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Segerstrom Center For The Arts Names Dr. Natalie Graham VP Community Engagement

She will be a key member of the Center's senior leadership and will lead a team that includes 3 full-time employees and 15 Studio D faculty members. 

Segerstrom Center For The Arts Names Dr. Natalie Graham VP Community Engagement

Segerstrom Center for the Arts has announced Dr. Natalie Graham has been appointed as Vice President of Community Engagement for the Center, effective January 31, 2022.

In her new role, Dr. Graham will advance the vision and reach of Community Engagement's current programs including the expansion of Studio D's inclusive arts curriculum; introducing new artistic and cultural programming at the Center, including Julianne and George Argyros Plaza and throughout Orange County; and strengthening community partnerships. She will be a key member of the Center's senior leadership and will lead a team that includes 3 full-time employees and 15 Studio D faculty members.

Dr. Graham comes to Segerstrom after an accomplished tenure as a faculty member in the Department of African American Studies at California State University, Fullerton where she served as chair of the department and co-founded the Institute of Black Intellectual Innovation. She worked with the Center's Community Engagement department as artistic curator and consultant for "Freedom in Full Bloom: A Juneteenth Celebration," the Center's first Juneteenth Celebration (June 2021). Her work on the project included curating a Friday evening outdoor performance with J.Mike and Friends as part of the Center's new Summer Sounds concert series, and a full day of activities on the Plaza on June 19, 2021 including African dance and drumming, poetry, and gardening activities. Additionally, through KayJo Creatives, the artistic event planning and management company she co-founded, Dr. Graham led art activities for the Rock, Paper, Scissors: 80s! event on the Plaza in October 2021. She is currently working with the Community Engagement team on a series of performances and discussion for Black History Month.

"I first met Natalie when she worked with the Center and our Community Engagement team to create the first ever Juneteenth celebration at the Center. I was blown away by her passion, intelligence and commitment to the work and our mission. She immediately created excitement and trust with our current fantastic staff and, specifically, community engagement team. She has incredible taste and an innate sense of how the Center can positively impact our home in Orange County. She will achieve this not only by expanding our reach but by using the arts to touch the hearts and create meaningful dialogue with those who are new as well as those already familiar with the Center. On top of all that, she is warm, kind and very funny. I look forward to working with her" shared Casey Reitz, President.

Dr. Graham's role at Segerstrom Center for the Arts will be pivotal in ensuring the Center implements new artistic initiatives and strengthens its relationships with local communities. As a leading cultural organization, the Center's active engagement in Orange County is essential to the continued relevance of its artistic and educational programs.

"I am thrilled to be joining such a dynamic team that is committed to engaging our rich and diverse communities" said Dr. Graham. "I look forward to amplifying voices that haven't been heard and creating new space for the songs yet to be sung. The arts allow us to be mesmerized and transported, but they also allow new ways of seeing and transforming the communities we live in. This is the beauty and power at the core of the arts. We inspire one another with our performances and create space for those around us to dream a bit deeper and wider."

Natalie J. Graham, a native of Gainesville, Florida, earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Florida and Ph.D. in American Studies at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Fellow. A widely published scholar of African American Studies, with research interests in race, identity performance, and music, she became a faculty member in the Department of African American Studies at California State University, Fullerton in 2013. During her tenure there, she served as chair of the department and co-founded the Institute of Black Intellectual Innovation. Natalie has coordinated art-centered community events, workshops, and readings for hundreds of participants. She is an award-winning author and performer who has toured nationally with her collection of poems, Begin with a Failed Body. Her poems and articles have been published in San Francisco Chronicle, PEN America: A Journal for Writers and Readers, Callaloo, Obsidian, New England Review, Southern Humanities Review, The Journal of Popular Culture, and Transition. In August 2021, Natalie was appointed Poet Laureate of Orange County.



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