Lissa Frenkel is President & CEO of the Charleston Gaillard Center. Previously, Frenkel served as managing director of the Park Avenue Armory, a premier cultural institution producing and commissioning unconventional works in the performing and visual arts in Manhattan. During her tenure with the Armory, she was instrumental in building its operating budget from $6 million to $27 million and in leading the $165 million in capital redevelopment projects that invested in the adaptive reuse and restoration of the building.
Dr. Tonya M. Matthews is President and CEO of the International African American Museum (IAAM) located in Charleston, SC at the historically sacred site of Gadsden’s Wharf, one of our nation’s most prolific former slave ports. As a champion of authentic, empathetic storytelling of American history, IAAM is one of the nation’s newest platforms for the disruption of institutionalized racism as America continues the walk toward “a more perfect union.”
A thought-leader in inclusive frameworks, social entrepreneurship, and education, Matthews has written articles and book chapters across these varied subjects. She is founder of The STEMinista Project, a movement to engage girls in their future with STEM careers. Matthews is also a poet and is included in 100 Best African American Poems (2010) edited by Nikki Giovanni. Matthews received her Ph.D. in biomedical engineering from Johns Hopkins University and her B.S.E. in engineering from Duke University, alongside a certificate in African/African American Studies.
Founding member and former principal dancer, Virginia Johnson, was appointed Artistic Director of Dance Theatre of Harlem by Arthur Mitchell in 2010. Born in Washington, DC, she graduated from the Academy of the Washington School of Ballet and briefly attended New York University as a University Scholar before joining DTH in 1969.Universally recognized as one of the great ballerinas of her generation she was cast in classical, neoclassical and contemporary works but is perhaps best known for her performances in the ballets Giselle, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Fall River Legend, each of which were videotaped for broadcast. While still performing, Johnson ventured into choreography but her interest in journalism led her to Fordham University where she is pursuing a degree in communications. After retiring from performing, an Independent Artist Grant from The Field led to an exploration of arts presenting. At the School of Visual Arts Johnson studied serigraphy, film making and television production before the opportunity to create POINTE magazine presented itself. She was founding editor-in-chief of that magazine from 2000-2009. Her honors include a Young Achiever Award from the National Council of Women, Outstanding Young Woman of America, the Dance Magazine Award, a Pen and Brush Achievement Award, the Washington Performing Arts Society’s 2008-2009 Pola Nirenska Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2009 Martha Hill Fund Mid-Career Award and honorary doctorates from Cornish College of the Arts, Swarthmore and Juilliard. She is an honorary member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and The Society, Inc. In February2016 she was honored by First Lady Michelle Obama at the White house for her contribution to the field of dance. In 2018 Johnson held the Brackett Visiting Artist Chair at the University of Oklahoma and is the recipient of the Mary Day Award from the Washington Ballet and the 2019 CORPS de Ballet International Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2020 she was presented with a medal of honor from the Actor’s Fund. She serves on the Advisory Board of The Center for Ballet and the Arts at NYU, and Dance NYC and serves on the Board of Works & Process.
Anna has been involved in the performing arts as both an artist and arts administrator for over twenty years. She produced Carmen de Lavallade’s solo show, As I Remember It, an intimate portrait of this legendary artist. Anna previously served as the Managing Director of 651 ARTS, a presenting/producing arts organization dedicated to celebrating contemporary performing arts of the African Diaspora. While at 651 ARTS, she co-produced numerous projects, including the highly regarded national tour of FLY: Five First Ladies of Dance.
Anna has served as a consultant providing strategic planning and fundraising guidance to various non-profit arts organizations, including Urban Bush Women and the Weeksville Heritage Center. She currently serves on the board of the Association of Performing Arts Presenters. She has served as a Hub Site for the New England Foundation for the Arts’ National Dance Project grant program. After receiving her Juris Doctor from the University of Dayton School of Law, Anna became the Artist Representative for the Dayton Contemporary Dance Company, a company she performed with for three years (DCDC2). She is a licensed attorney in the State of New York and lives in Harlem with her husband and daughter.