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Professional Development Fund Information & Past Awardees 

The Professional Development Fund provides active NEP members with financial assistance to be used towards professional development opportunities. Funds can support skill-building workshops; regional gatherings and/or residency opportunities; organizational development and tools, as well as attending presenter conferences, showcases, or performances that require travel and incurred expenses.

Priority is given to new professional development opportunities for the applicant, and activities that offer value (direct/ indirect) to NEP membership and the arts community in New England at large. Priority is given to emerging arts administrators, cultural organizers, and leaders of color. 

NEP members can learn more about the fund and apply for financial assistance by visiting the Professional Development Fund Application page.  Log in is required to access this application.

2021 Awardees: 

JAMILA JACKSON, The Embodied Leadership Project 

Jamila is a storyteller, dancer, poet and facilitator. Originally from the Bay Area, California, she attended Howard University for two years, received her BA from Hampshire College and her MFA from Wilson College. Through her organization, The Embodied Leadership Project, she approaches the work of social justice, leadership and decolonization from an embodied, trauma-informed and ceremonial perspective.

The core aspect of Jamila’s work is the integration of African Indigenous wisdom with Horsemanship. She states: “My work is rooted in invoking the ceremony of the community dance circle. This circle is an indigenous technology that engages rhythm, movement, storytelling and deep feeling to support a community to integrate, grieve, express and relate to trauma. Humans are not the only ones who know this technology, horses also engage in this ceremony with one another in their herds. Working with horses offers us the opportunity to understand the incredible power of the circle for cultivating freedom and reconnection to one another and the earth. They allow us to examine the unconscious impulses for domination and enslavement within ourselves and engage in a trauma-informed and non-predatory relationship to power. I believe that this possibility for love, leadership, freedom and connection is what Miss Primus and Miss Dunham were illuminating through their work and their legacy."

Jamila is deeply informed by Liberty-Based Horsemanship, Rhythms and Movements of the African Diaspora, Authentic Movement, Contact Improvisation, Trauma-Sensitive Yoga, Active Listening, Poetry and Empathy-based storytelling. She has been performing, lecturing, teaching dance classes, leadership trainings and workshops at colleges, universities, schools, community centers and conferences for the past 10 years.

IMPACT STATEMENT: I feel honored and thankful to have received this professional development grant from NEP. I am in the position, as a community educator and co-founder (along with the Five College Dance Department) of the Black Women's Leadership Initiative at Five College Dance, to help to shift the discourse around dance toward a Black and Indigenous led, decolonized, trauma-informed and spiritually-rooted approach to the body as a means of reconnecting to self, other and earth. The work that I bring to the Initiative is rooted in a field of Somatics and Subtle Energy Studies that focuses on a trauma-informed approach to the emotional, somatic, and relational intelligent within African-rooted dance practice and the wisdom of horses. Through a mentorship funded by this professional development grant, I have been able to deepen my research in the complex and subtle body-language and creative healing potential of horses to better support me in my work of sharing important and sacred knowledge with the community. 

To learn more about Jamila's work, view her article "Listening & The Power of Feelings" here: ListeningThePowerofFeelings_Jackson.pdf


Holly Jones is a field based arts worker, advocate, and consultant who is passionate about arts accessibility, equitable curatorial practices, and trust-based philanthropy. She enjoys engaging and interacting with artists, students, industry peers, and arts patrons. Ms. Jones currently serves in joint leadership of The Clive & Valerie Barnes Foundation where her work is dedicated to the encouragement and recognition of outstanding emerging artists. Previously, Holly served as Associate Producer and Director of Artist Services at The Yard where she oversaw tremendous programmatic growth and professionalized operations in turn, supporting hundreds of artists in realizing their creative visions. Recently Holly has contracted with the New England Foundation for the Arts, CityStep, and The Croft where she will serve as Interim Executive Director for the 2021 season. Ms. Jones is pursuing her masters in nonprofit leadership at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Policy & Practice (anticipated December ‘21). She completed an Executive Certificate in Arts and Culture Strategy through National Arts Strategies and graduated Magna Cum Laude with a B.F.A. in Dance from Marymount Manhattan College. Holly continues to perform, teach, and choreograph throughout New England and New York. 

IMPACT STATEMENT: The New England Presenters Professional Development Fund aided in my tuition to attend a class titled, “Leadership: Designing the Future” through the University of Pennsylvania's School of Social Policy & Practice.  This funding and course came at a pivotal moment in my professional career as an arts curator and has encouraged me to lean in to discomfort, embrace the unknown, and always take the leap of faith.  Residing in a state of not knowing has become normalized and the only way to move forward without repeating mistakes of the past.  In thinking more broadly and outside of the box on what traditional leadership/followership looks like, I have expanded my perspective tenfold on what it means to be an arts economy worker with a focus on cultural equity during a particularly fraught time in our history.  The class has focused on developing greater interpersonal skills while observing group organizational dynamics which enables me to function better in the current environment where human connection can be elusive.  I am incredibly grateful for NEP’s support and look forward to sharing my findings with colleagues in the field!  

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