Welcome to our new Executive Committee Members that will be serving 2023-2024.
We are incredibly grateful and honored to have these amazing individuals serving this year.
The Executive Committee, affectionately called “ExComm” is your elected body of representatives who make decisions on behalf of the full board of directors of Alternate ROOTS, which includes 200+ voting members. ExComm meets by video conference monthly throughout the year to address organizational needs, offer member feedback, and provide governance and strategic direction.
Quarterly Face-to-Face meetings are held throughout the region during our annual term.
Both the calls and meetings are open to members, and we welcome your participation.
The ExComm holds a monthly Zoom meeting. Beginning in January 2024, meetings are held the first Tuesday of the month.
Another way for ROOTS members to participate in these meetings is to contact an ExComm member directly to discuss areas you would like represented in the meetings, and we can support you or your ideas being heard.
All Face-to-Face and video conference meetings are listed on the ROOTS Calendar and in the Member News. To enhance security, Zoom information is intentionally omitted from the calendar and can be found in the Member News instead. Feel free to contact Sacil Armstrong, Board Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org to request the link.
Members that have general questions about ExComm can reach out to the Operations Manager, Marina Dias Lujan at email@example.com.
2023-2024 ExComm Bios
APRIL C. TURNER is a professional writer/producer and content creator specializing in creating cultural arts experiences designed to invite honest conversations about difficult social issues. Her work also uses performing and literary art forms to document historical events, as well as share cultural traditions. Turner’s residencies, workshops and theatrical innovations have made her a favorite among arts presenters, universities and cultural organizations. In addition to being a proliﬁc playwright and performer, Ms. Turner is a passionate dancer. For more than two decades, her African dance performances and workshops have enlightened, entertained, and promoted cultural awareness. Ms. Turner also works as a community engagement professional at the Urban League of Central Carolinas and adjunct African Dance professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
Ace McColl is an Atlanta based filmmaker and editor. Her work leans into the experimental, telling intimate stories around femininity and gender conceptions through visceral means. Often auto-biographical, her filmmaking toes the line between performance and video art through her incorporation of multimedia elements. Her sharply edited experimental short Soma/tics was featured in several gallery exhibitions across the Southeast before premiering at the WonderRoot Independent Film Series where it took home the Wonder Film Award. It went on to screen nationally at festivals including Cucalorus Film Festival and Indie Grits. Her latest film Be Kind, Please premiered at the 2020 Atlanta Film Festival. Deeply rooted in the growth of the Atlanta film community, she has served as a member of the film committee at Eyedrum and as a film coordinator for LadyFest Atlanta. As a film & TV editor she hones her craft across genres. She has worked with Netflix, Vice Media, Discovery Channel, and Tyler Perry Studios among many others. She holds a BFA in Film & TV Production from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and is a member of the IATSE Local 700 Editors Guild.
Priscilla Smith is the self-proclaimed Impresaria of No Tomorrow Underground, a venue and creative forum for artists and their audiences in Underground Atlanta, founded in 2021. She has presented performance art works solo and in collaboration in the streets and galleries of Atlanta since 1978. She served as executive director of Eyedrum Art and Music Gallery from 2008-2016, was a founding company member of ACME Theater that, from 1980 to 1990, presented original performance works ranging from improvisational contemporary opera to full-length original dramas. She created a closing performance event for the centennial symposium in observance of the 1906 Atlanta Race Massacre, has collaborated with Beacon Dance and John Q and directed and produced over 35 evenings of student-created dramatic works at Horizons School and The Atlanta School in 21 years as an educator. She served on the founding committee and was performance coordinator for Art on the Atlanta BeltLine and was co-producer and co-founder of the 2010 Living Walls Conference. She served several terms on the Alternate ROOTS executive committee, including time as treasurer. In 2019-2021 she ran to represent Georgia State House District 34 in the general election and in a special called election. She holds a BA in speech and drama from Trinity University.
