Co-Founders

Kaisha S. Johnson

kaisha-johnson

Kaisha S. Johnson is the Co-Founder and Founding Director of Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), a national service organization dedicated to creating racial and cultural equity in the performing arts field. As a staunch advocate for racial and cultural equity on and off the stage, Kaisha S. Johnson co-founded WOCA to help amplify the voices of arts administrators of color with the intent of cultivating a diverse and inclusive field, as varied in voice and perspective as the communities it serves. Most recent to her position at WOCA, Ms. Johnson served for over a decade as a program director at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, a non-profit dedicated to building cross- cultural awareness by nurturing and presenting the performing arts traditions of New York’s immigrant communities. In this capacity, she curated and produced culturally-specific work for the stage, worked to help organize immigrant artist communities, advocated for the preservation and presentation of diverse cultural traditions and, generally, worked to affirm the value of cultural diversity as an essential component of the United States’ national identity.

Having traveled extensively throughout Latin America and The African Diaspora working with arts organizations and artists, Ms. Johnson has created a niche in the performing arts world. With a commitment to facilitating multi-cultural programming through an equitable lens, Kaisha also serves as an arts consultant providing assistance in curation, program development, community engagement, and organizational systems analysis. Kaisha has also served as an adjunct instructor at the City University of New York in the non-profit management program and currently at the Center for Bronx Nonprofits. Kaisha is also a proud fellow with the Intercultural Leadership Institute and the APAP Leadership Fellows Program.

With 20 years experience as an arts manager, Kaisha has formerly held positions at JazzReach and Herbert Barrett Management. A 20-year resident of Harlem, New York, initially Kaisha S. Johnson got her start in the performing arts in her hometown of Houston, Texas as a classically-trained violinist. Ms. Johnson holds a Bachelor’s degree in music from Hampton University, a Master’s in music business administration from New York University and has done post-graduate work in ethnomusicology at Hunter College at the City University of New York.

Alison T. McNeil

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Originally from the Washington, DC metropolitan area, Alison McNeil has actively engaged in the performing arts for over 20 years as an artist, teacher, arts administrator, evaluator and grantmaker. She’s led multi-million-dollar change efforts that have directly informed grantmaking, strengthened operations, developed strategic partnerships, and documented impact for emerging leaders, artists, performing arts administrators, colleges administrators and government officials. She leads with the intention of creating resources, removing roadblocks and designing roadmaps to make arts and culture accessible to all.

Trained as a dancer, she is committed to creating equitable funding and opportunity for artists and arts & culture administrators. As such, she works thru a variety of vehicles to engage and support the field. In 2009, she co-founded Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA), with the intent to support, connect, collaborate and share resources among underrepresented communities within the performing arts field. She’s been able to shape vision and launch programming with many of the organizations that positively contribute to making the arts and education accessible to all including but not limited to the U.S. Department of Education, Association of Performing Arts Professionals, Step Afrika!, MetLife Foundation, Capitol Jazz Productions, Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and Booz Allen Hamilton. She has served as a thought leader on numerous grant panels, boards, conference panels, and advisory committees including the National Endowment for the Arts, Americans for the Arts, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and Arts Council of Fairfax County. She was recently appointed Arts Commissioner for Arlington’s Commission for the Arts, there she serves on the grants committee.

Ms. McNeil earned her Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Hampton University and a Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership from American University.

 

promoting equity. fortifying leadership.

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