Photo: Standing: Julie Gorena, Keshet Youth Leader; Leaning forward: Sonia Bologa, Keshet Dance Company member; Photo credit: Pat Berrett

With support from the New Mexico Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities, Keshet will bring together community voices for a roundtable conversation exploring the intersection of the arts within the juvenile justice ecosystem.  This virtual discussion will include humanities scholars, youth leaders, artists, and members of the juvenile justice community. 

“As we scan the current state of juvenile justice in this country through the lens of the growing national conversation that has been sparked – particularly in this last year – around systemic change, we will discuss the possibilities for change in the context of this current momentum and what role the arts might play in transforming juvenile justice systems in our state and country,” said Shira Greenberg, Keshet Founder & Artistic Director.  This robust roundtable will serve as an opportunity to investigate these inquires through a moderated conversation with invested individuals from different entry points to this work; as well as an opportunity for community members who might not otherwise be familiar with the juvenile justice ecosystem to gain new learning and understanding. Questions will be taken from the virtual audience.

“The New Mexico Humanities Council (NMHC) supports public programs in New Mexico communities which inspire inclusive conversations that strengthen our civil society and celebrate diverse human experiences. This Community Roundtable Conversation will offer people an opportunity to come together to reflect and talk about their perspectives and experiences around these timely and important issues,” said K. Michelle Quisenberry, NMHC Deputy Director.

When: Thursday, April 1st 4:00-5:30pm MST

Where: Virtually, via Zoom

Tickets: Free, but reservations required. Register at KeshetArts.org or directly here: https://74210.blackbaudhosting.com/74210/The-Intersection-of-Arts-and-Justice–a-panel-conversation

Voices at the virtual round-table include:

Dr. Manuel Montoya, University of New Mexico, Presidential Teaching Fellow; Associate Dean, Planetary Decisionmaking and Inclusion

Dr. Marissa Juarez, Central New Mexico Community College, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Judge Marie Ward, Presiding Judge, Children’s Court Division, Second Judicial District Court, Bernalillo County

Carmela Romero, Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative

Albino Garcia, Jr., Executive Director La Plazita Institute

sheri crider, Executive Director, Sanitary Tortilla Factory

Shira Greenberg, Artistic Director, Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts

Emani Brooks, Youth Leader, Keshet Arts and Justice Initiatives / Youth Council Co-Chair

Julie Gorena, Youth Leader, Keshet Arts and Justice Initiatives / Youth Council Co-Chair

Moderated by Elsa Menendez, Artist/Educator; Field Representative, Office of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich.

About New Mexico Humanities Council: Since 1972, the New Mexico Humanities Council (NMHC) has sought to engage New Mexicans with history, culture, and diverse humanities topics through Council-conducted public programs and grant funding for special projects. The humanities explore human interaction and reflect on the experiences and meanings of life through the study of languages, literature, history, archaeology, anthropology, philosophy, comparative religion, and interpret the arts and jurisprudence. By applying thought, reason and inquiry, we are able to understand and give meaning to our history and culture, connecting our past, present and future.

About Keshet: Established in 1996, Keshet’s mission is to inspire and unite community by fostering unlimited possibilities through dance, mentorship and a creative space for the arts.  Housed at the Keshet Center for the Arts in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the heart of the organization is Keshet Dance Company which feeds and is fed by three intersecting program areas: Education and Engagement (classes and performances for all ages and abilities); Ideas and Innovation Community (business resource center and residency-based makerspace for arts entrepreneurs); and Arts and Justice Initiatives (juvenile justice direct service, research/evaluation, policy/advocacy, and community connectivity).

Moderated by Elsa Menendez Artist/Educator; Field Representative, Office of U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich
Elsa serves as Field Representative on the staff of US Senator Martin Heinrich. Formerly the Director of Performing Arts at the National Hispanic Cultural Center, she has spent more than 35 years working in theatre around the world as writer, director, producer and performer. She has been co-facilitator of the Cultivating Women’s Leadership retreat through Bioneers, and a co-founder of the Women Leading Change initiative. A certified life coach, Elsa also served as an Artistic Director and Core Artist of Tricklock Company, and a member of the Sofia Center’s Wild Leadership facilitation team. Elsa is a facilitator and teacher of various local, national, and international workshops, symposiums, and retreats. Her mission is love and her passion is to connect and co-create in intercultural environments with diverse groups of collaborators. Elsa utilizes the wisdom of play, creativity, and the physical body to support leaders of all ages toward personal, community, and social transformation and systemic changes that celebrate all forms of diversity and equitably lift and value all living things.

