Why did you join the board of ElevArte Community Studio?
ElevArte offers youth and teens a creative outlet and a safe space to think and have faith in their own voice, all in a supportive environment, at no cost at all! I know these experiences will provide them the confidence to express themselves, whether it be in a piece of art, in a public forum, or at home with a loved one. Simply put, I believe in the mission of ElevArte because I didn’t have access to these resources as a youth. It took me a lot longer to develop my own voice. ElevArte’s work uses art to ignite the leadership our youth have within, and I wanted to be a part of that.
How has being on the board of ElevArte Community Studio impacted you?
I’ve been floored by the immense history of the organization and the amount of people touched by their work. Walking through the original office and classroom with founding Executive Director Jean Parisi, hearing her stories as I perused old flyers, photos and teaching props was a blessing. Many friends of mine, including fellow board members, have worked for them, were former students, or have their children attend their programs. People have literally grown up with ElevArte. The deep roots ElevArte has in the community has helped me understand that their history will always be the foundation for its work and success.
Why is it important for young professionals to sit on boards of organizations and what role does diversity play?
In these tough economic times, non-profit organizations are facing the reality of cuts in funding and other resources. How will they adapt? Are we as a community that is ok with the prospect of losing these programs and organizations? What resources and perspectives can I provide? These are questions I hope young professionals can ask themselves. Sitting on the board places you at the forefront of the organization’s work, from overseeing the organization’s budget to planning fundraisers and advocating on its behalf. If we want our organizations to thrive, for the work and values to reflect our own experiences and communities, then joining a board is a way to make it happen.
What has been the highlight of being part of this organization?
The last two sold-out Pozoladas and the annual Dia De Los Muertos processions were truly memorable, but the big highlight for me was producing the spring fundraiser, Art As Our First Language this past May. Our relatively small board banded together to create a fundraiser from scratch that raised over $10,000 for ElevArte. It was humbling to see so many people donate their time, artwork, savory dishes and money to make the event such a success. I know that this event will be an annual tradition, part of ElevArte’s history and future, and I feel honored to have played a part in producing it.
What would you say to potential board members about becoming a board member of ElevArte Community Studio?
Joining the ElevArte board would mean getting on the ground floor of an organization with an illustrious history that is on the rise. A chance to work with ElevArte Executive Director Giselle Mercier and staff, who have infused a fresh, inclusive, vibrant energy to ElevArte’s longstanding, important mission. They would join a family that includes talented artists and teachers, bright young students, involved parents, and a creative and committed group of supporters. And they would be welcomed by a small but strong set of board members eager to hear their ideas and entertain their passions and talents.
I hope to see you at our 2nd Annual Art As Our First Language Spring Fundraiser on Thursday, May 23, 2013 at the Chicago Urban Arts Society (600 West Cermak). If you are interested in helping us make this event a success as a sponsor, or would like to talk to me about joining our board, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.