ARTS AMBASSADORS 2023
The Arts Ambassadors Program is an initiative that trains Newark parents and caregivers from all wards and backgrounds to act as the arts education organizers and ‘HUB’ of their local community, as well as champions for increased Arts Education in their children's schools.
Over the course of six months, our Ambassadors engage in both in-person and virtual classes with experts on different social topics within Arts Education, while partnering with Mentors who assist them in developing a topic that will become an ongoing advocacy project.
Issues/Systems in Arts Education & Public Education
Inclusion and Agency: Students with Special Needs/LGBTQIA Students & Pronouns
Arts Ed Advocacy Tools
Building an ongoing peer learning community
We provide a safe educational space, a warm meal, childcare and a stipend at the end off the program.
“The value this program has had in my life is unmeasurable. I met new friends and like minded peers. I gain the confidence to properly advocate for my child. I learned how to find and read a school budget, what questions to ask and who to ask them to when trying to resolve a problem that pertains to my child's education. I also was able to create a project for a cause I believe in with my peers that could really help my community.”
“This program has shown me what it is to be able to speak out and be able to sit in a room full of other educated people and feel empowered.”
“I do have a voice and can make a significant difference in advocating for my child and other students.”
Markeisha Ross was born and raised in Newark and attended Newark Public Schools. She is the mother of five children. As a parent advocate, she brings awareness to parental rights in Special Education to equip other parents of children with special needs with the tools and skills they need to advocate for their children. This includes her recent book, A Mother’s Struggle in the Public School System, available through most booksellers. She is a partner of Arts Ed Newark, serving on the Engagement Committee, and has completed both our Healing Centered Training Series and Peer Learning Community. She currently resides in Orange, NJ.
Richard Marshall is a true “child of Newark”. He attended several public schools in the area, later returning to pursue his BS in Chemical Engineering from NJIT. After a few years in industrial and corporate settings, he had brought his skills back to the community that raised him through the world of public service and education. Over the last 13 years, Richard has worked in over a dozen Newark schools serving in many different Science/Math/STEM and STEAM capacities of academic instruction and various opportunities as a dance teaching artist, overall leading him to deal with the population-at-large in and out of the classroom. He also produces, manages and hosts many events for different community organizations throughout the state in performance, competition and exhibition that has served thousands.
Alicia Pinnix Robinson is the Founder and Director of Artfikaa, an art initiative that represents the Art of the African Diaspora. Ms. Robinson recently retired as an Art Teacher from Newark Public Schools. During her 26 years there, her leadership and desire to serve the community led to her highest honor; the Governors’ Award for Excellence in Education. Ms. Robinson has been an active member of the International Women's Organization, Zonta, and The National Art Educators Association for over 20 years. Research of Black history and art is Ms. Robinson's passion as well as being an advocate for its inclusion in the arts.
Victoria Marie “Vicki” Fernandez (she/hers) is the Director of Thriving Communities for the Grunin Foundation. In June 2019, Vicki Co-Founded the Nonprofit Professionals of Color Collective with Tyneisha Gibbs (144th and Vine). The Collective seeks to support the whole BIPOC leader with personal and professional development, community support, and access to intentionally curated resources.Vicki is a nonprofit generalist working in the sector for 20 years in a variety of roles. Although her work has focused on a wide range of service areas, including youth development, education and out of school time, health, and capacity building, she has a particular love for the arts.