E1 Racism in Small Business and the Arts
The first in a series on racism in small business and the arts, these professionals share their varied experiences, wisdom, and guidance in an effort to educate, inform and demonstrate that while we might disagree, we can always find common ground. One of the most important things business and non-profit leaders can be doing right now is not shying away from talking about racism.
As we continue to witness the injustices brought onto the black community from people and institutions of power, Phoenix Businesss RadioX calls on our community across the state to stand up for our African-American brothers and sisters.
Racism and racist systems continue to perpetuate violence and hate against the black community, and it is our responsibility to stand up with them as we work to build a more just and equitable Arizona.
Speak out and speak up. Have hard conversations with friends, family, and loved ones. It’s on all of us.
Camilla Ross is the President and Chairman of Emerson Theater Collaborative, Inc., Producer and Actress (Portray’s Harriet Tubman – Harriet Tubman’s Dream written by Lisa Giordano). She is also the President and Chairman of the Sedona Arts Academy.
“To be a catalyst for social change is really where it’s at for me,” Camilla said. “I believe theater should always be a venue for social change. I love the art of live theater and love what it does to the human soul and spirit. It moves us to look at life differently. To leave off the rose-colored glasses and really see the human condition.”ETC is a shining example. Founded in 2008 to give voice to actors’ innate talent for character development, Camilla has since produced more than 20 inspired, original performances. Emerging and professional cast and crew have blossomed under her guidance. And together they’ve created profound, can’t-ever-forget shows that illuminate social issues, and transform audience curiosity into concern and action.
Camilla has a deep well of experience and mentorship to tap into for her ETC roles—from her days at Emerson College and then in regional theaters and commercials. Among her favorite portrayals? Capturing the heart, spark, and essence of Harriet Tubman in the one-woman show Harriet Tubman’s Dream. Camilla is also deeply involved with youth, their visions for social change, and the desire to see the world as a stage of peace. To that end, she’s a tireless advocate for children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome. She gives kids and teen real-life theatrical experience through ETC’s Summer Youth Program and enlivens their eagerness to learn about the history and genuine heroes through ETC’s school programs. Camilla is a steadfast suicide prevention advocate too, helping teens and adults avoid this tragedy and move forward to a happier, more positive future.
Camilla has taught business courses part-time at Three Rivers Community College since 2005, Sat on the Emerson College Alumni Board for ten years, and is past president of the Connecticut Alumni Chapter. In May 2014 Camilla was honored by the Writer’s Block of New London, Conn., for her past work as an instructor. In June 2013 she was named Woman of The Year by the Women’s Network of Southeastern Connecticut, and she’s been featured in many periodicals for her community service. In 2019 Emerson Theater Collaborative was nominated as Collaborator of the year in Sedona AZ. A veteran of the U.S. Navy and member of Kappa Beta Delta, Camilla earned her BA in Performing Arts: Acting from Emerson College in 1985 and her MBA in Finance from Baker College in Michigan.
Karen Loomis, Oracle and Founder of No Moss Brands, is no stranger to the impact of racism; not only in her personal life, but professional life as well. In 2000, Karen moved from Spokane, Wa to Phoenix, AZ to find better opportunities as promised by the fifth largest city in the U.S. With only 2% AA, Spokane proved to be a challenging environment, as is Phoenix, with only 6% AA.
Karen has never shied away from the many barriers racism presented. She has always felt her extensive education and professional experiences could overcome these often invisible challenges.Unfortunately, institutional racism has proven to be too big of a hurdle for one person to take on. Using No Moss Brands as the vehicle, Karen will use her voice to open the eyes of others who are willing to join all People of Color on this journey to change. You in?
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Dre Harris, Chief Ideation Executor, with Duolos Consulting, comes from a very common, but challenging upbringing and it’s by the grace of God alone that he is on the mic today in his right mind and all the way turned up.
He is a God-fearing husband and father, entrepreneur, meaningful member of Church On Mill, and definitely different than whatever you would consider normal. Dre is relentlessly committed to capital T Truth, with his greatest motivations in life being to glorify Christ, enjoy him forever, and to not waste this life.
Other notable areas to highlight would be his desire to love his neighbor as himself, live a minimalistic lifestyle, and leverage capitalism. Every morning he reminds himself of these 5 things:
Today you have to…
- Fear YAHWEH
- Pick your pain
- Love the process
- Be 1% better
- And know that if it was easy, everyone would do it
Thomas Barr is the Executive Director for Local First Arizona, the largest coalition of local businesses in North America. He advocates for a strong local business community that contributes to building vibrancy, equity, and prosperity across the state. A proud Arizona native and graduate of Arizona State University,Thomas leads the business coalition of Local First Arizona by advocating for the economic and cultural benefits provided by building strong local economies.
Thomas steers the strategic direction of LFA’s major programs and initiatives as well as the engagement of over 3000 businesses across Arizona. As Executive Director, Thomas guides a team of statewide senior directors overseeing the execution of LFA’s communication strategy, major initiatives and key partnerships, as well as the collaboration of over 30 staff implementing work in entrepreneurship programs, small business advocacy, local food initiatives, sustainability, urban development and community building. He frequently speaks to groups locally and nationally, presenting the impact of Local First Arizona and the importance of local economy work in building prosperity.
Outside of Local First Arizona, Thomas has participated in volunteering his time to many causes and organizations throughout the Valley including Young Nonprofit Professionals – Phoenix, Equality Arizona, Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits, Arizona Commission on the Arts, Heritage Square Foundation and Phoenix Legal Action Network. Additionally, Thomas is a 2018 Phoenix Magazine 40 Under 40 honoree, alumni of Arizona Leading for Change, and current participant in Valley Leadership Institute’s 40th cohort.