WASHINGTON – Today, President Biden announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities:
- Bruce Cohen, Co-Chair
- Lady Gaga, Co-Chair
- Jon Batiste, Member
- Constance M. Carroll, Member
- George Clooney, Member
- Philip J. Deloria, Member
- M. Angélica Garcia, Member
- Jennifer Garner, Member
- Nora Halpern, Member
- Steve Israel, Member
- Marta Kauffman, Member
- Ricky Kirshner, Member
- Troy Kotsur, Member
- Katie McGrath, Member
- Laura Penn, Member
- Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, Member
- Arnold Rampersad, Member
- Shonda Rhimes, Member
- Kimberly Richter Shirley, Member
- Horacio Sierra, Member
- Anna Deavere Smith, Member
- Joe Walsh, Member
- Kerry Washington, Member
- Pauline Yu, Member
President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (PCAH) was founded in 1982 by Executive Order to advise the President on cultural policy. The First Lady has historically served as Honorary Chair of the Committee, which is composed of members appointed by the President. Private committee members include prominent artists, scholars, and philanthropists who have demonstrated a serious commitment to the arts and humanities. Public members represent the heads of key federal agencies with a role in culture, including the Chairs of the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Librarian of Congress, the Secretary of the Smithsonian, and the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, among others. PCAH advises the President and the heads of U.S. cultural agencies on policy, philanthropic and private sector engagement, and other efforts to enhance federal support for the arts, humanities, and museum and library services. The PCAH will also engage the nation’s artists, humanities scholars, and cultural heritage practitioners to promote excellence in the arts, humanities, and museum and library services and demonstrate their relevance to the country’s health, economy, equity, and civic life. Over the past 40 years, PCAH has catalyzed federal programs and played a vital role in the advancement of arts and humanities education, cultural diplomacy, and the creative economy.
Bruce Cohen, Co-Chair
Bruce Cohen is an Oscar and Tony-winning, Emmy-nominated producer of film, theater, television, and live events. He won an Academy Award for Best Picture for “American Beauty” and earned additional Best Picture nominations for “Milk” and “Silver Linings Playbook.” He produced both the feature film and Broadway musical versions of “Big Fish,” won the Tony for Best Play in 2020 for co-producing Matthew Lopez’ “The Inheritance,” and was Tony nominated the same year for co-producing Jeremy O. Harris’ “Slave Play.” In television, he was Emmy nominated for producing the “83rd Annual Academy Awards” and executive produced “Pushing Daisies” and “Broadway at the White House.”
During the Obama-Biden Administration, Cohen served as the entertainment industry liaison for Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s initiative supporting service men and women and veterans. With Higher Ground, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s production company, he is producing “Rustin” for Netflix, directed by George C. Wolfe, starring Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin and coming out later this year. He is a graduate of Yale University and started his film career as the DGA Trainee on Steven Spielberg’s “The Color Purple.” He lives in New York City with his husband and daughter.
Lady Gaga, Co-Chair
Stefani Germanotta, known professionally as Lady Gaga, is an award-winning singer, songwriter, actress, and philanthropist. She has sold over 170 million records, and has won 13 Grammy Awards, making her one of the best-selling most awarded female musicians in history. As an actress, she is known for her roles in “A Star Is Born,” for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress and won for Best Original Song for “Shallow,” and “American Horror Story: Hotel,” for which she won a Golden Globe, among others. She’s been recognized with the Fashion Icon award by the Council of Fashion Designers of America and has been included on Forbes’ list of the World’s Most Powerful Women and TIME’s list of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2022, Lady Gaga launched Haus Labs, a clean and vegan color cosmetics line that develops innovative formulas that push the boundaries of clean makeup.
Lady Gaga is known for her philanthropy and staunch support of LGBTQI+ rights and mental health. She has traveled with President Biden to support the It’s On Us campaign to combat campus sexual assault, has worked tirelessly over the years to advocate for equality, and has been an outspoken champion of mental health awareness. At the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, she curated a televised concert to benefit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund, helping raise over $128 million. Alongside her mother Cynthia Germanotta, she founded and leads Born This Way Foundation, which supports the mental health of young people and works with them to build a kinder and braver world. Since its inception, the Foundation has demonstrated the transformative power of kindness and its impact on mental health through youth-driven initiatives, research-based programming, and high-level partnerships.