Roundtable Voices

Emani Brooks, Youth Leader, Keshet Arts & Justice Initiatives, Youth Council Co-Chair
I am a Keshet Youth Leader and Co-Chair to Keshet’s Arts and Justice Initiatives Youth Leadership Council. Being biracial I have seen the setbacks within the system and how it affects the people in my community. I want to work towards correcting those wrongs and creating an open and positive environment for our youth and elders to grow in. By incorporating the arts into our system, we allow our youth to rehabilitate and express themselves in a healthy way that not only heals but inspires.

sheri crider, Executive Director, Sanitary Tortilla Factory www.sanitarytortillafactory.org
sheri crider is a visual artist, community builder, and civil rights dreamer. After recovering from several years of drug-addicted homelessness, crider received an academic tuition waiver and a fine arts scholarship and attended the University of Arizona where she received a BFA in Ceramics and Queer Theory; she went on to earn her MFA in Sculpture from the University of New Mexico. Her work has been exhibited nationally with recent solo and two-person exhibitions at the University of New Mexico Art Museum, University of Arizona Art Museum, and Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe. Crider has been the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships including the inaugural cohort of Open Philanthropy’s Right of Return Fellowship which supports the creation of original artworks produced in partnership with advocates and organizers to further criminal justice reform efforts. She currently lives and works in Albuquerque, NM.

Albino Garcia Jr, Executive Director La Plazita Institute www.laplazitainstitute.org
Albino Garcia Jr. is the Founder of La Plazita Institute, a grass-roots community organization in Albuquerque, NM that engages young people and their families in a comprehensive, holistic approach to youth and community development. Garcia was born in Illinois and grew up near Chicago. As a youth, he struggled to relate to the cultural values and approaches of public schooling and institutions, but today he draws on a well of knowledge and experience as a streetwise young man to effectively work with youth. In 1979 at 17 years old, he served in the United States Military, as an alternative to incarceration. He served seven years, including in Korea, and received recognition for his service. Garcia possesses a remarkable range of program experience, including as a consultant, trainer, and program manager. In 1994, Garcia founded the New School of Watsonville, designed to give youth a second chance for education in an alternative setting more conducive to their needs. He has served as an educator, trainer, and community liaison for the Community Engagement Center at the University of New Mexico, and as a Deputy Director of Training at Youth Development Inc. in New Mexico. He also has several years of experience as the lead program coordinator at Barrios Unidos in Santa Cruz, CA, where he initiated school-based, community-based, and institution programming. In 1995, he was one of 50 people chosen for the prestigious Kellogg Fellowship, which awarded him $130,000 over three years to make a difference in addressing major social issues in the United States and beyond. As a Fellow, Garcia had the opportunity to travel extensively, meeting with notes thinkers, and leaders including President Jimmy Carter, Rigoberta Menchu Foundation in Guatemala City, Bishop, Samuel Ruiz, the Dalai Lama, Parker Palmer, and others. He visited and participated in forums around civic engagement, leadership, and global issues in Brazil, Turkey, Greece, Peru, Guatemala, Belize, South Africa, Mexico, and cities across the United States. As a committed member of his community, Garcia has participated in numerous networks and professional affiliations, including the Latino Network, Violence and Injury Prevention Project, Educational Leadership Institute, Community Action Network, and others. Apache and Chichimeca in origin, Garcia is recognized as an outstanding leader and spiritual activist in Albuquerque, NM. He was recently honored by the Rosebud Tribe. He speaks English and Spanish fluently and has conversational knowledge of Korean. He has been married for twenty-two years to Frances, is the father of three children, Ursula, Albino Jr., and Sylvia, and has two grand-children Mariah and Adriana.

Shira Greenberg, Artistic Director, Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts
Shira is the Founder and Artistic Director of Keshet, launching the organization in 1996 – utilizing the arts as a catalyst for change. She began teaching dance in NM’s juvenile prison system in 1997 and developed Keshet’s M3 Program (Movement + Mentorship = Metamorphosis), which includes a credited, movement-based curriculum taught in the on-site high school within the juvenile prison focusing on math, science, literacy, and conflict resolution skills in addition to maintaining student/mentor relationships throughout and beyond the parole and reintegration. In 2016, Keshet began the process of codifying and sharing the M3 Program nationally, piloting in five cities across the United States, and in 2020 expanded Keshet’s Arts and Justice Initiatives to include policy/advocacy, return-to-work opportunities, field research, and the development of a cohesive network of arts and justice partners throughout the state. She has created over 60 original dance works for stage and film, including “Nutcracker on the Rocks” [“Any unmoved spectators had to be dead” – Arthur Alpert, Prime Time Magazine]; “Ani Ma’amin” [one of the most moving and beautifully designed dances this viewer has experienced…totally absorbing” – Jennifer Noyer, Albuquerque Journal]; and “A beast an angel and a madwoman” [“Transformative” – Matti Straub-Fisher, KaosPilots, Bern, Switzerland]. She has been recognized by multiple organizations and awards including the Martin Luther King, Jr Multicultural Council’s Keep the Dream Alive Award for “creating an environment where the medium of dance is used to build cross-cultural and social bridges to every aspect of society” and the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities. She has been a guest speaker throughout the US, Europe and Israel, sharing Keshet’s integrated approach of the arts in the areas of social justice and economic development. In 2013 with a $1,000,000 investment from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Greenberg opened the Keshet Center for the Arts, a 30,000sf performing arts center in Midtown Albuquerque, and within it launched the Keshet Ideas and Innovation Community (KIIC), a business incubator & resource center for arts entrepreneurs, including choreographic residency programs.

