Discussion with Anna Nyakana on her children’s book series Niya Zuri and the journey as an Author Entrepreneur.
IfeMichelle Gardin is a native New Havener who has been a Cultural Curator with a family legacy of advocacy in the African American community. From the time she attended Bowen-Peters School of Dance to managing the Unique Boutique (New Haven’s 1st African American Beauty Supply Store), Ife has been involved in promoting the arts and expanding cultural awareness.
Ife has always organized events and created ways to showcase artists. Beginning in 1995, with the IfeTayo Cultural Arts Festival to 2005-08 Kwanzaa celebrations at Long Wharf Theater. Ife has worked as a Community Engagement Coordinator for The Shubert Theater, Arts Council of Greater New Haven, and Long Wharf Theatre. She has been coordinator for The Dwight/Edgewood Project, a Yale drama program that matches neighborhood children with Yale Drama students to create and perform plays.
Ife created the Arts@Work Project in the summer of 2009 producing a play written by then-Yale Drama Grad Student Marcus Gardley, who is now an award-winning playwright. The program was developed to teach teenagers about the opportunities in production and backstage positions in the theater. Youth were taught how to build a set, light and sound design, as well as costume design and production. The production was performed at Yale AfroAmerican Cultural Center and at the National Black Theater Festival in North Carolina. In addition, Ife also worked with community-based organizations as a Case Manager at AIDS Interfaith New Haven, and Youth Continuum and Assistant Director at Hill Cooperative Youth Services. She also coordinated the Summer Youth Program at the Community Action Agency of Greater New Haven.
Throughout her life, IfeMichelle has been committed to connecting her passion for culture and arts and enhancing the quality of life for her community and looks forward to further developing Cultural Awareness throughout the region.
Currently, Ife is the Creator Coordinator of the Elm City LIT Fest, a celebration in the spirit of the Harlem Renaissance that will feature LITerature and LITerary Artists of the African Diaspora from CT and beyond.
Shamain McAllister - known to most as Sha, represents Irvington/Newark, New Jersey. In May of 2018, she received a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management with a minor in criminal justice from Albertus Magnus College in New Haven, CT. Despite her educational background community work is her passion. Sha has collaborated with Nasty Women CT, Black Lives Matter New Haven, and Ignite the Light, as panelist, host, and programmer. She was part of the 2020 Cohort of the Neighborhood Leadership Program through the Community Foundation of Greater New Haven, focusing on intergenerational community development.
During undergrad, she served as Vice President of Advocacy for the Student Government Association and founded SJL, the Student Justice League, a social justice-centered student led organization. SJL’s mission is to bring light, educate, and create responses to social justice issues at Albertus and the world around it. Sha is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., a sisterhood rooted in scholarship, sisterhood, service, and finer womanhood. Most recently, she worked as a Development Coordinator for the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. She currently serves as the Programming Coordinator for the International Festival of Arts & Ideas
Julius L Stone Jr. is so excited to be joining the Elm City LIT Festival as the Program Coordinator. He has developed, managed and produced events and productions at the City level. He is currently an acting coach for the August Wilson Monologue Competition and the Fellows Instructor for the International Festival Arts and Ideas. He has worked as the Education Programs Manager at Long Wharf Theater, Volunteer Coordinator for the International Performing Arts for Youth Showcase, Community Engagement Liaison for Neighborhood Music School, Lead House Manager and Volunteer Coordinator for New Haven Symphony Orchestra. He has been featured in New Haven Magazine’s Dreamer and Doer section and was Awarded Business New Haven’s Rising Star Honoree. Julius has been an active member of the community by serving on such boards as Long Wharf Theater Community Ambassador, Wooster Square/Downtown Management Team E-Board Member & Treasurer, International Organization for Success and Development Brussels Board Member, Pulse Young Professionals, Board Member & PR committee Chair, New Haven Festivals Inc. Board Member, City of New Haven Cultural Affairs Commissioner.
A graduate of Southern Connecticut State University, Julius holds a BA in Theater and MS in Recreation and Leisure from Southern Connecticut State University, and a TELF/TEOSL Certificate from Oxford Seminars.
Emalie Mayo is an arts advocate/activist, educator, and administrator. A longtime resident of Greater New Haven, Emalie is dedicated to local youth programs designed to strengthen self-esteem and creative expression. A lifelong learner, Emalie has trained with several community and national organizations focusing on equity, inclusion, access, social justice, leadership, and facilitation - including artEquity, Peoples Institute for Survival and Beyond, and Community Leadership Program New Haven.
Emalie has worked as the Project Coordinator for Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre’s Dwight/Edgewood Project – an after school playwriting program for New Haven middle school scholars - since 2014. Emalie has also been a Senior Administrative Assistant at Yale School of Drama/Yale Repertory Theatre since 2009.
Emalie holds a teaching certification in English/Language Arts (5-12th grade) and earned her BS in Psychology Research with a minor in English from Southern Connecticut State University.