May 23-26, 2024

2024 Annual AAAE Conference

2024 Keynote Speakers

Opening Keynote | Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson

For more than 25 years, Dr. Maria Rosario Jackson’s work has focused on understanding and elevating arts, culture, and design as critical elements of healthy communities. Her work blends social science and arts- and humanities-based approaches to comprehensive community revitalization, systems change, the dynamics of race and ethnicity, and the roles of arts and culture in communities. After confirmation by the U.S. Senate in December 2021, Dr. Jackson became the 13th chair of the National Endowment for the Arts in January 2022. With this historic appointment, Dr. Jackson is the first African American and the first Mexican American woman to serve as chair of the NEA.

Dr. Jackson has a long career in strategic planning, policy research, and evaluation with philanthropy, government, and nonprofit organizations. She has served as an advisor on philanthropic programs and investments at national, regional, and local foundations.

Dr. Jackson is currently on leave from Arizona State University, where she is a tenured Institute Professor in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. In that role, she has led the Studio for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communities and held an appointment in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions (2017-2022). For almost ten years, she also served as a senior advisor for Arts and Culture and Strategic Learning, Research and Evaluation at the Kresge Foundation.

For 18 years, Dr. Jackson worked at the Urban Institute, a Washington, DC-based national public policy research organization. While there, she was a senior research associate in the Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, and the founding director of the Urban Institute’s Culture, Creativity and Communities Program.

Dr. Jackson was appointed to the National Council on the Arts by President Barack Obama in 2012, on which she served until becoming chair of the NEA. Dr. Jackson was co-chair of the County of Los Angeles Cultural Equity and Inclusion Initiative and, most recently, served on the advisory boards of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the Equity Center at the University of Virginia, the Strong, Prosperous and Resilient Communities Challenge (SPARCC), and L.A. Commons, an arts intermediary organization focused on bridging communities through stories and creative practice. She served on the board of directors of the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County (The Music Center), the Association of Arts Administration Educators, and the Alliance for California Traditional Arts.

A graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) with a doctorate in urban planning, Dr. Jackson holds a master of public administration degree from the University of Southern California. Dr. Jackson grew up in South Los Angeles, and spent time in her father’s home state of Ohio and her mother’s hometown of Mexico City. She is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.

Opening Keynote | Ana Teresa Toro

Journalist and writer. She is a columnist in Puerto Rican and international media, such as El Nuevo Día , El País from Spain, ECOS from Germany, Distintas Latitudes from Mexico, Internazionale from Italy, Global from the Dominican Republic, Anfibia from Argentina and The New York Times . She is the author of the novel Letters to the Water and the chronicle books Las Narices de los Perros and The Grandmother’s Body . In 2019, she published a book in interview format with former governor Alejandro García Padilla ( Vida, Patria y Verdad ), a book about the history of Taller Salu d, the oldest functioning feminist organization in Puerto Rico ( A Own Body : 40 years of Taller Salud ) and is co-author of the book Somos más: chronicles del Verano del 19 about the process of protests that culminated in the forced resignation of the governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló. In 2020, she published, together with the writer Edmaris Carazo, the book Parir es parterse , a collection of chronicles and essays about motherhood. Her texts have been translated into English, German, and Italian and compiled in anthologies in Colombia, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Argentina and Austria. She has been a workshop leader and collaborator of the Gabo Foundation in Colombia. She has won the First Bolívar Pagán Journalism Prize three times, awarded by the Institute of Puerto Rican Literature, and the country’s journalistic guilds—the Overseas Press Club and the Association of Journalists of Puerto Rico—have recognized her work in more than a dozen times. In 2018, she received the Residential Research Fellowship awarded by the Center of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University (NYU) and, in that same year, she received the dedication of the Lawrence International Book Fair , Massachusetts. Soon, she will publish her first collection of poems and a book of chronicles and memoirs about the political history of contemporary Puerto Rico. Together with Pedro Reina and Silverio Pérez she is the host of the Marullo podcast . Recently, she assumed the coordination and editing of the Magazine of the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.

Closing Keynote | Angel Antonio Ruiz Laboy

Angel is an award winning writer, professor, editor and cultural administrator with more than 10 yrs of experience. Ángel Antonio has a degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Puerto Rico and an MFA from NYU. As Associate Director of Arts and Culture at CENTRO, he oversees the integration of arts to CENTRO’s programming as well as the creation and acquisition of new cultural contents and programs.