2021-2022 Panelists

Grant Panelists for FY22

Art For Social Justice Grants:

Ola Akinwumi
Olawumi Akinwumi (She/Her) is currently the Deputy Director of Programs at Arts Boston. Ola's (Ola, Olasco) background is in event management and public relations. In addition, she has over ten years of experience in live entertainment and social media. As the director of AfroDesiaCity™, Ola has organized events in the Boston metropolitan area, creating musical platforms for local artists, musicians, and bands. Previously, Ola was the Director of Hibernian Hall for ten years. Through original quality theater productions and creative arts programming, she fostered celebration of the cultural heritage of the Roxbury neighborhood.
Ola holds an MS in communications management from Simmons School of Management and a BS from New Hampshire. She began her education as a Tourism Planning and Development major. After graduation, she worked at the Sheraton Boston Hotel as an Executive Meeting Specialist and moved into several related positions that groomed her as an impresario. Ola strives to celebrate artists, deepen the cultural landscape of Massachusetts and connect organizations to meaningful artistic partnerships.

Craig Bailey
Craig Bailey is a veteran photographer based in Boston. As a freelancer, he has worked with many greater Boston and Cambridge community newspapers, regional theater groups, nonprofits, artists and arts organizations, including the Cambridge Arts Council. His 1997 photo essay, "The Faces of AIDS", was reprised as part of Harvard University's acclaimed 2018 Cooper Gallery exhibition "Nine Moments for Now.” He has also served as the Staff Photographer for Northeastern University.

Katharine Boyington
Katharine Boyington is currently pursuing a Master of Social Work degree at Boston University and has been working at the Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition as a social work intern since Spring of 2021. She lives in Portland, Oregon, and is the Director of Human Resources at Delphinus Medical Technologies, a biotech company whose mission is to advance early detection of breast cancer in women with dense breast tissue. As a human resources professional, Katharine is passionate about employee engagement, leadership development, conflict resolution, and cultivating a diverse and inclusive workplace. Through her internship at Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition, she has expanded her knowledge of the nonprofit sector and is learning more ways in which she can be involved in intervention and advocacy for marginalized communities. As a participant in the Arts and Culture Subcommittee at Cambridge Nonprofit Coalition, Katharine has developed an appreciation and understanding of the importance of art for positive engagement, communication, learning opportunities, and personal growth within the community.

Cameron Lane
Cameron Lane is the Sales and Community Outreach Associate at Artists For Humanity in South Boston, a nonprofit organization that provides underserved and under-resourced teens the keys to self-sufficiency and stability through paid opportunities in art and design. He also works with the Dorchester Arts Project and Brain Arts Organization in Fields Corner as a development and management consultant. Cameron is a musician and arts administrator who has recently graduated from Boston University with his Masters in Arts Administration and worked with countless organizations and companies in the combined Boston/Cambridge area in his short time being a resident of the city as they redefine their programming, expand their outreach, and widen their scope to take on the challenges of tomorrow's world today through art, innovation, and creativity.

Rebecca Nemser
Rebecca Nemser has lived in Cambridge continuously since 1974. She published and broadcast hundreds of stories about the arts for Art New England, WBUR, The Boston Phoenix, WFNX, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, and others. Many of these stories can be found on her website http://www.rebeccanemser.com. Now retired, she continues to enjoy and support the arts in Cambridge and beyond.

Local Cultural Council Grants:

Dance, Theater & Literature:

Nikki Daniels
As an artist, I choose to conquer and confront issues relevant to and present in my life and our society. Issues such as racial injustices, political contradictions, sexual stigmas and phobias often created as a result of media misrepresentation of Black men, LGBTQIA+ and those who identify and relate. These subjects scratch the surface, but do not serve as a limitation. From a young age I've been fascinated with surrealistic qualities within pop culture, computer generated music and expressing ideas and emotion through movement. After extensive training and apprenticeships with some of the most noted and influential choreographers at that time, founding and forming my company The D.A.N.A. Movement Ensemble (Dancers Against Normal Actions) and attaining my B. A. in Dance from Slippery Rock University, I began to hone in on my skills and interests to create my own signature style of work blending my choreography; drawing from my training in Butoh, African , modern and contemporary dance and incorporate self-realized electronic soundscapes, video projections and elements of theater; always drawing from pure raw emotion and musicality. My goals and objective are to create and produce poignant, socially and politically relevant works that are a reflection of myself, being innovative, thought provoking, and prompting discussion and action locally, nationally and internationally.

