Interview with Daniela Kelly
Daniela currently serves as executive director of the Sherman Heights Community Center. At the Center, Daniela develops cultural programming, strategic partnerships and educational opportunities that promote community empowerment. Throughout her professional career, Daniela has focused on bringing resources to underserved communities while giving greater exposure to the rich cultural traditions and contributions of Latinos and Chicanos to the region.
Daniela earned two B.A. degrees from the University of California San Diego. She has an M.A. degree in International Affairs from the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, also at UC San Diego. She earned a second M.A. degree in Art History from San Diego State University. In her free time, Daniela enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, going to art exhibitions, and making chocolate from bean to bar.
What projects are you currently working on? I am currently working on the 26th Annual Día de los Muertos celebration at the Sherman Heights Community Center. This is a very special, community driven tradition for the Center and surrounding communities. In 2020, we are challenged to continue the Día de los Muertos celebration in a manner that is true to its history – that of being authentic, engaging, and community-based while also practicing social distancing and COVID-19 health and safety protocols. I am also working on general building upkeep, including changes to the building’s facade, upgrades to the commercial kitchen and a new playground.
How has the pandemic affected or shifted your practice? The pandemic has affected me a variety of ways! Like many of us, I am working from home, figuring out remote learning, catching up with family and friends remotely, and spending a lot more time in the kitchen and backyard. The pandemic has also given me time to think and reflect. I feel more focus, determined, and empowered to make positive changes for the well-being of the community, my family, and the environment.
What has your journey been like as a creative/artist/small business-owner? While I am not an artist myself, art and culture are at the core of who I am. My professional journey has had a lot of twists and turns. Every step of my journey from organizing international workshops on women empowerment and the environment, to working as a museum educator, and running an art gallery has prepared me for my current position at the Center. Along the way, I have gathered skills and know-how, but most importantly I have met a community of people (many of them artists and educators) who have nurtured me on a personal and professional level. I am truly thankful to this community!
Do you have any tips for up-and-coming, or rising artists/creatives? My tip is to reach out and meet people, support other artists, and volunteer. By doing so, you will contribute to a growing binational art community that will inspire and support you along your artist journey.
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