Mind-Builders Announces Harlem’s Shirley Taylor As New Executive Director 

April 5, 2023

Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center is thrilled to announce Shirley C. Taylor as our new executive director.

She brings over 35 years of experience in arts education and youth development in New York City, most recently as Senior Director of Education at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. Taylor will succeed Madaha Kinsey-Lamb who founded Mind-Builders in 1978.

Please join us in welcoming Shirley C. Taylor. 

In accepting the position, Shirley wrote Mind-Builders is a New York treasure. It is one of the best examples of how providing space that prioritizes arts learning and creativity can change and empower communities.  I am honored to join the Mind-Builders team and humbled to have been selected to carry forward the extraordinary work that began as a spark in Madaha’s heart over four decades ago.

She assumes the role full-time starting June 12, 2023. 

Born and raised in New York City, Shirley C. Taylor started her professional journey as an arts administrator at the New York Foundation for the Arts and has since built a career leading a variety of arts and cultural education programs throughout New York City: Associate Director for Visual Arts Programs at ArtsConnection, Inc.; Director of Arts Programs at University Settlement Society; Deputy Director of Programs, Education for the Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning; Director of Education and Public Programs at the Noguchi Museum. Shirley has provided consulting services for a number of education and cultural organizations including the Partnership for After School Education, Artmakers, Inc., Center for Bronx Nonprofits, and Yaffa Cultural Arts.

While at ArtsConnection, Shirley established the Student Arts Program, a competitive exhibition series that awarded scholarships and art supplies to over 200 New York City middle and high school students during her tenure.

In 2006, Shirley helped establish the Apollo Theater’s Education department in Harlem, which provides arts-in-education, media, and humanities programming. She created professional and career development programs for teens and young adults including Apollo’s internship and Saturday workshops which provide high school students with hands-on career exposure in arts and entertainment administration and technical stage production. She also created School Day Live, a live performance series for young audiences, the Oral History Project which engages students in recording the stories of those in their communities, and digital and distance learning programs that have expanded Apollo’s reach to school and out-of-school time audiences. As creator and lead curator of Apollo Live Wire, she has provided public programming centering the performing arts for a variety of audiences. 

She is a recipient of the New York City School Art League Charles Robertson Memorial Award and the National Association of Negro Business & Professional Women’s Club, Inc. Professional Award; has served as a member of the New York City Department of Education’s Advisory Board for Arts Education and on the Board of Directors for One World Arts. She is presently on the Board of Directors of Willie Mae Rock Camp, a nonprofit organization providing music education to girls and gender-expansive youth, and Assistant Adjunct Professor, Africana Studies, at Barnard College.

A visual artist, she holds an M.F.A. in painting from the City University of New York and certifications from the Columbia Business School Institute in Harlem for Not-for-Profit Management, the Institute for Research in African American Studies (IRAAS), and the American Express Leadership Academy.

Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center

Established in 1978, Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center is a pioneering nonprofit founded by educator and scholar Madaha Kinsey-Lamb to bring arts instruction and education to the Northeast Bronx, inspiring the growth of generations of local youth and families through high-quality arts programming. Mind-Builders brings together best practices in arts education and youth development that has young people, families and the community recognize their power, beauty and ability to accomplish anything. In addition to becoming dynamic professionals in a variety of careers, many program alumni have gone on to become well-known performers on the stage, screen, and in national and international tours including Alimi Ballard, Gilbert Glenn Brown, Ayodele Casel, Charles Malik Whitfield, and Victoria Gabrielle Platt, among others.  

Photo credit: Shirley Taylor, Anthony Artis for Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center.

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