Forum on Community, Culture & Race

1:30-6 p.m. Wed., July 9, 2014

Arab American National Museum, Dearborn

Free admission with limited seating; advance registration required

The Forum on Community, Culture & Race features leading artists and art organizations who are working toward building diverse and inclusive audiences at a critical time in Detroit’s evolution.

Legendary Motown recording artist Martha Reeves will deliver the keynote address; award-winning journalistMartina Guzman of WDET-FM will moderate. Panel discussions will explore successful case studies and innovative best practices. Guided tours of the Museum’s exhibition Jajouka: The Master Musicians of Morocco will be available. 


The Forum originated in 2006 but has been on hiatus for several years. This year, thanks to generous funding from the Knight Foundation, the Forum has been restored to the beloved annual diversity-themed music festivalConcert of Colors. The Arab American National Museum, the music festival’s lead producer, is proud to both restore and host this community-focused event.

Forum Schedule

1:30-2 p.m. Registration, refreshments and networking 

2 p.m. Opening remarks: Devon Akmon, director, Arab American Nat’l Museum

2:10 p.m. Panel 1: Artists Engaging with Diverse Audiences, w/ Q&A

3:10 p.m. Keynote speech by Martha Reeves w/ Q&A

3:45 p.m.  15-minute break

4 p.m. Panel 2: Organizations Building Diverse Audiences, w/ Q&A

5 p.m. Closing remarks: Devon Akmon 

5:10-6 p.m. Optional guided tour of AANM exhibition Jajouka: The Master Musicians of Morocco


Martha Reeves  (Keynote Speaker) In 1962, a Motown Records scout heard a young blues/jazz singer at the old 20 Grand Club. Within a few short years, Martha Reeves had recorded her first song with the group that became Martha and the Vandellas, sang backup for Marvin Gaye and learned the music business by hanging around at Hitsville USA. Everyone knows what came next: a long string of stellar hit songs including Dancing in the Street, Heat Wave, Quicksand, Nowhere to Run and Jimmy Mack. Since leaving the Motown label in 1972, Reeves has had a long, successful career as a singer/songwriter in diverse genres – rock, jazz, country, gospel, blues and classical. She has shared the stage with luminaries including James Brown, Bruce Springsteen, Beverly Sills and Rance Allen. Reeves headlined a national touring company of the musical Ain't Misbehavin’ and for three years toured the U.K. in the musical review Dancing In The Street. From 2005-09, Reeves served as a member of the Detroit City Council. 




Martina Guzman, Broadcast Journalist, WDET-FM (Moderator)


Bio to come







Adnan Charara, Visual Artist/Entrepreneur Adnan Charara is a Lebanese American artist who has lived and worked in the U.S. since 1982. With an unquenchable thirst to create since he was a child, he drew, painted, sculpted and assembled his way from Seattle to Boston to Detroit, where he currently makes his artistic home. Adnan works in multiple mediums with several ideas at a time, treating his studio practice like a detail-oriented factory. His hard-working dedication is masked, however, by his whimsical and humorous treatment of serious subjects. Adnan resides in Dearborn, a quick drive from the Cass Corridor neighborhood that houses his studio. He bought the historic Astro building in 2011 with an ambitious plan to develop it into a multifunctional space, including an exquisite gallery, gift shop, two store-fronts and his sprawling subdivided studio. That plan has come to life with the help of architects and designers, and he continues to focus his energy on both his artwork and his community involvement.





Jennifer H. Goulet is President and CEO of ArtServe Michigan, leading advocacy, capacity building and strategic communications efforts supporting the arts and creative economy in Michigan. Joining ArtServe as development director in 2007, she was appointed president and CEO in 2009 just as state arts funding was nearly eliminated. Goulet led efforts to launch ArtServe’s Creative State Michigan research initiative affirming the contributing impacts of arts and creativity to Michigan’s reinvention – leading to the first meaningful increase in state arts funding in back-to-back years in more than a decade. Her 30 years of cultural and economic development leadership includes 12 years as the City of Ypsilanti's Downtown Development Authority and Economic Development Director, where she led efforts to transform an historic Masonic Temple into the vibrant Riverside Arts Center and as Executive Director of the Chelsea Center for the Arts. Goulet has a master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from The Ohio State University and bachelor’s degree in Geography from Valparaiso University. 



