National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures Appoints Interim Director & Deputy Director; Houston Center for Contemporary Craft Welcomes New Board Members

by Jessica Fuentes September 4, 2023

The National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC) recently announced staff shifts as it prepares for the forthcoming retirement of María López De León, its longtime President and CEO, and the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) has announced six new members have joined its Board of Directors.

A headshot of María López De León. She looks directly into the camera with a serious expression.

María López De León. Photo courtesy NALAC

In September 2022, Ms. López De León announced that she would be retiring from the San Antonio-based national service organization NALAC. While initially the announcement indicated that she would retire in the fall of 2022, she has remained with the organization now and prepares to depart at the end of this year. Last week, the organization announced the appointment of F. Javier Torres-Campos as NALAC’s Interim CEO and President and the promotion of Mari Hernandez to Deputy Director. 

In a press release Ms. López De León remarked, “I feel deeply honored to have served the Latinx arts and culture community alongside the NALAC board and staff. The creativity and impact being made throughout the field serve as the cornerstone of NALAC’s endeavors. The moment has come for me to gracefully exit, and I am excited about the organization’s forthcoming new era. With their wealth of experience, unwavering passion, and steadfast dedication, Javier and Mari are well-equipped to take our mission into the future.”

A black and white headshot of F. Javier Torres-Campos.

F. Javier Torres-Campos

Mr. Torres-Campos has over 12 years of experience working in philanthropic organizations. Most recently he served as the Director of Thriving Cultures at the Surdna Foundation. Previously he held the positions of Director of National Grantmaking at ArtPlace America (2014-2018), Senior Program Officer at The Boston Foundation (2011-2014), and Director of the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts (2005-2011). He is the co-founder of 2043 Ventures, also known as The BIPOC Storytelling Fund. The NALAC Board continues to work with the Arts Consulting Group as it searches for the organization’s next President and CEO.

A headshot of Mari Hernandez. She wears a black top and looks directly at the camera with a slight smile.

Mari Hernandez, Program Manager for Leadership Institutes & Convenings at the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures. Image: NALAC

Ms. Hernandez, who joined NALAC in 2022 as the Program Manager of Leadership Institutes and Convenings, has over 23 years of experience as an arts administrator. In her previous role she oversaw the planning and implementation of the organization’s professional development programs, the NALAC Leadership Institute and NALAC Advocacy Institute. She also facilitated NALAC’s participation in the Intercultural Leadership Institute, a year-long leadership program for artists and cultural workers organized by a collaborative group of organizations including Alternate ROOTS, First Peoples Fund, NALAC, PA’I Foundation, Sipp Culture, First Alaskans Institute, and The International Association of Blacks in Dance. According to the organization’s press release, in her new role Ms. Hernandez “will provide expanded leadership support, administration, and organizational development.”

A two by three grid of headshots of the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft's new board members.

Houston Center for Contemporary Craft 2023 New Board Members

Last month, the Houston Center for Contemporary Craft (HCCC) announced the addition of six new members to its Board of Directors, including Isabelle Asakura, Porshae’ Brown, Mona Elamin, Mariela Poleo, Priya Ramkisson, and Bob Schwartz. The new members join 12 returning Board members.

In a press release, Judy Nyquist, HCCC Board President, stated, “We are delighted to have this energetic group of enthusiasts join our board of directors. Each of these individuals brings their own unique experience and energy to the work of the Center and will help us reach our full potential in the years to come.”

Learn more about the new board members below, via descriptions provided by HCCC.

 Isabelle Asakura is an associate principal at Asakura Robinson Landscape Design with a multi-disciplinary practice, including planning and urban ecology. She brings a passion for craft and professional experience in interdisciplinary design, public engagement, and marketing to the organization, and is particularly interested in expanding the visibility of its Craft Garden. 

Houston realtor Porshae’ Brown develops genuine connections with her clients through transparency and open communication. With a degree in media strategies and wide-ranging experience in business, advertising, and hospitality, she looks forward to supporting fundraising, corporate outreach, and programming initiatives at HCCC.

Sudanese architectural designer Mona Elamin, who holds a masters in architecture from Rice University, works in Gensler’s Houston office and has served on HCCC’s DEAI Committee. With a global education and professional experience spanning Dubai and beyond, she brings an international perspective and a passion for local community engagement to HCCC. 

Mariela Poleo is an architect and international energy executive with experience in major capital projects, finance, and joint ventures. She currently leads Citgo Petroleum Corporation’s nonprofit foundation, Simon Bolivar Foundation, and brings a wealth of experience in finance, management, and nonprofit leadership.

As the founder and director of Imiloa Collective, Mauritian native Priya Ramkisson helps build and enrich the skillsets of creatives through social creative enterprise. She is excited to bring her experience in management, fundraising, and marketing, as well as enthusiasm for community empowerment, to the team at HCCC.

Retired energy executive and award-winning photographer Bob Schwartz is a past board member at HCCC. He rejoins the board this year to bring years of experience in strategic planning, management, entrepreneurship, and finance to the Center.

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