SECRETARY: Syrena Bodden-Alexander is currently an assistant principal for Chicago Public Schools. She also served the school district as a school psychologist for approximately 12 years. Currently, she is pursuing her doctorate in educational leadership at National Louis University. She presides as the board president for the Gloria J. Taylor Foundation that was recently awarded a multi-million-dollar TRIO grant. Additionally, Mrs. Alexander served as board secretary for AAA Alternative School for approximately 5 years. She is passionate about education, the development of young people and the development of her community at large. Mrs. Alexander is a Christian who has served her church family as a Sunday School teacher for over 10 years. She strives to live with her hand open to help others, as the famous quote by Dr. Martin Luther King suggests, “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing to help others?”
VICE- CHAIR: Christina Smith is an emerging thought leader in the field of organizational impact and leadership development. Consulting with non-profits through her affiliation with the Morton Group, Chris Smith advises agencies on issues ranging from strategic planning and systems design to leadership performance, program evaluation and change management. She co-founded Affinity Community Services, www.affinity95.org, a Chicago-based nonprofit that has organized and advocated on behalf of Black lesbians and LGBTQ youth for over two decades. Committed servant leader, Ms. Smith has served as a board member for the Crossroads Fund, a Chicago based foundation for social change and on the Advisory Council for the Office of Lesbian and Gay Health administered by the Chicago Department of Public Health. A credentialed licensed social worker with an MSW and BA and a PhD in Community Psychology.
TREASURER: Anita Welbon, Ph.D., has worked with not-for-profit organizations her entire adult life, primarily through higher education. In addition to teaching at The School of the Art Institute for 24 years, she has served on the Board of Directors of Insight Arts (a not-for-profit arts organization), directed a $150,000 multicultural grant from the Lily Foundation for Barat College, and is currently President of the Board of Directors for Rocky Ledge Cooperative, Inc., a residential cooperative that has an annual operating budget of over $400,000. Dr. Welbon has been on the Rocky Ledge Board of Directors for thirteen years, serving as President for the last nine years.
CHAIR: Yvonne Welbon is Founder & CEO of the Chicago-based non-profit, Sisters in Cinema and a Senior Creative Consultant at Chicken & Egg Pictures. She is an award- winning independent filmmaker and has produced and distributed over 20 films which have screened on HBO, BET, PBS, Starz/Encore, TV-ONE, IFC, Bravo, Sundance Channel, Netflix and iTunes and in more than 100 film festivals around the world. Raised in an Afro-Latin Honduran household on the South side of Chicago, Welbon received a B.A. in History from Vassar College and then spent six years in Taipei, Taiwan, where she learned Mandarin and founded her first business, an arts magazine which she ran for five years that was the first of it’s kind in the nation. Welbon has taught at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and chaired the Journalism and Media Studies Department at Bennett College. She completed an M.F.A. in Film/Video at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a Ph.D. in Radio/TV/Film at Northwestern University and is a graduate of the American Film Institute’s Directing Workshop for Women.
Advisory Board Members
Jacqueline Stewart’s research and teaching explore African American film cultures from the origins of the medium to the present, as well as the archiving and preservation of moving images, and “orphan” media histories, including non-theatrical, amateur, and activist film and video. She directs the South Side Home Movie Project and is co-curator of the L.A. Rebellion Preservation Project at the UCLA Film and Television Archive. She also serves as an appointee to the National Film Preservation Board. She is currently researching the racial politics of moving image preservation and is also completing a study of the life and work of African American actor/writer/director Spencer Williams.
Stewart is the author of Migrating to the Movies: Cinema and Black Urban Modernity, which has achieved recognition from the Society for Cinema and Media Studies and the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. She participated in the Public Voices Thought Leadership Fellowship Program, offered by Northwestern University, and the OpEd Project. She has also been awarded fellowships from the Shelby Cullom Davis Center for Historical Studies at Princeton University, and the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Scholars-in-Residence Program.
Stewart earned her AM and PhD in English from the University of Chicago and an AB in English with interdisciplinary emphasis from Stanford University.
Tracye Matthews is a historian, curator, and documentary filmmaker. She is currently the associate director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago, where she served as a Mellon Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow in 2004-2005.
Matthews was the media curator for the Teen ChicagoProject (2004) at the Chicago Historical Society (CHS—now Chicago History Museum). In 2003, she curated Harold Washington: The Man and The Movement, a major exhibition at CHS commemorating the twentieth anniversary of the election of Chicago’s first Black mayor. Dr. Matthews previously served as a public historian and project coordinator of Neighborhoods: Keepers of Culture, also at the Chicago Historical Society. In 2006, Dr. Matthews served on the steering committee for the National Museum of Mexican Art’s (NNMA) groundbreaking exhibition, The African Presence in Mexico: From Yanga to the Present. She also produced a video installation and organized scholarly symposiums on Afro-Mexican studies at both the NNMA and the DuSable Museum of African American History. In 2010, she wrote the historical script for the National Urban League’s Centennial Exhibition, which is currently touring the U.S.
Matthews’ other involvement in documentary film and video projects includes work at the awardwinning ROJA Productions, TV Gals Productions and Firelight Media in New York City; and Our Film Works, Exhibit Media, Juneteenth Productions and the Morten Group in Chicago. She has also served on review panels for the National Black Programming Consortium and the Independent Television Service (ITVS). Presently, Matthews is in pre-production on a semi-autobiographical documentary exploring adoption in African American communities.
