E. Harlem’s CCCADI Appointments Manuela Arciniegas As New Board Member

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) is pleased to announce the appointment of Manuela Arciniegas, to its Board of Directors. Ms. Arciniegas is currently the Director of The Andrus Family Fund, (AFF) after serving as interim director since January 2019.

“I am proud to welcome Manuela Arciniegas as a member of the Center’s board, having witnessed firsthand her excellent work as our one-time Director of Education,” said Melody Capote, CCCADI Executive Director. “It has been inspiring to watch her expand her influence in the nonprofit arts field, while holding fast to her values, spiritual devotion, and dedication to serving African Diaspora descendant communities. We are sure that the Center will benefit greatly from her expertise as an artist, educator and accomplished arts administrator.”

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Since 2014, Ms. Arciniegas has served the Andrus Family Fund in a variety of capacities. Prior to her role as director and interim director, she was the Fund’s program officer, launching the capacity-building initiative S.O.A.R. (Strengthening Organizations, Amplifying Resilience) and co-managing a $4 million national portfolio of more than 50 grantee partners. She was also one of the key organizers of Education Anew: Shifting Justice 2018, AFF’s co-hosted biennial convening that brings together education and youth justice organizers, advocates and funders.

“Since CCCADI was founded, it has served as a place of learning, affirmation, and investment in Black and Afro-descendant communities. During a time where African-descendants’ lives continue to blossom in the face of disinvestment and structural and political attack, CCCADI stands tall and proud as a safe haven, a place to call home, a place of nurturing and learning grounded in our ancestral wisdom, reinforced by forward thinking creativity endemic to African Diaspora communities….

“I am deeply humbled and overjoyed to join the CCCADI board,” said Manuela Arciniegas. She went on to say, “Since CCCADI was founded, it has served as a place of learning, affirmation, and investment in Black and Afro-descendant communities. During a time where African-descendants’ lives continue to blossom in the face of disinvestment and structural and political attack, CCCADI stands tall and proud as a safe haven, a place to call home, a place of nurturing and learning grounded in our ancestral wisdom, reinforced by forward thinking creativity endemic to African Diaspora communities. Our culture and art screams to the world–we are still here, we will be here, and we will thrive! I look forward to bringing my diverse professional experience to fortify the bedrock of this vital home that is so important for our community.”

Ms. Arciniegas has a long and rich history with the Center, beginning as an assistant and later in 2005 becoming the Director of Education a position she held until July 2009. All the while she continued as a performing artist working with noted groups such as Alma Moyo, Legacy Women and others.

In her role as the Center’s Director of Education, she fulfilled her passion for utilizing Afro-Caribbean music as a tool for resistance, by developing programs for public access television, developing a youth and community internship and volunteer programs and supervising more than 100 teaching artists to deliver arts education instruction in New York City’s public schools and community organizations. Her education and leadership work continued as she served as an adjunct professor at John Jay College for Criminal Justice.

In 2006, while at the working at CCCADI, she was the recipient of a Social Justice Fellowship from the NYU Wagner School of Public Leadership, funded by Open Society Foundations, which enabled her to launch a program bridging Social Justice and African Diaspora Cultural Arts entitled, The Legacy Circle. She is a recipient of artist awards from the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture and the New York Foundation for the Arts for her work as a cultural arts organizer/artist with Legacy Women and various other projects.


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In 2013, during her tenure as a community outreach fellow for the Lincoln Center, she recruited and maintained partnerships with 12 large New York City-based nonprofits serving African-American and Latinx constituents, helping advance racial equity within the larger Lincoln Center campus. Immediately following the fellowship at Lincoln Center, she was selected as a New York Council on the Humanities Fellow for her activist programs addressing racism within Dominican communities.

Ms. Arciniegas is a priestess of the Youruba Orisha tradition, and also an Ntika Yayi in the Afro-Cuban Kongo tradition of Palo Mayombe. This is of particular importance as it relates to the Center’s long time work in the area of Spirituality as manifested through African Traditional Practices. Her involvement in both traditions celebrates the diversity of Afro-Diaspora traditions and interrupts the dominance of any one spiritual belief system.

Ms. Arciniegas is a priestess of the Youruba Orisha tradition, and also an Ntika Yayi in the Afro-Cuban Kongo tradition of Palo Mayombe. This is of particular importance as it relates to the Center’s long time work in the area of Spirituality as manifested through African Traditional Practices. Her involvement in both traditions celebrates the diversity of Afro-Diaspora traditions and interrupts the dominance of any one spiritual belief system.

Manuela Arciniegas graduated Cum Laude with a BA in Government from Harvard University in 2001, and she is currently in the research and writing phase of her dissertation at the CUNY Graduate Center in the Ethnomusicology program. Her dissertation will focus on Afro-Cuban Palo Music and culture in New York City and the construction of power.

The Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute is an arts, culture, education, and media nonprofit organization that advances cultural equity, racial and social justice for African descendant communities.

For additional information please visit: https://www.cccadi.org

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