Anika Kwinana will join WESTAF in early April 2021 as director of social responsibility and inclusion, to inform and develop a range of equity-centered learning experiences that connect and inspire leaders and communities to build a more inclusive arts and culture sector.

Anika joins WESTAF from her position as manager of national education initiatives at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, where she has worked since 2018. There, Anika ensured that arts professionals were equipped with relevant professional learning and support as they sought to provide equitable access to the arts among public school students. This work supported communities in Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawai’i, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming, among others.

Anika began her professional career in the arts in 2008 as music and arts director for a 5,000+ member, multi-cultural community in Gqebera, South Africa, ensuring that a variety of cultural and artistic representations were shared and celebrated. There, she led and coached a team of 100+ visual and performing artists; performed, co-wrote and produced two live CD/DVD productions; and programmed events for the local community and the region, and for national and international artists.

When returning to the U.S. in 2014, Anika worked with a number of arts organizations as a stage manager, producer, gallery coordinator and subscriptions sales associate. Anika later joined the National Association for College Admission Counselling as assistant director of national college fairs, programs and services. There, she piloted and scaled STEM college and career fairs in Denver and in Silicon Valley, among other cities. The work aligned with Anika’s fierce commitment to equity by emphasizing the need for underrepresented communities in this field. To this end, she collaborated with local planning teams and STEM-related companies to ensure that programming met these goals.  

Anika is chair of the Arlington County Commission for the Arts, where she has worked with the rest of the commission and local government to diversify and build equity into its grants program. Anika is also co-founder of Arlington for Justice, which works to bring a new era of public safety seeking reform of Arlington’s criminal justice system, in support of Black and Brown lives.  

She is chair of the Arts Administrators of Color Network, whose mission is to empower artists and arts administrators by providing tools and resources to advocate for equity, inclusion, access, and diversity in the arts. She was co-chair of the organization’s 2020 convening, bringing together 500+ leaders of color from across the nation for professional learning and community building. Anika became a part of artEquity’s BIPOC Leadership Circle in 2020, working with other arts leaders from across the nation to develop social justice leadership models.  She now works collaboratively with artEquity and other alumni of the program to provide ongoing support to the cohort.  

Anika holds an M.A. in Arts Management from George Mason University, where her capstone focused on the need for diversity in arts organizational leadership. She also holds an M.A. in Public Anthropology from American University, a postgraduate degree in Management from the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa, and a B.A. in Political Science from Howard University.

“Having grown up in Northern California, my roots are in the West. It is an honor to join WESTAF in its support of arts leaders of color and of institutions and agencies seeking to actively engage in equity and inclusion work in the region,” Anika says. “By centering the rich voices and experiences of arts leaders in rural and urban communities throughout the West, and ensuring that a diverse arts community leads change, we can impact the field as a whole. I cannot wait to get started!”