The Arts, Perseverance and the Power of Optimism

Sunday, June 18, 11:00 am - 12:30 pm
Close out the Convention with an inspirational and powerful performance and speech by actress, writer, singer and teacher Rhodessa Jones. Since 1989, Jones has directed The Medea Project, a theater program designed to use the arts to reduce the number of women returning to prison, and in this keynote she’ll speak about her history, work, drive, and hope for the future, and will celebrate the grit, perseverance and power of the artist in the United States. She’ll be joined on stage by Debra Garcia y Griego, director of the Santa Fe Arts Commission and a strong artist advocate and leader in the local arts field.


Rhodessa Jones
Co-Artistic Director // Director
Cultural Odyssey // Medea Project
San Francisco, California
RHODESSA JONES is Co-Artistic Director of the acclaimed San Francisco performance company Cultural Odyssey. She is an actress, teacher, director, and writer. Ms. Jones is also the Director of the award winning Medea Project: Theater for Incarcerated Women and HIV Circle, which is a performance workshop designed to achieve personal and social transformation with incarcerated women and women living with HIV. Rhodessa has just been invited by the prestigious DARTMOUTH COLLEGE to be a MONTGOMERY FELLOW conducting lectures and workshops in early Fall 2017. In December 2016 Rhodessa received a THEATRE BAY AREA LEGACY AWARD presented to individuals that have made “extraordinary contributions to the Bay Area theatre community.” In 2014 he received THE SUI GENERIS FOUNDATION Achievement Award for “one of a kind contributions, which benefit society in unique ways”. Rhodessa’s published works include: A Beginner’s Guide to Community - Based Arts, New Village Press; Imagining Medea: Rhodessa Jones and Theater for Incarcerated Women, The University of North Carolina Press; and Colored Contradictions An Anthology of Contemporary African – American Plays (“Big Butt Girls, Hard-Headed Women”), Penguin Group. Rhodessa groundbreaking method for working with disenfranchised populations has just been published in the book Black Acting Methods: Critical Approaches, © 2017 – Routledge, "Black Acting Methods seeks to offer alternatives to the Euro-American performance styles that many actors find themselves working with."
Debra Garcia y Griego
Executive Director
City of Santa Fe Arts Commission
Santa Fe, New Mexico

Debra Garcia y Griego has over 20 years of experience in arts administration. Her work experience is in a variety of organizations, including dance, theater, museums and local arts agencies. She is currently the Executive Director of the City of Santa Fe Arts Commission where she is responsible for implementing the City’s support of arts and cultural affairs such as funding of local nonprofit arts organizations, operation of the Community Gallery, the Art in Public Places program and the City’s international affairs. She is currently leading the City’s first cultural planning process, “Culture Connects Santa Fe.” Previous work experience includes Museum Campus Chicago (a multi-institutional cross-collaboration and –marketing initiative consisting of the John G. Shedd Aquarium, Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum of Natural History and the Chicago Park District), Chicago a cappella, the Southwest Theater and Dance Festival, and the University of New Mexico Department of Theater and Dance.