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Randy Ford

Executive Director

Randy Ford aka Aísha Noir (she/her/Goddess), is a Seattle-born creative (dancer, choreographer, actor, activist, curator, and educator). As a dancer and choreographer she has been featured in CD Forum’s Showing Out: Contemporary Black Choreographers (2016, 2018), Bumbershoot Festival, Dani Tirrell’s Black Bois (2016, 2020), BenDeLaCreme’s Beware The Terror of Gaylord Manor, Kitten N’ Lou’s CAMPTACULAR and Jingle All The Gay, and Village Theater's Little Shop of Horrors (2022). She created and co-produced her first full-length evening show QUEEN STREET at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute with CD Forum in 2019. She has taught all over the Puget Sound and was a dance educator before the pandemic teaching all ages. She was the Development Director for Lavender Rights Project before taking on her current role at CD Forum, and her community work extends to the Seattle-Tacoma Kiki Ballroom scene with the Royal House of Noir as the Knight and house auntie.


​Randy has been recognized as an Artist To Watch for City Arts Magazine's 2018 Future's List Awards and her work QUEEN STREET was nominated and a finalist for the prestigious Queer | Art | Prize for Recent Work. She is the recipient of the 2020 Zeitgeist Award presented by the Gender Justice League for her work in community. She is a 2021 ArtMatters Fellow and in 2022 POCAAN awarded her the Larry Gossett Youth Leadership Award. 



IG|Twitter @theaishanoir

Cashapp: $randybaby

Venmo: @Randy-Ford-3


Dani Tirrell

Programming Curator

Dani Tirrell, a Seattle’s Mayor Arts Award recipient 2019, is a Black, Trans Spectrum, Queer choreographer, dancer, and movement guide. Dani has guided people in Detroit and Seattle as well as sharing movement practices in other cities in the United States. Currently Dani is the curator for Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas (Seattle). Dani is the host and co-creator of several online talk programs Sunday Dinner, The Living Room, and Intimate Conversations.


Dani is the founder and current artistic director of The Congregation a movement/art group. Dani is currently teaching at Northwest Tap Connection and University of Washington Seattle and Bothell campuses. Dani has created work for Dance This (Northwest Tap Connection), Strictly Seattle (advance/professional track), Seattle Repertory Theater, Nina Simone Four Women (Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton).

Dani is an Arts Matter Fellow, Artists Trust Fellow (Seattle) and 4Culture Arc Fellow (Seattle).  Dani is the Artist in Residence at Velocity Dance Center (2020/2021) and one of 6 Artists in Residence at On the Boards (Seattle, WA)

Dani’s production of Black Bois (On the Boards and Seattle Theater Group) was a locally critically acclaimed work that produced sold out shows in Seattle and is in development for a documentary film. In 2019 Dani was the recipient of an Artist Trust Fellowship Award and a Dance Crush Award for Black Bois (performance). Dani also received a 2018 Arts Matter Fellowship grant. Dani current work FagGod in collaboration with Anastasia Renee and Naa Akua was presented in Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas 2019/2020 season. Dani’s new work 46, is a photo exhibit styled, staged, and photographed by Dani. This work can be found online under Dani’s Instagram profile. 


Michael B. Maine

Photographer & Videographer

Michael B. Maine is a Seattle-based, socially engaged artist and creative consultant. Primarily working as a freelance photographer, he focuses on learning about and addressing issues of social inequity through media, concerned with studying the images that already exist and working towards being additive to the field in a way that increases representation both in front of and behind the lens.

In addition to his professional photography work, Michael makes a point to always have at least one personal project that explores something that keeps him up at night. Past work has focused on youth experiencing homelessness, stereotypes and the concept of deviance, and the mental landscape. Current work is focusing on race and class.

Michael feels strongly about investing in the community and does so primarily through volunteering—including board service and mentoring. He served as the president of the board for both Reel Grrls (a youth media organization) and Businesses Ending Slavery and Trafficking (an organization creating public/private partnerships to help reduce instances of sex trafficking by creating policies, programs, and partnerships designed to reduce demand and access). Additionally, he takes a multidisciplinary approach to mentoring younger people who want to learn more about media literacy and production, seeking out literature representing a range of age, sexuality, gender expression, race and ethnicity, physical and mental ability, and other forms of identity.

His ultimate goal is to help create a media landscape that is more fairly produced and representative of humanity and the range of human identities and experiences.

Stephanie Ellis Smith

Founder & Former Executive Director

Stephanie Ellis-Smith founded Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas (CD Forum) in 1999. She is the owner of the philanthropy advisory firm Phila Engaged Giving. She believes strongly in being a compassionate and generous member of society and has devoted much of her life to the enrichment of her community. Through a diverse background in the arts and sciences.

She has served on numerous boards and commissions including the Washington State Arts Commission, appointed by Governor Gary Locke; the Seattle Arts Commission, appointed by Mayor Greg Nickels; and the Central Waterfront Committee, appointed by Mayor Ed Murray. She is on the board of the International Association of Advisors in Philanthropy, YWCA King/Snohomish County, the outgoing Board Chair of Artist Trust, and an Advisor to the University of Washington Press and She has been a trustee for KUOW Public Radio, Leadership Tomorrow, and City Club. She lives in Seattle with her husband, a teenager, and a Doberman.



Jeff Cohen 
FSG-Social Impact Consultants

Rick Simonson 
The Elliott Bay Book Company

Dawn Chirwa
Philanthropy Consultant

Alvin Sturdivant

Seattle University

Interested in joining the board? 

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