Equity and Job Mobility in a Pandemic

Recorded On: 06/25/2020

Thursday, June 25, 2020
1:30 p.m. EDT

About this Session

What does a pandemic mean for the growth and career advancement of mid-career leaders of color in the arts field? Local, regional and national learning programs have identified a stellar roster of mid-career candidates who are successfully completing rigorous leadership development programs yet continue to be relegated to marginalizing roles.  So, where do these mid-career leaders of color go when their talents are over looked because of the sector’s unwillingness to confront and dismantle biases—particularly now, when mobility has become hard and job searches have temporarily frozen? 

Learning Objectives
  • Hear insight on how the sector can address the challenges of mobility and growth inherent in this time of recovery--particularly for rising leaders of color.
  • Examine distinctions between “leader development” and “leadership development."
  • Talk through what we all can do to address systemic issues that are more visible now, but always present, and can discourage career advancement.


J. Gibran Villalobos, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago
Kavita Mahoney, City of Indianapolis
Aseelah Shareef, Karamu House

This session is a part of the 2020 Annual Convention and Public Art & Civic Design Conference

Kavita Mahoney

Manager, Garfield Park Art Center, City of Indianapolis

Kavita Mahoney (she/her/hers) is the Arts Center Manager at the Garfield Park Arts Center (part
of the City of Indianapolis and Indy Parks), where she collaborates with local artists and community organizations and serves on neighborhood committees to develop strategic partnerships to elevate the arts, particularly in traditionally underserved communities. She also curates exhibitions and public art initiatives in her community, including murals, festivals, and pop-up placemaking/placekeeping events that celebrate the multicultural fabric of the Indianapolis community. She has held positions at both local and national museums and art centers, including Newfields, Smithsonian Institution’s Freer|Sackler Museums of Asian Art, the Indiana State Museum, and the Indiana Historical Society. Kavita has a passion for elevating the arts in ways that benefit the public good, create a sense of community, connect to the environment, and stimulate awareness of social and cultural issues. She is committed to civic engagement and the advancement of the arts by providing creative ways to serve, educate, and collaborate with communities in order to provide diverse cultural experiences that are accessible for and inclusive of all audiences. Kavita holds a bachelor’s degree in Studio Art and History of Art and a master’s degree in Museum Studies from Indiana University, where she graduated with high honors and was selected as the Chancellor’s Scholar for her graduating class.

J. Gibran Villalobos

Assistant Curator of Contemporary and Civic Art, Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

J. Gibran Villalobos is Assistant Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Previously he held posts as Partnerships and Community Engagement Manager for the Chicago Architecture Biennial and as well as a Cultural Liaison for the Chicago Park District. In 2016 he attended the Advocacy Leadership Institute and was invited to the White House Office of Public Engagement, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus to speak to issues affecting Latinos in Chicago. In 2017 he launched an inaugural summit of Latinx artists and administrators across the U.S, for this project he was awarded the Act Up award by the Chicago Community Trust. In 2019 he was awarded the Field Foundation Leaders for a New Chicago Award as well as the Americans for the Arts Leaders of Color Fellowship. He is currently a Civic Leadership Academy Fellow at the University of Chicago Harris Public Policy School where he is working with government and nonprofit sector participants to think about effective policy for Chicago.  He serves on the Auxiliary Board for the National Museum of Mexican Art and  Chicago Artists Coalition Board of Directors.  He is a faculty lecturer at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Arts Administration & Policy.


Gibran holds a BA in Art History and a BS in Public Relations from Northern Arizona University and an MA in Arts Administration & Policy and MA in Modern Art History & Theory from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Aseelah Shareef

Director of Operations + Community Engagement, Karamu House

Aseelah Shareef offers a unique combination and understanding of inspirational leadership, operations and logistics, organizational programming and artistry, developed through intense non-profit environments demanding excellence, flexibility and the capacity to master multiple roles. Just a few of those roles include performing with Step Afrika!, the world’s only professional dance company dedicated to the art of stepping (body percussion), which toured nationally and internationally, and teaching and co-creating new curriculum for Dance at Cuyahoga Community College. Aseelah was the former executive director of Cleveland Contemporary Dance Theatre, Events Manager for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, and Director of Dance for Cleveland School of the Arts. Her most recent role is Director of Operations and Community Engagement at Karamu House, where she ensures operational efficiency across product lines and curates socially and culturally relevant programming for life-long learners. She is a member of the inaugural Arts and Culture Leaders of Color Fellowship sponsored by Americans for the Arts, The Joyce Foundation and American Express as well as an Ohio Citizens for the Arts board member and Trustee of Cleveland Arts Prize.  Aseelah holds an MA in Arts Administration and BS from Florida State University.  

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Equity and Job Mobility in a Pandemic
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