Web & Knowledge Manager
Since moving to Seattle in 2000 to pursue opportunities in digital publishing, Steve has served as Web and Print Publications Editor for Earshot Jazz, a non-profit arts presenter, and as a Premedia Coordinator for R.R. Donnelley. Steve has a B.A. in Music Performance from Wichita State University and performs regularly in a jazz trio around Seattle. He also operates a letterpress studio using century-old equipment he brought with him from Kansas.
Yessica comes to GIA from Morris Heights Health Center (MHHC) — an affordable and accessible healthcare service provider for the local community, Bronx and beyond — where she worked in development, marketing, and planning for six years under the chief planning and development officer. She has extensive experience in event planning and fundraising and was responsible for producing the MHHC Foundation’s annual gala. Prior to her work at MHHC, she held positions at the City Parks Foundation and Ballet Hispánico’s School of Dance. A Bronx native, her desire to help her community led her to the nonprofit sector. Yessica hopes to someday start her own arts and wellness center in the Bronx.
Communications & Publications Manager
Carmen Graciela Díaz is a Puerto Rican journalist with more than a decade in writing and publishing. Carmen holds two master’s degrees, one from Columbia Journalism School in Arts and Culture reporting and the other from Universidad del Sagrado Corazón in Cultural Studies. She wrote her first book on the history of groundbreaking Puerto Rican publication, Avance. She has worked with Univision News Digital, El Nuevo Día and Primera Hora writing on arts journalism, lifestyle, entertainment, education and Hispanic issues. Over the years, Carmen has profiled several significant figures including Marina Abramovic, John Malkovich, Junot Díaz, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Oliver Stone, and Jane Goodall. Until recently she was an adjunct lecturer teaching journalism at Lehman College. She currently teaches the Craft of Journalism class in Spanish at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. Her thesis on the life of Puerto Rico’s first openly gay writer, Manuel Ramos Otero, was published in Centro, Hunter College’s Puerto Rican Studies journal, Centro, in 2018. Her most recent English piece, published in Medium, is a reflection on translation and identity.
Vice President & Director of Programs
Nadia Elokdah is an urbanist and design strategist with more than a decade working at the intersection of public systems and cultural practice. Most recently she served as special projects manager with the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs coordinating the City’s monuments commission. Prior, she served as coordinator in the development of the City’s first cultural plan, CreateNYC, in which she coordinated and led hundreds of engagements with a broad cross-section of the public, as well collaborating in the writing and production of the plan. She is devoted to civic engagement through culturally responsible, inclusive, and equitable design practice, exemplified in collaborations with the International Design Clinic, in.site collaborative, and Monuments Lab. Nadia is a trained architect and designer, researcher, professor, and published author. She holds a Master of Arts in Theories of Urban Practice from Parsons School of Design and a BArch in Architecture from Temple University.
Senior Development Manager
Sylvia Jung was most recently manager of individual giving at Ballet Hispánico, where she strategized donor stewardship and communications, and led the organization’s database conversion and adoption of their first integrated online fundraising and marketing platforms. Previously, she served in development roles at Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, Neighborhood Coalition for Shelter, and The New York Foundling. Sylvia is a longtime crisis hotline volunteer with the New York City Anti-Violence Project, and is proudly 100% a product of New York City public education.
Director of Operations & Finance
Champ Knecht has been working in non-profit finance for two decades, most recently as Deputy Director for Administration at The Drawing Center. Prior to that, he was at MoMA PS1, and in Pittsburgh PA at the Carnegie Museum of Art. Early in his career, Champ worked at New York Foundation for the Arts in its artist sponsorship program, and it was there that he realized arts management was to be his chosen career path. At The Drawing Center, he guided the institution through a major renovation and capital campaign. While he was Deputy Director, The Drawing Center became one of the first non-profits to successfully close out a major grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. Champ is active on the Human Rights Campaign’s national Board of Governors, and is the Greater NY Steering Committee Co-Chair.
Sherylynn Sealy is a strategist, yoga instructor, performing artist, and educator with a varied background. Prior to her program manager role with Grantmakers in the Arts, Sherylynn was a Philanthropy Fellow with the New York Community Trust where she engaged with arts and culture funders and organizations across New York City. She previously served as a consultant for the Mayor’s Office and Superintendent’s Office on their implementation of the City-wide Youth Stat Initiative in New Haven, CT. Managing over 200 student-cases, she served as the point of contact for schools and local partners. A Teach for America alumna, she received her MPA in Public and Nonprofit Management and Policy from New York University, and her BS in Education and Psychology from Northeastern University. She also served on the Dance/NYC Junior Committee. She is the Producing Artistic Director at Greater Glory Nazarene Ministries in Brooklyn, NY. She continues to explore her passion for performing arts, traveling, and spreading a message of hope.
President & CEO
Edwin Torres joined Grantmakers in the Arts as president & CEO in October 2017. Torres served on the GIA board of directors from 2011 through 2016. He most recently served as deputy commissioner of cultural affairs for New York City, where he worked on elements of the city’s long-term sustainability plan, a study of and efforts to support the diversity of the city’s cultural organizations and the city’s first cultural plan. Prior to joining the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, he was a program officer with The Rockefeller Foundation, where he worked on the foundation’s support for arts and culture, jobs access, and resilience. He has also served in the dean’s office at Parsons the New School for Design, on the arts and culture team at The Ford Foundation as well as on the staff of the Bronx Council on the Arts. He holds a Master of Arts in Art History from Hunter College and a Master of Science in Management from The New School.