March 15, 2014 | Women of Power 2014 Conference: The Art of Being a Woman


The 27th Annual Women of Power Conference 2014: The Art of Being a Woman

Join us for the The Annual Women of Power Conference! This year we honor the Diaspora Arts Warrior-Women, the bearers of creative genius who forged the philosophy, praxis and sacred power that illuminate our global cultural aesthetics.

Veteran and emerging artists along with arts managers and elected officials explore their interdependent roles in establishing greater cultural equity, broader cultural opportunity, and more deeply engaged communities.

Women of Power: Celebrating the power in the creative intention of so many gladiator women.

WHEN: Saturday, March 15, 2014 | 10am – 7pm

WHERE: Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center|1680 Lexington Avenue (Between 105th and 106th Street) New York, NY 10029

ADMISSION: $10 in advance/$15 at the door/Children under 12 years of age free / Student and Seniors discount: $5 at the door. Please RSVP to and must show valid ID at the door. Limited number of Scholarships available.

We encourage every elder to bring a young person, as we work on passing the torch.

For tickets in advance, CLICK HERE.


women of power final - MARCHCCCADI’s Women of Power Conference, one of our signature events held annually in March, considers the role and impact of women in the African Diaspora through various lenses in order to claim, explore, and honor our experiences as well as to strategize for our future.

In March of 2014, “ Women of Power: The Art of Being a Woman” will examine the experience of female artists, cultural workers, and their allies in the Diaspora.   Women of African descent are integral to African Diaspora Aesthetics, to global creative vision and international cultural output. Despite multiple disparities and the rigors of invisibility, we have championed sophisticated iconographies, lexicons, and performance modes that are grounded in the traditional and sacred vision of our root cultures. Through the masterful practice of our living aesthetics – on the stage, page, family, movements, and in the world – we represent the dynamic Art of Being a Woman.

Slated for March 15th 2014 in East Harlem at Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center, the program, outlined below, is designed to be both a celebration and a catalyst of the creative achievements, across sectors, of  women of the African Diaspora.






9:30 AM

Registration and Light refreshment


9:50 AM

Welcome by Dr. Marta Moreno Vega, CCCADI President and Founder


10 AM to 10:30AM

Opening Discussion: Innovating on the World Stage

Participants: Zenaida Mendez and Rosemond Pierre


10:30 AM to 12:00 PM

Panel 1: Clearing the Road-The Art of Courage

This conversation is a powerful immersion into the mechanics of audacity.  Each of these vanguard women discuss the grace and grit that was necessary to establish themselves as artists, living off of their crafts, without the benefit of institutions, policies, and currently accepted social norms.  They also share their current projects and how they and their work continue to be vital, vibrant, and inspiring.

Moderator: Rashida Bumbray

Panelists: Cita Rodriguez, Marilyn Nance, Amma McKenn and Xenobia Bailey


12:00 PM to 1:00 PM

Lunch- East Harlem Cafe‘s food will be available on premises.


1:00 PM – 2:30 PM

Panel 2: Ancient Seeds: The Art of New Vision

This discussion gives platform to contemporary trailblazers in various stages of emergence on to the Creative landscape.  Using their work and experiences as touch points, they share their insights as to the opportunities and challenges in creating new work, new processes of production, and their personal sciences for remembering tomorrow.

Moderator:  Shani Jamila

Panelists:  Sabine Blaizin,  Manuela Arciniegas and Erica Sewell


2:45 PM – 3:45 PM

Interactive Workshop: Harnessing Your Own Creativity

Facilitator: Kelly Thomas

Kelly Thomas is a Healing Artist and Educator, with roots in New Jersey Alabama and The Commonwealth of Dominica.  Kelly conceives interactive, imaginative, and transformative learning experiences activating a background in gender studies, ritual theater, Afro- Diasporic cultural practice, and holistic healing. This workshop, “Harnessing your Creativity” is part community ritual, part work session, and part play! Together we will focus on practical tools for cultivating creativity and incorporating creative wellness into vital aspects of your life! This workshop is being presented in partnership with Sacred Women’s Health Consultant,  Jasmine Burems of Honey and Gold Inc.


4:00 PM to 5:30 PM 

Panel 3: Dancing with Equity: The Art of Empowering

This conversation explores the roles and perspectives of elected officials and cultural workers who are creating policies, strategies, and platforms to support culture and the arts as engines for sustainable community development.

