STAFF & BOARD

Share Button
Majority Leader City Council member Laurie Cumbo (C.D. 35) with African Voices Founder Carolyn A. Butts and Jeannette Curtis-Rideau, Chairperson of the Board of Directors, at the street co-naming ceremony for Brooklyn jazz legend Randy Weston.

Board of Directors

Jeannette Curtis-Rideau
Chairperson
Writer/Member, 100 Black Women,
Bergen County Chapter, NJ

Carolyn A. Butts
Program Development Specialist

Kimberly Singleton
Producer/Filmmaker

Brent Woodie
Development Officer/Grantwriter

Vera Sims
Retired Educator

BOARD OF DIRECTORS & STAFF BIOS

FOUNDER/EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Carolyn A. Butts, the executive director and publisher of African Voices, has 25 years of organizing programs in the areas of arts, education, business and film. At 25, she was one of the first New Yorkers to publish a literary magazine featuring art and literature by artists of color. As the associate director for the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation’s Youth Arts Academy, Ms. Butts managed on-site and off-site arts training programs for young people ages 3 to 18. She supervised a staff of 20 part-time instructors and was responsible for grant writing, budgeting and program development. Carolyn is also the founder the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series (www.reelsisters.org).

A graduate of Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus, Carolyn has also carved out a successful career in public relations and politics. She is a former Assistant Press Secretary for New York State Comptroller H. Carl McCall and Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS, CHAIRPERSON

Jeannette Curtis-Rideau, a retired educator, is a performance poet, sculptor, art curator and author. She is a licensed and certified clinical speech and language pathologist who worked in the Englewood Public Schools system in New Jersey. She earned her Master of Science Degree in Speech Pathology and Urban Languages from Federal City College in Washington, D.C. Ms. Curtis-Rideau is a member of 100 Black Women Bergen Chapter and the Fort Lee Film Commission in New Jersey.

Sheila Johnson is a proud resident of North Amityville.  She is a graduate of the Copiague public school system. After high school Sheila attended Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree, in History, cum laude.  After Spelman College Sheila attended Clark Atlanta University School of Library and Information Services where she received a master’s degree.

Sheila began her library career at the Brooklyn Public Library in 1980, after short stints at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Atlanta, Georgia; Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, Livermore, California; and Amherst College, Amherst, Massachusetts. Sheila currently serves as the Director of Development and Government Affairs for Nassau Suffolk Law Services.

Vera E. Sims, a teacher, literary Consultant, an a curriculum writer for the New york Department of Education for over 20 years. In addition a mentor and teacher trainer for the New Teacher Institute at Teachers College as well as served as the Middle School Instructional Specialist for the City of New York. She holds two Masters in Education in addition to attending the School of Visual Arts. She also worked exclusively with Project LEAP ( Learning through an Extended Arts Project) contracted by the New York Department of Education, to help empower students across the city to identity various issues with in their community through the creation of art exhibitions.

Kim Singleton previously served on the Advisory Board of the organization’s Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series. Ms. Singleton’s over 20 years experience in the media and entertainment industry includes, finance and budgeting for major networks (ViacomCBS and Fox), writing, directing and producing short films and videos. Her creations have screened at film festivals around the world, including the Cannes Film Festival Short Film Market.  Her company, Sing Sing 2000 Entertainment, provides video production services and content creation for various media platforms. Singleton earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Howard University and an MBA from New York University. 

Brent Woodie has served as Grant Writer for the New York City Mission Society, Development Officer for the New York Open Center and Development Manager for BronxNet. Prior to his fundraising career, Brent gained valuable experience in media as a staff writer for The Source Magazine and as a published writer for several media outlets like PBS NewsHour, The Huffington Post and XXL Magazine. In addition, he has served in government roles as a Legislative Aide in the New York State Assembly and Project Manager for the New York City Public Advocate Office. Brent earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree from the State University of New York at Albany and his Master of Public Administration from Baruch College.

