A visual artist and former teacher who moved to Philadelphia in 1974 and started her arts management career in 1978. From 1981 to 1999 she produced over 60 plays working as Managing Director of the Germantown Theatre Guild, Founder and Executive Director of Kopia Theatre at Cornucopia on Parkside Avenue, and co-founder of Venture Theatre where she was executive director for thirteen years. At Venture Theatre she worked with teachers and administrators at 15 different Philadelphia public schools to implement Theatre for Learning, a program that used theatre to teach across the curriculum. Her other positions have included 12 plus years as Development Officer at Art Sanctuary, Founding President of the Business Association of West Parkside, Member of the Mayor’s Small Business Advisory Council (Goode administration), and four years on the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance Board of Directors. She also served on the Program and Board Placement Committees of PVLA (Philadelphia Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts). Betty returned to West Parkside in 2000 where she lives with her husband. She served for three years on the Board of the Friends of the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden and is a member of the East Parkside Historic District Coalition and the Mann Center Virtuoso Committee.
Shevaun has an MFA in Poetry from Bennington College and BA in English (creative writing concentration) from the University of Maryland. She has seven years of development/fundraising experience for local, national, and international nonprofits including Annual Fund Manger, Animal Welfare Association in Voorhees, NJ; Annual Fund Associate, Soroptimist International of the Americas, Philadelphia, PA; Development Manager, Operation AVA Animal Shelter, Philadelphia, PA; and Production and Marketing Manager, The Humane Society of the United States, Gaithersburg, MD.
Niesha Kennedy-Robinson is an accomplished public relations professional that has a genuine love of the arts. With over 10 years experience in Public Relations, and a small business owner, Niesha has the expertise to properly represent the arts and culture industry and social entrepreneurs who run small businesses. She has worked with a diverse group of artists and is known and respected in the arts community. Niesha has always been “in the know” and the go to person for the latest happenings. She started her public relations career as Director of Public Relations for Sharp With Art Group. She is also a contributor for Philly Entrepreneurs, Handmade Philly, Mandis Mag, Parkside Journal and others.
She is passionate about community service and volunteers often. She is a Founding Member and Vice President of the Wolfpack Community Association. In addition to she also has volunteered for West Park Cultural Center, Alex’s Lemonade Foundation, Philadelphia Community Corps among others.
Niesha is currently a member of For(bes) The Culture, Philadelphia Association Black Journalists, PABJ’s Public Relations Council and The Collective Noire. She currently resides in Philadelphia with her husband and two daughters.
Kennedy is an artist, educator, and creative originally from Oklahoma. Her educational journey includes bachelor degrees in both Music and English, and most recently, a Masters of Music in Choral Conducting with a concentration in Music-in-Education from New England Conservatory.
Kennedy’s artistic endeavors reach far and wide – from instruments to voices, visual arts to creative writing – and she is grateful for the community she has found in the arts. She is passionate about guiding and developing young minds, artists, and thinkers, and believes that the arts help students understand the world around them in a more holistic, robust way.
She has taught music and performing arts to students of various ages and experiences – from preschoolers to senior citizens, beginners to advanced students. Her previous employments include a faculty position at the New England Conservatory Preparatory School where she conducted the children’s choruses; assistant conductor for the Philharmonic Society of Arlington’s Chorale; long-term substitute music teacher/conductor at Nashoba-Brooks Middle School; and teaching artist at several theaters throughout the country. She also runs her own private music studio for voice and piano.
Kennedy lives in West Philadelphia with her husband, Parker, and adores this city. She is grateful for West Park Cultural Center and its dedication to bettering the lives and academic experiences of its students.
Helen is a born-and-bred West Philadelphian, recently returned home. She earned her BA from Kenyon College in Religious Studies, and her MA from the American University of Beirut in Transnational American Studies. She has worked as a bookseller and literary events coordinator for years in Brooklyn and Philly, and as a teacher in France and Lebanon. She sings and reads a lot, plays the harp badly, cooks and gardens enthusiastically, and volunteers happily with the Wooden Shoe anarchist bookstore collective and mutual aid groups around the city.
Franklyn is Senior Vice President Network and Communications Engineering at Comcast Cable where he has worked for the last 22 years. He has a BS degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology in Computer Science and has previously worked for the Franklin Mint, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and J.P. Morgan.
Shanel is a choreographer, dancer, and performance artist n the Philadelphia area. Her training includes modern, contemporary, and hip hop street styles. Shanel has performed internationally and throughout the US. She currently dances with D2D The Company and has danced in World Dance Competition, Prelude Urban Dance Competition, Clutchfest, Thesis Dance Competition, and more. Shanel has been with West Park Cultural Center’s danceLogic program since its planning and launch in 2018. She enjoys teaching youth about the freedom artistic practices provide.
Tyra Jones-Blain is a teaching artist in her final year as an undergraduate dance major at Temple University. During her first year at Temple, she became lead choreographer for a student organization entitled Only Elite Matters. By her second year, she began teaching hip-hop to children and hosting her own adult workshops at local studios. Jones-Blain was also lucky enough to participate in Philadelphia’s first non-binary performance competition, Mx. Everything. In this 12-week competition, she went head to head with drag queens, magicians, contortionists and ended up taking home the grand prize. She has presented original works in Temple shows, and performed for choreographers including: Dara Meredith, Merian Soto, Laura Katz, Marion Ramirez, Megan Bridge, and Dinita Clark. Currently, she is director of the Hip-Hop program at Sound Space Performing Arts and a choreographer for Penn Wood High School’s theatre program. She discovers new things about herself and her environment everyday through the act of dancing, and she loves to share her discoveries with the world.
Natasha Cohen-Carroll graduated from Haverford College with a double major in English and Fine Arts with a concentration in photography. She was awarded the Center for Peace & Global Citizenship Grant and taught photography and theatre to children in Ahmedabad, India. Natasha is bilingual in English and French and advanced in Spanish. She has been an artist/counselor with the West Park Cultural Center’s Camp Ginkgo for the past two summers and has led stop-motion and poetry workshops throughout the year. She recently co-organized the Mustard Seed Film Festival with Hariprasad and is working on documentary film projects about community and culture.
Claudine CocoSoleil Bastien aka “ CocoSol ” is a magnetic world fusion vocalist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Montreal, Canada. In the past 20 years in Philadelphia, CocoSol performed with the finest musicians in the community, including; Owen Brown, Marc Johnson, Doug Grisby, Jeff Lee Johnson, the Philadelphia symphony, Ustad Khan’s (musicalbeats.net), and many more, bringing her multi ethnic flavor and soulful presence to the mix.
Her professional teaching experience extends to 17 years as the head music teacher for elementary and middle school students of Gladwyne Montessori, where she also conducted the 18 seats ensembles and the school performing rock band. In 2015, she founded Sowelu Music (sowelumusic.com), a studio on wheels delivering excellencies in private training, artistic development and production in the greater Philadelphia.
Janice is a professional artist, college professor, and one of five founders of the Clay Studio. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education and Bachelor of fine Arts in Ceramics from Moore College of Art. As founder and director of the Branch Out Project, Janice has taught over 2,000 non-artists in schools, government agencies and corporations how to draw to use visual thinking to develop more innovative approaches to problem solving in areas other than art. Janice developed and taught West Park Cultural Center’s afterschool ceramics program for nine years.
Megan is a ceramic artist and recent graduate from the BFA program at Tyler School of Art, Temple University. Megan has experience working with children in Harrisburg and Philadelphia. She specializes in wheel-thrown pottery and incorporates elements of drawing and painting with three-dimensional forms. Her work often features themes of sustainability, wellness, and (im)balance.