Jodi Ekelchik
Jodi Ekelchik’s professional career as consultant, project manager and trustee have included strategic planning, implementing operational change in business processes, and developing communication plans to support the launch of new initiatives. Her early consulting work focused primarily with large research-based universities on the design, implementation and integration of finance, research and IT initiatives. In addition, work included grant writing that fund organizational capacity building and the launch of new initiatives in the arts and education sector. As a result, her work facilitates organizational change, advances collaboration and partnership, and strengthens the administrative areas that make organizations tick.
Jodi holds a BS in Finance from the University of Delaware, a MA in Public Administration focused on Public Finance from NYU’s Wagner School of Public Service, and holds a Prince2 practitioner certification. She has held the position of management consultant with KPMG/Bearingpoint Consulting, independent contractor/business owner and board of trustees member, including Board Treasurer of Puppet Showplace Theater. Jodi resides in Cambridge with her family since moving from the United Kingdom in 2014.
Jodi is passionate about the arts to inspire creativity, build imagination, and offer enrichment programs here in Cambridge, and across the globe.

Betsy Groban
Betsy Groban has a passionate belief in the transformative power of the arts to enhance and improve the lives of individuals and civic life. She has always worked at the intersection of culture, commerce, and community, specifically in book publishing, public broadcasting, and arts advocacy. Groban graduated from Barnard College with a B.A. in English literature and published an anthology of short stories called Totally Middle School: Tales of Friends, Family, and Fitting In.
She writes a column about reading for Publishers Weekly Children’s Bookshelf and is a regular contributor to the arts and culture section of the Boston Globe. Groban has lived in Cambridge, MA for many years, and has two grown daughters, two sons-in-law, and two grandchildren, one of whom lives nearby in Cambridge.

Jessica Roseman
Jessica Roseman is an award winning choreographer, solo dance performer, movement educator, and a mother. Her community based dance project NOURISH helps people to sense, feel, and move better, equitably. NOURISH was recently held remotely with Black mothers from Cambridge through the Cambridge Center for Families. She is an Artist in Residence at The Dance Complex at Canal. A New England States Touring Artist, Jessica performs, teaches, and lectures nationally.

Daniel Wuenschel
Daniel Wuenschel works at the Cambridge Public Library, where he used to organize the poetry series there. Previous to that, he was manager of the Grolier Poetry Book Shop in Harvard Square, and previous to that he worked in the development office at the Harvard Art Museums.


John Connolly
John Connolly has worked in the arts since 2003, starting at the Strand Theatre in Dorchester to his time with the Mayor's Office of Arts, Tourism & Special Events in Boston. He has also held marketing positions at the Boston Children's Chorus, Urban Nutcracker, School For International Training, World Learning and was formerly co-chair for the City Ballet of Boston. Currently working at the Harvard Art Museums as Associate Director of Marketing, John has started to initiate partnerships across the city of Cambridge.

Jean Dany Joachim
Jean Dany Joachim is a Community artist, playwright and poet. Former poet populist of Cambridge (2009 - 2011), and current Poet in Residence at First Church. For over twenty years, Jean Dany has been presenting the City Night Readings Series in Cambridge which brings together poets, writers, performers, and lovers of literature, poetry, and writing for an evening of literary presentation every three months. He serves on the boards of the New England Poetry Club, and (JAE), Jean Appolon Expressions, Dance Company.

Melinda (Mindy) Koyanis
Melinda (Mindy) Koyanis, is a decades-long Cambridge resident where she raised her family and now has grandchildren in Cambridge Public Schools. In her work at Houghton Mifflin and Harvard University Press as Director of Intellectual Property, one area of her expertise was the licensing of published works for a wide range of uses in performing and visual arts, museum exhibits, and film/television. Mindy has participated as artist, creator, and audience with several university and community-related organizations. Mindy holds a Juris Doctor from Suffolk University Law School and B.A. from Boston University.

