The National Leaders of Color Fellowships (LoCF) is a nationwide strategic leadership development program for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders who are committed to the advancement of cultural equity in the arts. Using a cohort structure, the program, administered by Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), emphasizes experiential learning, community building and service to the field.
The first cohort of the National Leaders of Color Fellowship (LoCF) program has been selected, representing 53 leaders from across the United States. The cohort will participate in a strategic leadership development program for Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) leaders committed to the advancement of cultural equity in the arts that emphasizes policy and data in the arts, leadership, culture of care, and strategic foresight through an advocacy lens.
We are excited to share the nine Fellows from the Mid Atlantic Arts region:
Asari Beale is an Afro-Latina writer, educator, and leader deeply committed to children’s literacy. She is a member of the board of directors of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and a steering committee member of LitNet, a network serving America’s literary community. She has taught literature and creative writing at Hunter College, Brooklyn College, and Fordham University. Prior to joining Teachers & Writers, she served as the director of communications and community relations at LSA Family Health Service and as communications manager at Reach Out and Read of Greater New York. Beale holds a bachelor’s degree from New York University and a master’s degree from Brooklyn College. She lives, loves, and writes out of Harlem, New York.
P. Muzi Branch
Philip Muzi Branch, a Native of Richmond, Virginia, currently serves as director of arts in healthcare for the Virginia Commonwealth University Health System in Richmond. His career as a visual artist, illustrator, art director, educator, and professional musician span over fifty years. His award-winning paintings have been exhibited at The Black History Museum and Cultural Center of Virginia, National Afro-American Museum & Cultural Center, Wilberforce, Ohio, PANAFEST, Ghana, West Africa, The Banneker Douglass Museum, Annapolis, Maryland, The Ohio Connection Museum, and The Daura Gallery, Lynchburg, VA. His work is included in the collections of The African American Museum of Dallas, Texas; SunTrust Bank (Truist), Richmond Community Hospital, Lynchburg College, and First Market Bank. While participating in the Virginia Commission for the Arts’ Artists in Education program, Branch completed over 20 mural-painting residencies in public schools. He has taught at Virginia Union University, Saint Paul’s College, and Virginia State University. Branch received both his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree (in art education) from Virginia Commonwealth University.
Fabiola R. Delgado
Fabiola R. Delgado is a Venezuelan curator and creative consultant based in Washington, DC. Formerly a human rights lawyer and activist in her home country, she was forced to flee to the United States, where she seeks political asylum and dedicates herself to finding justice through artistic and cultural expressions. Recognizing storytelling as the essence of her practice, Delgado strives for thought-provoking and imaginative projects that highlight different perspectives, ignored, and forgotten stories. Since 2017, she has worked with multiple museums of the Smithsonian Institution, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, National Museum of American History, National Museum of Asian Art, and Anacostia Community Museum. Past collaborations include Washington Project for the Arts, DC. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Times Square Arts, The Brooklyn Museum, The Embassy of Venezuela, Spain Arts & Culture, S.O.U.R.C.E. Studio, and The FUNDRED Project with MacArthur Fellow Mel Chin.
Annie Y. Saldaña Matías
Annie Y. Saldaña Matías was born in Santurce, Puerto Rico in 1987. She finished her bachelor’s degree in graphic arts from the University of Puerto Rico in Carolina and graduated with a master’s degree in fine art with a concentration in photography from Miami International University of Art and Design. Saldaña Matías started her career as an independent curator and arts administrator at Vargas Gallery, Florida in 2012. In 2015, she founded Prisma Art Projects, an artist-run organization focused on supporting contemporary emerging artists through curated exhibitions and events. She has participated in various professional development programs, including NALAC’s Leadership Institute, and has introduced two international art and photography movements to the PR community: 24hourproject and Free Art Fridays. She currently serves as project coordinator and grant writer at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico. As an artist, Saldaña Matías has participated in many exhibitions in Puerto Rico, United States, United Kingdom, Mexico, and Germany, including her latest solo show at the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts & Culture in Chicago and group shows such as Bienal SalaFAR at Museo de Arte de Puerto Rico, Bienal de Fotografía at Museo de Las Americas in San Juan, Miami Independent Thinkers in Miami, Latin American Foto Festival at the Bronx Documentary Center and PINTA Art Fair in London.