Moderator: Monifa Bandele

Panelists: NYC Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, District 35;

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, District 8, and Maurine Knighton


5:45 PM 6:30 PM

Multimedia Performance by Sabine Blaizin– Oya


6:30 PM to 7:00 PM

Closing reception






Zenaida Mendez

Zenaida Mende

Zenaida Mendez was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the United States as a teenager with her family. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in government and public administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in public administration from the City University of New York, Graduate School of Public Affairs. Mayor David Dinkins appointed Ms. Mendez to his office of Latino Affairs in 1990, from 1992-1994 she served as special assistant to the New York City Commissioner of Human Rights, and for five years she was legislative assistant to Representative Charles B. Rangel. In 2001, Ms. Mendez was one of the Women of Color Resource Center’s delegates to the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerances in Durban, South Africa. In 2002, she was invited to address the forum of the Puerto Rico and United States International Dominican Leadership Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico. An avid voice for tolerance, Ms. Mendez served for almost three years as director of Racial Diversity Programs at the National Organization for Women (NOW) where she successfully spearheaded a diversity and inclusion training program, a woman of color and allies summit, and the campaign on the femicide of the women of Juarez and Chihuahua, Mexico among other initiatives. She served most recently as the project director for the Second National People of Color Environmental Leadership Summit. Ms. Mendez also holds the esteemed position of president and founder of the National Dominican Women’s Caucus.  Ms. Mendez is currently the director of external affairs at Manhattan Neighborhood Network, the Public Access Cable Television facility in Manhattan. She is also the proud mother of three daughters.



Rosemond-Pierre-Louis-Rosemond Pierre-Louis

Rose Pierre-Louis has led a distinguished career advocating for low-income women and the city’s most vulnerable families. Early in her career at Queens Legal Services, she developed workshops aimed at empowering victims of domestic violence. She went on to hold leadership positions at Network for Women’s Services, Sanctuary for Families, and  Harlem Legal Services, where she led the domestic violence unit. She has served as Deputy Borough President for Manhattan, and was appointed to serve on the Matrimonial Commission in 2004, responsible for reviewing all aspects of matrimonial litigation and making recommendations for improving the State’s Family and Supreme Courts procedures governing such litigation. She is the founding member and former Chair of the African American Task Force on Violence against Women and the Women’s Alliance of Harlem, and also a former Vice-Chair of the Board of Directors of the New York Women’s Foundation. She has also served as an adjunct Professor at Fordham University School of Law for six years and is a frequent lecturer on domestic violence and the law. Pierre-Louis is also a recognized leader in the Haitian community, helping found and lead the Haitian Roundtable, a non-profit devoted to raising the profile of Haiti and supporting Haitian-American professionals. In 2010, following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, she was appointed by then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to serve on the five-member delegation representing the United States at the United Nations Haiti Donor Pre-Conference in Martinique, West Indies.  Most recently, Rosemond was appointed as the first Haitian Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence.



Rashida Bumbray


Rashida Bumbray is an independent curator living and working in New York. She recently served as Associate Curator at The Kitchen (2006-2012), where she organized several critically acclaimed projects and commissions, including solo exhibitions by Jamal Cyrus, Leslie Hewitt, and Cauleen Smith, as well as performances by Derrick Adams, Sanford Biggers, and Kenya (Robinson). She also commissioned new music concert works by artists such as Tamar-kali, Valerie June, and Burnt Sugar The Arkestra Chamber. Bumbray began her career as Curatorial Assistant and Exhibition Coordinator at The Studio Museum in Harlem (2001-2006), where she co-founded the museum’s ongoing lobby sound installation StudioSound and Hoofers’ House, a monthly jam session for tap dancers—now called Shim Sham. While also at the Studio Museum, she coordinated many important exhibitions including Seeds and Roots with Thelma Golden, Energy Experimentation: African American artists 1964-1980 with Kellie Jones and Challenge of the Modern: African American Artists 1925-1945 with Lowery Stokes Sims. Bumbray is an active participant on juries and panels nationwide for both the visual and performing arts. She has been a visiting lecturer at several colleges/universities and has published on a wide range of topics, with specialist knowledge in contemporary artists of color and comparative literature. Rashida Bumbray earned her BA in African American Studies and Theater & Dance from Oberlin College and her MA in Africana Studies at NYU with a concentration in Performance Studies and Contemporary Art.