Paul Hogle is Executive Vice President of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, a role which unifies all DSO operations: artistic, Board engagement, innovation & strategy, community engagement, education, audience and volunteer development, fundraising, patron engagement & loyalty programs, public relations, marketing, retail, rental, and digital media enterprises.  Before joining the Detroit Symphony executive team in 2010, Paul spent 26 years working in senior posts for the Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, and Indianapolis symphony orchestras. He was a founder of The Stewardship Group, a consulting and executive recruitment firm that served a national client base in building resources. Paul is an alumnus of the Music Management program of the University of Evansville and is a graduate of Leadership Greater Chicago. He has served as president of The Orchestra PartnerShip, a sponsorship-selling coalition of major orchestras.

Mahogany Jones is a lyrical force and cultural ambassador, hailed internationally for her work, as a hip-hop recording and performance artist, arts advocate, community activist and educator. Jones is a newly appointed U.S. Hip-Hop Musical Ambassador, crisscrossing the globe, sharing her belief with youth that, “It’s bigger than Hip-Hop.’’ The native New Yorker is also a writer-in-residence for Detroit’s largest literary arts education nonprofit, InsideOut. Black Entertainment Television’s 106 & Park has named Jones a Freestyle Friday Champion four times. In addition to teaching, mentoring and recording, Jones serves as weekly host and organizer of 5e Gallery's The Foundation open-mic even. Her latest album release is Mahogany Jones Presents...Pure.

George N’Namdi, PhD has been a force in the Detroit area for more than three decades. Dr. N’Namdi and his gallery, The G. R. N’Namdi Gallery on E. Forest Avenue, were a catalyst for transforming a formerly derelict area located on the block bounded by E. Forest on the north, Garfield on the south, Woodward on the west and John R on the east, into a thriving arts center and historically designated area called the Sugar Hill Arts District. He co-developed the Sugar Hill Arts District with the development company East Forest Art Project, LLC, with whom he then partnered to develop the N’Namdi Center complex, which houses the N’Namdi gallery, SEVA restaurant, The Black Box, a retail space, a performing arts theater, and an outdoor patio area. He holds a bachelor's and master's degree in education from Ohio State University, a doctorate in psychology from the University of Michigan, and an honorary doctorate from the College for Creative Studies for his contributions to art and placemaking.

Joel Peterson, a composer/musician and 2010 Kresge Arts Fellow, has 25 years of experience performing and teaching music. He has programmed music and art in Detroit for 20 years, including over 200 events a year at Bohemian National Home from 2005-2008. In 2013, Peterson opened Trinosophes, a cafe, performance venue, and art gallery in Eastern Market. Peterson studied double-bass with Detroit Symphony Orchestra Principal Robert Gladstone and Dan Pliskow, as well as guitar with John Denome. He is a founding member of Immigrant Suns, Scavenger Quartet, Lac La Belle, Odu Afrobeat, Xenharmonic Gamelan and BoxDeserter. He has collaborated with Rhys Chatham, Eugene Chadbourne, Damo Suzuki, Faruq Z. Bey, Frank Pahl, Thollem McDonas, Tatsuya Nakatani, Steve Cohn, Amy Denio, Gino Robair, The Violent Femmes and many others.






Xavier Verna, director of education & conferences at the Sphinx Organization, manages the educational programs including the Overture division, Sphinx Performance Academy, and the classical connections program. He is also responsible for the coordination and planning of the national conference on diversity issues in the arts, SphinxCon. An alumnus of the University of Michigan, Verna holds a BA degree in Music Performance and Music Education.  His experience with and love for music encompasses his entire philosophy. After graduating, Verna went in pursuit of his passion and was involved at three different institutions as a teacher. He’s worked at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School in Ann Arbor, MI as a 5th grade beginning band teacher and Dexter Community Schools in Dexter, MI as a private teacher. He currently holds a position with the University of Toledo as Drumline Director and Coordinator.




Jennene Whitfield serves as the Executive Director of the critically acclaimed Heidelberg Project. Prior to her involvement with the Heidelberg Project she had a successful career in banking. Then, in 1993, she took a wrong turn and drove down a polka-dotted street– through a colorful chaos of paint and people– and asked a paint-spattered man, “what is all this?” The man was artist Tyree Guyton and what he told her sparked an obsession that changed her life forever. She could never have imagined giving up her 14-year career to work in a non-profit arts-related venture, but she recognized this seemingly wrong turn as a higher calling. With a leap of faith, she embarked on the challenge of a lifetime.  


This event is made possible by

13624 Michigan Avenue, Dearborn, MI 48126 - Phone (313) 582-AANM (2266) A Project of ACCESS