National Sawdust Welcomes 7 New Board Members On Eve Of 10th Anniversary

On the eve of Its 10th Anniversary, the Brooklyn-based cultural institution grows in order to meet the evolving needs of 21st century artists.

By: Feb. 26, 2024
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National Sawdust has added seven new members to its Board of Directors:  finance, technology, and advertising professional Kathie Choi; lawyer, corporate executive, and writer Chinwe Esimai; attorney Peter Faber; communications professional Alexandra Fenwick-Moore; performing arts producer Charles Letourneau; machine learning research engineer Xiao Ma; and philanthropy professional and community activist Teresa Toro. They will help lead the institution, which celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2024-25, into its second decade of impact as “an incubator for up-and-coming performers and composers” (WNYC) and “the city's most vital new-music hall” (New York Times).

In this time of paradigm shifts in the performing arts, National Sawdust is growing to meet the moment. The Board expansion announced today follows a monumental accomplishment: National Sawdust's recent purchase of its $21 million venue in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. The acquisition gives the organization a more permanent place on the local, national, and international cultural landscape, and allows National Sawdust to direct even more resources toward today's most visionary artists, empowering them to experiment and make meaningful contributions to their field and to the world at large. Soon, the institution plans to announce a stellar 10th anniversary season that articulates its vision for the next decade—and beyond. 

Composer Paola Prestini, National Sawdust's Co-Founder and Artistic Director, said, “In our first ten years, we needed to prove that National Sawdust—a place where visionary artists collaborate and support one another, and where curious audiences can experience experimental new work—should exist. We have learned a great deal about what artists need in this precarious moment and in the future, and we are in a position to imagine and activate new ways to meet those needs. Kathie, Chinwe, Peter, Alexandra, Charles, Xiao, and Teresa bring diverse, indispensable expertise to the devising and doing of this crucial work. We are deeply grateful to them for getting behind our mission so wholeheartedly.”

National Sawdust Managing Director Ana De Archuleta said, “Empowering artists and contributing to New York City's vibrant performing arts ecosystem is an exciting opportunity and a joyful responsibility. As we embrace the complexities of today's world, we recognize the immense creativity and adaptability of artists and arts organizations. Together, we're navigating a landscape rich with new technologies and opportunities for connection and expression. Welcoming seven new board members, each bringing a treasure trove of knowledge and expertise, we are thrilled to enhance our support for artists, helping them thrive and make an indelible impact on our community.”

About the New Board Members

Kathie Choi  has played pivotal roles across finance, technology, and advertising. She has sold and traded cross-asset derivatives for ultra-high-net-worth clients. Transitioning to the tech sector, she spearheaded innovation, leading teams to implement cutting-edge solutions in advertising and payments. At The Trade Desk, an advertising technology company, she ran digital media campaigns for some of the world's largest brands and agencies. At Stripe, she currently leads a team of Technical Account Managers, providing hands-on assistance to the company's largest clients seeking seamless integration of easy payment solutions for their businesses. She is also the global head of the East South East Asian employee resource group of 500 people at Stripe, overseeing dozens of events across the globe each year. Beyond her professional endeavors, she paints at the New York Academy of Art, is a member of the New York Mineralogical Club, and is a keyboardist and singer in the alternative indie rock band Apricity.

Chinwe Esimai is an award-winning lawyer, trailblazing corporate executive, writer, and speaker who helps women leaders discover and embrace their genius and live lives of impact and fulfillment. She served as managing director and chief compliance officer for Legacy Franchises, as well as chief anti-bribery officer at Citigroup, Inc. She spent five years at Goldman Sachs in various regulatory risk-management roles, and also served as a law professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Esimai is an executive council member of the Ellevate Network. She is the host of the Brilliance Beyond Borders podcast, and her leadership insights have been featured in publications including Forbes, Thrive Global, Black Enterprise, Medium, and Knowledge@Wharton. She has delivered keynotes to prestigious audiences and has spoken three times at the United Nations. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in political science, summa cum laude, from The City College of New York and a juris doctor from Harvard Law School. She lives in Sparta, New Jersey, with her husband and three children. She loves to travel, dance, and exercise, and can often be seen donning a hat and a smile.

Peter Faber retired on December 31, 2018, from the international law firm of McDermott Will & Emery, LLP, where he had been a partner there since 1995. He was previously a partner at the New York City law firms of Kaye Scholer and Winthrop Stimson Putnam & Roberts and at the Rochester, NY law firm of Harter Secrest & Emery. He has chaired the tax law sections of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association, and has testified before Congress and served as an advisor to the US Senate Finance Committee and the New York State and City Tax Departments and Tax Appeals Tribunals. He has published over 100 articles on tax issues and has lectured at tax conferences around the country. An amateur recorder player, Faber has served as President of the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and helped found the Rochester Chamber Music Society, for which he was pro bono legal counsel. He is on the Boards of the Boston Early Music Festival, the Gotham Early Music Scene, the Handel House Foundation of America, and the American Recorder Society. He is also a Board member and pro bono legal counsel of S'Cool Sounds, Inc., an organization that provides musical education in inner city schools in New York City and in communities in Africa and the Middle East.

