OPERA America Announces Participants of the 2022‒2023 Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color
OPERA America recognizes the leadership achievements and dedication of three accomplished BIPOC professionals in opera who have been selected as mentees in the 2022‒2023 Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color. The Mentorship Program, now in its second year, advances racial equity in the field by pairing BIPOC administrators with established leaders in the field who can support them in achieving their career goals.
The 2022‒2023 mentee-mentor partnerships are:
- Mentee: Dorian Block, Social Media Manager, The Dallas Opera
Mentor: Rebekah Diaz, Founder and Principal Consultant, Diaz Inclusion Consulting; and Director of IDEA Initiatives and Community Engagement, Pittsburgh Opera
- Mentee: Malikha Mayes, Development Database and Membership Manager, The Dallas Opera
Mentor: Afton Battle, General and Artistic Director, Fort Worth Opera
- Mentee: Timmy Yuen, Senior Human Resources Generalist, San Francisco Opera
Mentor: Matthew Ozawa, Chief Artistic Administration Officer, Lyric Opera of Chicago
See below for profiles of the participants.
The yearlong Mentorship Program will provide mentees with guidance and support from veteran BIPOC arts administrators and establish action plans for professional growth and long-term career trajectories. The mentee-mentor pairs will come together for remote and in-person sessions over the next 12 months, including at Opera Conference 2023 in Pittsburgh in May.
Established in 2021 as part of OPERA America’s effort to eradicate racism and ensure equity throughout the field, the program was conceived by members of OPERA America’s Racial Justice Opera Network (RJON). It responds to the industry’s desire to counteract practices of exclusion toward Black, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, South Asian, Arab, Middle Eastern, North African, and Native American administrators, who face systemic barriers that can adversely impact professional advancement.
The program has already had a profound impact on the mentees from the inaugural year. Carlos García León, individual giving manager at Cincinnati Opera, noted, “The program has been phenomenal. The validation that I am worthy to be considered a leader-in-the-making as someone who still feels so new to opera and fundraising felt amazing.” Jaime Sharp, communications and publications manager at Grantmakers in the Arts, shared that the program connected her “with not just one-on-one guidance, but an entire network of BIPOC administrators.” Takesha Meshé Kizart-Thomas, director of development at The American Opera Project, spoke to the lasting impact of the program: “The program will continue to inspire me to blaze trails with the robust support of OPERA America lifting me higher and higher.”
“The Opera Leaders of Color Mentorship program is designed by and for administrators of color,” stated Marc A. Scorca, president and CEO of OPERA America. “We are grateful to members of the Racial Justice Opera Network for their leadership in conceiving the program and their continued support as we welcome a new cohort of mentee-mentor partnerships.”
BIPOC administrators working in opera were invited to apply to participate in the Mentorship Program as mentees. Applications were reviewed by Racial Justice Opera Network members: Anh Le, director of marketing and public relations, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis; Chevalier Lovett, chief operating officer, Florida Rising, and board member, Opera Orlando; and Andrea Puente-Catán, director of major gifts and Hispanic initiatives, San Diego Opera. Mentors were identified to align with the goals and interests of their mentees.
OPERA America is committed to achieving racial equity in the opera field. In addition to the Mentorship Program for Opera Leaders of Color, the organization offers two programs to advance the careers of composers and librettists of color: IDEA Opera Grants (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access), supported by the Charles and Cerise Jacobs Charitable Foundation; and IDEA Opera Residencies, supported by the Katherine S. and Axel G. Rosin Fund of The Scherman Foundation. More information about OPERA America’s grant programs is available at operaamerica.org/Grants.
Other OPERA America programs focused on the advancement of opera administrators include the Mentorship Program for Women Administrators, as well as the Leadership Intensive and New General Directors Roundtable. To learn more about leadership development programs at OPERA America, visit operaamerica.org/LeadDev.