A people-powered department is nothing without its people. The USDAC is an evolving act of collective imagination, conceived by many. The following people, along with our Cultural Agents and members of the National Cabinet,  are helping hold it together and bring it forth.


Office of instigation

Chief Instigator  (aka Deputy Secretary Norman Beckett)

Chief Instigator  (aka Deputy Secretary Norman Beckett)

Adam Horowitz is a “projectician”—a co-creator of sector-blurring, border-crossing projects rooted in storytelling, cultural exchange, and social change. Adam was Co-Executive Director of Bowery Arts + Science—which programs the Bowery Poetry Club in NYC—and has worked with numerous organizations at the intersection of arts, education, and social change, including the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, Ashoka, and The Future Project, where he was a founding team member.  As a performer, musician, and researcher of intercultural exchange, he has worked with ensembles in Europe and in South America, presenting original work in forests, churches, public plazas, and living rooms, as well as traditional theaters. He is an Artist in Residence at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at NYU and the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Adam holds a BA from Yale University and was a Fulbright Scholar in Colombia, where he wrote about performance and politics for Theater Magazine, devised original theater pieces with teens, and printed out hundreds of posters for an imagined entity known as the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture…

Chief Policy Wonk

Chief Policy Wonk

Chief Weaver of Social Fabric

Chief Weaver of Social Fabric

Rhapsodist of Wherewithal

Rhapsodist of Wherewithal

 
Deputy of Fulfillment

Deputy of Fulfillment

Action Maestr@

Action Maestr@

Arlene Goldbard is a writer, speaker, consultant and cultural activist whose focus is the intersection of culture, politics and spirituality. Her blog and other writings may be downloaded from her Web site: www.arlenegoldbard.com. She was born in New York and grew up near San Francisco. Her two newest books on art’s public purpose—The Wave and The Culture of Possibility: Art, Artists & The Future were published in spring 2013. Prior books include New Creative Community: The Art of Cultural Development, Community, Culture and Globalization, an international anthology published by the Rockefeller Foundation, Crossroads: Reflections on the Politics of Culture, and Clarity, a novel. Her essays have been published in In Motion Magazine, Art in America, Theatre, Tikkun, and many other journals. She has addressed many academic and community audiences in the U.S. and Europe on topics ranging from the ethics of community arts practice to the development of integral organizations. She has provided advice and counsel to hundreds of community-based organizations, independent media groups, and public and private funders and policymakers including the Rockefeller Foundation, the Independent Television Service, Appalshop and dozens of others. She serves as President of the Board of Directors of The Shalom Center.

Jess Solomon is a systems-thinker, creative facilitator and instigator of arts and social change projects. As the Executive Director of Art in Praxis, she leverages art, culture and design in the practice of organizational and community development. Based in Baltimore, MD but working nationally, Jessica is recognized as a skilled creative facilitator and emerging leader in community cultural development. She has served as a grant panelist, steering committee member, and advisor to several arts and cultural institutions including the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, Nathan Cummings Foundation, Alternate ROOTS and The Clarice Performing Arts Center. Jessica is a Founding Cultural Agent at the USDAC and a 2015 National Arts Strategies Creative Community Fellow. She's received her MS in Organization Development from American University.

 

Yolanda Wisher is a poet, bandleader, and blackladyteacher. Wisher is the author of Monk Eats an Afro and the co-editor of the anthology Peace is a Haiku Song. Born in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, Wisher was raised in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, where she was named the county's first poet laureate in 1999. A Leeway Foundation Art and Change grantee, Wisher holds degrees in English, Creative Writing, and Black Studies from Lafayette College and Temple University. Her writing has appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, GOOD Magazine, Fence, Hanging Loose, Ploughshares, Harriet: The Blog, and in the anthologies Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade, Lavanderia: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Word, Stand Our Ground: Poems for Trayvon Martin and Marissa Alexander, Gravyland: Writing Beyond the Curriculum in the City of Brotherly Love, and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. From 2010 to 2015, Wisher served as the Director of Art Education for the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program and spearheaded the organization's teaching artist faculty, arts integration, and youth entrepreneurship program models. As a former high school English teacher, radio show host, and festival director, Wisher has utilized poetry as a conduit for community-building and youth empowerment for over fifteen years. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband Mark Palacio, a photographer and doublebassist, and their son Thelonious. 

