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.
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.
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.
Regional Program Director T. Faye Griffin (pronounced “tee fay”) is a multi-hyphenated creative with an extensive arts management background in performance, literary, and visual arts. Her work in television as a writer-producer has earned her three NAACP Image Awards. She now leads Arts Connection’s regional outreach and program management in the High Desert.
A proud product of South Central Los Angeles, T. Faye currently resides in Apple Valley where she hopes developing inclusive and accessible programming will help build stronger community bonds, enhance the region visually, and “broaden pathways for the High Desert’s creative community to be seen widely, heard clearly, and compensated fairly.”
Regional Program Director – Morongo Basin
Elena Yu is an interdisciplinary artist and arts organizer living in Twentynine Palms CA. She is the Morongo Basin Regional Program Director for Arts Connection. Her arts organizing emphasis is on developing public programs and exhibitions that consider and care for all aspects of a community ecosystem; bringing together local residents, artists, partnering organizations, and sites around experimental contemporary art.
Before joining Arts Connection, she was the Assistant Director of Programming for High Desert Test Sites, and has also worked as a teaching artist with Groundwork Arts and the Hammer Museum.
Elena is originally from Culver City, CA an holds a BA in Art from UCLA. She serves on the board of Copper Mountain Mesa Community Foundation and Bezerk Productions. Making clothes, hiking with her dog Kiko and looking at lichen are all also important parts of her life and practice.
Arts Education Program Coordinator
Andrea ‘Dre’ Bonales is a 22 year-old artist from Rialto, CA who enjoys working with many mediums, but her main forms are animation and film. She graduated from Riverside City College in 2021 with a degree in Film and Television along with a degree in Fine and Applied Arts. Since then she has worked on a variety of different projects such as directing her first film “The Core,” with the help of close friends and acquaintances.
Currently, she is working with Arts Connection as the Arts Education Program Coordinator and as a Teaching Artist. She has presented her various skill sets within and outside her community. In November of 2020 she released her comic book series “Torn” which pushed her to sell her work in local art events. With her connections to the film industry she was presented work on projects amongst other artists such as DJ Khaled, Law Roach and Comedy Central.
Although her time experiencing these events may seem short she has gained a great deal of knowledge through them. She hopes to continue her growth by gaining a Bachelor’s in Animation and working within the industry for a while to eventually come back to her Inland Empire community and teach her knowledge to the youth.
Yulissa Mendoza is a multi hyphenated artist and community engager who was born and raised in San Bernardino. The foundation of any work that they do is to create a safe space that serves as a building block in order to amplify voices, empower marginalized communities, and carve space for those often overlooked. As Art Director at the Arts Connection they developed Blocks of Care as a way to create movement and change within the city through art by engaging with 13 artists over a 5 month period. They have also developed and lead the Artist-in-Residence (AIR) program and space at the Garcia Center to mentor and provide supportive resources for local artists to help build their platform and skills by assisting the artists in facilitating community engagements such as workshops, galleries, and gatherings. Yulissa is also actively involved in the regional community, having curated The Artlands first ever pride gallery event in Redlands and was recognized by the city via a proclamation for their increasing efforts in creating space for the LGBTQ+ community. Through their botanical art, they have provided mutual aid for community movements and members such as slowbloom coffee co-op, BLM, and local LGBTQ+ orgs.
Willis Salomon is a visual artist, photographer, and creative based in the Inland Empire and Los Angeles areas. He grew up in the IE area but has also spent time in Hawai’i. He studied Visual Communications from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles.
Prior to the Arts Connection, he spent his time in Los Angeles in commercial fashion, doing art direction, photography, wardrobe styling and set design. As well as a visual display artist in various retail locations.
Currently he is a freelance photographer, with a focus on fashion and product, as well as food and bev. And also consults for social media marketing for small businesses. If he’s not out exploring in the outdoors, he is working on his personal art practice which involves art installation and photography.
Romaine Washington (she/her) M.Ed. grew up in San Bernardino and has been a high school English teacher in the public school system for over 20 years. Washington has served as a Poetry Out Loud (POL) judge in both San Bernardino and Riverside County and was a POL coach at Los Osos High School in 2020 and 2021.
She has two collections of poetry, Purgatory Has an Address, 2021 and Sirens in Her Belly 2015 and her writing has appeared in numerous publications. She is a fellow of the The Watering Hole, South Carolina and the Inland Area Writing Project, UCRiverside. Her writing has provided opportunities to share her work on NPR, and KPFK and on a National Poetry Slam team.
Washington believes that open mics help create open minds and hearts. We listen with kindness and care and share our writing in hopes of being understood. It is a perfect venue where honest conversations can thrive. Poetry Out Loud is an extension of the basic concepts of open mic and invites well-established poets into the conversation.
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