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Adriane Jefferson Honored with 2022 American Express Emerging Leader Award

Americans for the Arts presents our Annual Leadership Awards as part of the 2022 Annual Convention. These awards recognize the achievements of individuals and organizations committed to enriching their communities through the arts.

The 2022 American Express Emerging Leader Award is presented to Adriane Jefferson (she/her/hers). Jefferson is currently the Director of Cultural Affairs for the City of New Haven and the Executive Director of New Haven Festivals Inc., where she is leading the city on cultural equity and anti-racism initiatives. She is a thought leader, adviser, and educator pertaining to issues of justice, diversity, equity, access, and inclusion. She specializes in professional development programming for young creative professionals; programs that amplify Black, Indigenous, people of color; and social change initiatives. She has dedicated her career to fostering a more equitable, vibrant, and sustainable arts landscape. 

With 17 years of experience as an arts administrator and cultural equity leader, Adriane and her department have created the Arts for Anti-racism Pledge, The Unapologetically Radical Conference, and the City of New Haven’s and State of CT’s first ever Cultural Equity Plan. Adriane oversees the City’s membership in the Government Alliance of Race & Equity and has formed the Core Race Equity Task Force. The Task force plays an advisory and leadership role to the Mayor and Executive Leadership on internal and external race equity issues in the city of New Haven and practices equitable systems change. Adriane is also a member of the Closing Gaps Network, Living Cities Initiative, which provides ongoing leadership training on community organizing, anti-racism principles, equity assessments and capacity building. Adriane oversees the Civic space, which is a multipronged civic engagement platform where community members communicate directly with city officials on the changes they wish to see in their neighborhoods. 

Prior to her current role she served as an Arts Program Manager for the State of CT, Department of Economic and Community Development/Office of the Arts where she developed groundbreaking programs for the state of Connecticut such as The Arts Workforce Initiative Paid Employment Program and the READI (Relevance, Equity, Access, Diversity, and Inclusion) Music conference, which has placed hundreds of young creative workers of color in arts jobs and professional development opportunities across the state. 

The American Express Emerging Leader Award recognizes visionary leadership by an individual who is a new and/or young arts leader who demonstrates an ability to engage and impact their community.

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