Andrea Louie is executive director of the Asian American Arts Alliance (a4), providing strategic direction for a4 as it approaches its thirtieth year of supporting Asian American artists and arts/cultural groups, and building the pan-ethnic, multidisciplinary arts community in New York City. She brings a combination of management experience, leadership as a communications professional, and a passion for the arts, as both a writer and a seasoned executive. Andrea most recently served on the management team at Religions for Peace, the world’s largest and most representative multi-faith coalition. She is the author of a novel, Moon Cakes (Ballantine Books) and coeditor of an anthology, Topography of War: Asian American Essays (The Asian American Writers’ Workshop). Andrea is a recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship, the Hannah S. and Samuel A. Cohn Memorial Foundation Fellowship, a Ludwig Volgelstein Foundation grant and was short-listed for the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. She served as a review panelist in literature for the New York State Council on the Arts and was a writer-in-residence for the National Book Foundation. In addition, Andrea has been awarded artist residencies at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Djerassi, Hedgebrook and the Fundacíon Valparáiso in Spain. She serves on the steering committees of the Cultural Data Project, the New York City Arts Coalition, and the International Rescue Committee’s Generation R; she also serves on the multicultural advisory committee of WNYC. In addition, she is a member of the Asian American Writers Workshop and the Asian American Journalists Association.
Nico Daswani, Program Director
Nico is a cultural organizer dedicated to placing the arts at the heart of civic participation and intercultural dialogue. Since 2008, he has been the Program Director of the Asian American Arts Alliance (a4), the cultural council for New York's richly diverse Asian / Asian American population, which now represents one million people and is the most rapidly growing cultural group in the city. Nico has launched and established the organization's current programs, including the popular monthly Town Hall, and is directing the citywide, collaboration-driven, Locating the Sacred Festival (September 2012). Prior to working with a4, Nico coordinated, managed and produced exchange programs, tours and festivals with several organizations, including the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, the World Festival of Sacred Music-LA, the UCLA Center for Intercultural Performance and several others. He has spoken at conferences and universities on the role of the arts in community-building, and currently serves as a panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts. He is the co-founder of Create Culture, an organization dedicated to fostering dialogue amongst artists from different cultures, now with an online network of more than 3,000 people from more than 100 countries (www.createculture.org). He holds a BA in Management from Euromed Marseille (France) and University of Westminster (UK) and an MA in Cultural Heritage from New York University's Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
Soriya Chum, Development & Administrative Associate
Soriya is the Development and Administrative Associate at a4. He is honored to be a part of such a generous team of shape-shifters. Previously, Soriya has worked as a Teaching Artist, Learning Specialist, and Theater Educator. At Urban Assembly High School for Media Studies, he administered creative programming for students with emotional and learning difficulties, consulted with teachers on behavioral interventions, and worked hands on with students who have disabilities. Soriya attended Purchase College where he earned a BFA and was the recipient of the Culture, Society, and the West award. Currently, he is the Executive/Artistic Director of his own performing arts collective called billy & CO., an arts collective whose aim is to connect creative communities to produce cross-collaborative arts programming for audiences.
Jinjin Sun, Program & Communications Assistant
Jinjin works to support all a4 programming, including events, new initiatives, research, grants, and gatherings. She issues the E-Newsletter, manages the online platform a4Hub, produces Town Hall, and coordinates membership. She enjoys engaging with New York’s vibrant Asian American arts community and is happy to nurture its growth. Jinjin hails from Baltimore, Maryland and graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Cognitive Science with a focus on visual perception. She is also a cartoonist and illustrator, and is currently developing her interest in film.
Elena Chang, Festival Coordinator
Elena is excited to be working alongside the dynamic a4 team as Festival Coordinator for the 2012 Locating The Sacred Festival. She is an organizer and performer, striving to continue her work as an artist and activist to shed light on various social, political, and humanitarian issues. Elena has previously directed as a visibility advocate for the "Asian Pride Project,” an online platform to share stories of family and friends of LGBT Asian & Pacific Islanders. She also performed at the 3rd National Asian American Theatre Festival in Soomi Kim’s production of “Dictee”, a multimedia performance based on the text of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha. As a 2011 Korean American Community Foundation Arts Grantee, she produced and directed, “V-Day: Koreatown”, the first production of the “Vagina Monologues” with an all-Korean cast in NYC. She received her BFA in Theatre from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University as well as training from Shakespeare’s Globe, London. Selected film/theater credits: Wianbu, West 32nd, Fight Girl Battle World (Vampire Cowboys); 365 Days/ 365 Plays (Ma-yi Theatre Company); The Odyssey (Looking Glass Theatre); Punk Rock Love Song (Horse Trade).
