I often say that NIAD is the artists’ spaceship… as staff, we just get on and get off.
It is true that the artists, often with the long-term support of involved and engaged family members, are our permanent stakeholders. Many studio artists practice at NIAD for decades, outlasting some of our most dedicated staff.
However, NIAD’s ship wouldn’t fly without the culture our staff upholds.
This week, NIAD will say goodbye to one of our beloved and influential staff members, Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, who will begin at VCU’s MFA program in the Fall.
In addition to facilitating the groundbreaking weekly Bingo games in NIAD’s Virtual Studio each Thursday with Community Programs Associate Amber Avalos, Lukaza stepped in to lead NIAD’s reinvented Artists in Community (Field Trips) program as it was just getting off the ground in 2019, and has initiated opportunities for NIAD art and artists with BAM/PFA, Wolfman Books, and ongoing partners such as 2727 California Street.
As important, Lukaza has also upheld a radical space for studio artists’ voice within all of NIAD’s activities, and helped NIAD reimagine how we respond to artists’ voices in the current moment.
Each and every NIAD staff member has stepped into similar leadership over the past two years of transition, helping to redesign NIAD’s artist programs, implement collaborative models of leadership and project management, innovate online services, steward growth, and redefine disaster management as care.
To a person, NIAD’s 24 staff members define leadership and culture at NIAD – and as artist and cultural workers, they shape the world beyond NIAD as well.
We cannot wait to see what develops as Lukaza moves into this new chapter – the world is fortunate for it, as NIAD has been.
Amanda Eicher, Executive Director
(image: left to right, Deatra Colbert, Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo, Shantae Robinson)