Cita RodriguezCita Rodriguez

Cita Rodriguez is a New York City-based salsa singer and daughter of late FANIA All Star, Pete “El Conde” Rodriguez. Raised in the Bronx, New York City and Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, Cita started her singing career at the age of 16, as a background singer in her father’s band. A year later, she became a student at El Conservatorio de Música de Puerto Rico. Soon after, Cita became a part of and recorded 4 albums with the Salsa group, Los Hjios de la Salsa.  After her father’s sudden death in 2000, Cita formed her own band, which she performs with today. Throughout the years, she has collaborated and traveled the world with various musicians, including The Mambo Legends Orchestra. Their Watch Out! iTen Cuidao! album was nominated for a Latin Grammy for “Best Salsa Album” in 2012. Having achieved a Masters degree in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) from the City College of New York, she juggles her singing with her 17-year-long (and counting!) career as an elementary school teacher for the New York City Department of Education.



marilyn nance 1985 brooklyn ny

Visual artist Marilyn Nance has produced exceptional photographs of unique moments in the cultural history of the U.S. and the African Diaspora, and possesses an archive of images of late 20th century African American life. A two-time finalist for the W. Eugene Smith Award in Humanistic Photography for her body of work on African American spiritual culture in America, Nance has photographed the Black Indians of New Orleans, an African village in South Carolina, churches in Brooklyn, and the first Black church in America. Her work can be found in the collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and the Library of Congress. Nance’s photographs have been published in The World History of Photography, History of Women in Photography, and The Black Photographers Annual. Nance is the recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships in Photography (2000 and 1989), Nonfiction Literature (1993), and the New York State Council of the Arts Individual Artists Grant (1987). A graduate of New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (Tisch School of the Arts), Nance served as the Curator of Photography for the Digital Schomburg Web Project, selecting for Internet publication, over 500 images of 19th century African Americans. Additionally, Nance holds a B.F.A. in Communications Graphic Design from Pratt Institute, and an M.F.A. in Photography from the Maryland Institute College of Art. She is the matriarch of the intergenerational, interdisciplinary art collective, The Santana Project. Photo CreditL Marilyn Nance, Brooklyn NY 1985 © Albert Chong



Amma MckenAmma McKenn

In 2009, Amma was selected as one of the recipients of the nation’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts, the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship. Amma holds several roles and titles in Yoruba, including the title of Akpon, a lead singer and officiator for the drumming and dancing celebrations. Amma became the first African American female Akpon to produce a musical recording of the traditional songs, titled Alaako Oso: Owner of the Songs is Eloquent. Amma is the director and co-founder of Omiyesa, a cultural music group located in New York, where she offers a wide range of apprenticeships, workshops, and lecture-demonstrations in Afro-Cuban and Orisa songs, dance, and music. Sought after to lead bembes (dancing celebrations) throughout the U.S. and the Caribbean she preserves the traditional songs of Yoruba and helps participants connect with the history and spiritual context of the tradition. Amma is also the founder of Abeokuta Enterprise, a textile and clothing design company that produces African-inspired, contemporary and traditional African garments for men, women, and children. Customers have included Queen Latifah, Iyanla Vanzant, Angela Bassett, Phyliss Yvonne Stickney, and Rita Marley.



Xenobia BaileyXenobia Bailey

Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Xenobia Bailey studied Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, where she became fascinated by the craftsmanship and sounds of the cultures of Africa, Asia, South America, and India. She later studied Industrial Design at Pratt Institute, in Brooklyn, New York, where she was introduced to lifestyle possibilities through design. Today, the NYC-based Bailey is best known for eclectic crocheted hats, large-scale mandalas, and tents consisting of colorful concentric circles and repeating patterns. Her designs draw influences from Africa, China, and Native American and Eastern philosophies, with undertones of the domestic aesthetic of her mother and other African American rural and urban homemakers, and of the 1960′s and funk visual aesthetic. Bailey has been an artist-in-residence at Pittsburgh’s Society for Contemporary Craft, at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation in New York City. She has exhibited at the Studio Museum in Harlem; the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta; and the Jersey City Museum. Her work is in the permanent collections at Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and Museum of Art and Design, in New York City, and the Allentown Art Museum, Pennsylvania.



