The steering committee oversees and manages the Roc Arts United initiative and all of its committees.

Jason Barber

Jason Barber is an educator and artist with over a decade of experience in the arts and non-for-profit sectors, with a focus reaching out and initiating communications with leaders within the arts and cultural sectors along with the business sector for developing partnerships. He has worked as a creative consultant or as gallery director for the Rochester Brainery, Oxford Gallery, Memorial Art Gallery, Wall\Therapy, and the Yards Art Collective. He has been the professional face for the Yards Art Collective at many of their events, and has spearheaded designing and planning events at the Memorial Art Gallery (Museum of the Dead) and the Yards Art Collective (Artist in Residency and Spectral Carnival).

Elizabeth Cameron

Elizabeth Cameron’s long-standing role as Archivist at Paley Studios provided her with a wonderfully creative and fast paced proving ground to hone a wide ranging skill set including asset and collection management, conservation, photography, authentication, curation, publication design, and public art process. In addition to heading the archive of Albert and Frances Paley, Elizabeth has provided archival consultation for Kaneko Studios and the Ilan Lael Foundation, among others, helping them plan and structure archival programs. When not organizing, cataloguing, and appreciating art, Elizabeth can be found hiking and running trails or reading books in her garden among her beehives.

Bleu Cease

Bleu Cease (he/him) has worked as a museum professional, curator, and educator since 2002 and currently serves as the Executive Director/Curator of Rochester Contemporary Art Center (RoCo) in Rochester, NY. In addition to curating exhibitions of regional and national artists and supporting guest curators and co-curators, Cease helped to coordinate the Re-Energizing the Legacy of Frederick Douglass project, organized Current Seen, Rochester’s Small Venue Biennial for Contemporary Art, and initiated First Friday, Rochester’s Citywide Gallery night. Bleu has served on several boards including the Landmark Society of Western New York, The Arts & Cultural Council, Rochester Community Television and the Art Committee at the Memorial Art Gallery. Cease holds a BA from Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina and an MFA from the Visual Studies Workshop in Rochester, NY.

Kelly Cheatle (ex officio)

Kelly Cheatle specializes in elegantly loud design and is a materials and process maven. Her artwork varies in scale by several orders of magnitude, from multi-story massive installations to sculptures small enough to sit comfortably on a penny. She is Artistic DIrector of Airigami, a team of artists who create large-scale installations, illustrations, and experiences entirely out of balloons—from small single sculptures to stadium-sized, record-breaking installations.

Amanda Chestnut  (ex officio)

Amanda Chestnut is a multimedia artist, curator, educator, and local arts loud-mouth in Rochester, New York. She has made image-based art as a photographer for 25 years. Chestnut holds an MFA in Visual Studies from Visual Studies Workshop through The College at Brockport, SUNY. During her time as a student, she held graduate assistantships at Visual Studies Workshop and in the Criminal Justice Department, both at the College at Brockport. Currently, she is an adjunct professor at SUNY Geneseo and Saint John Fisher College. Recent lectures and radio appearances focused on community action, equity in user experiences in digital platforms, curatorial practices, arts funding, the English language, and the over-policing of Blackness in the United States.

Richard B Colón

Richard B Colón is a Rochester NY based Street Photographer. Born and raised in the city, his main focus has been to capture the beauty of urban streets and architecture that the City has to offer as well as views that most have rarely seen. His work had been featured in Coffee People Magazine (Issue 19) as well as at Ugly Duck Coffee. He also released his first ever Photo Zine titled “Vibe-ography” in 2022. Currently, he is the founder and curator of “Behind The Glass Gallery” located at the Mercantile on Main in Downtown Rochester. His goal is to showcase underrepresented artists who have never been part of a gallery, show, and or have a minimal presence pertaining to their medium.

Luticha Doucette

Luticha Doucette is a 36 year veteran disability justice advocate who hopes to one day get out of that job. Luticha lives as a free black person and business owner in Rochester, NY with two cats, Luna and Callie. Luticha is a graduate of the Leadership and Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (LEND) Fellowship program, an AUCD Emerging Leader and an inductee into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame established by the National Disability Mentoring Coalition. Luticha’s research and writing has been featured in various publications such as Insect Molecular Biology, Toxicon, The New York Times, and Yes! Magazine. She is the owner of Catalyst Consulting, which helps organizations, leaders, and advocates examine equity across race, gender identity, and disability in policies, practices, procedures, and relationships.

Mia Ferraro

Mia Ferraro is an artist from Utica NY, with a focus on stained glass and illustration. She has a Associates in studio art from Onondaga Community college and is currently working on her Bachelors of Arts majoring in Art History and minoring in Museum Studies at SUNY Geneseo. Ferraro plans on continuing her studies and attending graduate school. Mia’s goals are to fully embody and support the arts. She is passionate about all aspects of the arts while also being an advocate. Her goal is to learn more and to make a name for herself. As a walking, talking advertisement for arts education she will bring new and exciting forms to the people she meets.

Tom Graber

Tom Graber (he/him) is a fundraising professional with years of experience in development, sales, and customer service. Working for arts non-profit organizations such as the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and The Hochstein School, he’s organized in-person, virtual, and hybrid fundraising events; managed a grants portfolio worth upwards of $1.5 million; overseen direct mail and digital fundraising campaigns; and advocated for arts funding at government hearings. During Rochester’s colder months, you can find Tom in the kitchen baking holiday treats, outside skiing or ice skating, or cheering on the Buffalo Bills in his living room. During the summer, he and his wife regularly hike the area trails with their dog and even take him kayaking! Tom holds a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Music Industry from SUNY Fredonia and an MBA with a concentration in Marketing from Canisius College.

