LiberArte CEO, Yura Sapi appointed to Arts Administrators of Color Board of Directors

Posted on June 16, 2023

The six new board members represent a diversity in leadership within the arts sector and the larger non-profit field.

Arts Administrators of Color Network (AAC) has appointed Francine Diggs, J’Kalein Madison, Christine L. Mendoza, Hilesh Patel, Yura Sapi, and Daniel Singh as new members of its board. This brings the total number of board members to 12.

These new members represent a unique cross section of expertise, lived experiences, and passions from across the arts and culture as well as non-profit sectors. Board members continue to play a critical role in AAC’s future, helping build on goals set forth in the organization’s most recent strategic plan and ensuring sustainability and growth for the organization in the coming years.

“Audre Lorde said, ‘There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.’ The AAC Board, long-standing members and new, provide a wealth of energy, insights, and collective wisdom that comes from their lived experiences as people of the global majority in the arts,” says AAC executive director Karla Estela Rivera . “As we embark on work ranging from legislative advocacy to ideating new programming, our board will play a key role in ensuring that we are responsive to the many issues our diverse communities face across the nation.”

Francine Diggs is an attorney, artist and arts advocate. She balances her legal career with her passion for the Arts. A member of Maryland Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, Francine volunteers to provide legal advice to artists on business, trademark, copyright and contracts law. Francine owns ShinDiggs Arts and Entertainment, LLC, an art business offering art spa experiences, glass painting and artist consulting. She has invested in community service opportunities to offer art as an avenue for calm and peace. Francine works to impact the art community through ensuring that artists have knowledge of resources and opportunities along with access to protect their intellectual property.

J’Kalein Madison is a leader passionate in all things arts, marketing and communication. J’Kalein’s extensive and diverse background has brought him success in the industries of broadcast television, non-profit management and now, arts administration. He currently works as the Communications Manager for the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, serving as the theater’s press presentative for all mainstage shows. Before moving to Minneapolis, he spent nearly a decade as an arts educator in the State of Iowa, coaching high school speech and theater. J’Kalein also held leadership positions within the state’s largest high school association for arts, the Iowa High School Speech Association (IHSSA). He’s excited to continue to grow, craft, and curate his talents to serve a broader audience all over the country.

Christine L. Mendoza, founder of Christine L Mendoza INC, utilizes her personal journey to empower her own historically oppressed communities through program design, funding, and leadership. Overcoming the challenges of childhood poverty, she became the first in her family to graduate high school and college. As a teenage filmmaker in NYC, Christine achieved accolades, authored articles, and taught at renowned institutions like MoMA, The Jewish Museum, NYU, and Columbia University. She has also employed film as an educational tool globally in Finland, India, Iran, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Spain, Bolivia, and Peru. Christine holds a Masters Degree from Queens University and a BA in Media Studies from Hunter College. With board positions at CIFEJ and The Educational Video Center, she served as the Director of Education for Film at Lincoln Center and as the inaugural Executive Director of Urbanworld, the world's largest multicultural oscar-qualifying film festival. She resides in her native city, Manhattan, with her precious toddler, Galileo.

Hilesh Patel has more than 20 years experience in Chicago communities and non-profits across the arts, education, justice, social service, and philanthropy sectors. Most recently Hilesh was the Executive Director at Invisible Institute, a data, investigative journalism, and human rights organization and previously the Leadership Investment Program Officer at the Field Foundation of Illinois, building a leadership award program to recognize and support Chicago leaders. Across all his work, Hilesh integrates racial equity, civic engagement, and leadership development into the core mission of his professional practices. For the past seven years Hilesh has been consulting with nonprofits, small businesses, and collectives to guide and support strategic planning, human resources, and organizational capacity. He is also an artist, poet, and member of The Chicago ACT Collective, building political artistic collaboration and dialogue across multiple communities. The Collective enacts self and community care through artmaking, generating work that both reflects and responds to current local needs identified by those most directly impacted.

Yura Sapi is a visionary leader, creative activist, and interdisciplinary artist who promotes anti-racism and decolonization for our globally just future. As the co-founder and CEO of U.S. nonprofit LiberArte Inc., Yura builds racial, social, and climate justice worldwide through empowering artists and creative activists with networking, education programs, and grants. With a background in theatre, arts management, and Indigenous healing arts, Yura brings a unique perspective to their work as a creator. Their passion for creating transformative spaces, nurturing dialogue, and inspiring heartening change drives their purpose to heal for a more inclusive and equitable world.

Daniel Singh is excited to be working at Metro Arts and with the incredible artists/arts organizations who call Nashville home. As a servant leader, he works to center community leadership, equitable policies, and restorative practices in the arts ecosystem. He initiated a community-led grants reform at Metro Nashville in Fall 2022 and is currently working on a metro-wide cultural plan for the creative sector. Daniel is committed to right-sizing the investment that artists/arts organizations need as Nashville continues to grow. He is interested in systems change focused on outcomes rather than on traditional incremental change frameworks. Daniel draws on his MBA, MFA in dance, Graduate certificate in Women’s Studies, and Movement Analysis background in all of his work. He is a single parent to twins who just turned four and is excited to see the world through their creativity and freedom.

The Arts Administrators of Color Network is a national support network that harnesses the power of artists, arts administrators, and organizations of people of the global majority to connect and expand BIPOC leadership across the U. S. creative sector. Since its creation in 2016 in Washington D.C., the organization has held over 30 events, served over 1,000 arts leaders in DC/Maryland/Virginia, over 200 arts leaders nationally and maintains a network that reaches over 18,000 individuals.


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