FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 2, 2021
DENVER, CO—The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) is thrilled to welcome two new team members to its Social Responsibility and Inclusion (SRI) division: Ashanti McGee, grants and access manager, and Jade Elyssa Cariaga, grants and equity manager. With more than a decade of experience in the field, McGee is both an artist and arts advocate who began her arts administrative work assisting local grassroots and nonprofits with grant writing and management. She most recently served as a district representative for Nevada Congresswoman Susie Lee, focusing on outreach for Black, Native American, and LGBTQ+ communities around arts and culture and environment and public lands. Cariaga began their career in 2015 as director of Cesar Chavez Middle School color guard, where they worked with Title I students to achieve regionally-unprecedented levels of success. They earned a bachelor’s degree in dance from the department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance at UCLA, where they were endorsed to be an undergraduate affiliate of the American Educational Research Association and were one of two people in their college’s graduating class to receive the Chancellor’s Service Award.
“For many years, WESTAF has dug wells toward diversity, equity, and inclusion work throughout the Western region,” shared Director of Social Responsibility and Inclusion Anika Kwinana. “Our intention is to deepen that commitment by emphasizing cultural equity, social justice, and disrupting systemic racism through service to underrepresented groups within the sector.”
The new SRI managers will work together so that the intersections of access and equity are addressed more deeply. The two positions were designed to intentionally collaborate on equity-focused grant programs and to build powerful portfolios in access and equity. “This is an exciting time,” said Kwinana. “Our new managers bring a wealth of experience and passion to these roles.”
WESTAF’s SRI division prioritizes work that positively impacts the following communities, among others:
- Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC);
- Queer and trans BIPOC;
- LGBTQ+ constituencies;
- Low-income communities;
- Remote and rural communities (communities with fewer than 50,000 in population and isolated from metropolitan areas);
- Individuals with disabilities;
- Individuals in institutions;
- Individuals below the poverty line;
- Individuals with limited English proficiency;
- Military veterans/active duty personnel; and
- Opportunity youth.
The Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF) is a nonprofit arts service organization dedicated to strengthening the financial, organizational, and policy infrastructure of the arts in the West. WESTAF assists state arts agencies, arts organizations, and artists in their quest to serve diverse audiences, enrich the lives of local communities, and provide access to the arts and arts education for all. Through innovative programming, advocacy, research, technology, and grantmaking, WESTAF encourages the creative advancement and preservation of the arts regionally and through a national network of customers and alliances.