Darien Lamen

Darien Lamen is a writer, educator, and community media professional who specializes in collaborative audio and video storytelling. In 2018, he founded Reclaiming the Narrative, a volunteer-powered local newscast that aired weekly on WXIR and WAYO. He is the producer of the 2020 documentary Clarissa Uprooted as well as the 2022 youth history podcast Black Radio Rochester. Darien holds a PhD in ethnomusicology, and is the US editor of Azougue Press, a publishing house focusing on Latin American music and culture. He is also a musician who can frequently be found performing Brazilian music in Rochester.

Hannah Lightbody

Hannah Lightbody is a career arts professional polymath with world-class experience. She is an alumna of Emma Willard School and holds a BFA in Studio Art from Rochester Institute of Technology where she extended her studies to include art history, photography, graphic design, and gallery management in New York and abroad. Professionally trained at Paley Studios, her proficiencies grew to include archive and collection management, studio operations, domestic and international logistics, marketing, publications, and public art. She curated the first-ever temporary sculpture exhibition for Sonnenberg Arts at the Gardens in 2016, assisted with the logistics of the Garth Fagan 75/45 fine art auction, and has aided in the management of the Bausch + Lomb corporate archive and rotating art program. A natural hype machine, she is undoubtedly here for whatever it is you got going on

Cielo Ornelas MacFarlane

Cielo Ornelas MacFarlane (she/her) is the daughter of two dancers, who from an early age encouraged her to express herself in creative and artistic ways. She was raised all over the United States, spending time in New York, New Jersey, Texas, New Mexico, and Michigan. She is a graduate of the Visual Arts department at SUNY Fredonia and currently a member of The Yards Art Collective. She has experience organizing and jurying art shows and is interested in helping to create a space for dialogue and communication through art in the Rochester community.

Karla Slack

Born and raised in Mexico City, Karla started her education in Mexican folklore dance at 8 years old and received a High School Diploma in Arts from Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes de Mexico. She is an interdisciplinary artist, educator, and physical and wellness activist who focuses on Mexican traditions. Karla has participated in various projects in Mexico, including Instituto Cultural Alam-Tani, Compañia Xochiquetzal, Mexico Magico, and Grupo Cultural Tonalli Ambar. She has also complemented her training with ballet, theater, and music classes, and performed in Mexico, Cuba, Belgium, Spain, the Basque country, and Guatemala, showcasing her dance and choreographic work. Karla is a percussionist in traditional Mexican music, holds a degree in physical education, and founded the Mexican Dance Group “Mexicatlalli,” demonstrating her passion and energy by developing over 30 different choreographies. With over 25 years of experience, Karla has presented choreographic works in various schools, festivals, and events, and her work has been recognized by the International Council of Dance UNESCO since 2020.

Mona Seghatoleslami

Mona Seghatoleslami is the host and producer on WXXI Classical 91.5 FM weekdays from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. She also hosts the lunchtime concert series Live From Hochstein, interviews musicians, produces special programs, and works on any project she can find that helps connect people and music. She books the bands for one of the coolest live music venues in Rochester – The Little Theatre Café and serves on the board of creative modern chamber music ensemble fivebyfive. When she’s not on the radio, you can find Mona attending concerts and movies, playing viola in community orchestras, occasionally strumming the ukulele, riding her bike everywhere, and reading as much as she can – especially The New Yorker and sci-fi novels.

Ya’qub Shabazz

Born and raised on Chicago’s South Side, Ya’qub Shabazz is a visual artist, collector, and art educator on a mission to highlight the beauty and contribution of Black American artists, both contemporary and historical. His work explores the relationship between contemporary artistic expression and historical African aesthetics. His influences include Lois Mailou Jones, Charles White, and Aaron Douglas (to name a few) however a large part of his influences were birthed in the literary world and were made manifest through the visual arts. Primarily an oil painter, Ya’qub Shabazz explores wood carving, acrylic painting, woodblock printing, and many other mediums that express the range of his experiences. His works are not limited to one area similar to Mr. Shabazz himself, he is an artist, writer, father, husband, formerly incarcerated, veteran, and most importantly, a curator of Black culture. Ever since he was a pre-adolescent he had been fascinated by the deeper meanings of things, words, historical figures, and most importantly cultural symbolism. What starts out as yearning “to know” becomes a tenacious self-study and research into the Black Aesthetic that you will see expressed in works in a wide variety of ways.

Website Committee

This committee manages the Roc Arts United website.

Bleu Cease
Kelly Cheatle
Annette Ramos

City of Rochester Liaison

Amanda Chestnut

Communications Committee

This committee oversees communications and media relations for Roc Arts United.

Jason Barber
Elizabeth Cameron
Mia Ferraro
Cielo Ornelas MacFarlane

Monroe County Liaison

Bleu Cease

Assets & Facilities Committee

The purpose of this committee is to map and track creative assets in the Greater Rochester Area as a tool for creatives, patrons, developers, government officials, and the general public to ultimately grow and support the creative economy. The Assets & Facilities Committee oversees the central listing of art venues and organizations contained on this website.

Karen Dieruf
Hannah Lightbody
Mona Seghatoleslami