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Staff

Executive Director

Jennifer Kane

Jennifer Kane is an artist, arts advocate, and teacher from Los Angeles, CA and currently resides in Joshua Tree, California. She joins the Arts Connection staff as Executive Director in February of 2018. She received her BA in Fine Arts from Mount St. Mary’s College in 2005 and her MFA in Public Practice from Otis College of Art and Design, both in Los Angeles, CA in 2016.

Her multidisciplinary approach to building community engages people in unexpected, diverse environments to promote broader understanding and connection to self and place. Organizing community outreach events in Peace Corps Thailand in 2006 helped generate her passion for this kind of work. Her skills are wide, ranging from mountain guiding to curriculum development; she continues to teach yoga twice a week in Joshua Tree and Yucca Valley.

Currently Jennifer coordinates a Volunteer Art Program, part-time, for The Joshua Tree Art Innovation Laboratory (JT Lab), a grant funded arts initiative, hosted by Joshua Tree National Park, and is the creator of the weekly Artists’ Tea program.

She recently contributed as a writer to the Mojave Project, and more of her writing can be seen on KCET Artbound. Her paintings are held in private collections across the United States, and she is an active member of multiple artist organizations in the high-desert.

Operations Manager

Saniyyah Thomas

Saniyyah Thomas was born in Camden, New Jersey and raised in the Inland Empire of San Bernardino County. She attended San Bernardino Valley College in 2008 and graduated in 2012 with her Associate of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts in Social and Behavioral Sciences. During the past three years she has worked as a Behavioral Support Specialist for a non-profit company that assists adults with special needs.

As a resident of San Bernardino city, Saniyyah became civically engaged with a group known as San Bernardino Generation Now (SBGN) in 2013-2019, in the efforts to improve the conditions of the city. Within that time, Saniyyah co-founded and co-facilitated a community outreach program called Spirits and Arts, for three years, at the Garcia Center for the Arts. Saniyyah and her co-founders’ purpose for the program was to engage and provide an affordable and creative event for the patrons of San Bernardino, and they focused their efforts to encourage community involvement in the arts, for all levels of artistic ability, as well as to create a platform and venue for local artists to gain experience in teaching an art based class.

Saniyyah continues her involvement and engagement in San Bernardino with two other organizations. She now serves as a board member for the League of Women Voters of the San Bernardino Area, and is the Membership Chair and Social Media Coordinator. And has taken on secondary employment as the Operations Manager for Arts Connection.

Director of Programs

Marie Bobin

Marie Bobin is an arts consultant with 15 years of experience working as a creative producer and cultural programming specialist. After starting her career producing for the Finborough Theatre in London, Marie worked for the Getty Museum’s education and registrar departments before being appointed Director of Operations for the Jules Verne Film Festival.

She was the founding producer of TEDx Culver City and the creative producer for the Skirball Cultural Center where she produced and programmed exhibition-related programs as well as film, music, and theater series. Marie received her BA in Theater Studies from Emerson College and her MM in International Arts Management from Southern Methodist University and HEC Montreal. She is co-board chair of Mil-Tree veterans project and is currently producing the NEA Big Read Morongo Basin.

About KayJo Creatives

Poetry Out Loud Coordinators

KayJo Creatives is an innovative media company with a mission to create community and reveal the beauty of humanity. In addition to creating a range of media deliverables for their clients, they host joyful and engaging workshops and events that empower diverse creators at all stages of development in the Inland Empire. KayJo Creatives is currently producing its first feature-length film, I, Too. The documentary highlights a series of 100 interviews with African American Men from Florida and California.

natalie graham

Dr. Natalie Graham

Production Director, Dr. Natalie Graham is Associate Professor for African American Studies at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF). She is also a widely-published scholar of African American Studies, focusing on race, masculinity, and regional identities who has taught cultural studies at the college level for over 12 years.  She has successfully coordinated and implemented more than 10 on-campus events in the last five years, including two all-day interactive symposia with over 300 participants each: “Hip Hop’s Rarest Elements: Music, Culture, and Rhetoric” in 2015 and “Black in Bloom: A Black Arts Symposium” in 2018. She is an award-winning author and performer who has toured nationally with her collection of poems, Begin with a Failed Body.

Keya Vance

Creative Director, Keya Vance is a painter, photographer, and director. She has been invited to co-facilitate visual arts workshops at Cal State University, Fullerton and to screen her short film, “Underneath There is a Wound.”

She has led group painting sessions in the San Bernardino area for more than 150 people in the last year and hopes to continue to use the visual arts to elevate marginalized voices and spark conversation around social issues

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