Senior Advisor, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
“I thought, That’s something that I can do to help change the world.”
I started my career as a dancer at the age of five. My mom took my twin sister and I to see the Bolshoi Ballet in Chicago. When I saw Maya Plisetskaya, who was the reigning ballerina in the world at that time, I said to my mom, “I’m going to do that. I want to be a ballerina.” So my mom enrolled us in dance classes. In a few years, we were invited to join a dance company in Chicago. I found, for me, dance was a way that I could see the world, and also my goal had always been to change the world. At the same time, a lawyer came to our high school, and spoke at our career day panel. I thought, That’s something that I can do to help change the world. So I went to law school, and I danced every day in law school. I had ballet classes at 7 am.
Then I finished law school and I thought, well, I better hang up my dance shoes and start to really act like a lawyer. I started working at Brooklyn Family Court as Assistant Corporation Counsel prosecuting juveniles. At the same time I was starting to feel frustrated about changing the world. One of my colleagues said, “Well, there’s a performing arts organization across the street. Why don’t you go over there and see if you can do some work.” So I did. And when I walked in the room, I saw papers on the floor. Everything in total chaos. And I said, “I can organize this office. I can file this for you on my lunch hour.” So every day I went, and I taught myself how to be an arts administrator on my lunch hour while prosecuting juveniles. My lunch hour started to extend beyond 2:30 pm. It’s now 4 pm, and judges are looking for Counselor Walker. Where is she? She’s across the street.
That’s when I resigned. Because I had found my mission in life, and I wrote a proposal to pay myself a salary and gave myself a title as Managing Director of the Thelma Hill Performing Arts Center. After that I worked at the Dance Theater of Harlem, The Public Theater, The Apollo Theater as well as consulting for arts organizations before coming to NJPAC. Now in addition to working as a Senior Advisor for Community Engagement, I travel extensively around the world, teaching and lecturing about building diverse audiences and creating access to the arts.