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Mentoring Tomorrow's Arts Leaders

Updated: Nov 17, 2021

As part of our Diversity in Arts Leadership (DIAL) program, Metro Arts staff aims to deepen interns’ experience by including a mentorship component. In addition to being placed with a leading arts organization, each intern will receive mentorship from someone in their desired field. Staff asked each incoming intern to describe their “dream mentor” and then set out to pair them with a Nashville arts leader who fit the criteria.

With our sincere gratitude, Metro Arts is pleased to introduce our 2021 DIAL Mentors. We thank them for agreeing to help shape the futures of these young arts leaders, and for the gifts of their time and talents in the service of the Diversity in Arts Leadership program.

Janine Christiano

Strategic Funding and Initiatives Manager, Metro Arts Nashville

Janine is an arts administrator and community advocate with over 10 years of experience. Working at the intersection of art, education, and community building, Janine led the College and Career Pathways initiative and Community Gallery at the Armory Center for the Arts in Pasadena, Calif., before returning to school to earn her Master of Education in Community, Development, and Action from Vanderbilt University. At Vanderbilt she focused on community-based research methods, theories and practices of philanthropy, and remote education instructional methods as a BOLD (Blended and Online Learning and Design) Fellow.

Janine currently manages Metro Arts’ strategic funding and initiatives team, which includes grantmaking, Thrive artist project funding, Racial Equity in Arts Leadership, youth investments, and community partnerships.

Playwright and Board Member, Actors Bridge Ensemble

VP of Programs and Outreach, Tennessee Kidney Foundation

Cynthia C Harris, MPH is a writer, healing artist, conjure woman and proud Southerner.

Ms. Harris has been committed to the empowerment of women and girls through art, education, and research over the past 18 years. Ms. Harris' career includes various research and program management roles with Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Meharry Medical College, Tennessee State University, and Tennessee Kidney Foundation. She has extensive experience designing and implementing educational workshops in a variety of community settings for youth, women of color, faith and organizational leaders as well as emerging community activists. Her workshops center on arts based civic engagement, health disparities, and community building. Cynthia has trained several hundred individuals through community sponsored gatherings, collaborations, conferences and arts festivals.

Cynthia joined the board of Actor's Bridge Ensemble in 2018, where she continues to create safe and creative spaces for young women through their Act Like a Grrrl Program. Her

original works, Phrases of Womanhood, Why Won’t She Leave?, and How to Catch a Flying Woman, explore issues of gender, Southern identity, women’s intimacy, spirituality, community and African heritage.

Her latest work (working title: The Calling is in the Body), scheduled to debut in 2021, focuses on the life of Deidre Williams, the first Black person to become an HIV positive advocate in Tennessee. The performance is being developed in participation

with Actors Bridge Ensemble’s Director’s Inclusion Initiative and the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production.

Agnes Scott

Executive Director, NeighborHOOD

Agnes L. Scott is a native of Nashville, Tennessee. A matriarchal family structure (including four siblings) gave her a foundation that prepared her to evaluate truth and justice situations that benefit mankind. That foundation also provided a platform for her to learn negotiation skills, lead or follow, attain educational pursuits, develop a great work ethic, learn respect for others, believe in herself and in a higher being, to follow her dreams and to help others do the same. Ms. Scott serves as the Executive Director of NeighborHOOD (Hands On Our Destinies), a nonprofit Nashville cooperative entrepreneurship and arts organization.

LaTara Sturgis

After earning her law degree and working several years as a domestic relations and family law attorney, focusing on aiding victims of domestic violence, LaTara Sturgis fell in love with photography. It started as a creative outlet to add joy to her life and balance

the emotional toll of her professional work, but quickly grew into a thriving business. Four years later, she was laid off and took the circumstances as a sign to jump into full-time photography.

She’s now been a photographer for 11 years and has photographed hundreds of weddings, countless families, and small business owners needing beautiful imagery to grow their businesses. LaTara is a frequent speaker at boutique conferences, speaking on the unique legal issues that creative business owners face. She’s passionate about helping entrepreneurs, particularly women, thrive in businesses and reach their full potential. She also seeks out opportunities to engage in conversations on social justice issues and runs an online social justice book club of over 300 members.

Charity Ward

Area Director, Notes for Notes

Charity has a rich background in music education as she began teaching youth vocals and guitar in her hometown of Detroit, MI, in her high school years. After receiving her degree in English with a double minor in Commercial Music and Africana Studies from Tennessee State University in the city of Nashville, her love for youth development deepened as she served as the site director for Youth Life Learning Center and had the privilege of empowering youth in both an academic and faith based space. As a singer/songwriter and performing artist, Charity has always weaved music into the educational capacities in which she served, but has found the perfect marriage of music and youth development at Notes for Notes, where she now serves as an area director over Detroit, Chicago, Nashville and Memphis studios. With a deep passion for culture and a wealth of experience in under-served communities, her greatest mission is to work to move those at the margins to the center and to leave every youth she encounters feeling both seen and inspired. 


To learn more about Diversity in Arts Leadership and meet this year’s DIAL interns, view our 2021 intern announcement.

In the coming weeks, we will be highlighting our 2021 DIAL host sites and intern projects. DIAL is a partnership of Metro Arts Nashville, Americans for the Arts, and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The 2021 cycle of the Diversity in Arts Leadership internship program is made possible thanks to the generous support of an anonymous donor, Con Edison, Howard Gilman Foundation, Mertz Gilmore Foundation, and the Kutya Major Foundation.

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