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Meet Your Workshop Instructor: Leilani Lewis

Aaron Jin

Communications Intern

We’re excited to start a new blog series to help you get to know our fantastic guest workshop leaders! There’s no better person to kick this off with than our first guest presenter: Leilani Lewis.

Who is Leilani: Arts educator and communications strategist in the greater Seattle area
Favorite place to eat in Seattle: My favorite chefs right now are Chef Tarik Abdullah and Kristi Brown-Wokoma
Defining characteristic: I’m a hard worker. People also tell me I’m very easy-going; I don’t see it but I’m like “oh, okay”
Fun fact: I once fell down 54 times while attempting to snow board. My friends counted.
Role model: Barbara Earl Thomas. She’s just amazing.
One thing you want to see in Seattle: I want our arts and cultural community to thrive. I want to see artists who can afford to live in the city, work in the city, and be appreciated, especially artists of color and underrepresented groups of artists. We’ll lose our artists if we don’t think about equity and especially affordability. What kind of city will we be without our artists?

As the first generation in her family to go to college and to graduate school, Leilani never felt particularly beholden to any linear trajectory in her career. In her first workshop “Developing Your Elevator Speech & Professional Relationships,” attendees can expect to experience some of these principles in action.

As a communications professional, Leilani knows how important it is for a person to talk about their work in a way that others will quickly and easily grab onto. This comes from speaking about your work in a way that is clear yet personal. She believes in the power of people using their own words to describe what they do. In Saturday’s workshop, Leilani will guide attendees through exercises in focusing on the words they want to use before practicing their elevator speeches in a safe, uplifting environment.

As someone who has only spent 10-15 years working in the Seattle arts community, Leilani considers herself an outlier among her peers. Her work in communications at the Northwest African American Museum led her to her current work with the University of Washington developing and advancing communications strategy for the UW President’s Race and Equity Initiative. She is guided through it all by a commitment to her community and a dedication to upholding the individual artist. Stay tuned for the second part of this series for an extended interview with Leilani to learn what “authentic collaboration” means in working with communities and how her arts background led her to a career in communications!

“Developing Your Elevator Speech & Professional Relationships” is presented for free in partnership with Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas and is recommended especially for artists of color. RSVP here:

Aaron Jin is the Artist Trust communications intern. He was an Intiman Emerging Artist in 2016 and loves to think about his Facebook statuses. He will join artEquity’s national cohort after attending their facilitator training this fall.  Follow him on Facebook & Twitter.