The ABC staff’s experience traverses the spectrum of fields in the arts, humanities, and sciences.
Kat Bloomfield, MS
Kat (they/them/she/her) is a nonprofit executive and fundraising professional who has inspired nearly $12 million in charitable giving over 10 years. As an avid arts and STEM advocate, she feels a strong connection to the principles of social entrepreneurship, particularly centered around arts-integrated racial and economic justice. She is a graduate of Wellesley College with a dual Bachelors in Media Arts and Sciences and Printmaking and earned a Masters in Nonprofit Management at Northeastern University. Kat has worked with Tribeca Film Institute, New York Hall of Science, the JCC in Manhattan, New York Council on Nonprofits, Red Hook Initiative, the Ron Brown Scholar (RBS) Fund, and Contemporary & TRANSART. She also serves on the Company Stefanie Batten Bland and RBS Program Advisory Boards, and has served as a Director and Secretary of the Board at the Bloomingdale School of Music from 2016-2019.
Gail Drakes, M.Phil, M.A.
Gail Drakes (she/her/hers) enjoys remaking and reimagining systems in service of justice and freedom — and building community among those who feel the same.
She is a proud graduate — and former trustee — of Oberlin College (Black Studies/Women’s Studies) and holds a M.A. from University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (History) and a M.Phil from New York University (American Studies). Her scholarly research has focused on the histories of people of color in the U.S. and on the cultural implications of intellectual property law.
Her career has unfolded at the crossroads of social justice philanthropy, nonprofit/higher education administration, and university-level teaching and research. In addition to serving as the Program Officer for the OUT Fund for Queer Liberation (funding queer, POC-led multi-issue grassroots organizing nationwide), she has brought her deep commitment to social justice to positions at NYU, The New School, Columbia, and the Ford Foundation.
She is currently living — and freedom dreaming — in Brooklyn, New York.
Carolyn Renée Pautz, PhD
Carolyn (she/her/hers) is a nationally respected scholar and ethnographer. Carolyn holds a Doctorate of Philosophy in Dance Studies from Temple University and a Master of Arts from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She is a frequent guest lecturer and dance teaching artist at Webster University. She is a member of the Latin American, Latino and Caribbean Studies working group and the recipient of the Edrie Ferdun Scholarly Achievement Award. Carolyn’s past research includes issues of capital flow into and out of subaltern communities; African-derived religions and arts technologies in American civil discourse and public health policy, Caribbeanist modern and postmodern discourse, and much more. Organizations that have benefited from her research include: The Interfaith Center of Philadelphia, KYL-D, and Little Haiti BK. Her Scholarship has been published in the International Journal for Cultural Property, The Journal of Ecumenical Studies, and the Society for Dance History Scholars.
Véronëque Ignace, MPH
Véronëque (she/her/hers) is a cultural activist, public health researcher, community-based organizer, and performing artist. She uses ethnographic tools, performance work, research, and public health understandings of program planning and evaluation to facilitate growth, racial equity policies, and an orientation toward socio-political community development. Véronëque is dedicated to achieving her long term goal to seamlessly combine her passion for Haiti, people, and dance in such a way that allows for large-scale healing.With her movement, Véronëque hopes to complicate methods to social change and health equity, connecting spiritual balance and self-understanding to modes of recovery and restoration. She says, “My movement codifies a history and language which I have inherited. In Haiti, dance and music become the guardians of tradition.”In 2016, Véronëque founded Kriyol Dance! Collective, a collective of artist-leaders, to incite the unapologetic voices of Black arts through collaborative community organizing work and performance-based intervention.
Ami (ah-mee) Scherson (she/her/hers), is a Queens, NY based arts administrator, musician, and facilitator, working in project and program development as well as community engagement through a justice and equity lense. Prior to joining Arts Business Collaborative, Ami was the Equity in Arts Leadership Program Coordinator at Americans for the Arts, where she assisted in the development and implementation of programs to enhance the skills of emerging arts administrators underrepresented in arts leadership. She graduated from Ohio University's Honors Tutorial College with a B.A. in Music and a minor in Business.
Ami co-founded mixt collective (@mixt.collective) in 2020, an arts collaborative for mixed identifying individuals to celebrate, elevate, and create amongst mixed race communities, transracial adoptees, third culture kids, and other mixed identity groups. She is currently co-chair of the Dance/NYC Junior Committee 2021 cohort. In her freetime, Ami cares for herself by taking long walks in her neighborhood, cooking tasty meals, and caring for her 30+ plants.
Erika Pettersen, MA
Through research, development, and creative collaborations, Erika (she/her/hers) supports the visibility and survivability of BIPOC artists, cultural workers, and social entrepreneurs. She has over ten years of experience as a nonprofit professional working on community-centered, resident-led programs and initiatives at organizations such as ARTs East New York, Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, Haiti Cultural Exchange, and the Youth Design Center. Her diverse educational pursuits--including a B.A. in Philosophy from Amherst College, a certificate in Arts & Culture Strategy from the University of Pennsylvania, and post baccalaureate coursework in Studio Art & Art History at Brooklyn College--underpin this work. Most recently, she completed an M.A. in Latin American Studies from Tulane University. Her fieldwork and thesis research centered on the politics of representation, identity, and belonging in Oaxaca, Mexico, exploring tensions between cultural preservation and innovation through the lenses of critical race theory, post-structuralism, and Latina feminist frameworks. Alongside her academic work at Tulane, Erika served as President of the Latin Americanist Graduate Organization (LAGO) and spearheaded the first LAGO Symposium on Community-Engaged Scholarship.
Dianne Walsh (she/her/hers) is excited to be joining ABC as the new Administrative Assistant for the Rising Tides Research Institute team. Dianne previously lived in Edinburgh, Scotland, where she graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an undergraduate degree in Social Anthropology and an MSc in History of Art. Her academic studies involved conducting ethnographic research in Hong Kong and critical analysis of embodiment within dance-theater performance. She also worked with various dance/arts organizations across Edinburgh and in home-based direct service to convert theory and holistic thinking into practical and sustainable support. She believes in the arts and cultural practices as an active means of interrogation and assertion – and is committed to continuing this work to center the artistic lives, histories and survival of historically disenfranchised and marginalized communities.
Lydia Blankenship, MS
Lydia (she/her/hers) is a multicultural, world traveling artist (singer and painter) and scientist, passionate about holistic health in her community, and bringing about social change.
She is a proud graduate of Berea College, the first coeducational and racially integrated college in the South. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Exercise Science, she went on to earn her Master's degree in Exercise Physiology from Western Kentucky University. In higher education Lydia has worked in student affairs, administration, event coordination, and strategic planning. She has also worked as a fitness trainer and coach.
Lydia is dedicated to the promotion and education of the full spectrum of individual health: mind, body, and spirit, believing that each should be recognized and cared for. She is a passionate advocate for the wellness of young people, especially those in displaced and overlooked communities.