Jon Batiste, Member
Jon Batiste is one of history’s most brilliant, prolific, and accomplished musicians. Batiste studied and received both a B.A. and M.F.A. at the world-renowned Juilliard School in New York City. From 2015 until 2022, Batiste served as the bandleader and musical director of “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” on CBS. In 2018, he received a Grammy nomination for Best American Roots, and in 2020, he received two Grammy nods for the albums “Chronology of a Dream: Live at the Village Vanguard” and “MEDITATIONS” (with Cory Wong). In 2020, he won an Academy Award for Best Original Score for the Disney/Pixar film “Soul,” an honor he shared with fellow composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. Batiste’s work on “Soul” also earned him a Golden Globe, a BAFTA, an NAACP Image Award, and a Critic’s Choice Award. He is the second Black composer in history, after legendary jazz musician Herbie Hancock, to win an Academy Award for composition. Batiste’s latest studio album, “We Are,” was released in March 2021 to overwhelming critical acclaim. Subsequently, he was nominated for eleven Grammys across seven different categories, a first in Grammy history. He went on to win five of those Grammys, including Album of the Year.
Constance M. Carroll, Member
In 2021, Dr. Constance Carroll established and currently serves as the president of the California Community Colleges Baccalaureate Association, a nonprofit organization with the mission of providing assistance and expanding opportunities for California’s 116 community colleges to offer four-year degrees in selected workforce fields that now require a bachelor’s degree. Carroll served as Chancellor of the San Diego Community College District from 2004 to 2021, when she retired. In addition, she served as president of three community colleges: San Diego Mesa College, Saddleback College, and Indian Valley Colleges. Carroll was also Director of Freshman Academic Advising at the University of Pittsburgh and Associate Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern Maine.
Carroll received a B.A. in humanities from Duquesne University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Pittsburgh in Classics (Ancient Greek and Latin). She earned a Certificate of Proficiency in Hellenic Studies at Knubly University in Athens, Greece, and attended the Harvard University Institute for Educational Management. Currently, Carroll serves on the National Council on the Humanities, which is affiliated with the National Endowment for the Humanities, having been nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 2011. She is a member of the national boards of the Community College Baccalaureate Association, the College Promise National Advisory Board, and the Community College Humanities Association.
George Clooney, Member
George Clooney’s achievements as a performer and filmmaker have earned him two Academy Awards, five Golden Globes including the Cecil B. DeMille Award, four SAG awards, one BAFTA award, two Critics’ Choice Awards, an Emmy, four National Board of Review Awards, and the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award. Films from his production company with Grant Heslov, Smokehouse Pictures, include Warner Bros’ Academy Award winning drama “Argo,” “Good Night, and Good Luck,” “The Midnight Sky,” “The Tender Bar,” and “The Ides of March.” “Ides,” which Clooney starred in, co-wrote, and directed, received Golden Globe nominations for Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Motion Picture Drama. In addition, the film received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. He has also starred in films such as “Out of Sight,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” “Syriana,” “Michael Clayton,” “Up in the Air,” “The Descendants,” “Gravity,” and the “Oceans” trilogy. Before his film career, Clooney starred in several television series, becoming best known to TV audiences for his five years on the hit NBC drama “ER.” His portrayal of Dr. Douglas Ross earned him Golden Globe, SAG, People’s Choice, and Emmy Award nominations.
Among the many honors received as a result of his humanitarian efforts was the 2007 Peace Summit Award, 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Ripple of Hope Award, and he was a Kennedy Center Honoree in 2022. Clooney has produced three telethons: “The Tribute to Heroes” (post 9/11), “Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope,” and “Hope for Haiti Now,” the latter of which raised a record 66 million dollars from the public. In August of 2016, Clooney and his wife, Amal, launched the Clooney Foundation for Justice.
Philip J. Deloria, Member
Philip J. Deloria is the Leverett Saltonstall Professor of History at Harvard University, where he chairs the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature. His research and teaching focus on the social, cultural, and political histories of relations among American Indian peoples and the United States, as well as the comparative histories of Indigenous peoples in a global context. He is the author of several books, including Playing Indian, Indians in Unexpected Places, American Studies: A User’s Guide, with Alexander Olson, and Becoming Mary Sully: Toward an American Indian Abstract, and is co-editor of The Blackwell Companion to American Indian History (with Neal Salisbury) and C.G. Jung and the Sioux Traditions by Vine Deloria, Jr. (with Jerome Bernstein).