Shani JamilaShani Jamila

Shani Jamila is an artist, cultural worker and staunch human rights advocate. Her career and studies have taken her to 35 countries over five continents, a journey that is reflected in her artistic production, community work and media commentary. For six years, Shani hosted and produced a weekly talk show on the Pacifica Radio network (WPFW). Her broadcast interviews included Susan L. Taylor, Iyanla Vanzant, Dr. Michael Eric Dyson, Dick Gregory, Patricia Smith, Dead Prez and an array of other leading thinkers, artists and activists. She also co-hosted WPFW’s Black Soul Mondays, a program that provided an outlet for underground music and rare grooves. Her incisive and inspirational voice has been featured on many other media outlets including C-SPAN and Hard Knock Radio. She is currently a regular contributor to The Spin on New York City’s WBAI 99.5FM. Shani earned a Master’s degree in Africana Cultural Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles and a certification from the International Institute for Human Rights in Strasbourg, France. She has been awarded multiple grants for post-graduate study at institutions including Cornell University and the University of the West Indies in Jamaica and Trinidad. Her work has received international recognition in publications such as the Trinidad Guardian and Express newspapers, the London based literary magazine Sable, and ESSENCE — as “One of the 35 Most Remarkable Women in the World.”



Sabine BlaizinSabine Blaizin

DJ Sabine’s work focuses on the exposure and pleasures of African Diasporic music. Brooklyn Mecca and Oyasound are a few of her creative projects. DJ Sabine’s mainstay and cultivation has been the monthly event Brooklyn Mecca, which has been coined the home of “Grassroots Dance Culture”. Most recently, Sabine has joined the Ocha Records label as their new Brand Marketing Director and DJ/Producer. Her Oyasound Ep is currently in the works. DJ Sabine spins Global Soul: House, Afrotech, Afrobeat, Haitian Roots and other diasporic tunes. Main influences are her spirit guides, ancestors, and warrior women. Her ear for music soothes the innate part of herself and others that honors the sounds of drums, the power of words, and the healing effect of conjuring up pure positive feeling and emotion. She has had the great opportunity to spin nationally in over 14 cities in the U.S. including NYC, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Memphis, and internationally in Montreal, Dakar, Haiti, & Cancun.



Manuela A2Manuela Arciniegas

Manuela Arciniegas is a drummer, songwriter, singer and dancer specializing in Afro-Dominican palos and Afro-Puerto Rican bomba. Manuela graduated from Harvard University in 2001 and is a Magnet Presidential Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center pursuing a PhD in Ethnomusicology, focusing on the healing and empowering aspects of Afro-Caribbean traditional music. An adjunct professor at John Jay College Music Department, Manuela has won awards for her combination of arts and social justice, including the 2008 Urban Artist Initiative and the Wagner School of Public Leadership’s Social Justice Fellowship.  She is also the Community Outreach Fellow for Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, and the Founder and Director of Legacy Women, an all-women’s traditional Afro-Caribbean music ensemble that seeks to empower women and girls throughout NYC by developing their musicianship and cultural awareness. Manuela is a proud mother of 3 and a priestess in the Afro-Cuban Congo tradition of Palo Mayombe.



Erica Sewell1920484_10152335802369623_1207058500_n

Erica Sewell is founder of Escape Artist, a creative consulting firm specializing in fashion, visual culture, education, editorial, career and talent development. Sewell has been in the global fashion industry in various capacities over the past 15 years; from Head Designer of the Isaac Mizrahi for Target line, to managing Cape Town Fashion Week in South Africa. Her fashion work also extends to labels such as Armani Exchange, Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Kenneth Cole, Loyale (organic luxury brand), and as an advisor to design programs for Marc Ecko Enterprises. In academia, Sewell has been the Assistant Director of Career Services at Parsons The New School for Design, and Assistant Chair/Adjunct Faculty for the Fashion Department at The Art Institute of New York. Sewell currently recruits and develops creative talent for Ann Taylor/ LOFT, and is working on publishing a forthcoming book about careers in fashion with Co-Author/Film Wardrober, Carmia Marshall (of Sistah’s Harlem New York and Sex And The City). Her work and collaborations have been featured in Elle South Africa, Vogue Magazine, The New York Times, ArtForum, and on The Oprah Winfrey Show.