AV STAFF

BOOK REVIEW EDITOR

Debbie A. Officer is a Brooklyn-based writer and educator. She has worked as a freelance journalist for The New York Amsterdam News, The New York Village Voice, Sage woman Magazine, and Black Issues Book Review. Ms. Officer has been the recipient of several arts grants from the Brooklyn Arts Council, serving as an arts in education instructor throughout the borough. She is currently the Book Review Editor for African Voices.

ART DIRECTOR

Derick Cross (aka D. Cross) is a multidimensional visual and performance artist who creates imagery in order to reach deep inside the viewer of his artwork. His work is part of the collections of Erykah Badu (Grammy Award-winning Singer-Songwriter), Ed Lewis (Founder of Essence Communications), Ruby Dee (legendary actress), Judith Jamaison (Alvin Ailey director & legendary dancer/choreographer) and Bashiri Johnson (world renowned percussionist & music producer), among others. He is the Art Director of African Voices. As a performance artist he combines the art of Spoken Word, Vocal Percussion (beatboxing) and Hip-Hop (emceeing/rap), making music to ears of listeners everywhere. D-Cross has been featured on Nickelodean, TV Land BET’s 106’s and Park and the Electric Company.

ASSISTANT ART DIRECTOR

Aziza is a visual artist, fine art printmaker, and illustrator. Her career as a freelance illustrator began early as an art student at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. After graduating, Aziza attended Pratt Institute where she came across African Voices on a walk to school and since her freshman year has been a contributing illustrator. Aziza is currently the Assistant Art Director of African Voices. Aziza is a member of Robert Blackburn Printmaking Workshop and the Lower East Side Printshop, where she was a past recipient of the Keyholder Residency. Aziza has worked extensively in arts and education as a teaching artist through programs such as P.A.L, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration, Publicolor, and residencies in West Africa and Jamaica, WI. Her artwork has been featured on the The History Channel and Style Network Channel. Aziza’s work has appeared in two person and group exhibitions at Manhattan Center, Joloff Restaurant, Langston Hughes Library and Cultural Center, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Gallery 402, Marianne Boesky Gallery, University of Iowa, 1199SEIU Bread & Roses Gallery, and Blackburn 20/20. Aziza earned a BFA in Printmaking from Pratt Institute with highest honors.

POETRY EDITOR

Lora René Tucker is Brooklyn born and educated; now living in Sag Harbor, NY. Lora has had her poetry featured throughout the New York Metropolitan area since 1992, has over 30 years working for racial and social justice and teaches and facilitates antiracism and cultural empowerment seminars. As the “Therapeutic Poet,”  she self-published her first book: Writes of Passage in 2010, has a blog on POZ online magazine (https://www.poz.com/blogger/lora-rene-tucker) and is offering a therapeutic poetry and writing workshop for Southampton Hospital in Long island.  She is now studying for her MFA in Creative Writing at Stonybrook University, receiving an award for returning to academia.  Her “nine to fives” were a corporate interior designer, credentialed alcohol and drug counselor, a licensed social worker and psychotherapist.  She’s a writer until further notice.

FICTION EDITOR

​Emely-Ann Rodriguez is a Dominican-American writer, blogger, and theater artist. She is a graduate of Purchase College, where she studied Theater Performance and Literature. Recently, she has ventured out into Theological and Philosophical studies and has been motivated to create literary and visual art from her studies. Some of her theater work includes ​SHORT EYES by Miguel Piñero, EARTHQUAKES IN LONDON by Mike Barlett, and HENRY VI PART I by William Shakespeare. ​Since COVID-19, she has been working on building a digital platform for her writings and essays, and some visual artwork. Furthermore, she works as a freelance content writer, editor/proofreader, and an editorial consultant. 

CONTRIBUTING WRITER
Sandrine Dupiton, a staff writer and online journal editor, is a teaching artist and founder of Change X: Journalism & Leadership Institute, an after-school program where teenage students, mostly African-American girls, are trained in leadership and success principles. She is also an accomplished poet, journalism and teacher. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.A. in journalism from Temple University.

Subscribe for Updates!

Stay Connected!

We respect your privacy.