Deloria received the Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University in 1994, taught at the University of Colorado, and then, from 2001 to 2017, at the University of Michigan, before joining the faculty at Harvard in January 2018. Deloria served for over a decade as a trustee of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, where for many years he chaired the Repatriation Committee. He continues to work toward the return of Native American ancestors and cultural patrimony and for the flourishing of Indigenous life. Deloria has served as President of the American Studies Association and the Organization of American Historians, and will begin serving as President of the Society of American Historians in May 2023. He is an elected member of the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
M. Angélica Garcia, Member
Dr. Angélica Garcia is an educational leader who is passionate about issues of access, equity, and student success in higher education. Garcia serves as the President of Berkeley City College, which is recognized as an Hispanic Serving Institution and an Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution, both proud symbols of being the community’s college. Unapologetically, she believes community colleges provide liberatory education experiences that disrupt the status quo, especially for historically minoritized communities. She is a Co-Founder and Board Member of COLEGAS, a statewide organization focused on advocacy and development of Latinx professionals in California Community Colleges, and has a proven record of equity-minded leadership. Garcia serves on the Puente Project Advisory Board, the national LGTBQ Leaders in Higher Education Board, and previously on the Board of Directors for Higher Education Resource Services. Appointed by the Speaker of the Assembly, she served as the Vice Chair for the Student-Centered Funding Formula Oversight Committee, charged with reviewing legislation, data, and its impact on the California Community Colleges. She has been a fellow with the Aspen Presidential Institute, the National Community College Hispanic Council, and the UC Davis Wheelhouse Institute, all of which are leadership programs focused on equitable student outcomes. Garcia is a proud second-generation Latina and first-generation college graduate, who earned a doctorate in Educational Leadership at San Francisco State University, a master’s in social work at San Diego State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Liberal and Civic Studies at Saint Mary’s College of California. Garcia has been appointed to be the Superintendent/President of Santa Rosa Junior College, effective July 1, 2023.
Jennifer Garner, Member
Award-winning actress Jennifer Garner has enjoyed a successful career at the top of her field in both film and television and has also taken on the role of philanthropist and entrepreneur. Garner is known for her versatility in a wide range of starring-roles in “Alias,” “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Love Simon,” “Juno,” and more. She recently starred in and produced the film “YES DAY,” based on the children’s book by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, which became Netflix’s biggest Kids & Family film release. She also recently starred in the sci-fi film “The Adam Project “for Netflix opposite Ryan Reynolds, Mark Ruffalo, and Zoe Saldana, directed by Shawn Levy. Up next, Garner executive produces and stars in the Apple TV+ limited series “The Last Thing He Told Me,” based on the eponymous New York Times bestseller, which premieres on April 14th. She most recently wrapped production on the Netflix comedy feature “Family Leave,” which she is also producing, and will also star and produce a sequel to “YES DAY.”
Garner is a Save the Children Trustee and has worked with the organization for more than a decade. In addition to bringing Save the Children’s early childhood education programs to her home state of West Virginia, she has advocated on Capitol Hill and traveled to Arkansas, California, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington to meet with lawmakers, press, and philanthropists to raise awareness and funds for the organization. In 2014, Garner joined the global non-profit’s board of trustees, deepening her commitment to issues affecting children in America and around the world. In 2017, Garner co-founded the organic food company Once Upon a Farm with Cassandra Curtis, Ari Raz, and former Annie’s president John Foraker. Together the visionaries have grown the company with a goal of providing children with the best tasting, most nutritious, and highest quality food utilizing sustainable methods. As a businesswoman, Garner has worked with major brands including Neutrogena and Capital One, and most recently joined the Virtue Labs team to amplify and raise awareness about the unique health and beauty benefits of the company’s premium hair care line.
Nora Halpern, Member
Art historian, museum director, and curator Nora Halpern has spent her public and private life advocating for art, artists, and social justice. Since 2001, she has been a Vice President at Americans for the Arts, focusing on arts policy convenings and engaging individual thought leaders to advance the arts and arts education across America. She is co-founder of Street Scenes: Projects for DC, a public art program that provides access to the broadest possible audience by utilizing the city as a gallery space. Raised in New York City, Halpern began her career in Los Angeles as the Frederick R. Weisman Collections Curator and Founding Director of Pepperdine University’s Art Museum. She was a Los Angeles Human Relations Commission member and received the Mayor’s Award of Merit for Outstanding Volunteer Service.