Kelly ThomasKelly Thomas

Theater artist and educator, Kelly Thomas, conceives interactive, imaginative, and transformative performance experiences. Activating a background in women’s studies, ritual theater, Afro-Diasporic culture, and holistic healing, Kelly’s soul-centered approach creates an environment of connectedness and comfort in the classroom, on the stage and anywhere she goes!  Kelly is a graduate of NYU’s Program in Educational Theatre, a member of the Body Ecology Performance Ensemble, and the Foundress of HelloBeautiful Healing Ministry.








Monifa BandeleMonifa Bandele

Senior Campaign Director for, Monifa Bandele has over a decade of experience in policy analysis, communications, organizing, and project management working with groups like the Brennan Center for Justice, Peoples Hurricane Relief Fund, and the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation.

Started in May 2006, is an organization with more than 1 million members, 1,000 contributing bloggers, and more than a hundred aligned national organizations, working together to increase family economic security, to end discrimination against women and mothers, and to help ensure all children can thrive. With a social media reach of more than 3.5 million readers, has named’s website one of the “Top 100 Websites For Women” for four years in a row.







Melissa Mark Viverito

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito, District 8

Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, currently serves as the Speaker of the New York City Council, the first Puerto Rican and Latina to hold a citywide elected position. She represents the 8th District, which includes El Barrio/East Harlem and the South Bronx. She worked for over two decades in local activism, nonprofit organizations and labor before being elected to the City Council in 2005. In 2009, she was elected to her second term in the City Council, during which she served as Chair of the Committee on Parks and Recreation, the founding Co-Chair of the Progressive Caucus and as a member of the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus. In 2011, she was one of four Council Members to pioneer the first-ever Participatory Budgeting process in New York City. She is a graduate of Columbia College at Columbia University and Baruch College, City University of New York, where she studied Public Administration through the National Urban Fellows Program.


NYC Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, District 35Laurie Cumbo

Laurie A. Cumbo is a Brooklyn born and raised cultural leader, entrepreneur, activist, college professor, educator, lecturer and small business owner working in the not-for-profit sector who is now serving as New York City Councilwoman representing District 35. Ms. Cumbo has dedicated her life to community development and preserving the dynamic elements of diversity that make Brooklyn, New York what it is today. At the age of twenty-two, she developed MoCADA, Brooklyn’s first Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts. MoCADA’s programs now include, outdoor film festivals, after-school programs, mural projects, walking tours, and bus tours with Braggin’ About Brooklyn, in an effort to bring locals and tourists alike to Bedford-Stuyvesant. Ms. Cumbo’s dedication to underserved communities and bringing people of all backgrounds together to discover their commonalities continues to be at the forefront of her priorities. Ms. Cumbo has led an effort to turn public housing into an ideal venue for cultural events, in which she privately raised $150,000 to provide monthly cultural programming by world-class musicians and performers in the community centers and outdoor spaces. In 2012, she raised $250,000 to create monthly concerts and block parties in collaboration with the Business Improvement Districts throughout Central Brooklyn in order to attract locals and tourists alike to support local businesses. She is an alumna of Achieving Leadership’s Purpose (ALP), Jack and Jill of America Brooklyn Chapter, and Delta Sigma Theta Brooklyn Chapter Teen Lift, and is a former graduate professor in the School of Art & Design at Pratt Institute.



Maurine KnightonMaurine Knighton

Maurine Knighton has worked in the non-profit sector as a senior administrator, fund-raiser and consultant since 1987.  She is the Senior Vice President and Program Director, Arts and Culture, at the Nathan Cummings Foundation, a national foundation pursuing social and economic justice.  At NCF, she directs the Arts and Culture grantmaking portfolio and also manages the Foundation’s communications, IT, human resources, administration and operations.  Immediately prior to joining the Foundation, she was the Senior Vice President for Program and Nonprofit Investment at the Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone (UMEZ), where she was responsible for overseeing the organization’s arts and cultural sector efforts in the Upper Manhattan communities of Central and West Harlem, East Harlem, Washington Heights and Inwood.  She is a board member of Grantmakers in the Arts and a former board member of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters.  Ms. Knighton also serves as the Executive Producer for Dance and Be Still Arts, the literary and performing arts organization founded by poet Sekou Sundiata.




 *Program subject to change.



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