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Leadership

CRNY Leadership Council
The Leadership Council serves as the caretaker of the CRNY mission and provides financial, programmatic, and administrative oversight. Members are:
  • Alejandra Duque Cifuentes, Executive Director, Dance/NYC
  • David Erickson, Senior Vice President and Head of Outreach & Education, Federal Reserve Bank of New York
  • Rahwa Ghirmatzion, Executive Director, PUSH Buffalo
  • Emil Kang, Program Director for Arts and Culture, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
  • Margaret Morton, Director Creativity and Free Expression, Ford Foundation
  • Arturo O’Farrill, Founder and Artistic Director, Afro Latin Jazz Alliance
  • Kaneza Schaal, Independent Artist
  • Carrie Mae Weems, Independent Artist
  • Constantina Zavitsanos, Independent Artist
CRNY THINK TANK

The Think Tank serves as the co-designers of CRNY’s programs – guiding the work by providing technical expertise, advising on strategies, and advocating for the work. Members are:

  • Ali Rosa-Salas, Artistic Director, Abrons Arts Center
  • Alma M. Carillo Lopez, Executive Director, Buffalo Arts Studio
  • Almaz Zelleke, PhD, Professor of Practice in Political Science, NYU Shanghai
  • Caroline Woolard, Independent Artist, Co-Founder of Art.coop, and Assistant Professor, Pratt Institute
  • Chris Myers, Actor, Writer, Producer, and Educator
  • Constantina Zavitsanos, Independent Artist
  • Ed Murphy, Advocate, Organizer, Vietnam Veteran, and Workforce Development Leader
  • Jared Owens, Multidisciplinary Artist
  • Jean Cook, Music Workers Alliance
  • Jeanette Jemison, Program Director, Friends of Ganondagan, and Member of the Snipe Clan of the Akwesasne Mohawk Reservation
  • Jeremy Dennis, Contemporary Fine Art Photographer
  • Keiko Sono, Independent Artist and Founder of Forge Collective
  • Lee Heinemann, Artist Relief & Initiatives Manager, United States Artists
  • Marco Carrión, Executive Director, El Puente
  • Marie E. Saint-Cyr, Visual Artist, Muralist, and Owner of Saint-Cyr Art Studio
  • Melanie Greene, Dance Artist, Writer, and Organizer
  • Naomi Zewde, PhD, Assistant Professor of Health Economics at the CUNY School of Public Health
  • Prerana Reddy, Independent Cultural Producer
  • Ricky Flores, Photojournalist
  • Ryan J. Haddad, Actor, Playwright, and Autobiographical Performer
  • Sean McLeod, President & CEO New York Institute of Dance & Education
  • Seyi Adebanjo, Director, Filmmaker, Cultural Worker, Educator, and Thought Leader
  • Sol Aramendi, Socially Engaged Artist
  • Dr. Stephen Nuñez, Lead Researcher on Guaranteed Income, Jain Family Institute
  • Sylvia Diaz, Arts Education Coordinator, Arts Mid-Hudson
  • Ted Berger, Board Member Emeritus, Joan Mitchell Foundation and Executive Director Emeritus, New York Foundation for the Arts
  • Tom Finkelpearl, Curator, Museum Director, and former Commissioner of Cultural Affairs of NYC
  • Yanira Castro, Interdisciplinary Artist
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Sarah Calderon is the Executive Director of Creatives Rebuild New York. Previously, Sarah was the Managing Director of ArtPlace America from 2015 to 2020. In this role, Sarah led strategy, finance and operations, management, and grantmaking strategies for higher education. Previously, she was the Executive Director of Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education (Bronx, NY) from 2008 to 2015. During her tenure at Casita, she oversaw the opening of a new, 90,000-square-foot facility for the Center’s arts and education programming and developed partnerships with organizations ranging from Lincoln Center to the NYC Housing Authority. Before joining Casita, she founded and ran Stickball Printmedia Arts in East Harlem, a printmaking and digital arts organization for youth. Prior to that, Sarah was with the NYC Department of Education creating the Annual Arts in Schools Report—a data collection, analysis, and reporting effort for arts education in NYC’s public schools. She also consulted at MPR Associates, managing education research and evaluation projects from design through publication. She has worked as a teaching artist in Chicago, Oakland, and New York City. Sarah holds a BFA in printmaking and a BA in psychology from the University of Michigan; and an M.Ed. in arts education from Harvard University. [Email: sarah (at) creativesrebuildny (dot) org]