Halpern has taught and lectured internationally. Among her many publications is the recent Putting the Arts to Work: 15 Years of National Arts Policy Roundtables, 2006-2020. She has curated numerous exhibitions, including a Yoko Ono retrospective in Venice, Italy. Halpern has served on the boards of the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, the Santa Monica Museum of Art, ArtTable, PS Arts, and Scholastic’s Alliance for Young Artists and Writers, among others. She was appointed to the Arts Commission of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2021 and was a Biden Arts Policy Committee member. Halpern received her B.A. and M.A. from UCLA and was awarded a Helena Rubinstein Fellowship in Curatorial Studies from the Whitney Museum of American Art’s Independent Study Program.
Steve Israel, Member
Steve Israel served in the U.S. Congress between 2001–2017, including four years as chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from 2011–2015. He left Washington to pursue new passions, including opening an independent bookstore, Theodore’s Books, in his historic hometown of Oyster Bay, fulfilling a lifelong dream. He also directs the nonpartisan Institute of Politics and Global Affairs at the Jeb S. Brooks School of Public Policy at Cornell University, which serves as a platform for civic engagement and bipartisan dialogue. He has published two critically acclaimed satires of Washington: The Global War on Morris and Big Guns. He proudly serves on The Library of Congress Madison Council as well as many other boards of directors.
In Congress, he served on the House Appropriations Committee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies, which has jurisdiction on historic preservation, fine arts, cultural arts, museums, and related activities. He also served on the Subcommittee on Defense and the House Armed Services Committee. Israel’s written commentary has appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Book Review, The Atlantic magazine, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. He writes a biweekly column in The Hill, covering the state or democracy. He lives with his wife Cara in Oyster Bay, Long Island.
Marta Kauffman, Member
Marta Kauffman is an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning television writer, producer, director, and showrunner. Kauffman recently finished the Netflix comedy “Grace and Frankie” starring Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin. She may be best known for creating NBC’s long-running hit “Friends” with David Crane. The iconic series ran for 10 seasons and earned 63 Emmy nominations, winning Outstanding Comedy Series in 2002. Reruns continue to delight with “Friends: The Reunion” being a ratings juggernaut. She and David Crane also created HBO’s “Dream On,” recognized with CableAce Awards and additional Emmy nominations. The Writers Guild of America West awarded Kauffman and Crane the 2016 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for lifetime achievement in television writing. She also earned the 2016 Outstanding Television Writer award at the 23rd annual Austin Film Festival & Screenwriters Conference as well as the Kieser Humanitas Award. She recently received an Honorary Doctorate from Brandeis University. Kauffman’s other credits include “Georgia,” “Five,” “Veronica’s Closet,” “The Powers That Be,” “Call Me Crazy: A Five Film,” and the documentary “Seeing Allred.” Kauffman has served on several Boards of Trustees including CalArts, Oakwood School, The Lung Cancer Foundation of America, Big Sunday, and IKAR.
Ricky Kirshner, Member
Ricky Kirshner is one of the entertainment industry’s preeminent producers of televised special events. During his 30-year career, he has been tasked and entrusted in imagining and implementing many of the world’s most widely acclaimed and award-winning television specials, stadium spectaculars, and conventions; producing shows for every major U.S. network and watched by millions of people. Kirshner’s Executive Producer credits include The Tony Awards, Super Bowl Half-Time Shows, The Kennedy Center Honors, Democratic National Conventions, Presidential Inaugurals/Galas, The Oscars, and many others. Throughout his career, Kirshner has collaborated with artists and performers across all disciplines of classical arts, musical and dramatic theater, cinematic arts, and the music industry, working with major stars as well as up and coming performers and amateur groups. Kirshner has been recognized by industry peers for excellence in television, receiving 26 Emmy Nominations and winning ten Emmy Awards, a Peabody Award, and an Edward R. Murrow Award. Strongly committed to Arts and Music education in schools, Kirshner supports internship programs for college students on his shows. He is also a frequent guest speaker at colleges and universities, inspiring future generations to pursue careers in television and performing arts.