Juliana Gorena, Youth Leader, Keshet Arts & Justice Initiatives, Youth Council Co-Chair
Juliana Gorena is a recent graduate of the Public Academy for Performing Arts and Keshet’s Pre- Professional Program (KP3) where she studied various art forms over the years. She is currently a student at the University of New Mexico, majoring in dance and minoring in sociology, hoping to pursue her work of social justice through art. In addition to being a Youth Leader at Keshet, Juliana volunteers with the Democratic Party of New Mexico and is a member of the executive committee of Keshet’s Arts and Justice Initiative Youth Council, which aims to fight against the injustices young minorities are faced with.

Dr. Marissa Juárez, Central New Mexico Community College, College of Humanities and Social Sciences Marissa Juárez teaches English and honors courses at Central New Mexico Community College, where she has the pleasure of working with students from her home state and participating in college-wide efforts to improve equity and inclusion in higher education. She holds BA and MA degrees from the University of New Mexico and a PhD in rhetoric and writing studies from the University of Arizona. In her research, she explores the intersection of rhetoric and performance studies. More specifically, she uses capoeira as a case study to understand bodily and embodied rhetorical performance and she endeavors to locate the social justice implications of this art form.
Marissa has been playing capoeira as a member of the United Capoeira Association since 2003 and appreciates the connections she has formed with others through the art’s music, movements, and traditions. Marissa also serves as an Advisory Board member of the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival and as Secretary of the Santa Fe Film Institute’s Board of Directors.

Dr. Manuel Montoya, University of New Mexico, Presidential Teaching Fellow; Associate Dean, Planetary Decisionmaking and Inclusion
Dr. Manuel (MJR) Montoya is an Associate Professor of Global Structures and International Management at the University of New Mexico’s Anderson School of Management. He was born and raised in Mora, New Mexico, and was UNM’s first Rhodes Scholar of color. His research interests mainly focus on a concept he refers to as “global legibility,” the process whereby humans conceptualize the planet and make it a meaningful part of their realities. He’s used this research to accompany organizations in understanding the connection between global issues and the markets within the global economy that shape those problems. Dr. Montoya also contributes to several community organizations. He is on the Board of Directors for Keshet Dance and Center for the Arts. An amateur watchmaker, poet, and short story writer, Dr. Montoya has been published in several prestigious literary magazines. He was inducted into the Anderson Hall of Fame in 2015, was named one of Albuquerque’s 40 under 40 in 2016, and was awarded UNM’s highest teaching honor, the Presidential Teaching Fellowship in 2020. Carmela Romero, Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Alternatives Initiative
Carmela Romero (M.A) is employed at the Bernalillo County Youth Services Center as the Alternative to Detention Program Manager for the Community Custody Program and the Interim Alternatives to Detention Administrator. Prior to her time with Bernalillo County, she was employed for 10 years with the Children, Youth and Families Department. Where she served part of that time as the Juvenile Community Corrections Program Manager Statewide. It was during that tenure she created the original edition of the Juvenile Community Corrections Program Manual for the State of New Mexico. Prior to her seventeen years of service with the State and County, she was an intern over the span of her collegiate years in New Mexico for various organizations such as Healthcare for the Homeless, The Center for Family and Community Partnerships at the University of New Mexico, Highland Human Services Collaborative and the Albuquerque Boy’s Reintegration Center. Ms. Romero was instrumental in creating The Girls Are Great Group, a female gang prevention and intervention group within the Albuquerque Public School District. Ms. Romero holds a Master’s Degree in Family Studies from the University of New Mexico. Ms. Romero participates in the Bernalillo County Continuum Board and was previously elected three times as a Board Member for the New Mexico Criminal Justice Association Board for the State of New Mexico as a Juvenile representative.

Hon. Marie Ward, Presiding Judge, Children’s Court Division, Second Judicial District Court, Bernalillo County
Judge Marie Ward was appointed to the District Court in March 2014. She joined the Court in 2004, serving the Second Judicial District Court as a Family Court Hearing Officer and Trial Court Staff Attorney. Judge Ward presides over the Juvenile Drug Court, a national model site, which is part of the National Learning Collaborative of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Judge Ward was the founder and director of the Court’s Peter H. Johnstone Pro Bono Program, which provides low income families with free settlement facilitation in Family Law matters. Judge Ward serves on a variety of committees focused on improving outcomes of youth and families involved in Juvenile Justice and Abuse and Neglect systems. Judge Ward graduated from UNM School of Law, magna cum laude, in 1998 and worked in private practice and as a Special Assistant Attorney General before joining the Court.

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