Sharon Nyree Williams

Executive Director

Sharon Nyree Williams is a storyteller and arts administrator.  She is the Executive Director for the Central District Forum for Arts and Ideas. They present, produce and develop multidisciplinary work by Black artists and provide access for courageous conversations to diverse audiences. Sharon is the founder of The Mahogany Project a theatre arts collaborative that focuses on allowing Black artists an opportunity to share their voice. She also serves on the Seattle Arts Commission, Historic Central Area Arts and Cultural District, Langston Board of Directors, FEED Worldwide Advisory Board, Adult Advisory Committee for Creative Justice and former Board of Trustee for Cornish College of the Arts. Sharon is a proud member of the 2009 Seattle University Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership graduate. Sharon is also proud to be a graduate of the Historical Black College and University, Delaware State University with two degrees Bachelors of Arts in Television Production and a Masters of Business Administration.

Staff

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_edited.jpg

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 BlackPast.org. 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.

Stephanie_Ellis_Smith_Final_0236-196.jpg

Board

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? 

Contact Us