Zhonge (Elena) Li
Zhonghe (Elena) Li is a multi-media artist based in Cambridge, MA. Li’s creativity is inspired by her love of nature’s diversity and her concern for the future of the planet. Li is deeply influenced by the Taoist philosophy and believes that individual happiness comes from our ability of being one with nature and letting go of being the dominant force on Earth. She has been actively speaking out for the environment and endangered species through workshops, talks and her art creations. She received an artist grant (2020-2021) from Cambridge Arts Council, an agency of Massachusetts Arts Council, and a mini-grant from Mount Auburn Cemetery.

Nina McLaughlin
Nina MacLaughlin is an author living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her books include Wake, Siren; Summer Solstice; and Hammer Head. Formerly an editor at the Boston Phoenix, she worked for nine years as a carpenter and is now a books columnist for the Boston Globe.


Linda Balliro
Vocal instructor, coach and author of “Being A Singer: The Art, Craft and Science” (Chicago Review Press 2019) Linda Balliro, Associate Professor of Voice at Berklee College of Music in Boston, has been training singers across the globe for over 20 years. Her students regularly appear in opera, musical theater, rock, pop, R&B and jazz in the US, Canada, Europe, South America and Asia. Ms. Balliro graduated with a degree in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. She moved to Europe in 1991 to study at the Kodaly Institute of Music in Kecskemet, Hungary and Vienna, Austria, performing in concert, church and opera, including touring with the Hungarian Symphony Orchestra. She taught at the Vienna Conservatory in the musical theater department from 2003-2006. Upon returning to the US in 2007, Ms. Balliro began teaching privately in Boston, MA and has maintained an active private studio alongside her teaching at Berklee College of Music. Her private clients include nationally touring artists, local performers in rock and musical theater, teens, and young opera singers. Ms. Balliro is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, a founding charter member of the Pan American Vocology Association and certified in Speech Level Singing by Seth Riggs. She is currently enrolled in a Msc in Applied Neuroscience at King’s College in London.

Richard Greenblatt
Rich Greenblatt is a Boston based jazz vibraphonist and band leader of The Rich Greenblatt Vibes Group, is a musician with "dazzling speed and a truly magical touch" writes John Blenn in Good Times magazine. Rich has recorded 4 CDs as a leader, Hat Trick, Hot and Dry, Mooin' and My Take. He is a full Professor at the Berklee College of Music.

Alexis Henry
Alexis received her Bachelor of Professional Studies (B.P.S.) from Berklee Online at Berklee College of Music. Music has always been an important part of her life. She chose the degree program at Berklee because she wanted to feel more connected to and deepen her understanding of music. She studied a wide variety of subjects ranging from music theory, songwriting, and lyric writing to music business, music law, and production. Alexis believes that music is immensely enriching and can provide immeasurable meaning to people’s lives. It has the potential to break down barriers and bring people together. Music can also help people overcome personal challenges, develop a variety of skills, and enhance creativity and self-expression. It is Alexis’ intention to take her combined work, education, and life experiences and navigate into a career that helps guide and support people in their pursuit of music.

Adam Rothberg
Adam Rothberg is a Cambridge based performing songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, as well as a record producer and engineer. He has shared stage across the northeast and the country in a variety of roles with artists including Joan Baez, Cowboy Junkies, Duncan Sheik, Bill Morrissey, Cliff Eberhart, Victoria Williams and Mark Olson, Sloan Wainwright, Meg Hutchinson, and Amy Speace, among so many others. He produced Dar William’s seminal album The Honesty Room and produced, engineered, sang and played acoustic and electric guitars, bass, and keyboards, and arranged strings for the 2011 comeback CD Gypsy Girl by Kat Goldman. Since 2017 he has been the musical director and tour manager for the Linda Ronstadt Experience, a national touring tribute to Ronstadt, featuring American Idol Tristan McIntosh. He creates custom music for film and video and is working his fifth studio album. Adam also is well known for his work in children’s music, particularly his recordings and performances with Boston-based artist Vanessa Trien. Adam is also an award-winning graphic designer.

