30 Americans Community Advisory Group
Back row, left to right: Merrique Jenson, Mona Cliff, Scott Curtis, Consuelo Cruz, Michael A. Friends, and Angel Tucker. Front row, left to right: Dr. Sofia Khan, Dr. Adrienne Walker Hoard, Nicole Gomez, Josephine Njoroge, and Brenda Pelofsky. Not pictured: Pastor John L. Brooks, Glyneisha Johnson, and Heinrich Toh.
To ensure that a multiplicity of voices would inform 30 Americans, community members were invited to join the exhibition planning process. The museum was pleased to welcome both existing and new partners into this dynamic collaboration—one marked by diverse perspectives from a range of ages, racial backgrounds, professions, and personal experiences.
Since March 2018 and with Dr. Adrienne Walker Hoard as its lead advisor, the Community Advisory Group has regularly met with the Nelson-Atkins project team. Together, they engaged in frank and sustained dialogue to shape the presentation of 30 Americans. Throughout these discussions, the Community Advisory Group brought history as well as contemporary events to bear on conversations sparked by art in the exhibition. Their generous participation also inspired the rich roster of accompanying programs. As advocates and connectors, their contributions help 30 Americans reverberate with relevancy throughout Kansas City and the region.
Members of the Community Advisory Group snap a selfie during a meeting. In front, from left to right: Heinrich Toh, Dr. Adrienne Walker Hoard, Dr. Sofia Khan, Nicole Gomez, and Consuelo Cruz. In back, left to right: Michael A. Friends, Mona Cliff, and Glyneisha Johnson.
The Nelson-Atkins is grateful to these dedicated individuals who have enriched this featured exhibition:
Dr. Adrienne Walker Hoard
Adrienne Walker Hoard, MFA, EdD, is an international artist and educator. Dr. Walker Hoard has served as a professor at seven American universities, two South Korean universities and two South African universities. Her numerous publications focus on the Black Aesthetic and contemporary transformations in African art and culture. Her paintings and photography have been on exhibition in France, Germany, Italy and Spain. Currently, Dr. Hoard serves as a professor of Fine Art and Black Studies at UMKC.
Pastor John L. Brooks
Pastor John L. Brooks was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He received his high school diploma from Lincoln High School; his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, MO; and his Masters of Divinity from Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO. He now serves as Pastor of Macedonia Baptist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, since May of 1997.
Mona Cliff is an Indigenous Visual Artist from Lawrence, Kansas, and she is an enrolled member of the Aaniiih/Assinaboine tribe of Ft. Belknap, Montana. Mona is a stay-at-home mother of three children, eight, nine, and ten years old. Mona values her nation’s heritage and culture and places a strong focus on teaching her children their nation’s traditional values. Mona uses seedbead bead embroidery to explore the subject of identity, culture, and women’s issues of matriarchy surviving in a patriarchal world.
Consuelo Cruz is the Arts Marketing Coordinator for the Office of Culture and Creative Services, City of Kansas City, Missouri. She has over 25 years of experience in management, fundraising, strategic planning, and cultural arts initiatives in the non-profit, for-profit, and public sectors. She believes deeply in the value of the arts and education in bridging cultures and connecting communities. She has also served as an arts administrator, interpreter, and adjunct Spanish instructor.
A librarian at UMKC since 2010, Scott has led book discussions as part of the Social Justice Lecture Series at UMKC for the past eight years. He has worked on many programs with the UMKC Women’s Center and the UMKC Division of Diversity and Inclusion, including the UMKC Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Reading List. He currently educates faculty and students about Open Educational Resources (OER).
Michael A. Friends
Michael A. Friends is a Media Consultant and Digital Marketing Specialist who was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. He attended UMKC, earning his bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies/ Film & Media and his master’s degree in Liberal Studies/Black Studies. He is the owner of ItsClublife Media, a music and film production company.
Nicole Gomez is a second-generation Mexican-American born in Kansas City, Kansas. She fostered her love of art at Shawnee Mission East High School where she graduated as a member of the National Art Honor Society. The first in her family to graduate from college, she attended Kansas State University, where she served as the Vice President of the KSU chapter of the National Art Education Association, and earned a Bachelor of Science in Education specializing in K-12 Art. She has been teaching for 7 years, and is currently working in the Kansas City, Kansas Public School District. She has worked to develop an engaging and dynamic art program for her current school, a position that didn’t exist for a decade. Nicole has previously worked in partnership with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and contributed to the National Endowment for the Humanities Initiative on Museum and School Programming.
Merrique Jenson is a queer, trans, multiracial, and nationally recognized anti-violence advocate and artist of color. For the past 17 years, she has worked closely with street-based youth, youth of color, and LGBTQ youth in Chicago, St. Louis, and Kansas City, and in the fields of youth programming and anti-violence advocacy. Merrique is the Director and Founder of SocialScope Productions, a consulting and coaching company focused on LGBTQ multimedia projects, community storytelling, and building innovative equity program design models. She also currently serves as the Program Director for Transformations, a KC trans and gender non-conforming youth group for young people questioning their gender identity. Merrique was appointed as the lead advocate in Kansas City to help loved ones cope and heal from three LGBTQ homicides of LGBTQ people of color, while working with the FBI on hate crime investigations. In response to this communal trauma, SocialScope Productions has helped create multiple resiliency based programs and events, including the #GetWoke event series, focused on uplifting and affirming queer and trans communities of color.
Glyneisha Johnson is a current Drug Store studio resident and 2017 graduate of the Kansas City Art Institute. She has exhibited in various solo and group exhibitions in Kansas City, including Undergrads Underground at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, La Esquina Gallery, and The Writer’s Place. Through collage, painting, and drawing, Glyneisha Johnson’s work echoes nodes of black culture and her experience of being raised in the South.
Dr. Sofia Khan is a local physician and a community activist. She has been involved in numerous charity projects for over a decade and is active in the interfaith community. Dr. Khan is the founder of Muslim Youth of North America KC chapter and a refugee activist, particularly as Founder and President of KC for Refugees, a diverse non-faith-based community alliance helping refugee families in the Greater Kansas City area.
Josephine Njoroge, a former history professor, has been able to blend her love of history and art. As co-owner of the Africa Shop she imported African art to this area. She has financially supported the Black Archives, volunteered as a docent at John Wornall House Museum, and now serves on the committee to plan Brookside Art Fairs. Memberships: Smithsonian American Indian Museum; Charter Member, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture; and The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
Brenda Pelofsky, MPA, is a community advocate and fundraising consultant. She earned her B.S. from Simmons College in Boston and her MPA from the University of Missouri. She has been a fundraising consultant for area non-profits since 2002. Previously, as the Senior Vice President of Swope Parkway Health Services, Brenda was responsible for all fundraising and outreach services for the Center, including special events honoring Colin Powell, Margaret Thatcher, and Senator Kit Bond.
Heinrich is a printmaker and graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Art and the La Salle College of the Arts in Singapore where he grew up. He has exhibited at the Wing Luke Asian Museum, the Bellevue Arts Museum and galleries throughout the US. His work is in public and private collections including The Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. His work explores the evolution of identity by synthesizing memories of past and present, with layered imagery and pattern.
Angel Tucker has worked in Youth Services at Johnson County Library for 14 years and currently serves as the Youth Services Manager – overseeing programming and outreach for ages birth to 18, parents, and educators. She is the founder of elementia, Johnson County Library’s nationally recognized visual and literary arts magazine for young adults and currently coordinates Race Project KC – an initiative that aims to bring students, teachers, and the community together to discuss the history of equity, inclusion, and race in the United States.