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russellsmilingdansmallActress Melissa George, African Voices chairperson Jeannette Curtis-Rideau, Russell Simmons, Danny Simmons and Alaina Simone celebrated
African Voices’ 19 years of service to the arts at the summer soirée held at B. Smith’s in Sag Harbor on Aug 12. Photo: Richard Lewin



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

Carolyn A. Butts
Public Relations Specialist

Kimberly Singleton

Brent Woodie
Development Officer/Grantwriter

Sheila Johnson
Director, Development and Government Affairs

Vera Sims
Retired Educator


Carolyn A. Butts, the executive director and publisher of African Voices, has 20 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 (

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.

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.

Kimberly Singleton previously served on Reel Sisters Advisory Board Member. She is a filmmaker a writer and poet. She has written screen and stage plays, as well as produced short films of various genres including comedy, drama and science fiction.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.


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.


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.


Angela Kinamore is a poet and writer who served as Poetry Editor for Essence Magazine from 1985 thru 2005. She is the author of the chapbook CROSSROADS and co-author of the poetry book THREE WOMEN BLACK (Guild Press, MN). She has conducted poetry readings, programs and workshops in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and has read her poetry at numerous literary events including the Harlem Book Fair, Albany State University, King’s College in PA, and the Literary Arts Festival in Savannah, GA. In August 2014 she was one of the performers in Harlem along with other artists in dance, theater, film and music who participated in a special tribute to Maya Angelou and her poetry in a 3-hour mayathon reading production called “Rising Still.”

Kinamore’s articles and poetry have appeared in Essence and African Voices magazines as well as in the 35th Anniversary Issue (New Rain Vol 11) for Blind Beggar Press. She is in the process of completing a poetry collection and science fiction book entitled “Rise of the Zakadarian Warriors.”


Jamal Jones is a writer and Africana Studies major at San Francisco State University. He is a word enthusiast, a lover of succulents and laughter. In telling stories that are often ignored, marginalized, demonized and misunderstood, he wishes to affirm our universal humanity. Jamal has been featured in publications for Black Girl Dangerous and Against Equality. He currently lives in Washington DC where he juggles a life in social work and writing.


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.

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.


MARIE BROWN, the president of Marie Brown & Associates literary agency visit website, is a 40-year veteran of the book business. Ms. Brown acquired a thorough understanding of her “calling” working as an editorial assistant and book editor; bookseller and bookstore manager; editor-in-chief of a magazine; and book-marketing strategist. Ms. Brown has been a bibliophile since her childhood years and currently lives and works in Harlem.

VOZA RIVERS is a leading African-American theater, music, and events producer as well as an award-winning documentary filmmaker. Presently, Rivers is Chairman/CEO of VOZ Entertainment Group; Executive Producer/ Founding Member, New Heritage Theatre Group (f/k/a/ Roger Furman Theatre, New York City’s oldest Black not-for-profit theater); Co-Founder/Executive Producer, IMPACT Repertory Theatre; Executive Producer, Harlem Week and the Harlem Jazz & Music Festival; Co-Chairman, Community Works, an arts and education program servicing 250,000 New York City students and adults annually and Chairman of the Harlem Arts Alliance, a cultural service organization of 750 members. As Executive Producer, Rivers produces all of the major events for Harlem Week, the Harlem Jazz & Music Festival and the National Black Sports & Entertainment Hall of Fame Annual Gala.

SONIA SANCHEZ, author of Morning Haiku, is award-winning poet, activist, scholar, and formerly the Laura Carnell professor of English and Women’s studies at Temple University-is the author of sixteen books, including Like the Singing Coming off the Drums, Does Your House Have Lions?, Wounded in the House of a Friend, and Shake Loose My Skin. She was appointed Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate by Mayor Michael Nutter.

DANNY SIMMONS is a visual artist and author of deep in your best reflection: poems in 160 characters, a collection of erotic poems; I Dreamed My People Were Calling But I Couldn’t Find My Way Home, a volume of poetry and paintings; and Three Days As The Crow Flies, a novel about the NYC arts scene in the turbulent 1980s. He is also the co- creator and executive producer of the HBO series Def Poetry Jam. He is the founder of Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation and President of Rush Arts Gallery.

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