Vanessa Trien
Vanessa Trien is a performing singer/songwriter, focusing on the genre of children's and family music for the past sixteen years and leading the popular group, Vanessa Trien and the Jumping Monkeys. She is also a sought after early childhood music educator, teaching music for Brookline's Early Education Program, for parent/child program Music Together, for Young Audiences of Massachusetts' Expanding Horizons Through Music program, and her own MonkeyJump early childhood music and movement program. In the nineties, Vanessa spent a decade actively involved in the New York and Cambridge acoustic folk scenes, performing at such established local venues as Club Passim and Cantab Lounge, and street performing on the streets of Harvard Square and Faneuil Hall. Vanessa currently has four Parents' Choice Award-winning family albums and an acoustic folk album that was featured on WBUR's Here and Now Program. Vanessa first moved from New York to Cambridge to attend Harvard's Graduate School of Education (M.Ed 1996) After graduating, she became involved in arts administration and event production, assistant producing Harvard University's annual ARTS FIRST Festival for four years and the Cambridge Arts Council's River Festival for two years. She also consulted with the City of Cambridge's millennium celebrations, and organized Jamaica Plain's Open Studios for two years. Vanessa also worked as a Program Planner for the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. With her varied background as a performer, music educator and arts administrator, much of it specifically with the Cambridge community and even the Cambridge Arts Council, Vanessa is excited to be part of this year's music panel.

Visual Arts, Film & Video:

Estelle Disch
Estelle Disch is a photo-based digital artist who has been involved in Cambridge Arts programs for the past 10 years. Following a 40-year career teaching sociology, she retired from UMass Boston to turn her lifelong photography hobby into a part-time new career. Her work has been in several one-person or two-person shows and many group shows. Her commitment to social justice is expressed artistically in her recent Memory and Justice series which is a fundraiser for the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo in Argentina. That show is currently on display for the month of January 2022 in the Watertown Free Public Library. www.estelledisch.com

Heather Kapplow
Heather Kapplow (www.heatherkapplow.com) is a self-trained conceptual artist based in the United States. Kapplow creates participatory experiences that elicit unexpected intimacies using objects, alternative interpretations of existing environments, installation, performance, writing, audio and video. Kapplow's work has received government and private grants, and has been commissioned for galleries, film and performance festivals in the US and internationally. I am currently an affiliate artist at Harvard University's metaLAB (https://metalabharvard.github.io/) which is based between Cambridge and Berlin, Germany.

Danielle Sauvé
Danielle Sauvé is a Quebec-born sculptor and installation artist, based in Cambridge since 2001. Danielle is an Adjunct Faculty member at Boston University School of Visual Arts, where she has taught sculpture and ceramics since 2010. She served on the advisory committee of the Cambridge Public Art Commission for three years and has been active as a volunteer in the Cambridge Public Schools art classrooms, demonstrating techniques and sharing her work with children. She has also collaborated with other Cambridge artists and has exhibited together at several local galleries.
Her work engages material and phenomenological conditions in a wide array of media. The installations incorporate a variety of medium to create open-ended reflection touching on the idea of displacement. Her recent sculptures refer to the production of functional or useful goods, considering the craft and the place they occupy in our era. She received her BA in Visual Arts from Laval University, Quebec, and her MFA from Concordia University, Montreal.
Danielle's work has been exhibited widely in galleries and museums throughout Canada, the USA, as well as internationally. Her work was included in several major group exhibitions and events in Canadian Museums and Art Centers in Europe. She has created permanent public art installations and, has pieces in the permanent collections of several Canadian museums.

Barbara Thomas
A native New Yorker, Barbara Thomas has lived in Cambridge, MA for over two decades. She is a first-generation Guyanese-American with roots from Africa, India and England. An avid writer since childhood, her stories fall into the categories of horror, erotica, speculative fiction, afrofuturism, and the Caribbean diaspora. Barbara holds a degree in Chemical Engineering from MIT, runs Artifact Soapworks, and teaches soapmaking. Barbara and her husband are creators of the award-winning Cambridge Chronicled series, a graphic memoir collection about racism and oppression experienced as a multiracial couple in "liberal Cambridge." Her work has been presented at MICE (The Massachusetts Independent Comics Expo) and at the 2021 Boston Comics in Color Festival. When not writing, Barbara is a member of the FBI Citizens Academy, a Cambridge Women’s Commissioner, a member of the Cambridge Open Studios Advisory Committee, a member of the Cambridge-Somerville Black Business Network Steering Committee, a member of the North Cambridge Artist Association, an active member of the ImprovBoston community, a scuba diver, a voice-over artist, and a model.

Organizational Investment Grants:

Sage Carbone
Sage Carbone is an education professional that lives and works in Cambridge. My passion for community learning is rooted in decades of Indigenous activism. I volunteer with a number of local organizations to engage people of all ages and abilities with the arts.