Lea A. Gilmore is a professional vocalist; non-profit guru; lecturer on human rights, as well as women's reproductive rights, focusing on communities of color.  She is also a  committed  actionist on issues affecting underserved individuals and communities,  Lea was named by Essence Magazine  as one of "25 Women Shaping the World " for her human rights work around the world.   As a singer, Lea lead over 500 Gospel concerts in Belgium alone to raise funds for The Damien Foundation, who provide treatment and services to victims of tuberculosis and leprosy in Africa, Asia and the Americas.   Ms. Gilmore has lectured and performed in The Democratic Republic of the Congo (where a documentary was filmed); France (as a special guest of the US State Department), Switzerland, The UK, Germany, Italy and more.   She is a former Deputy Director of the ACLU of Maryland and served on the Maryland Advisory Board to the US Commission on Civil Rights.   Lea is the founder and director of "Umoja Musica," an international  project that promotes peace and nonviolence through the sharing of traditional music across cultures.    She is also a writer and radio host.   Ms. Gilmore is the recipient of many awards, including one of the first recipients of the James Baldwin Civil Rights Medal for her commitment and work to ensure marriage for all.  She is mildly obsessed with trivia and how things work.  Lea lives in Nottingham, MD with her husband David and two sons Jonathan and Gabriel- Michael.

Kate McNeely is a social change strategist, activist, project manager, storyteller and media wrangler. She's done media/communications work for nonprofits around the US and direct actions in NYC (recently: People's Climate March, Flood Wall Street, Millions March NYC), has a Master's in Public Administration/Urban Policy from the Maxwell School, and a love for making all moments costumed or collaged. She co-founded the New Orleans Ladies Arm Wrestling and 5 Borough Ladies Arm Wrestling (NYC) collectives and has been seen arm-wrestling for gender equality under the monikers Ruth Hater Ginsberg and Justin Beaver. Currently she is the Chief Existential Officer for Beautiful Trouble's Climate Ribbon Project, serves on the steering committee of People's Climate Arts, is a core-collective member of Rising Tide NYC, and a founding member of the White Noise Collective chapter in NYC. Coffee is a critical part of her life. 

 


Action Squad

A growing group of engaged volunteers are coming together as the Action Squad to activate and enable the USDAC's continued activities and growth.  Interested in joining? We're always recruiting for new roles . Or if you have an idea, send us a note about how you'd like to get involved.

Current Action Squad Members include:

  • Josh Adler, Poet-in-Residence (New York, NY)
  • Liliana Ashman, Story Hunter-Gatherer (New York, NY)
  • Dorit Avganim, Strategic Advisor of Treasure (New York, NY)
  • Jordan Cambell, Artreach Coordinator (Washington, DC)
  • Jax Gil, Sparkitect (Providence, RI)
  • Liz Green, Magister of Matchmaking (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Sara Harvey, Secretary of Tweets and Pokes (New York, NY)
  • Kristen Scott Kennedy, Artreach Coordinator (Washington, DC)
  • Liz Maxwell, Chief Dot Connector (New York, NY)
  • Marinna Guzy, Media Editor (Corvallis, OR)
  • Shawn Lent, Artreach Coordinator (Chicago, IL)
  • Karie Liao, Artreach Coordinator (New York, NY)
  • Laurenellen McCann, Artreach Coordinator (Washington, DC)
  • Angela Miles, Master of Swag (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Jalessa Mungin, Deputy Deputy (Philadelphia, PA)
  • Allison Schifani, Lead Initiative Investigator, Bureau of Speculative Acts and Technologies of Empathy (Cleveland, OH)
  • Ralph Stalter, Jr., Artreach Coordinator (Las Vegas, NV)
  • Les TalusanMinister of Funk (Washington, DC)
  • Vanessa Urbina, Embajador al Español (Miami, FL)
  • Jenna Zhu, Interpreter of Discourse and Expression (NYC, NY)

The USDAC is an ongoing project shaped by many. Other catalytic collaborators include Stephanie Johnstone, Cordelia Istel, Kathy Engel, Susan Clark, and Alissa Schwartz.  Through interviews and conversations, dozens of individuals have contributed to its development (though are not responsible for current programming). They include, but are not limited to: Marcy Arlin, Caron Atlas, Daniel Banks, Jack Becker, Eric Booth, Andrew Boyd, Kevin Bott, Alexa Bradley, Jeff Chang, Emma Shaw Crane, Stephen Duncomb, Kathy Engel, Lee Sunday Evans, Caleb Hammons, Jonathan Harris, Bob Holman, Morgan Jenness, Stanley Katz, Erica Kohl-Arenas, Liz Lerman, Todd Lester, Roberta Levitow, Jessica Litwak, Randy Martin, Hannah Merriman, Grace Needlman, Rachel Parish, Rachel Plattus, Marlene Ramirez-Cancio, Lisandra Maria Ramos, Yosi Sargent, Levana Saxon, Alissa Schwartz, Baraka Sele, Niegel Smith, Doris Sommers, Aaron Stern, Molly Sturges, Caridad Svich, Carlton Turner, Duncan Wall, and others. Special thanks also to artists and former Action Squad members Jeff Placencia, Christie Goshe, Jessica Halfyard, Bob Bland, David Tomassini, Beth Brodsky, Melissa McClung, Lauren Zanedis, Soo Hyun Noh, Max Powers, Nikhil Melnechuk, Amanda Damewood, Claire Arkin, Veena Vasista, David Greenson, Rafa Kern, Monica Montgomery, Mary Morgan, and others who've lent talent and time to the USDAC.