Artrella Cohn, Kama Mitchell and Dr. L. Marshall Washington joined the Kalamazoo Community Foundation (KZCF) board of trustees in January 2022.
The appointments follow KZCF opening its board application to the full community for the first time in its 96-year history.
"We are being intentional about how our processes reflect our values as an organization," said Carrie Pickett-Erway, president/CEO of KZCF. "We are thrilled these individuals emerged through this community-centric process. It's an honor to add their brilliance and passion to our board."
Artrella Cohn is a respected champion for neighborhoods and community and holds deep nonprofit experience. Cohn is the Senior Director of Community Engagement and Student Investment at Communities In Schools of Kalamazoo. Cohn, a lifelong resident of Kalamazoo and graduate of Kalamazoo Public Schools and Western Michigan University, has a strong commitment to educational equity and quality youth development. She serves on several local committees and boards including the United Way Community Impact Committee, Best Babies Kalamazoo Committee, the Northside Association for Educational Advancement board, the YWCA Kalamazoo Board, and others.
Cohn has been engaged with KZCF in significant ways. She served on the Kalamazoo Community Foundation's Anti-Racism Transformation Team (ARTT) since its inception in 2018, as well as the KZCF Community Investment Committee.
"I am deeply committed to serving this community in ways that align with my strengths," said Cohn. "The journey of advancing racial, social and economic justice that the Kalamazoo Community Foundation is on, is one that aligns. I am excited to aid in moving us forward toward justice."
Kama Mitchell is the founder and CEO of Rootead Enrichment Center in Kalamazoo where she focuses on reducing epigenetic stress and trauma; destigmatizing mental health; and disrupting intergenerational poverty and dis-ease through generative offerings and collaborations. Her work centers the lived experience of Black, Indigenous and other People of Color along with LGBTQIA+ people. Mitchell is a mama of two young men, a yogi of over 25 years, a certified doula, a West African diasporic dancer, ancestral healing practitioner, and cultural healing arts innovator.
"I have much-lived experience in adapting to change for the greater good with ease," Mitchell said. "We can lean into transformative justice to make Kalamazoo truly a place to love and live for all."
Mitchell works closely with KZCF and Truth, Racial Healing & Transformation Kalamazoo as a racial healing lead and trained healing practitioner. She identifies as queer, radical, abolitionist and a grand lover of life in all its forms.
Dr. L. Marshall Washington is currently the third president of Kalamazoo Valley Community College. Washington is a passionate advocate for maintaining access to community college education, improving student learning and outcomes as well as creating learning opportunities.
"I want to continue to have and create positive impacts on my community by serving and leading others," said Dr. Washington.
He has served on the Board of Directors for the American Association for Community College (AACC) and currently AACC's Commission on Economic and Workforce Development. In addition, Washington currently services on the Board of Directors for the Presidents Roundtable, Fontana Chamber Arts, Kalamazoo Institute of the Art, Irving S. Gilmore International Piano Festival and Kalamazoo Downtown Partnership.
The board expansion and selection process were driven by the Community Foundation's new mission to mobilize people, resources and expertise to advance racial, social and economic justice.
The new additions expand KZCF's board of trustees to 11 members:
- Hon. Carolyn Williams, Chairperson
- Von Washington, Jr., Vice-Chairperson
- Artrella Cohn
- Jim Escamilla
- Dr. Jorge Gonzalez
- Mary Harper
- Si Johnson
- Kama Mitchell
- Sydney Parfet
- Amy Upjohn
- Dr. L. Marshall Washington
KZCF board members serve in a volunteer role for a three-year term, with the opportunity to be re-appointed for up to five terms.