For more than 25 years, Sacil (suh-SEEL) Armstrong has connected people and opened minds, getting folks from very different backgrounds to come together for common causes. As a self-care and social justice facilitator, her motto is no blame, no shame, no guilt because blaming and shaming get in the way of learning and being. She uses evidence-based self-care techniques that not only make us feel good, but also increase our mental and emotional capacity to handle difficult conversations about topics like racism and oppression. She uses facts to bind the past to the present and helps clients brainstorm for practical and effective ways to create change. Sacil has been a marketing director for a regional science museum, served as the adult programming and PR specialist for a library system, and successfully led a grant-funded grassroots movement to reduce violent crime in a high-crime low-income “neighborhood” of 30,000 people. She is also a Certified Zentangle Teacher, using abstract art as a form of meditation.
At Large Members
(* indicates Excomm members elected in 2023)
Charmille Walters’s mission is to advance the healing powers of dance, music, and other rhythm integrated art forms. The founder of Rhythmic Rapture, an organization focusing on the healing arts, spiritual practices, and Multiple Intelligence Theory using cross-curriculum integration with the arts. Charm is committed to passing 25+ years of performing arts experience onto the next generation of creative thinkers and movers. Her production staff credits include local crew for celebrity music concerts, Broadway musicals, and live televised shows. Prior to Rhythmic Rapture, she produced educational and spiritual events with renowned local, national, and international artists and scholars as a Program Coordinator at Florida International University.
Don – a member of Alternate ROOTS since 1995 – is an author, arts educator, folklorist, music producer, performing artist, and college professor. He is Co-Founder of Orisirisi African Folklore – a performing arts company that shares the beauty and poignancy of African life and culture with the use of storytelling, drum, dance, and song. He is also Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of African Diasporic Arts and Education Inc. – a non-profit that provides African and African-centered transatlantic life and cultural education, with the use of performing and visual arts, research, publications, academic discourse, and presentations. Don also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Africana Studies at the University of Central Florida and Adjunct Professor of Humanities at Ringling College of Arts and Design. He is an Inter-Cultural Leadership Institute-Year Three Fellow and is currently working on the second edition of his treatises on Black music culture entitled The Evolution of Hip Hop: A Hip Hop Nation Story.
Corey Staten is the co-founder of Atumpan Edutainment, Inc. (AE) – a 501c3 nonprofit arts education organization. AE (1998-Present) is the premier performing arts ensemble of the Mid-Atlantic Region featuring world music, folklore, and dance. AE is also the parent organization for Blind Guy, His Wife, Their Life LIVE – a weekly talk show that broadcasts live each Wednesday to Friday at 11:15 a.m. ET on YouTube. Corey, a Summa Cum Laude graduate from Old Dominion University, has been commissioned as a presenter for numerous workshops, conferences, and master classes in addition to being immersed in collaborations with Alternate ROOTS. As a lead teaching artist, Corey specializes in African culture through original and traditional works to culminate in productions of varying degrees. As a playwright, Corey Staten has not had the benefit of sight since 1994. However, his writing skills and the talent of AE’s Dance Theater members, productions of the organization featured at university and museum events are as educationally impactful as their full stage-play productions. Corey has been commissioned to create works by the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, Tryon Palace History Museum (New Bern, NC), Portsmouth Museum Systems as well as the Bronze Kingdom art gallery in Orlando. Corey is one of the most popular educators of various international educational tour companies WorldStrides, Inc.; American History Tours, Academic Expeditions, and Apple Tours (2007-Present). Corey has edutained thousands of teachers and students traveling from across the country using the combination of standards of learning, reenactments, and interactive learning. Corey is the author of three publications, each of which have been purchased nationally and internationally in Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia and beyond. Learn more about Atumpan Edutainment by visiting www.AtumpanEdutainment.com.
Abigail Gómez is a Latinx visual artist, teaching artist, arts advocate, and the owner and artist at Pretty Girl Painting, LLC. She received an MFA in painting from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco CA. Abigail teaches art in the community through Pretty Girl Painting, Shenandoah Valley Discovery Museum, Fremont Street Nursery, and Arte Libre VA. She is also a Professor of Art and Design at Shenandoah University.
