All-female slate of officers will lead the arts council board during critical time to secure additional public funding for the arts 

CLEVELAND, OHIO — Assembly for the Arts’ Trustees have elected a new slate of all-female officers to lead the nonprofit regional arts council for greater Cleveland. Their work will be instrumental in generating more resources and elevating equity for arts and culture in Cuyahoga County and beyond.  

Chinenye is a strategic thinker. She has over 10 years of experience in asset building, community engagement and education advocacy. She holds a B.A. in Political Science, African Studies and African American Studies from The Ohio State University, with a focus on race and electoral politics.  

ChiChi is a proud Teach for America-Houston alumna, teaching middle school American History, Texas History and English. She gained essential skills in community development and wraparound services for Black and Latino students and families. 

She is focused on creating large-scale systems change predicated on radically inclusive racial and gender equity. As such, she co-founded Enlightened Solutions, a social advocacy research think tank focused on the lived experiences of Black Women. 

ChiChi is the current Board Chair for The Assembly for the Arts, the VP of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for the Junior League of Cleveland and board member of Preterm Cleveland and member of the NAACP of Greater Cleveland. She also served as a member of Mayor Justin Bibb’s Transition Team (Equity in Action).

The new officers elected at a recent meeting of the Board of Trustees are:  

  • Chinenye (ChiChi) Nkemere, Enlightened Solutions – Chair 
  • Carrie Carpenter, Huntington National Bank – Vice Chair 
  • Shanelle Smith Whigham, KeyBank – Vice Chair 
  • Kelly Falcone-Hall, Western Reserve Historical Society – Secretary 
  • Sandra Madison, Robert P. Madison International Inc. – Treasurer 

Kathy Blackman from The Grog Shop has also joined Assembly’s board. 

 “Assembly was founded two years ago with a mission to increase equity in the arts, and our board has always been purposefully diverse to represent many points of view. I’m excited to work with our new Board officers, all of whom have distinguished backgrounds as advocates, especially as we launch into our essential work of increasing funding for artists and arts organizations. We are very fortunate to have these smart and savvy women leading Assembly’s board during this important time for our community,” said Jeremy V. Johnson, president and CEO of Assembly for the Arts. 

More information about Assembly’s board is available on Assembly’s website at  


Assembly for the Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization with a focus on advocacy, cultural policy, racial equity initiatives, research, marketing that elevates the region, and services for nonprofits, artists, and creative businesses. It is governed by a volunteer board with a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion. Assembly by design operates in close partnership with Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, a government agency, and Assembly for Action, a 501(c)4 political action nonprofit to serve the entire creative sector. Assembly is supported through major funding from: The Cleveland Foundation, The George Gund Foundation, The Char and Chuck Fowler Family Foundation, Cuyahoga Arts & Culture, Ohio Arts Council, Huntington, KeyBank, The George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation, Fred & Laura Beth Bidwell, and Barbara S. Robinson.