Scott Fraser
As Managing Director at Ballet Theatre of Boston, Inc., Scott is responsible for overseeing the administrative staff, capital fundraising initiatives and facility management. Scott has been a staff member since 1987. During his tenure with the organization, he has worn many hats. He has served the organization as studio manager, company manager, general manager, development associate, and managing director. Scott served on the board of the Boston Dance Alliance from 2003-2011 and as Board President for two of those years. He is currently on the board of OrigiNation, an organization that specializes in implementing innovative and dynamic programs, which motivate, challenge, and inspire youth to be the best they can be, and Doors to History which fosters historic site tourism within the region. In 2011, after a competitive nomination and selection process, Scott was selected to participate in the American Express Leadership Academy. In 2014, the Arts and Business Council recognized Scott for his enormous contributions to the Boston cultural scene by presenting him with a “Champion For The Arts” award.

Erin Muirhead McCarty
Erin is Executive Director, Community Art Center, Inc. and a seasoned development professional whose work has focused primarily on directing annual fund campaigns, individual and corporate giving, institutional fundraising, and strategic partnerships. In this capacity, she has experience within the world of higher education and also as the annual fund manager for an international nonprofit; she has raised monies for the arts, as well as for social services. She currently serves as the Executive Director of Community Art Center, an 85-year-old youth arts organization centered in the Port neighborhood of Cambridge. Erin holds a degree in studio arts, and art history from Virginia Commonwealth University’s nationally ranked School of The Arts, and studied visual arts and restoration in Florence, Italy. She has also spent time living and working in London, England. She has a love of pop-culture, politics, travel and adventure, and enjoys binge-watching documentaries. Erin relies on her two teenage daughters to keep her current on all of the latest Tik Tok challenges, Instagram trends, and viral memes.

Diane Charyk Norris
Diane Charyk Norris is a visual artist at 11 Miller Street Studios focusing on painting and printmaking and has been a Cambridge resident for over 35 years. She also has over 20 years of professional experience as an architect in design, planning, renovation, and interiors of cultural buildings. Ms. Norris is a strong advocate for collaboration and expanding the role of arts and culture across the city in public programs, events, schools, after-school programs, parks, and neighborhoods. Ms. Norris is a long term member of the Cambridge Arts Council Advisory Board and serves as current Chair. In response to COVID-19, she served on the Advisory Committee for the City of Cambridge Arts Reopening Group to assist and advocate for supporting arts organizations and individual artists (2020-21). She was a Cambridge Artist Relief Fund and Cultural Capital Fund grant reviewer for the Cambridge Community Foundation (2020-21). Ms. Norris also participated in an extensive outreach and fundraising effort for architects and designers on Black Lives Matter (2020). The initiative raised significant funds for Diversity Advancement Scholarships from the Architect’s Foundation.
Ms. Norris served on the board of the Chandler Gallery at Maud Morgan Arts (2010-2020), and the Fayerweather Street School (2015-2020). While her children attended Cambridge Public Schools, Ms. Norris was Co-Chair of the Haggerty School Arts Council and served on the Board of Friends of Haggerty. In 2011, she was the Parent Liaison for the launch of the Cambridge Creativity Commons to support STEAM programs for Cambridge students.
As an architect, Ms. Norris is a Principal of Norris & Norris Associates with her partner, Charles Norris. Prior to N&N, she was an Associate at Ann Beha Architects and a Project Architect at Cambridge Seven Associates.
As an artist at 11 Miller Street, Ms. Norris volunteers as the website and open studios coordinator for a building of studio spaces for over 40 artists, designers, and crafts people in Somerville. (2015-present).

Connie Seams
This is the second time I have lived in Cambridge, the first was in the late 1970’s. I returned, 2002, to raise my daughter in a culturally diverse community. We are delighted to have Cambridge as our home. Through these years I have worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist providing serve to adults with compromised communication. I have always worked in the arts, principally as a ceramic artist, and more recently as a visual artist. My studio is in my home. It has been important to me to support my community which has included participation as a board member for the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and the Cambridge based organization Gymnastics, and as an activist in AIDS ACT-UP, Cape and Islands LGBQT+ Coalition, Cape Cod Women’s Shelter, and a volunteer instructor at the Cambridge Learning Center. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in the Cambridge Art Council Grant Review Board, 2022.