Kaisha S. Johnson

Founding Director
Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA)
Kaisha S. Johnson is the Founding Director of Women of Color in the Arts, a national service organization dedicated to creating racial and cultural equity in the performing arts. Kaisha co-founded WOCA to raise the voice and visibility of women of color with the intent of cultivating a field where everyone has a seat at the table. Prior to WOCA, Kaisha served at the Center for Traditional Music and Dance, organizing NYC immigrant artist communities and promoting performance traditions from around the world. Kaisha is a staunch advocate for the arts, believing in its innate ability to create social change.

Presentations from Facing Race 2018

Who's Going to Take the Weight?: Women of Color in Non-Profit Arts Leadership and the Struggle Towards Racial Equity

The non-profit sector faces a specific set of challenges in advancing racial equity in the workplace. Those challenges are rooted in a field that, historically, was founded upon the premise that philanthropy and “good will” of White people could help cure all societal ills. That founding fostered an environment where racist ideologies were normalized and allowed systemic inequities to become standardized. The arts sector, widely thought of as liberal, faces even more complex challenges as progressive thinking is often paired with regressive practices. Enter women of color into the non-profit workforce. As of late, women of color have been heralded for their ability to reactivate consciousness and change the field. And while they are often championed for their inventiveness, experience and multi-layered perspectives, they are also often driven into professional corners where their unique points of view can become occupational deficits. Cultivating a racially inclusive field with women of color in leadership positions is more than opening doors, it’s about fostering an environment of support where equitable practices don’t come in the form of diversity initiatives but concrete changes in systems. Until that day comes, women of color continually manage to find ways to support one another to foster broader leadership and ensure a field filled with diverse voices. Hear how women of color encourage wider access for more people and communities of color in the arts, and work to create equitable systems for all to prosper inside and outside of the field.

Speakers: Kaisha S. Johnson, Courtney A. Harge