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WASHINGTON, DC – Step Afrika!, the Washington, D.C.-based dance company, has named arts, education and culture leader Lamar Lovelace as its new executive director, succeeding Founder C. Brian Williams. In this role, Lovelace will oversee strategy and operations; Williams will assume the role of executive producer and will focus on curating and expanding the organization’s artistic and educational reach across the globe.
Lovelace will lead implementation of the dance company’s five-year strategic plan and will advance a robust institutional marketing campaign intended to grow the organization’s base of donors and partners. He first joined the organization in September 2017 as deputy executive director, where he managed communications and marketing strategy, fundraising efforts and financial operations. Over the last four years, Lovelace has expanded the board of the internationally celebrated dance company and has increased corporate partnerships by nearly 400%.
“The board is thrilled to welcome Lamar into this role. His leadership and resolve during the pandemic have prepared him to further elevate the company, our strategic direction and our impact here and abroad,” said Conrad Woody, incoming chairman. “We are grateful to our pioneering founder C. Brian Williams for his creative genius and dynamic leadership over the last 28 years.”
Lovelace brings more than a decade of leadership experience as a seasoned administrator. At Columbia University, he served as Director of Public Programs and Events and as Assistant Director in the Office of Community Outreach and Education. On the New York City-based campus, he produced large-scale, humanities-based programming and managed community-based partnerships and special events. At Broward College in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Lovelace was Director of Cultural Affairs and Student Engagement, where he created arts-based social justice programs and exhibitions.
“I’m humbled and honored to continue my partnership with Brian to chronicle untold stories of the African American experience as Step Afrika! approaches its 30th Anniversary season,” said Lovelace. “I am thrilled to explore opportunities for expansion in our Stepping into Schools arts education portfolio and would love to have each and every child in the District of Columbia experience the tradition of stepping as a tool that reinforces teamwork, discipline and commitment as important life skills whether they are on or off the stage.”
Step Afrika! blends percussive dance styles practiced by historically African American fraternities and sororities together with traditional African dances and an array of contemporary dance and art forms, creating a cohesive, compelling artistic experience. The dance company provides innovative and inclusive performances, arts education programs and community outreach across the nation and around the world.
Williams started the organization in 1994. Since its inception, Williams has turned stepping into a cultural phenomenon and Step Afrika! now ranks as one of the top ten African American dance companies in the United States.
“Our mission at Step Afrika! is to preserve, expand and promote an appreciation for stepping through professional performances and to inspire young people through arts education programs,” said Williams. “This marks a unique shift for the organization to focus on strategic growth and long-term sustainability; I am honored to pass the baton to Lamar, whose training and understanding of the challenges and opportunities of arts administration, as well as his creativity and focus, will provide Step Afrika! with the expertise to realize our vision for the future.”
To learn more about Step Afrika!’s programmatic offerings and to purchase performance tickets, visit StepAfrika.org.