Alexandra Fenwick-Moore is a NYC-based communications professional who currently serves as the Head of Local Public Affairs for Corporate Responsibility at JPMorgan Chase. In this role, she leads a team that builds and implements communications and marketing campaigns that tell the firm's local story of impact. Prior to JPMorgan Chase, Fenwick-Moore spent 10+ years working with nonprofit organizations, helping them tell their stories through earned, owned and paid media. She is a proud Penn State graduate and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. In her spare time, she enjoys art, traveling, and spending time with family.

For over 25 years, Charles Letourneau has produced several wildly successful performing arts projects. Now the former Senior Vice President of IMG Artists, he is redefining the creative and commercial possibilities of how performance and lifestyle festivals can—and should—be planned, executed, and monetized. With an international and multilingual toolkit that includes feasibility studies, financial planning, technical operations, programming, fundraising, marketing, strategic partnerships, artist relations, educational programs, and an in-depth knowledge of classical music, Letourneau's events—including Tokyo's Mostly Mozart Festival, Itzhak Perlman's Return to Russia concerts, Thomas Hampson's Song of America tour, Italy's Tuscan Sun Festival, Florida's Festival of the Arts Boca, and The Violin Channel Vanguard Concerts—continue to move the needle on a global level. The renowned Festival Napa Valley, which Letourneau co-founded in 2006, remains the artistic and commercial blueprint for regional event organizers and investors worldwide.

Xiao Ma has been a Machine Learning research engineer at Google since 2019. She has a background in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and currently works on Large Language Model (LLM) safety and human-ML collaboration. Xiao's prior research focuses on understanding how AI increasingly mediates social exchange and its societal impact on trust. She worked at Facebook Core Data Science (2018) on trust in social groups and Airbnb (2016) on trust in host profiles. Xiao holds a PhD in Information Science from Cornell (NYC campus) on Networked Trust: Computational Understanding of Interpersonal Trust Online. She was advised by Mor Naaman, Karen Levy, Serge Belongie, and Jeff Hancock. Before coming to the U.S., she completed her bachelor's in Electronics Engineering at Peking University (2010-2014) in Beijing.

Teresa Toro is a program manager for The Eric and Barbara Carle Foundation and a community activist with over two decades of nonprofit and public service experience. She has partnered with groups such as El Puente, Neighbors Against Garbage, Riders Alliance, and Riverkeeper on numerous environmental and social justice campaigns. Toro previously served as a board member for the Cypress Hills Local Development Corp., Brooklyn Community Board No. 1, and Epiphany, an independent literary magazine; she currently serves on the Board of Trustees at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA. Toro is also a songwriter and often appears with The Bushwick Book Club, which delivers literary-inspired live performances. She holds a Bachelor's degree from New York University's Gallatin School for Individualized Study. A Brooklyn native, Toro lives in Greenpoint with her husband, Rolf Carle, and their cat Solo.

About National Sawdust

National Sawdust is a dynamic non-profit cultural institution that commissions, produces, and presents programming rooted in sound and supports multidisciplinary artists and arts organizations in the creation of innovative new work. Founded in 2015, National Sawdust operates out of an intimate space, equipped with a state-of-the-art Meyer spatial sound system, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where it is one of the few remaining cultural venues. The New York Times has described National Sawdust as “a triumphantly successful performance space that stands for a hip, sophisticated brand of new music.” Composer Paola Prestini, who co-founded National Sawdust, serves as its artistic director, alongside managing director Ana De Archuleta, making National Sawdust one of the few New York cultural institutions led by women.

National Sawdust provides artists across musical genres and artistic disciplines with comprehensive support including commissions, workshops, residencies, public performances, recording, mentorship, and professional development. It aims to be not only a home for its community of artists, but also a place for audiences to discover wide-ranging music at accessible ticket prices. The institution's mentorship initiatives counteract industry barriers and the historic marginalization of diverse communities in the arts, providing artists and arts workers with guidance, resources, and relationships with established visionaries to accelerate their careers.

Founded by Kevin Dolan and designed by Brooklyn's Bureau V, National Sawdust is constructed within the existing shell of a century-old sawdust factory, preserving the authenticity of Williamsburg's industrial past while providing a refined and intimate setting for the exploration of new music. At the venue's core is a flexible chamber hall, acoustically designed by renowned engineering firm Arup to provide the highest-quality experience of both unamplified and amplified music.