Troy Kotsur, Member
Troy Kotsur earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Frank, the Deaf
fisherman father of a hearing daughter who wants to be a singer in director Sian Heder’s “CODA.” The film also won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Kotsur is the first Deaf male actor and only the second Deaf actor overall to win the Oscar, after his “CODA” co-star Marlee Matin for her role in “Children of a Lesser God.” Kotsur also earned BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, Gotham, Independent Spirit and Screen Actors Guild awards, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his role in “CODA.” Other recent film credits include “Wild Prairie Rose,” “No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie,” which he also directed, “Universal Signs,” and “The Number 23.”
In television, Kotsur was most recently seen in the Disney+ series “The Mandalorian,” for which he created the Tusken sign language, and was also used in the show’s spinoff series “The Book of Boba Fett.” Other television roles include “CSI: NY,” “Scrubs,” “Criminal Minds,” “Strong Medicine,” “Doc,” and “Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye.” A native of Mesa, Arizona, Kotsur began acting in grade school, with some of his earliest performances including reenacting “Tom and Jerry” cartoon storylines to his classmates. He studied theater, film, and television at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, and following graduation, toured with the National Theatre of the Deaf.
Katie McGrath, Member
Katie McGrath is Co-CEO at Bad Robot Productions. She oversees the company’s corporate culture, communications, and ancillary businesses. Prior to joining Bad Robot, McGrath was a founding partner at First Tuesday Media, a political media firm based in Los Angeles. Earlier, she served as Director of Communications at MTV Networks and as Vice President at the strategic communications consulting firm Robinson Lerer Sawyer Miller. McGrath began her professional career in Washington, DC as a legislative assistant to Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA). She currently serves on the transition team for Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass and the boards of Pro Publica, ARRAY Alliance, and The McGrath Abrams Family Foundation.
Laura Penn, Member
Laura Penn has been Executive Director of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society (SDC) since 2008. Under her leadership the Union’s membership has grown over 100%, a result of her work expanding SDC’s jurisdictions, leading bold and successful negotiations, and furthering its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion initiatives and political engagement. She serves on the General Board of the Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO (DPE) and is an active member of DPE’s Arts and Entertainment and Media Industry Coordinating Committee. She is Co-Chair of the Coalition of Broadway Unions and Guilds, the first woman to hold a leadership position with this coalition of 18 influential unions representing workers on Broadway. Penn serves on the Tony Awards Administration Committee and is a Tony Voter. She served as a panelist for the New York State Council for the Arts, for more than a decade was a site evaluator for the National Endowment for the Arts, was Vice President of the League of Resident Theatres, and was two-term Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. Recognized with Seattle’s Distinguished Citizen Medal, she is an advocate for civic dialogue and public participation and has been dedicated throughout her career to the idea that artistic excellence and community engagement are intrinsically connected. Penn previously served as an arts executive for Intiman Theatre and Seattle Repertory Theatre and began her career at Washington, DC’s Arena Stage, Living Stage Theatre Company. Penn currently teaches Labor Relations in the graduate program at the David Geffen School of Drama at Yale.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, Member
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and community builder based in Brooklyn, New York. Born in Atlanta to Thai and Indonesian immigrants, her practice spans sculpture, textile, large-scale murals, participatory installation, and public art campaigns. Her work examines the unseen labor of women, amplifies AAPI narratives, and affirms the depth, resilience, and beauty of communities of color. Phingbodhipakkiya’s art has reclaimed space in museums and galleries, at protests and rallies, on buildings, highway tunnels, subway corridors, and on the cover of TIME magazine. She has been artist-in-residence with the NYC Commission on Human Rights and created art in collaboration with the US Embassy in Thailand. She is a 2023 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in Visual Arts and is building community archives of AAPI stories as part of civic practice residencies with the San Francisco Asian Art Museum and Poster House. Her work has been acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Museum of the City of New York, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the Library of Congress.
Arnold Rampersad, Member
Arnold Rampersad is Sara Hart Kimball Professor Emeritus in the Humanities at Stanford University. A graduate of Bowling Green State University, he earned his Ph.D. in English and American Literature at Harvard. He also taught at the University of Virginia, Rutgers, Columbia, and Princeton. His books include The Art and Imagination of W.E.B. Du Bois; The Life of Langston Hughes (2 vols.); Days of Grace: A Memoir, co-authored with Arthur Ashe; Jackie Robinson: A Biography; and Ralph Ellison: A Biography. His edited volumes include The Oxford Anthology of African-American Poetry; Complete Poems of Langston Hughes; and, as co-editor, Selected Letters of Langston Hughes.
