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For Immediate Release:
Cynthia Renta Named Executive Director of Girl Be Heard
New Executive Director to Champion Artistic Expression and Art as a Conduit for Social Change
BROOKLYN, New York, January 17, 2024 — Girl Be Heard (GBH), a Brooklyn-based organization that amplifies and celebrates the voices of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth through socially conscious theater-making, storytelling and performance, has appointed Cynthia Renta as its Executive Director. Impact Search Advisors by Nonprofit HR partnered with GBH on the successful search.GBH empowers women, girls, and gender-expansive youth aged 13-24, to develop as writers, performers, feminists and activists, or ARTIVISTS. GBH delivers educational, transformative programs, including workshops and art discipline events. The organization provides a brave and supportive environment for participants to explore their creativity and develop their self-expression.
As a theater collective, GBH puts issues affecting underrepresented communities on center stage, amplifying, developing and celebrating their voices in healing spaces. GBH reaches over 700 youth annually across multiple Title-1 schools and citywide sites. GBH electrifies 30,000+ audiences via MainStage, their annual show, plus community-based performances. Through its impactful programs and curriculum, GBH participants build positive self-identity, stronger social connections and greater confidence, improving social and emotional learning outcomes.
“At a time when the arts are under-funded, GBH’s mission is more critical than ever. We look forward to Cynthia Renta’s transformative leadership as she steers the organization toward new heights in empowering and celebrating the voices of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth,” said Jessica Bohn, Vice Chair of the GBH Board.
Cynthia Renta is a theatrical ritual performance artist and a non-profit executive with over twenty-five years of experience. Renta will lead by actively engaging and energizing the GBH community, including board members, staff, partners, volunteers and participants. She has a proven track record in art administration, artivism and art education. She brings a unique blend of executive leadership, program development and arts expertise. Renta has been a performing and visual art practitioner since 1996 and an arts educator since 2000, passionate about leveraging art programming that explores themes of power, cultural memory and decolonization.
Trained in healing justice and BIPOC womanist praxis, Renta works to tap into the creative healing potential of individuals and communities through the creation, design and exploration of liberation and wellness spaces for transformation. Notable projects include founding the theater group “Still Standing,” centering the stories of mothers whose children were killed by gun violence and leading the cultural arts classroom curriculum design and facilitation for Indigenous People’s Day, Latine Heritage, Black History and Pride months. In her art practice, she spearheaded the founding of various Afro-Indigenous Latine Caribbean folk arts projects from NYC to the San Francisco Bay Area including Bomberas de la Bahía and Project Cimarrona, movements that centered the contributions of women in the Caribbean arts. She was the founding artistic and community projects director for the Untold Stories Project, a site specific storytelling project amplifying the stories of the BIPOC community post-pandemic, centering spaces of geo-political importance and grounded in the framework of healing justice.
In her most recent role as Executive Director of the Educational Arts Team, Renta was the lead pedagogue, training designer and fundraiser. In her first year, she increased the operational budget by 40%, implemented performing art and art literacy programs and expanded donor portfolios. She also expanded the summer camp scholarship opportunities for BIPOC children and children with disabilities by 75%. With a focus on arts engagement, Renta led the charge to increase equity and access to art education. She pioneered early initiatives for diversity, equity and inclusion in education and workplaces, grounded in restorative practices and social-emotional restorative circle-keeping. Previously, Renta held leadership roles at the YMCA, Untold Stories and the Center for Supportive Schools.
Renta holds a Master’s in Public Administration from the City University of New York and a Bachelor of Arts in Growth and Structure of Cities from Bryn Mawr College. Recognized for her leadership in public administration and the arts Renta received the National Urban Fellowship Award for Urban Leaders (2006) and the Diáspora Leaders Award from Paso Negro and the Instituto de Cultura Puertorriqueña (2012). Her official first day was December 11, 2023.
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About Girl Be Heard
Girl Be Heard (GBH) develops, amplifies and celebrates the voices of young women through socially conscious theater-making. GBH runs free after-school and weekend programs in NYC and Trinidad and Tobago, and centers youth as experts in their own lives. GBH designed its education curriculum and methodology to create safe, fun, nurturing spaces for self-expression, grow individual talents (writing, rapping, acting, dancing, singing) and provide opportunities for youth to “be heard” at open mics and ensemble shows throughout the year. As a creative collective, GBH uses performance and personal storytelling to catalyze change around systemic human rights issues youth face worldwide, while bringing workshops and performances into detention centers, schools, refugee camps, domestic violence shelters, churches, community centers, theaters and countless other venues. With economic empowerment central to their work, GBH partners with the United Nations, State Department, and local officials to advocate for policies protecting, empowering and elevating women, girls and gender-expansive youth.
GBH has toured nine countries (Bermuda, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Canada, Denmark, Switzerland, Taiwan, Trinidad, the United Kingdom and the United States). Girl Be Heard’s special advisors and supporters include Lin Manuel Miranda, Danai Gurira, Alicia Keys, Gloria Steinem and Jackie Shapiro, among others.
Learn more at https://girlbeheard.org/.
About Nonprofit HR
Nonprofit HR is the country’s leading and oldest firm focused exclusively on the talent management needs of the social sector, including nonprofits, associations, social enterprises and other mission-driven organizations. We focus our consulting efforts on the following practice areas: Strategy & Advisory, HR Outsourcing, Total Rewards, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Justice and Search. Inc. 5000 listed Nonprofit HR as one of the nation’s fastest-growing firms. Since 2000, our staff of credentialed experts has advanced the impact of some of the world’s most influential brands in the sector. Learn more at www.nonprofithr.com