Director of strategic initiatives, guaranteed income

Maura Cuffie is a facilitator, strategist, and designer. Currently, she serves as the Director of Strategic Initiatives for the Guaranteed Income program at Creatives Rebuild New York. Previously she was the Senior Program Officer for ArtPlace America from 2018 to 2021. During that time she conceived and executed the Local Control, Local Field(s) initiative, a novel approach to participatory and trust-based philanthropy. This initiative placed over $12.5M directly under the control of practitioners across the country. She has held a variety of positions in arts, culture, and organizational change. As a co-founder of the collective, the Free Breakfast Program, she participated as a Create Change Fellow with the Laundromat Project in 2015  and in the inaugural cohort for leaders of color in EmcArts’ Arts Leaders as Cultural Innovators Fellowship in 2016. [Email: maura (at) creativesrebuildny (dot) org]

Director of strategic initiatives, Artist employment program

Bella Desai is Director of Strategic Initiatives, Artist Employment Program, for Creatives Rebuild New York. Previously, Bella led Exhibition Education and Public Programs for 14 years at the American Museum of Natural History. Bella brings deep expertise in informal education, public programs, and a diverse range of media arts. She is passionate about the intersection of art, science, and social impact. She is an experienced producer and creative problem-solver who creates bridges between disparate interests towards a common goal. Bella is a skilled partnership developer and program strategist, conceiving vision and defining plans for new project ventures. Prior to the Museum, she was Manager of Content Strategy and Partnership Development at Sesame Workshop India and Educational Outreach Coordinator at WGBH in Boston. As Web Producer of Education at National Geographic from 2000-2004, she managed online education strategy and producing award-winning interactive features. Bella holds a B.S. in Geology & Geophysics and History from Yale University and an Ed.M. in Technology, Innovation, and Education from Harvard University. [Email: bella (at) creativesrebuildny (dot) org]

Assistant Director of Programs and Operations

Soley Esteves is the Assistant Director of Programs and Operations at Creatives Rebuild New York. Prior to this role, she provided creative, budgetary, and operational oversight for public programs at the American Museum of Natural History. Her project portfolio includes six Margaret Mead Film Festivals, the museum’s first Spanish-language program series and highly successful Dia del Muertos festivals, Broadway-caliber performances, such as Excerpts from Moby-Dick, In Concert Under the Whale, and exhibition prototyping and interactive media work. She has robust experience in establishing new and cultivating existing partnerships in pursuit of various strategic, research, outreach, and fiscal goals and excels at bringing interdisciplinary teams together for creative pursuits. Recently, Soley spearheaded pivoting on-site offerings online and won an AAM Muse award for her Astronomy Online series. She published “From Evaluation to Reimagined Action: Adapting Digital Media in a COVID Hands-Off World” in the Spring 2021 issue of Exhibition magazine and has spoken on panels about sustaining and cultivating Latinae/x participation in museum offerings. Soley has held research positions at ESI Design and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum and currently serves as a Board Member for the New York City Museum Educators Roundtable. She holds a BA in Anthropology and a MA in Museum Studies from New York University. [Email: soley (at) creativesrebuildny (dot) org]

Director of strategic impact and narrative change
Jamie Hand is the Director of Strategic Impact and Narrative Change for Creatives Rebuild New York. From 2014 to 2020, she was the Director of Research Strategies for ArtPlace America, where she designed and led cross-sector knowledge and network building efforts to embed arts and cultural practice within the community development field. Prior to ArtPlace, Jamie worked at the National Endowment for the Arts, where she launched the Our Town grant program, oversaw the Mayors’ Institute on City Design and the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, and advised on interagency efforts including Rebuild by Design. Previously, she worked at Van Alen Institute and for public artist Topher Delaney. Jamie’s background in landscape architecture and her strengths as an editor, facilitator, researcher, and designer reflect a unique combination of rigor and flexibility – with methods that honor both the linear and the nonlinear, the established and the experimental, the known and the unknown, the logic model and the lived experience.  Jamie holds a BA from Princeton University’s School of Architecture, and a Master of Design Studies in landscape urbanism from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. She serves as board chair of ioby.org (“in our back yards”) and on the board of the Long Beach Island Foundation for the Arts and Sciences. [Email: jamie (at) creativesrebuildny (dot) org]
Director of strategic initiatives, Artist employment program
Christopher Mulé (Ma-LAY) is a cultural activist, network engineer, and public sector folklorist and ethnomusicologist. Currently, he is the Co-Director of Strategic Initiatives, Artist Employment Program for Creatives Rebuild New York. Previously, he served as the director of folk arts at Brooklyn Arts Council between 2014 and 2020, and as a project director for NY Living Traditions, an initiative of the Folk Arts Program of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) in partnership with City Lore. He specializes in grant writing, community engagement, media, public programming, and non-profit management. Chris earned his M.A. in Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. In 2015, he received the Archie Green Fellowship from the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for his collaboration with Domestic Workers United, an organization of Caribbean, Latina and African nannies, housekeepers, and elderly caregivers in New York, that organizes for fair labor standards. [Email: chris (at) creativesrebuildny (dot) org]