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Ahhh, the sweet smell of diversity. For those of us who have worked in the field of arts and culture over the past several decades, the proclamations for achieving diversity have been many. In the last few years, equity has become the clarion call. But over time, what we have also heard is the inability of many white-led organizations to “find the right people.” I put it in quotes because that’s how I’ve heard it.


There is certainly truth in the cry of difficulty for identifying, cultivating, and honoring what people of color bring to arts institutions as volunteers. For far too long, we sat at tables with big money donors, leaning into our commitments by making recommendations and giving what we had – time, only to be discounted and left to feel tokenized. There was no cultivation of our skills and commitment, and no honor for our time. We were numbers to be filled in grant applications to show the “diverse make-up” of organizational leadership.


Where we have found the respect, joy, and containers for our volunteer commitments has been within our own organizations. ARTE NOIR has a board of directors to be envied by ANY arts organization in this region.  They are living and breathing Black history makers with so much to offer our community and they have chosen ARTE NOIR as a vessel for their service.


We are thankful for these Black History keepers and makers:


Karinda Harris is one of our founding board members. Until recently, Karinda served as the Senior Community Relations Manager at Vulcan Inc., where she was responsible for local corporate social responsibility initiatives. Her help and support for the establishment of Black businesses at 23rd and Jackson is revered. A Seattle native, Karinda is known as a connector of people and resources with a passion for strategy and social impact. Karinda takes impact seriously and is the leader of our "eyes on the prize” team, always checking us to ensure that we are mission-focused. With few words she lets us know that if it isn’t making a difference, we shouldn’t be doing it!


Juan Alonso-Rodríquez is also an ARTE NOIR founding board member as well as a humble servant to the arts.  Cuban-born and self-taught, his success as an artist has only catapulted his dedication to creating pathways for other artists. While Juan has won numerous awards and recognition for his work and is represented in galleries in Oakland, Scottsdale, and Seattle, before relocating to Florida, Juan’s Pioneer Square gallery was always a welcome space for the work of other artists. His name is often noted as a mentor and supporter to artists, an advocate for the arts, and a supporter of various arts organizations. Juan is the ARTE NOIR touchstone. As a practicing artist, he keeps our eyes keen on the part of our mission that seeks to be of benefit to artists!


Donna Moodie is a Seattle legend! Period. Some may mistakenly refer to her as Marjorie, which is the name of the famed restaurant she opened in 2003. Named after her mom, Marjorie Restaurant was where things happened, where people met and met up, and where everybody knew your name. It’s that feeling of warmth and welcome that Donna engenders in her every endeavor. While Donna is rebuilding Marjorie Restaurant 3.0, coming soon to join us at the Midtown Square campus, she leads initiatives that intersect social justice, community building, and neighborhood activism in her current role as Chief Impact Officer and EcoDistrict Executive Director at the Metropolitan Urban League of Seattle. It’s her multi-sensor lens on business, community, social justice, and activism that gives ARTE NOIR an edge for our future.


Eric Gerard Parsons is a social change agent. His years working in policy development in Seattle and New York, his love of research, and his knack for strategic approaches to problem-solving, show up in his profound passion for establishing and implementing projects that accomplish justice and equity. Eric recently served Community Roots Housing as the Senior Manager of Philanthropy where his focus was on developing resources for long-term transformation. He now serves as Director of Partnership and Advancement for the Metropolitan Urban League of Seattle, where his focus on transformational change has become more magnified. Our vision for community partnerships, transformation over transactions, and strategic advancement has been at the core of Eric’s service to ARTE NOIR.

Tyrone D. Smith is an admitted analysis wonk, and we love it! As a relative newcomer to the Seattle area from New York, where he worked as a Business Analytics Manager and Corporate Finance Analyst, Tyrone is all about statistical modeling. Tyrone consistently queries, what do the numbers say to us, and how do we best make our numbers sing and harmonize for maximum benefit to the community of artists first, and to us for long-term sustainability?  Tyrone is our performance tester, which is perfect as he is also our Treasurer. His resume has a line about his recent projects that reads, “…recovering $35M in loss revenue…” Hello!!! We’re not trying to lose anything and he is on a mission to see to it that our revenues are stable. And in his day job, Tyrone is Senior Manager, Data Science & Analytics at Expedia.


It’s also an opportunity to shine a light on a former board member, Raymond Tymas-Jones, Ph.D, President of Cornish College of the Arts. Dr. Tymas-Jones, the first African American president of Cornish, served on the ARTE NOIR board for a year before having to take leave. We keep him on speed dial and are regular recipients of his vast knowledge and approaches to the advancement of the arts.


These individuals deserve all of the spotlight we can shine on them. They have, and continue to give of themselves in service to the ARTE NOIR mission, and our ability to make a positive impact on our Black community specifically, and the greater community in general. It has been their leadership and guidance that has given us the courage to take bold steps into our future, where we are the absolute captains of our destiny.  Y’all, this is Black History right now!


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