Executive Director Ayesha Williams shares reflections on her first few months as ED

From left to right: Alexander Huaylinos, isabelle hui saldaña, Trisha Barton, Catherine Mbali Green-Johnson, and Ayesha Williams

It’s hard to believe that close to five months has passed since I began my tenure as The LP’s Executive Director. Each role I’ve had over the past seven years at The LP has shifted my perspective on the organization and expanded my understanding of the importance of our work and what I believe is possible for us to achieve. Seeing things from this perspective has been no different.

My first few months with a full bird’s-eye view of our organization has reaffirmed that The LP’s work with artists, cultural producers, neighbors, and partners is key to revealing unconventional, yet effective ways of addressing the challenges we face in our communities. Where inept systems fail us, and far too often strip us of our humanity, the connections we facilitate through our programs supporting artists, communities, and the general public, offer unique opportunities to build authentic relationships across differences, generate new ideas, and reaffirm our humanness within a safe space where people are invited to always be and bring their full selves.

As a team, and as an expanding community, our ability to continue shifting the present and future of our city through creativity inspires my work and reinforces my commitment to it each day.

In March, The LP announced our 2023 cohort of Create Change Artists-in-Residence and Fellows whose projects range from capturing oral histories of new immigrants in Queens, to preserving the rich history of Bed-Stuy, to offering much needed repose to Brooklyn advocates for social and economic justice. If you have yet to read about their projects, you can do so here. These creatives of color are bringing fresh insights and underrepresented perspectives to the growing concerns of displacement and belonging felt by communities of color across New York City. I’m excited about how their work will evolve as they continue in dialogue with our staff and with each other.

In February, we launched our 2023 Liberation Series which is a year-long effort to uplift Bed-Stuy’s thriving past and present in partnership with local stakeholders, organizations, and businesses in the neighborhood today. Through this series we seek to unite, network, and build economic empowerment, while also preserving history and honoring legacy, sharing health and wellness practices, and finding innovative ways to support one another through the arts.

As a team, we’re also working internally to make sure we strike the right balance between our daily efforts and our long-term vision. So far this year, we held our very first multi-day off site staff retreat to dream, envision, and plan for what’s ahead. We’ve partnered with Lord Cultural Resources to deepen our understanding of the role The LP can play in shaping the relationship of art, culture, public policy, and civic engagement for years to come. We’ve also welcomed three new staff members to our programs team, an indication that there’s no slowing down of the offerings we share with our community.

While it may sound cliché, in partnership with each of you, there really is no limit to what The LP can achieve. I’ve seen our ability to create magic many times before, and anticipate it will happen many times again. That is why when Kemi asked me if I was interested in filling her ED shoes––as big as they may have been––I said yes without hesitation. As a team, and as an expanding community, our ability to continue shifting the present and future of our city through creativity inspires my work and reinforces my commitment to it each day. I thank you for your continued support of our team, our artists, our work and our vision as we chart the path ahead.

— Ayesha Williams, Executive Director of The Laundromat Project