Abigail was appointed by Governor McAuliffe to serve as a Commissioner on the Virginia Commission for the Arts (VCA), representing the 10th Congressional District from 2016-2021. Abigail is the immediate past Chair of the VCA and past Chair of the VCA’s IDEA Committee. She continues to serve on the VCA’s IDEA Committee at the state level and nationally she serves as a board member for the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA), Co-Chair of NASAA’s People of Color Affinity Group, and is a committee member of the Arts Administrators of Color Network’s Cousin’s Regime. Locally, she also serves as a Director on the Sinclair Health Clinic Board. She received two Fellowships from NALAC in 2016 for the Advocacy Leadership Institute in Washington DC and the NALAC Leadership Institute in San Antonio TX. She has served as a panelist for state, regional, national, and international grantmaking organizations. She has also been a presenter and panelist at state and national arts conferences. Along with her fine art practice and organizational work, Abigail facilitates community mural projects and cultural tours in the US, the Dominican Republic, and in Cuba. Most recently Abigail founded Arte Libre VA, a nonprofit arts organization that empowers Latinx, Black, and Youth of Color through equitable access to quality arts education and programming.
Taylore – Reiki Master Teacher (she/her/they/them) (Reiki Tayy) is a natural-born healer specializing in the Art of Energy healing, also known as Reiki. Taylore began her journey as a motivational speaker focusing on depression, suicide, and workplace anxiety, while healing those parts of herself that she felt were misunderstood. She found the connection to her superpowers after learning more about energy healing and has shared that gift among her peers. She started Far Beyond Reiki by Taylore in 2019, located in Hampton Roads, where she began to teach Reiki Healing while concentrating on enhancing the student’s natural power.
She is an advocate for self love, self healing, and ascension. Using her favorite quote, “Come the Heal On” to inspire people to be aware, to be okay with navigating life, and understanding that we hold so much power. That Love with no conditions can be our biggest healing medicine. She often spends her time volunteering at special/community events with her students spreading love, positivity, and the enhancement of their healing skills. Taylore is also currently a member of the Heal Team with Alternate ROOTS. Healing through Dance, Love, Touch, and Energy.
ShaLeigh Comerford (she/her) is a neurodivergent Irish & Native American choreographer, performer, educator, advocate, and the Executive Artistic Director of ShaLeigh Dance Works (SDW), a nonprofit dance-theater company dedicated to inspiring people of all abilities, social backgrounds, cultures, and generations with the transformative power of dance. Her work is driven by a desire to uplift powerful stories and voices that address the human condition in relation to inequalities and forces of erasure. Her work stresses our instinctive human need to connect and focuses on the intersectionality of disability, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and physicality. ShaLeigh’s engagement practices are an integral part of her work and include partnerships with organizations that provide advocacy, opportunities, and access to the arts for all people. Each year, SDW creates programming at the intersection of art, culture, and social change to enrich our communities. With a focus on artistic excellence, nurturing artists, and designing programs to empower those impacted by marginalization, SDW aims to provide a concrete example of how dance can transform people’s lives and enrich society. ShaLeigh is also founder and practitioner of ShaGa Movement, a living movement practice based on the unity of energy-consciousness and its relationship to health and disease. Her choreography and commissions have been presented throughout the United States and abroad. She is a recipient of the 2018 Ella Pratt Fountain Artist Award and the 2013 Institute of Contemporary Art and International Cultural Exchange Award. She currently serves as Adjunct Professor of dance at Elon University and Washington & Lee University. She is a member of the statewide North Carolina Arts Accessibility Learning Cohort as well as the UpROOTing Ableism workgroup for Alternate ROOTS.
Image description: A black and white photo of ShaLeigh, a white presenting woman with blonde hair. She is gazing into the camera with a slight smile and hands folded over her knees. Photo by Amalfi Photography.
Sara Green is a New Orleans-born, raised and returned performance artist, healer, and organizer. She imagines liberation and beloved community as communities that have the ability to eat good food together, experience pleasure in our bodies, and regularly put their hands in soil – all the while free from fear and violence. She understands herself as part of a legacy of cultural workers, maroons, southern queer freedom fighters and artists trying to shape god.