Kelly Kuwabara, Development Consultant
In addition to her work as a development consultant for non-profits, Kelly Kuwabara is the Program Director for Arts-in-Education at the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island (COAHSI). She has expanded COAHSI’s work with teaching artists, and is starting COAHSI’s first online Teaching Artist Registry this year. Prior to COAHSI, Ms. Kuwabara served for 4 years as the Program Director for Asian American Arts Alliance, where she oversaw citywide re-grant and technical assistance programs for arts organizations and artists. Kelly served as an interim member of the planning team for the Urban Artist Initiative, a groundbreaking consortium with other arts service organizations to provide grants to individual artists of color. She also conceived, fundraised for, and oversaw the implementation of the city’s first free outdoor multi-ethnic Asian American music festival, “Soundfest.” Prior to being Program Director, Kelly was Development Director at the Alliance for two years. She also worked as Development and Communications Officer for ArtsConnection. Kelly has worked for severeal arts and advocacy non-profits as a consultant throughout her career. For six years Kelly was also a performing member and collective member of Soh Daiko, the oldest taiko (Japanese drumming) ensemble on the East Coast. Kelly holds an M.A. in English from NYU and a B.A. in Philosophy from Bryn Mawr College.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Ravi S. Rajan, Board President
Ravi S. Rajan is an artist & musician living in New York City. A proponent of interdisciplinary expression and technology in the arts, he designs collaborative projects merging music, sculpture, photography, film, performance, installation, and video art for museums and galleries around the world. His recent collaborations have been exhibited at the São Paulo Biennial, Venice Biennale, Moscow Biennial, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lausanne, and major venues in, among other cities, New York, London, Milan, Paris, Houston, Madrid, and Yokohama. Mr. Rajan is a musician of uncommon versatility: he is sought after not only as a trumpet soloist, but as a conductor, singer, and player of period instruments including the cornetto, natural trumpet, and recorder. He has played trumpet with the American Brass Quintet, Brooklyn Philharmonic, Manhattan Brass Quintet, New Haven Symphony, and Oklahoma City Philharmonic, among others. He has given solo recitals across the US, UK, and France, and actively pursues new works to be written for the trumpet. He has played for numerous Broadway shows and has also performed/directed for regional theatre groups including the Yale Repertory Theatre. In 2010, Mr. Rajan was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts (FRSA). A devoted arts educator, Mr. Rajan is presently Associate Dean of the Arts and Director of the School of Art+Design at Purchase College, State University of New York. He continues to teach and lecture for students from kindergarten through university, and has held teaching positions at Yale University, Purchase College, and the University of Oklahoma.
Diana Lee, Board Vice President
Diana Lee is a human resources executive with thirty years experience leading and managing businesses through critical growth and change in the media, entertainment and financial services sectors. Most recently, Diana was Senior Vice President of Human Resources for MTV Networks, the largest division of Viacom that owns and operates MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and VH1 with over 140 channels and 300 interactive digital properties. She had direct accountability for sixty human resources professionals and supported half of the domestic MTVN businesses. Prior to her eleven years with MTV Networks, Diana worked at American Express and J.P. Morgan Chase as a generalist who collaborated closely with senior leaders on critical talent and performance management issues, compensation programs and other areas. Throughout her career, she has been a passionate advocate and leader for her firms’ inclusion and diversity initiatives. Diana is a graduate of Oberlin College with a double major in Art and Art History. She continues her interest today by enjoying contemporary art and architecture, painting and studying Mandarin Chinese in her free time and renovating her 1902 Colonial Revival home in Maplewood, New Jersey. She lives there with her husband and their two teenage sons.
Mark Swicegood, Board Treasurer
Mark Swicegood began studying music at the age of five. He soon took an interest in the organ and began formal instruction at age fifteen with Michael Rowland of Winston Salem. He received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill where he studied the organ with Allen Harris, and a Master of Music degree from Yale University where he studied with Thomas Murray, Martin Jean and Gerre Hancock. While at Yale he served as the University Chapel Organist at Battell Chapel. In 1997 Mr. Swicegood was a finalist in the Yale Biennial Organ Competition and in the Arthur Poister Competition in 1999. In 2002, he received an Honorable Mention in the City of Paris Fourth International Organ Competition, being the only American in the history of the competition to advance to the finals. The Diapason (France) reviewed him as a “symphoniste de grande classe.” Mr. Swicegood is a frequent recitalist in the Connecticut and New York metropolitan area. In 2008 he complete an MBA in finance from the Unviersity of Connecticut and currently works as a financial performance analyst for ANZ.
