers Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School created the training program in response to research showing an alarming lack of diverse leadership within the arts and culture field, said James Abruzzo, co-founder of the Institute for Ethical Leadership.

“Our nations' cultural institutions, located mostly in urban environments, would be better served if their leaders reflected the local populations,” Abruzzo said. “This program is designed to encourage and prepare arts executives from underrepresented populations who clearly have the skills and the ambition to become CEOs.”

The program will launch this summer in Newark with a 10-day residence, followed by ongoing learning experiences, and a year-long mentorship for each participant.

The six New Jersey members bring to the class a depth of skills, knowledge and experience, including expertise in visual arts, public art, community engagement, and theater community development.

  • Kim Chan is general manager of PEN World Voices, a New York City-based nonprofit that defends free expression and promotes literature around the world.
  • Rodney Gilbert is executive director of Yendor Productions/ Yendor Arts, a Newark-based organization dedicated to alleviating the challenges experienced by underserved artists and communities as it relates to cultural and artistic expression.
  • Evonne Davis is artistic director at Gallery Aferro, a Newark-based organization working towards an arts community that is available to everyone, without sacrificing standards or quality of experience.
  • Jeremy Johnson is executive director of Newark Arts Council, dedicated to bringing the transformative power of the arts into the lives of those who live in, work in, and visit Newark through programs, advocacy, promotion, education, and coordination.
  • Marshell Jones Kumahor is vice president of education and community engagement at New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, the resident orchestra of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark dedicated to enriching lives through a passion for musical excellence and a commitment to New Jersey.
  • Desi P. Shelton is executive director of Camden Repertory Theater, which uses performing arts as social activism to encourage, heal and transform lives of the people of Camden.

The leadership program is produced in partnership with New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences and the Institute for Arts and Media Management at the Free University in Berlin. It is supported through a special Rutgers-Newark Chancellor’s seed grant with additional funding from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, and Wells Fargo.

"It's essential that the senior management of non-profit arts organizations across the country are authentically reflective of the diverse audiences we serve daily,” said John Schreiber, NJPAC executive director. “The new Cultural and Ethnic Arts Executive Leadership program is a pioneering step in addressing this urgent need. NJPAC is proud to have one of the most diverse performing arts executive teams in America, and we're honored to be a partner in this groundbreaking initiative."

A $25,000 grant from the Dodge Foundation supports the New Jersey participants.

“Investing in leadership and network creation plays a critical role in telling and showcasing the stories of the state’s diverse cultures, leading to more robust programming and stronger community connections,” said Sharnita C. Johnson, Dodge arts program director. “The development of this program is especially timely as the arts and culture sector here in New Jersey continues to examine issues relative to diversity, equity and inclusion.”

For more information, please visit http://www.business.rutgers.edu/iel/cea.

 

 About the Institute for Ethical Leadership

The Institute for Ethical Leadership at Rutgers Business School works with business and government, nonprofit and philanthropic organizations, and within Rutgers University to provide leaders and future leaders with the education, training and critical-thinking tools needed to become more effective leaders and managers and make ethical decisions for real-world challenges.  For more information, visit http://www.business.rutgers.edu/ielwww.business.rutgers.edu/iel

 About the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation

The Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation was established in 1974 through the foresight and generosity of Geraldine Rockefeller Dodge, daughter of William and Almira Rockefeller. For more than 40 years, Dodge has supported leadership, collaboration and innovation, with a focus on addressing the issues most pressing to New Jersey. Dodge also offers a comprehensive technical assistance program geared towards strengthening the capacity of New Jersey’s nonprofit community. 

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