Cultural Quarterly
Spring/Summer 2009
Volume XXII, Number 2
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Emerging Cultural Leaders
benefit from a year in the program
By Helene Foster
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Editor’s Note: The Broward Cultural Council’s Emerging Cultural Leaders Program seeks to cultivate Broward County’s next generation of cultural leadership by focusing attention on people who have the will and desire to develop cultural leadership skills. The initiative enables young professionals to enhance leadership skills, build relationships with business and community leaders, and productively contribute to civic life, cultural development, and gain recognition within causes that stir their passion.  We are pleased to profile two of the participants in this program below.

Laura Aker
Laura Aker

When Laura Aker first expressed her interest in joining the Emerging Cultural Leaders Program, it was to be “her way to contribute to the community while gaining an in-depth understanding of the cultural industry in Broward County,” she says.

Over the course of the past year, Aker, president of the Young Professionals for Covenant House, has done just that and so much more.

“The educational aspects of this program have been excellent. There have been so many great opportunities offered to us through this program,” explains Aker. “Grace Kewl-Durfey, our program contact, and other Broward Cultural Division staff have been so great about helping us to quickly learn about and become immersed in their field of expertise.”

Aker, a Michigan native, made South Florida her home becoming licensed as a nursing home administrator. After spending time working in health care administration, she pursued a public service career. She now serves as a senior business/management analyst for the Broward County Clerk of Courts. She also gives of her time and support for a variety of charitable groups.

Barbara Barber
Barbara Barber

Barbara Barber currently serves as the community program supervisor for the City of Fort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Department. Her passion is providing cultural programs for at-risk youth. She feels that the Emerging Cultural Leaders Program is giving her the right tools to give back to the community.

“The cultural arts are such an important part of the children’s lives,” she says. “When they can participate in the arts, they flourish academic and socially. Through creative expression, children can grow, learn and achieve without judgment or restriction.”

For this reason, Barber wanted to learn how to “become an advocate for the arts and these children.
“I have learned about the various resources and cultural partners that are in Broward County and what it takes to advocate and lobby - to be one voice that speaks for many,” she adds. “There is a huge cultural arts community right here in Broward County and I can now use my contacts and experience to enrich the lives of the children.”

Barber also has an impressive background working with such cultural and community organizations as the Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Committee and the Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse. In this capacity, she has been responsible for event planning, marketing and publicity - all areas that the Emerging Arts Program thoroughly explores.

“We take part in great educational sessions each month. Every session is centered on a different topic such as networking, fundraising or grants. Recently there was a program called ‘The Creative Economy,’ which highlighted how important it is to promote the arts even during the country’s current economic status,” Barber notes.

The Emerging Cultural Leaders Program affords its 15 participants a two-year experience presented by the Broward County Cultural Council. By preparing the next generation of cultural leaders through this program, the council hopes to help preserve the arts for years to come.

Participants learn leadership skills and have networking opportunities while taking part in courses and workshops geared to assist arts organizations and the community. Committee assignments and practical experience help the professionals become experts in the field. By completing the program, participants then may become eligible to receive recommendations for board membership with a cultural organization or even a recommendation to serve on the Broward Cultural Council.