Kellee Edusei (she/her) is the first BIPOC Executive Director of Dance/USA, a forty-one year old, historically and predominately white led organization.
After over a decade of serving in multiple capacities (first as the Office Manager and soon after as the Board Liaison and Director of Member Services), Edusei currently has the privilege of sitting at the helm of Dance/USA during this moment of change. Edusei embodies an ethos of “being in humble service to the dance ecosystem.” Through her leadership, she is committed to cultivating a practice of bringing to life the organization’s stated core values of Creativity, Connectivity, Equity and Integrity. Under her leadership, Edusei is leading Dance/USA in building an environment that embodies equity, centers inclusionary practices, and cultivates a profound sense of belonging for all parts of the dance ecosystem.
In the two and half years that she has served as the Executive Director, Edusei has incorporated a shared leadership structure for Dance/USA’s eighteen peer networks (Councils and Affinity Groups) thereby dismantling a singular leadership structure; embedded the organization’s core value of equity in its most foundational document – its Bylaws – ensuring a singular, equitable pathway to Trusteeship; transitioned its Conference to a biennial cycle with a commitment to offering virtual programming throughout the year; and introduced Impact Groups, a more inclusive framework for collaboration and input from members and leaders from the broader dance ecosystem. These initiatives have flourished all the while ensuring the financial stability of the organization during one of the most economically uncertain times in the last decade. As a commitment to bolster the organization’s financial health, Edusei rolled out a 12 month individual giving campaign, 40 x 40, that celebrated the organization’s 40 years of service. The culmination of the 40 x 40 ended with Dance/USA’s inaugural Day of Giving.
With curiosity and intentionality, Edusei will launch a Strategic Reframing process to examine the connections between being a member based association, operational sustainability, and increased influence within the performing arts sector.
In her prior role as Director of Member Services and Board Liaison, Edusei designed the Membership Fellowship, for early career arts administrators to deepen their administrative skills and expand their leadership acumen. She implemented the “Special Membership Package,” recruitment campaign that surpassed set goals and engaged the entire Dance/USA Board and team. Edusei created a new revenue stream by maximizing Dance/USA’s monthly Bulletin. Additionally, she was part of the initial design of Dance/USA’s Dance Business Bootcamp, a program for dance artists working with budgets of less than $200,000. Edusei leveraged her Board experience to develop a website portal for Dance/USA’s Board of Trustees giving them access to one another and Board materials on-demand. In addition, she standardized the on-boarding process for new Trustees.
Edusei is an experienced grants panelist, having served on panels for the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County (MD), Alternate Roots (GA), and the Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (IL).
Edusei currently serves on the Advisory Council for Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA) and on the Board of Directors for the Performing Arts Alliance (both national in scope). She is a former Board member of See Chicago Dance (IL) and Dance Exchange (MD), where she served as the Chair of their Governance Committees. Edusei has connections to Jacob’s Pillow (MA), Bates Dance Festival (ME), and Movement Research’s (NY) dance communities.
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Edusei was first introduced to dance when her grandmother took her to The Washington Ballet (TWB) where she auditioned for Mary Day. Being accepted into TWB’s School is where Edusei’s love for dance took root and blossomed. After several years of ballet training, Edusei transitioned to contemporary dance, training at Maryland Youth Ballet, Dance Place, and the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange.
As a double-major graduate from The College of Wooster (OH) with degrees in Dance and Black Studies, Edusei studied in New York City and Yaoundé, Cameroon. Though worlds apart, she immersed herself in each city’s eclectic dance and arts communities. As a reflection of these experiences, she devised an evening length performance exclusively of her work – the first of any Dance major at Wooster – as part of her Independent Study thesis, titled Singularly Women/Collectively Woman. The piece focused on the mask dances of the Yoruba, Voltaic, and Mende (three distinct West African ethnic groups).
Edusei considers herself a lifelong learner, and is always seeking opportunities to stretch, grow, learn, reflect and refine. To that end, she is an alumna of Acumen’s 2022 Leadership Accelerator cohort; a 2021 participant of the New Strategies Forum at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, supported by American Express; artEquity’s 2020 BIPOC Leadership Circle; and an alumna of American Express’ 2014 Leadership Academy.
Edusei relocated to Chicago, IL in 2014 with her husband and their children.
ID: Kellee, a non-disabled butterscotch-skinned woman with long dark brown hair, is facing the camera, smiling in front of a gray background. She is wearing a pink top and gold-tone beaded earrings and a necklace. Photo: Maria Ponce
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