Mi’Jan Celie Tho-BIaz
Mi’Jan Celie Tho-Biaz, Ed.D., is a Visiting Scholar with the Interdisciplinary Center for Innovative Theory and Empirics at Columbia University; inaugural leadership member with the Aspen Institute’s Franklin Project, as well as The Banff Centre’s New Fundamentals in the Creative Ecology; and the lead designer and co-facilitator for the public policy digital storytelling and documentation training with women organizers who labor for social change, at the Steinem Initiative at Smith College.
Additionally, Mi’Jan Celie serves on the Board of Directors with the Northern New Mexico Radio Foundation; the South by Southwest (SxSWedu) and American Association of University Women advisory board review panels; and in partnership with the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs, is the founder of the inaugural 2016 Community Artist Year.
In January 2016 I had the opportunity and honor to experience a WISC residency, followed by a March 2016 public program about my work. WISC’s director, Laurel Savino, was understanding and supportive of my request for a joint public program about women of color leadership in Northern New Mexico, hosted at the Santa Fe Community Foundation. The title was “The Care and Tending of Women of Color Leaders” and it was one of the most well attended, passionate public dialogues hosted at SFCF. As a direct result, I was asked by SFCF to conduct preliminary research into the issues and solutions that current and retired women of color leaders face in the various Northern New Mexico counties that the foundation supports. Based on the collection of voices heard and my analysis and recommendations, SFCF requested a full proposal from me, to assemble a new SFCF women of color advisory board, lead the vision and collaborative programmatic design, and launch this new initiative in 2017!!! Moreover, an additional Foundation has reached out directly to me about this work (Natalie, please keep this latest news under your hat, because it is not yet public) to inquire about potential collaboration on the women of color leadership initiative.
While I had the great fortune of receiving and engaging three (yes, 3!!) total residencies in 2017 through WISC and The Banff Centre in Canada, I must say that the unique value of my WISC residency and
fellowship was that it: supported and encouraged me to seed a value-rich idea (during the residency), begin organizing a community around it (through the public panel at SFCF), and watch it grow tangible roots with the potential for long-term positive impact in an entire region. That’s awesome and in my opinion, these strong outcomes demonstrate the power of two well organized, silent weeks free of parental and work responsibilities, coupled with financial support to subsidize some lost wage earnings. I am sure my experience is a bit unique for a variety of reasons, however I believe whole heartedly that the work WISC is engaged in supports the path of scholars, artists and business women, and unfortunately – as valuable as this support is – it is the exception and not the norm.
As a direct result of my WISC residency, I was asked to assemble a new advisory board, lead the vision and collaborative programmatic design, and launch a women of color leadership initiative for the Santa Fe Community Foundation… I believe whole heartedly that the work WISC is engaged in supports the path of scholars, artists and business women, and unfortunately – as valuable as this support is – it is the exception and not the norm.