Jennifer Kane is an artist, arts organizer, and teacher from Los Angeles, CA and currently resides in Joshua Tree. She serves as the Executive Director of Arts Connection, the Arts Council of San Bernardino County. Jennifer received her BA in Fine Arts from Mount St. Mary’s College and her MFA in Public Practice from Otis College of Art and Design. She is a recent graduate of Arts for LA’s ACTIVATE Cultural Policy Fellowship program.
Prior professional leadership roles include coordinating the Volunteer Art Program for The Joshua Tree Art Innovation Laboratory (JT Lab), an NEA-grant funded arts initiative, hosted by Joshua Tree National Park, from 2016-2018. During this time, she created the now permanent park program – Artists’ Tea.
Jennifer’s multidisciplinary practice approaches community engagement as a dynamic form of art: creating space and opportunities for people to gather in unexpected environments through diverse methods and mediums to promote broader understanding and connection to self, others, and place. Organizing community outreach events in Peace Corps Thailand from 2006-2008 helped generate her passion for this deeply relational work. Jennifer further developed her skills as a teacher of geology, human history, and ecology as a guide for over a decade in the Sierra Nevada range of California. It is her work here that roots her attention to our deep connections to the land and each other.
Jennifer’s writing has been featured in KCET Artbound and as part of the Mojave Project. Her paintings are held in private collections across the world. Jennifer is a proud board member of Californians for the Arts, the California Arts Advocates, and the Board of Advocates for the Robert and Frances Fullerton Museum of Art (RAFFMA).
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.
Marie Bobin is an arts management consultant and the Morongo Basin Regional Program Director for Arts Connection, the Arts Council of San Bernardino County. Before joining Arts Connection, she was the Creative Producer for the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles where she developed film, theatre and lecture series focused on fostering human connections and building a more just society.
Marie works to remove obstacles for artists and cultural practitioners, and prioritizes cultural projects, which support lasting positive social impact in local communities. Most recently, such projects have included developing and implementing an arts-driven community engagement outreach strategy in support of the 2020 Census and producing the National Endowment for the Arts “Big Read” program in the Morongo Basin for 2 consecutive years.
Marie holds a Masters Degree in International Arts Management from HEC Montreal as well as a BA in Theatre Studies from Emerson College. She serves on the advisory board of Mil-Tree Veterans Project and is grateful every single day to be living near Joshua Tree National Park, land of the Serrano, Chemehuevi, and Cahuilla people.
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.
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.
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
Arts Director, YULISSA MENDOZA is a fashion/portrait photographer as well as botanical artist based out of San Bernardino. The foundation of their work stems from the act of wanting to create safe spaces in order for people to be able to express and explore themselves. Their personal photography delves into the intersections of race, gender, culture, and sexuality.
Communications and Outreach Coordinator, Vanessa Melesio (she/her) is a Latinx/Chicanx, multi-media artist born and raised in the Inland Empire. She works and creates between Los Angeles and San Bernardino County. Her goal is to develop communication strategies across various media platforms to inspire and engage regional artists across San Bernardino County. Vanessa juxtaposes a socio-cultural lens in urban planning while using art as the vehicle for place-making and fostering safe spaces for diverse groups. She looks forward to meeting local artists and strengthening creative spaces in the Southern California region.
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