Bekezela Mguni is a queer Trinidadian artist, librarian, and educator. She is a community organizer with over 15 years of experience in the reproductive justice movement and holds an MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh. Mguni participated in the first librarians and archivists with Palestine delegation in June of 2013. She completed her first micro-residency at the Pittsburgh creative hub Boom Concepts and was featured in the 2015 Open Engagement Conference. She was a 2015-2016 member of the Penn Ave Creative Accelerator Program with the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater and launched the Black Unicorn Library and Archive Project, a Black feminist community library and archive. Mguni also served as the 2016 Sophia Smith Archive activist-in-residence at Smith College. She was selected as an emerging artist in the 2016 Three Rivers Arts Festival and won the juror’s choice award for her visual artwork. She was a featured artist of the 2017 Activist Print Project, a partnership between Artist Image Resource, BOOM concepts, and the Andy Warhol Museum. Mguni also serves as the education program director at Dreams of Hope, which affirms the voices and leadership of LGBTQ youth through the arts.
Amaris Mitchell is a community capacity building nonprofit professional with experience in program design and strategy, ecosystem building, and art programming. She’s passionate about advocating for communities of color, women, queer, and poor working-class folks that have historically been on the margins. Mitchell has devoted much of her research and expertise to teams that enhance on-the-ground storytelling, arts, and community engagement to strengthen equity among large metropolitan areas from the east coast to Mississippi. With a bachelor’s degree in media studies and production and African American studies from Temple University, Mitchell has consistently made it her goal to tie in art creation and curation with collaborative problem-solving. She enjoys working with teams of people, mentoring high school students in film, and directly servicing underserved communities. Like a true Jersey native, Mitchell also lives for live soul music, roller skating, cycling, and a good TV show or film.
Jasir Qiydaar is a writer, youth advocate, and arts administrator, all roles that fulfill his desire to connect with people in a meaningful, authentic way. Qiydaar graduated from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) with a bachelor’s degree in media & communication studies and a minor in writing. During his time at UMBC, he co-founded a student organization called The Charm City Connection, which focuses on connecting people from UMBC’s campus to the people of Baltimore City through service and community engagement activities. Qiydaar’s writing mainly focuses on equity and community organizations; he has several published pieces, including features in Baltimore City Paper and BmoreArt. Outside of feature writing, Qiydaar has written grant applications for local nonprofits to raise funds for essential arts programs, including ones that directly benefit youth. He has worked with youth in Baltimore in multiple ways, including as a recruiter, mentor, and writing coach for the Bloomberg Arts Internship, as well as a member of the planning team for the YouthWorks summer jobs program at the Mayor’s Office of Employment Development. Qiydaar currently serves as the communications manager at Baltimore Center Stage, which allows him to use his writing and community engagement skills to build relationships with community members.
Mari Vieira-Gunn serves as the director of community engagement for the Grand Opera House in Wilmington, Delaware. In this role, Vieira-Gunn is tasked with creating a variety of engaging onsite opportunities that welcome each and every community member to experience The Grand and all that it has to offer. While being somewhat new to this position, Vieira-Gunn’s primary goal is to ensure that the Grand fully meets its mission and vision of entertaining, engaging, and enriching our community with diverse live performances and educational programs in a welcoming, patron-centered environment. After spending nearly a decade working in education-based and nonprofit organizations, Vieira-Gunn is dedicated to mastering the “formula” for what truly drives engagement, ensures positive community perception and creates a welcoming environment for all. She serves on committees and boards of several community-based organizations throughout the state of Delaware. In addition to her extensive experience in community-based work, Vieira-Gunn is also an active member of her beloved sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Niarus Walker is a female Caribbean artist of the African Diaspora. She has a continuing practice as a fine artist and art teacher that spans 29 years. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally. Walker is an avid advocate for arts in education. One of her ongoing projects is the annual Youth Art Month program, which she introduced in the U.S. Virgin Islands 15 years ago. Walker is also an active volunteer in the arts community, having served in various capacities for the Fort Frederik Historical Museum and the Caribbean Museum Center in St. Croix, where she served as the executive director of the board of directors and curator of exhibitions. Her most recent volunteer expedition was a sculptural project for a local children’s park. Walker is a wife and mother of two girls.