Lily J. Lu, Board Secretary
Lily J. Lu is a partner in the corporate and securities group in the New York office of Arnold & Porter LLP. She has extensive experience in all types of corporate and securities transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, private and public securities offerings and lending transactions. In addition, Ms. Lu has advised domestic and foreign clients with respect to corporate governance issues and US Securities and Exchange Commission compliance matters. Ms. Lu has represented clients in acquisitions and dispositions in a variety of industries, such as the printing, telecommunications, financial services and retail industries. She has also worked on numerous loan transactions (both secured and unsecured), and she has represented clients in registered offerings and private placements (including offerings in reliance on Rule 144A and Regulation S) of debt and equity securities.
After more than thirty years, Ted Berger retired in December, 2005 as the Executive Director of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). During this period, NYFA became one of the country’s largest providers of grants and services to individual artists and artist-centered organizations in all disciplines. He is one of the key people in the country focused on supporting artists. Mr. Berger is now continuing his work through three major projects: he is the Project Director for the Urban Artist Initiative/ NYC (UAI/NYC), a new consortium initiative committed to a new grants program for NYC artists of color (UAI/NYC is one of fourteen projects of the Creative Communities national network of LINC (Leveraging Investments in Creativity); he is directing New York Creates, a new initiative to create more opportunities for New York’s craft artists and artisans, with a special concentration on those from immigrant and Diaspora communities; he also serves as a consultant for the development of the Louisiana Creative Economy Foundation. He has also served as the lead consultant for the feasibility of developing the Brooklyn Public Library’s new Visual and Performing Arts Library as part of the BAM/LDC. Mr. Berger has served on numerous cultural and educational boards, panels, and committees. In addition to the Board of the Asian American Arts Alliance, he currently serves as a Board member of ArtsConnection, the Design Trust for Public Space, HB Studios. the CUE Arts Foundation, and the International Studio and Curatorial Program and is an Advisor to the Joan Mitchell Foundation. He is on numerous Advisory Boards, including Studio in a School, Symphony Space, the Theater Museum, and the Older Artists Project of Columbia University’s Research Center for Arts and Culture; he is a Steering Committee member of the New York City Arts Coalition. He writes and speaks extensively on the arts and artists and cultural policy for numerous national and international publications, conferences, academic institutions, and organizations. Mr. Berger was formerly Assistant Dean for the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the School of International Affairs at Columbia University.
Rockwell J. Chin
Rockwell J. Chin has lived and worked in Lower Manhattan for almost 30 years where he has been active in labor, community and civil rights struggles. At the New York City Commission on Human Rights (HRC), Mr. Chin served as Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Community Relations, Acting General Counsel and Supervising Attorney. In addition to prosecuting and mediating discrimination cases at the Commission, he participated in the HRC's efforts to eliminate exclusive male-only private clubs, address immigrant discrimination and eliminate barriers for people with disabilities. In April 2007, he was appointed to the New York State Division on Human Rights, where he is a senior advisor to the Commissioner and is Director of the Office of Equal Opportunity & Diversity. Mr. Chin is active in efforts to rebuild Lower Manhattan after 9/11 and is a former member of the Chinatown/Lower East Side Community Board. Further, he has taught civil rights and Asian American Studies courses at NYU, Hunter & Cornell University’s Law School. As Chair of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association’s Civil Rights Committee, his article on “Affirmative Action” was published in the American Bar Association’s November 1999 Special Issue on “Asian Americans & the Law.” Mr. Chin holds a law degree from the University of Southern California, a Masters Degree in City Planning from Yale University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Lehigh University. Rocky is a founding member of the Basement Workshop, a major Asian American arts group in NYC during the 1970's and 1980's, and is also a founding member of the Asian American Bar Association of NY.
Born in New York City, Athena Robles is a visual artist whose work involves drawing, sculpture, printmaking, and installation. Early in her career, she was included in the exhibition New American Talent at the Laguna Gloria Art Museum in Austin, TX, and she has since exhibited nationally, including at The Contemporary Museum in Honolulu, The Soap Factory in Minneapolis, and in New York at The American Museum of Natural History. A Van Lier fellow in 1995, she has participated on panels for the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, the Ford Foundation, and others. Robles has collaborated on projects for the artist collective Godzilla and the Asian American Arts Alliance, where she serves as a board member. Her experience in art administration and communications includes positions at Creative Capital Foundation; The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts; The Lower East Side Tenement Museum; Art in General; and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. In addition, she is a freelance writer, copyeditor, and consultant on integrated media whose publication projects include The Warhol Initiative, published by The Warhol Foundation. Robles holds an undergraduate degree in art and psychology from Drew University and a master’s in fine arts from Cornell University. Her collaborative project Counter Culture Cash with Anna Stein was featured on Artnet News and their joint work continues to receive support and recognition from The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and Front Room Gallery in Brooklyn, among others, and is being presented at symposiums and conferences across the country.