From 2003 to 2006 he served as Senior Associate Dean for the Humanities at Stanford. Winner in 1986 of the National Book Critics Circle Award in biography and autobiography, he was later a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography and, in 2007, the National Book Award in non-fiction prose for his biography of Ralph Ellison. He won fellowships from the MacArthur Foundation (1991-1996), the J.S. Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the ACLS. Princeton University awarded him its Howard T. Behrman Medal for distinction in the Humanities. In 2011, he received the National Humanities Medal from President Obama at the White House. Harvard awarded him its Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Medal in 2014. He holds honorary doctorates from Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and the University of the West Indies, among other schools. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.
Shonda Rhimes, Member
Shonda Rhimes is an award-winning television creator, producer, and author, as well as the CEO of the global media company Shondaland. Rhimes is the first woman to create three television dramas – “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Private Practice,” and “Scandal” – that have achieved the 100-episode milestone. In 2017, Rhimes shifted the entertainment industry’s business model when she left network television for an unprecedented agreement for Shondaland to exclusively produce streaming content in partnership with Netflix. “Bridgerton,” Shondaland’s first scripted series with the streamer, has become a worldwide franchise with seasons one and two of the show holding top spots among English language programming for Netflix. Rhimes broadened her company’s content landscape when she launched the culture website Shondaland.com in partnership with Hearst Digital Media. More recently, she launched Shondaland Audio in partnership with iHeart Radio to produce podcast content. She’s a New York Times best-selling author for her memoir Year of Yes and has built multi-platform partnerships with such leading brands as Dove, Masterclass, Microsoft, and Mattel. Rhimes has been included three times in the TIME 100 list of most influential people and her work has been celebrated with numerous awards including induction into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.
Kimberly Richter Shirley, Member
Kimberly Richter Shirley is a retired attorney and certified public accountant whose professional career specialized in providing legal and financial expertise to not-for-profit organizations and startup companies. Shirley is a trustee of the Seattle Art Museum, the Tate Americas Foundation, and the University of Washington Foundation and is a former trustee of the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She is a member of the National Gallery of Art Collectors Committee, the Tate North American Acquisitions Committee, the University of Washington Henry Art Gallery Advisory Council, and the Wellesley College President’s Advisory Council. Shirley and her husband Jon live in Medina, Washington and actively support arts, education, and human service organizations. Together they are committed collectors of modern and contemporary art with an emphasis on sculpture. Shirley received her Bachelor of Arts from Wellesley College and her Juris Doctor from the University of Puget Sound School of Law.
Horacio Sierra, Member
Horacio Sierra is an educator, journalist, activist, and creative writer. His research on English and Spanish Renaissance literature has been funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the U.S. Department of Education, and the University of Texas. As a tenured English professor at Bowie State University, Maryland’s oldest HBCU, he has created in-person and online courses such as Graphic Novels, Studies in Popular Music, Queer Cultural Studies, Shakespeare & Film, and U.S. Hispanic Literature. The University System of Maryland awarded him their Excellence in Teaching Award for his commitment to experiential education.
Sierra’s work as a theatre and literary critic has been published in The Miami Herald, Comparative Drama, and Theater Journal. His editorials on topics such as the importance of a humanities education have been published in The Washington Post, The Hartford Courant, and The Baltimore Sun. His poems exploring the intersections of history, geography, and identity have been published in The William & Mary Review, Saw Palm, and Gulf Stream Magazine. As a Miami native with strong ties to his family’s Cuban and Spanish heritage, Sierra is President of the Cuban American Democrats, Director of the Sierra Family Scholarship, and has provided college application workshops for his alma mater, Miami Coral Park Senior High. He is also an Executive Board Member of the South Atlantic Modern Language Association. Sierra earned his BS from the University of Miami and his PhD from the University of Florida. He lives in Miami with his husband, Dallas Clay Sierra.
