OPERA America Selects Participants of the Inaugural Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color
OPERA America is pleased to announce the inaugural participants in the Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color. This new initiative exists to advance racial equity in the field by pairing BIPOC professionals with executive-level leaders who can support them in achieving their career goals.
The mentee-mentor pairings are:
- Mentee: Takesha Meshé Kizart-Thomas, Dramatic Soprano, Creative Performing Artist, and Producer
- Mentor: Khori Dastoor, General Director, Opera San José; Incoming General Director, Houston Grand Opera
- Mentee: Carlos García León, Individual Giving Manager, Cincinnati Opera
- Mentor: Ishan Johnson, Associate Director, Philanthropy, Art Institute of Chicago
- Mentee: Jaime Sharp, President and CEO, Opera NexGen
- Mentor: Priti Gandhi, Vice-President of Artistic, Minnesota Opera; Incoming Artistic Director, Portland Opera
See below for profiles of the participants.
The yearlong program will provide mentees with guidance and support from BIPOC arts administrators and establish action plans for professional growth and long-term career trajectories. The pairs will come together for remote and in-person mentoring sessions over the next 12 months, including at Opera Conference 2022 in Minneapolis next May.
The program was established in 2021 as part of OPERA America’s sustained effort to eradicate racism and ensure equity throughout the field. It was designed by members of OPERA America’s Racial Justice Opera Network steering committee. It responds to the industry’s desire to correct practices of exclusion toward Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, South Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern, North African, and Native American administrators, who face many systemic barriers that can adversely impact professional advancement.
“OPERA America reaffirms its pledge to be an agent for change in the determined and sustained effort to achieve racial justice throughout the field,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “We must confront the inherited practices and prejudices that have excluded BIPOC people from participating in the art form and that have prevented administrators of color from achieving leadership positions.”
The Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color is the latest addition to a series of OPERA America programs for increasing racial equity in the field. The initiative joins the IDEA Opera Grants (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) supported by the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation and the IDEA Opera Residencies supported by the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation.
Other OPERA America programs focused on the advancement of opera administrators include the Leadership Intensive and the Mentorship Program for Women Administrators. To learn more about leadership development programs at OPERA America, visit operaamerica.org/LeadDev.