Tag Archives: Arts & Culture

Andrew Szymanski



With every great person, there’s a great story. Learn more about Andrew Szymanski and the Montgomery Dragonboat Races here! Andrew grew up in the small Northeastern town of Topsfield, Massachusetts. After high school, he moved south to Athens, GA to attend the University of Georgia, where he received a degree in Communications. Upon graduation, he decided to pursue his interest in nonprofits by serving in the AmeriCorps VISTA program, placing him in Montgomery, AL. Andrew served as program director for Bridge Builders Alabama, an organization that develops leadership skills and civic engagement practices in high school students. During his year of service, he quickly realized that the biggest impediment to nonprofits doing great work was access to funding and the development of strategic partnerships with local businesses and government entities.

Andrew’s introduction to dragon boating came early in 2010, through a conversation with non-profit acquaintances who had heard of an event in Chattanooga. It was new and exciting, and he determined it would be a unique fundraising tool for local Montgomery nonprofit agencies. The Montgomery Dragon Boat Festival was incorporated in 2010 and since then Andrew has served as its Executive Director. From its inaugural year, it has grown to be one of Montgomery’s largest events with an annual attendance of over 10,000 people and participation of 60-70 teams. Over the past 8 years he has overseen the distribution of over $250,000 in grant money to his organization’s beneficiaries.

In 2012 Andrew joined the Southeast Regional Dragon Boat Association as a state representative for Alabama. Two years later he was elected President and began to expand the reach of the sport in the Southern US. He also had the opportunity to serve on the United States Dragon Boat Federation Board of Directors for 3 years and in 2017 was elected President of the USDBF. The USDBF is the governing body for competitive dragon boating in the United States and in October of 2017 he took 240 Team USA athletes to the Dragon Boat World Championships in Kunming, China. The United States finished 3rd in the Nations Cup in 2017 and they are excited about bringing an even stronger team to the next World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand in 2019.

Andrew is the owner of two amazing dogs, Mr. Smudge and Miss Maple. He loves visiting his parent’s vacation home on Mount Desert Island off the Northern Coast of Maine and eating as much seafood he possibly can each fall. In 2017 Andrew bought his first home in the historic Cloverdale Idlewild neighborhood and looks forward too many more years in Alabama’s capital city.

To register for the Dragon Boat race, follow this link: https://montgomerydragonboat.org/


Dillon Nettles



This is a topic that is on everyone’s agenda, Education! Listen to the podcast to learn about Dillon Nettles and what he is doing for our children in the Montgomery Public School System.

Dillon Nettles is Montgomery-based organizer, Community Programs Director at the Montgomery Education Foundation, and Cofounder of Foreword South. He is a native of Daphne, Alabama and a 2015 graduate of Auburn University.

While studying at Auburn, Dillon’s passion for social change was sparked. His range of experiences working with national organizations such as Teach for America, Students for Education Reform, and the Clinton Foundation cultivated both his knowledge and his interest in fighting for education equity and reform. In 2015, he joined the Montgomery Education Foundation to lead the local nonprofit’s community engagement initiatives, including the We C.A.N. Network.

Earlier this year he cofounded and launched his media company, Foreword South, as a digital and physical storytelling platform highlighting the work of Southern visionaries, activists, designers, artists, and change-makers. Dillon is passionate about using his creative organizing and communication skills to build bold campaigns and programs focused on effectively leading coalitions toward expanding educational and economic opportunities for marginalized communities and he is proud to now call Montgomery home.


Kristina Turner and Michelle Leland of AAF-Montgomery



Kristina Turner and Michelle Leland of The American Advertising Federation -Montgomery chapter talk about the lunch and learn next week and why this organization is important not just for advertising but for businesses in the community.

AAF Montgomery serves as an advocate to better the business community as a whole, creating an environment that is thriving and fair. We connect you to the entire advertising community and provide you with great opportunities for networking, education, public service, and both local and national discounts. Our goal is to educate our members on the latest trends in advertising, marketing, and public relations with a variety of annual programs.

AAF provides many services, some of these are: professional development Lunch & Learns, networking opportunities, educational workshops, a chance to give back with public service, and the opportunity to compete in the American Advertising Awards, and more.


Kalonji Gilchrist of 21 Dreams Arts & Culture Collective



Learn about Kalonji and how he started this amazing collective. The Flight of Arts is this weekend! The four-day event will feature several workshops and exhibitions for visual, performing, literary, culinary and cultural arts. All events and activities will be hosted at different venues in and around downtown Montgomery to raise public awareness and community engagement.

Kalonji is a pivotal mover and shaker in the Montgomery Community. Listen as Kalonji talked about the things he loves about Montgomery and how he is making a difference. Currently focusing on the founder role of the 21 Dreams Arts & Culture Collective (happening this weekend btw); and a long list of community organizations such as: Pure Artistry Literary Café (Advisory Board Member); Mayoral Young Professionals Council; Emerge Montgomery Young Professional Organization of Leadership Montgomery;Emerge Montgomery’s Torchbearers Program: Class 5 Representative, Programs & Outreach Chair (2014 – 2015); Just Keep Giving Community Outreach Group (Founding Member); Just Keep Giving: Tornado Relief Donation Drive; Just Keep Giving & Pure Artistry: Beyond Dreams School Supply Drive; Just Keep Giving & 97.9 Jamz: Toyz N Da Hood Toy Drive; SpeakOUT Against HIV & AIDS – Annual World AIDS Day Community Event- and the list goes on…

You can make a difference, right here and right now.

 


Katie Perkowski



Difference Maker Katie Perkowski is an arts marketing expert and theatre artist currently working with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival as their Director of Marketing and Communications. Previously Katie worked overseas as the Community Program Director for the USAF/RAF Mildenhall in England and as Business Manager of the Roadside Theatre in Germany. As an arts marketing consultant she has worked with The Atlanta Opera, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Community Foundation of Lorain County, Opera Cleveland, Lorain Palace Theater, Arcanum Productions, Arbor Opera Theater, and a number of professional artists and musicians. She served on faculty at the Oberlin College Conservatory of Music as the Opera Program Assistant Director/Stage Manager and on Kent State University’s faculty as an opera director. In Ohio she worked as an assistant director at Opera Cleveland, Solon Center for the Arts and Actors’ Summit in Akron. Katie was a founding member and first president of Arbor Opera Theatre, a thriving opera company in Ann Arbor, MI.