Anna Deavere Smith, Member
Anna Deavere Smith is a writer and actress. She is credited with having created a new form of theater. Her plays, sometimes called “docudramas,” focus on contemporary issues from multiple points of view and are composed from excerpts of hundreds of interviews. Plays, and films based on them, include “Fires in the Mirror” and “Twilight: Los Angeles,” both of which dealt with volatile race events in the 1990s; “Let Me Down Easy,” about the U.S. health care system; and “Notes from the Field,” which focused on the school-to-prison pipeline. Her work as an actress on television includes “Inventing Anna,” “The West Wing,” “Nurse Jackie,” and “Black-ish.” Mainstream movies include “Philadelphia,” “The American President,” and “Rachel Getting Married.” President Obama awarded Smith the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal. She was the 2015 Jefferson Lecturer. She is the recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship, several Obie awards, two Drama Desk awards, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism, and the Dean’s Medal from the Stanford University School of Medicine. She was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama and nominated for two Tony Awards. She’s a University Professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has several honorary doctorate degrees including those from Harvard, Yale, Dartmouth, University of Pennsylvania, Spelman College, Prairie View University, Juilliard, and Oxford.
Joe Walsh, Member
Multi-Grammy award winning singer, songwriter and producer, Kennedy Center Honoree and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Joe Walsh has entertained the masses and captivated his peers for more than five decades. His classic hits like “Funk #49,” “Walk Away,” “Life’s Been Good,” “Rocky Mountain Way,” “Life in the Fast Lane,” “In The City,” “Ordinary Average Guy,” and “Analog Man” embody his American origin story, guitar genius, and lyrical wit. Born in Wichita, Kansas and raised in Ohio and New Jersey, Walsh’s musical journey began with the Cleveland-based James Gang in 1969, continued with his trio Barnstorm and then took off with the launch of his 12-album solo career in 1973. In 1975, Walsh was recruited into the Eagles who would become the highest selling American band in history and one of the top touring acts in the world to this day selling out stadiums and arenas into 2023.
Walsh has honorary doctorates in music from Kent State University and the Berklee College of Music and has been celebrated for his charitable works in the fields of music education, recovery from addiction and women’s health and safety. In 2017, Walsh founded VetsAid, an annual music festival that brings together musicians and audiences of all backgrounds to raise funds for veterans and their families. A Gold Star son himself, Walsh brought the festival most recently to his hometown of Columbus, Ohio with guests Dave Grohl, Nine Inch Nails, and The Black Keys. He has, to date, disbursed $2.7 million in grants to veterans’ services groups nationwide.
Kerry Washington, Member
Emmy-winning, SAG and Golden Globe-nominated actor, director, and producer Kerry Washington is a versatile and fearless multi-hyphenate who has received high acclaim for her work in film, television, and theater. Washington is a lifelong advocate and activist, dedicated to using her voice to fight for justice for all communities. She is focused on building a more equitable democracy and in service of this goal, founded Influence Change (IC) and the Vision Into Power Cohort. IC is a strategic initiative that partners with high impact non-profit organizations to increase voter turnout. The VIP Cohort, launched in partnership with Movement Voter Fund, provides ten grassroots organizations with the resources and knowledge to build civic engagement in their communities through storytelling and collective action.
In 2022, Washington was honored as one of TIME Magazine’s 2022 Women of The Year. She has been involved with many social and political causes, including her service on President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. She is also Co-Chair of former First Lady Michelle Obama’s When We All Vote campaign and the Black Voices for Black Justice Fund, an organization funding Black leaders who are helping to build a more equitable America. In 2021, Washington and several other industry leaders co-founded The Roybal School of Film and Television Production, in partnership with the LAUSD. It is a magnet school aiming to drive transformational change across the entertainment industry and provides education and practical training in the arts and sciences of filmmaking to marginalized communities.
Pauline Yu, Member
Pauline Yu is President Emerita of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS), a non-profit federation of 79 scholarly organizations which she led for sixteen years. ACLS has been the preeminent representative of American scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences since 1919 and has provided competitive fellowships and grants to individual scholars in those fields since 1926. Yu was previously dean of humanities at the University of California, Los Angeles for ten years, founding chair of the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Irvine, and professor at Columbia University and the University of Minnesota. She received her B.A. in History and Literature from Harvard University, her M.A. and Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University, and holds five honorary degrees. In 2021, she received the award for Distinguished Service to the Profession from the Association of Departments of Foreign Languages of the Modern Language Association.
Yu has been elected to membership in two honorary societies, the American Philosophical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She serves on the Academy’s board of directors and is also a trustee of the Institute for Advanced Study. In addition, she is a member of the board of several philanthropic organizations, including The Henry Luce Foundation and The Teagle Foundation. She is the author or editor of five books and has published widely on topics in Chinese poetry, comparative literature, and the humanities.