We are lucky to have a diverse and multi-talented staff here at Asian Arts Initiative!
Gayle Isa is Executive Director of Asian Arts Initiative, a multi-disciplinary arts center in Philadelphia that engages artists, youth, and people of all ages and backgrounds to create and present art that addresses our social context and imagines and effects positive community change. In her work at Asian Arts Initiative she has led the creation of programs such as the Chinatown In/flux exhibition of site-specific installations responding to and shaping the constantly changing neighborhood; and the Artists Exchange which involves artist peer-led workshops and commissioning of new work in response to current social themes. She is currently focused on the development of a multi-tenant arts facility that serves as a hub for community arts and social practice positively contributing to growth in the Chinatown neighborhood.
Gayle has been an active participant in Philadelphia’s Asian American and arts and culture communities for nearly 20 years. She has been a National Finalist in the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World program and a Douglas Redd Fellow focused on arts and community development. She has served on the boards of the Philadelphia Cultural Fund, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, and the National Performance Network. She currently serves on the Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Asian American Affairs and the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, and is a board member of the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists. In 2011 she became the first Asian American appointed to serve on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.
Patricia (Pat) Ma started in July 2011 as Asian Arts Initiative's Associate Director, after having played a variety of roles in the organization including Interim Coordinator for the Youth Arts Workshop after-school program; Board Member and Chair; and starting as a Rap Series volunteer. Pat brings 19 years of experience in youth development research, evaluation, and program management. At the American Red Cross-Southeastern PA Chapter, she was the Director of Community Education and led the growth of the Red Cross Clubs after-school program to 18 Philadelphia public high schools. She also worked at Public/Private Ventures (P/PV) on projects to evaluate existing programs and develop new initiatives to inform policy and practice in youth development, mentoring, college acess, and employment. More recently she has worked on community college trustee education and coordinated technical assistance for a national middle-school initiative. Pat enjoys cooking, finding bargains, and traveling (and ideally simultaneously).
Wook Shim, Director of Finance and Operations joined Asian Arts
Initiative in March 2013 and contributes to the daily management and
operations of Asian Arts Initiative. Before moving to the US in 2010,
Jae had worked in the arts and culture industry in Korea for many
years. Jae had taken up managerial, programming, and research roles in
Temporary Space Seoul, Gwangju Biennale Foundation, and Korea Arts
Management Service. Before joining AAI, he has worked as a business
analyst and management consultant to Quetsol, a social enterprise
providing solar energy solutions to rural Guatemala, and Poverty
Resolutions, a charity organization based near Philadelphia with an aim
to eradicate poverty in Haiti.
Thompson, Development and
joined Asian Arts Initiative in June 2012. She grew up in a suburb
of Seattle and moved to Philadelphia to receive her MA in East Asian
Languages and Civilizations with a focus on Chinese contemporary art
from the University of Pennsylvania. Elizabeth was quickly taken by the
city and became involved with various local art organizations. She is
particularly interested in Asian American experience and how it
translates into works of art. Before joining our staff, Elizabeth
interned at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and was a
volunteer at Asian Arts Initiative. In her spare time, you can find
Elizabeth reading, crafting and teaching her dog new tricks.
Ellen Hwang, Youth Programs Manager, joined the Initiative in May 2011. She began by overseeing the Youth Arts Workshop summer program (YAW) and continues to be a part of Asian Arts Initiative as the Youth Arts Workshop Manager for the after-school programming at Southwark School. With her passion for community development, she is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Community and Regional Planning at Temple University. Everyone who knows her knows she loves to eat, but she also enjoys crafting, singing, playing her guitar, and watching movies.
Youth Programs Coordinator,
joined Asian Arts
Initiative in June 2012. After receiving a BA in Childhood Studies
from Rutgers University, she dedicated three years as an AmeriCorps
member for JumpStart and City Year Greater Philadelphia. Originally
from Camden, New Jersey, she is deeply passionate about working with
the urban community and youth and aspires to continue making a
positive impact through art and mentorship. In her free time, she
enjoys reading, attending Philadelphia sporting events, and playing
with her two dogs.
Melody Wong, Neighborhood Outreach and Rental Coordinator. She is a Stage Manager, and has been working in the Philadelphia Theater industry for the last decade. She has also been the Main Street Manager at Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation. She received both her BA in Theater/Asian Studies and MEd in Sports Administration from Temple University. She also serves on the Board of Nationalities Services Center. Outside of work, she enjoys swimming, lion dancing, lion dance, she is part of the Lady’s Suns Volleyball team, and currently she is learning American Sign Language.Katherine Shozawa, Exhibitions Coordinator, joined Asian Arts Initiative in September 2012 in a consultant capacity to develop and oversee AAI's visual arts programming. She is a Canadian interdisciplinary artist and curator based in Philadelphia whose practice integrates community-based investigation and performance. For over 15 years, she has committed her work to social histories of marginalized communities, beginning with a community of Japanese Canadian elders and survivors of internment during WWII. She participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art's Independent Study Program after completing her MFA in Art Practice at the University of California, Berkeley. Katherine loves green spaces and spending time with her family and friends.