Matthews was previously an assistant professor in the Africana Studies Department at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Her work has been published in numerous anthologies and journals including Race and Class, Sisters in Struggle: African American Women in the Civil Rights-Black Power Movement, The Black Panther Party Reconsidered, and Black Women in the United States: An Historical Encyclopedia. She is currently writing a book on the gender and sexual politics of the Black Panther Party.
Ms. Matthews earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and master’s and doctorate in American History from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor.
LaShonda Katrice Barnett was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1974, and grew up in Park Forest, Illinois. She is the author of the debut novel Jam on the Vine (Grove 2015; paperback 2/2016) and a story collection (1999). Designated a Stonewall Honor Award by the American Library Association (2016), Jam was an Editor’s Choice pick at the Chicago Tribune; won ElIe Magazine’sBelle Lettres 2015 Reader’s Prize and earned Barnett the Emerging Writers Award at the 2015 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. The novel was shortlisted for the Crook’s Corner Book Prize and is a 2016 Lambda Literary Award finalist.
Barnett has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the College Language Association. She has held residences at the Noepe Center for Literary Arts-Martha’s Vineyard, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, where she was a Tennessee Williams Fellow, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
Barnett’s short stories have appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Guernica Magazine, New Orleans Review, SN Review, Juked, C4: Chamber Quarterly Literary Review, Gemini Magazine and elsewhere. She was twice-nominated for the 2015 Pushcart prize. The Appropriate Ones, her trilogy of full-length plays (Homewood; Menemsha; and L’Echange), explores race within one interracial American family.
A lover and scholar of music of the African diaspora and an avid interviewer, Barnett has conducted over one hundred interviews with women musicians and edited the volumes, I GOT THUNDER: Black Women Songwriters On Their Craft (2007) and OFF THE RECORD: Conversations With African American & Brazilian Women Musicians, (2015). She has hosted her own jazz radio program on WBAI (99.5 FM, NYC); taught ‘Women in Jazz’ at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center; and lectured on the music nationally and in Austria, Brazil, France, Germany and South Africa. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Sarah Lawrence College and the College of William and Mary, where she received a B.A.; M.A. in Women’s History and the Ph.D. in American Studies, respectively; she has taught history and literature at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College and Brown University. A New Yorker, for the 2016/17 academic year Dr. Barnett is a visiting professor at Northwestern University, where she’ll teach full time in the African American Studies and Gender and Sexuality Studies departments.
Idara Udofia is an Advanced Media and Technology Associate at Loeb & Loeb LLP. She focuses on intellectual property, specifically advertising, marketing and trademark law and data privacy. Ms. Udofia’s experience includes drafting and negotiating artist, broadcasting, sponsorship and other commercial agreements as well as talent releases and trademark, software, music, photography and film licenses. She also assists in advising clients on First Amendment and data privacy compliance issues. Ms. Udofia has experience managing domestic and international trademark portfolios for consumer brands. She counsels clients on optimizing and monetizing their portfolio.
Idara is a graduate of Columbia University and obtained a law degree from Columbia University School of Law School.
Arts administrator and foundation executive, Amina J. Dickerson was born Jill L. Dickerson on February 2, 1954 in Washington, D.C. to Ann Lee Stewart Dickerson and Julius James Dickerson. While in high school, Dickerson wrote a ritual play entitled, The Journey, which bore witness to cultural and personal transformation. Attending Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1972, Dickerson produced her play “The Journey” and then took it on tour. Her theatrical activities brought her back to Washington where she was hired as an administrator by Arena Stage.
After completing the Harvard Program in arts administration in 1974, she joined the National Museum of African Art where she became director of education through 1982. There, she staged public programs including a tribute to Langston Hughes which featured musical group, Sweet Honey in the Rock, jazz and a script by Dr. Eleanor Traylor. Dickerson served as assistant director of Philadelphia’s Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in 1983. In 1984, she became the new president of Chicago’s venerable DuSable Museum of African American History and Culture. While serving at DuSable, Dickerson served as a consultant with the Schomburg Center for Black Research while earning her M.A. degree in arts administration from the American University in 1988. Joining the staff of the Chicago Historical Society in 1989, Dickerson brought in the “I Dream a World” exhibit and established the Sojourner Truth Mentoring Program for young women. In 1994, she became director of education and public programs for the museum. After a fellowship with Newberry Library and a stint as “distinguished visitor” at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Dickerson served as coordinator of the Arts in Education program of the Kraft Foods Company in 1997. There, she was promoted to director of corporate giving, and in 2003 she became senior director of Global Community Involvement. Now, on the other side of the philanthropy table, Dickerson funded valuable initiatives in health, hunger, education and the arts.
Retiring in 2009, Dickerson continues to serve the community through her activities on the boards of the Harris Center for Music and Dance at Millennium Park, co-chair of the Peer Network for International Giving of the Donor’s Forum and vice chair of the International Committee of the Council of Foundations. Dickerson was honored as Chicago Professional Grantor of the Year in 2002, Chicagoan of the Year in 2004 and she received the Legacy Award from the ETA Creative Arts Foundation and the Annual Sor Juana Award from the Mexican Fine Arts Center. The Jazz Institute honored her with the Tim Black Award for Community Service in 2006. Dickerson has presented on various arts and community issues and serves as a consultant to various arts, cultural and philanthropic organizations including the National Endowment for the Arts.