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James “Ray” Rhodes, the Executive Director of Christina, is a multi-talented leader, mentor, and educator. With a diverse professional background, he has dedicated his life to empowering those in need to realize their full potential. As Executive Director, Ray oversees the day-to-day operations, including finances, human resources, facility management, and governance coordination with the Board of Directors. Ray holds a Bachelor of Architecture from Hampton University, an MBA in Executive Leadership from Wesley College, and a master’s in Teaching from Wesley College. Ray’s extensive career includes teaching at various levels, executive roles in organizations like the City of Wilmington and New Castle County, and active involvement in community initiatives such as REACH Riverside and Kingswood Community Center. He is a trusted leader in various organizations, including Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., the 100 Black Men of America, Delaware Chapter, and Suakim Temple #60, where he serves as a Noble. Ray’s unwavering commitment to serving the needs of constituents and putting people above profits defines his dynamic leadership style.

Karen Harcum is a multi-talented woman. She is currently the Director of Operations at Cultural Arts Center. Formerly, a Management Consultant and Certified Health Coach. She began her career, as a corporate trainer in the Health Insurance Industry. After a 20-year career, she transitioned out of corporate into health coaching, which moved into business consulting based on the needs of her talent and the needs of her clientele. She is an expert in transformational leadership in small to median sized companies. Her specialties are retail businesses social media marketing, and customer acquisition strategy. Karen’s passion is to help small businesses build strong teams and management acumen. Karen is a graduate of Villanova University with B.A. in Liberal Arts, with a concentration in computer science. She also holds a Master of Science in Management focusing on leadership from Kaplan University. Karen is married with two adult children.

Shysheika Edwards has been in education for over 19 years. She graduated from Lincoln University with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. She obtained her Master’s Degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Concordia University and is currently working on a doctoral degree in educational leadership. Shysheika, also, holds a certification in nonprofit management. She began her service at CCAC as a lead teacher in the Early Childhood Education Arts Academy (ECEAA) in 2013. Shysheika was swiftly promoted to program manager shortly after managing the classroom that achieved a 5 STAR rating.  She is proud to currently serves as the Education Director at Christina Cultural Arts Center.  As Education Director, Shysheika is responsible for the preschool program (ECEAA), the afterschool program (HUH), the internship program (FECIIP), and the Urban Arts Institute (UALI). Shysheika is committed to providing quality, arts-integrated educational experiences to the CCAC community.

Daphne Y. Evans, M.S., is a seasoned advocate with over 35 years of experience in youth-oriented organizations. Her core mission is to empower parent leaders in Delaware’s child-serving organizations. Notably, she spearheaded efforts to enhance school readiness and registration in the state by establishing 20 community teams, a model for involving local input in decision-making. At Christina Cultural Arts Center, Daphne’s role as Family Service Manager has fostered parent leaders, increased participation, and inspired parents to serve beyond their children’s graduation. Daphne is an inspiring force for change within early childhood systems, seen notably through her prestigious appointment to the Equity Leader’s Action Network (ELAN) with the Build Initiative.

Ty Harper is a Wilmington, Delaware native and Program Manager of “HeArt Under the Hoodie,” a youth violence prevention program at Christina Cultural Arts Center. Ty aspires to make a timeless contribution to youth and families through his work in community development. Ty has extensive social science insight and background as an alum of both Delaware State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (Psychology and Counseling). Outside of work, Ty fulfills the role of Hip-hop artist; and he also enjoys basketball and roller skating.

Tabita Ares is a Delaware native and the School of the Arts program manager here at Christina Cultural Arts Center. Tabita is a proud Alumni of CCAC and has been a part of the organization for 39 years starting at age 6 as a dance student at the Old Swedes location. Tabita has dedicated twelve plus years as a CCAC faculty member; working as a dance and drama teaching artist, registrar and now program manager. Tabita is a strong advocate for the arts in the community and has worked closely with families, community leaders and various organizations to bring awareness to the importance of the arts in schools and in the community. Tabita is the first person you will see or hear when you come in or call in to inquire about the many amazing programs they have at CCAC.

Courtney Thornton, the Marketing and Communications Manager at Christina Cultural Arts Center, is no ordinary marketing strategist. With a diverse background in education, arts entrepreneurship, and a sharp marketing sense, she’s a dynamic force in creative communications. Having previously dedicated her time to teaching middle school social studies in the Christina School District, Courtney’s background emphasizes the significance of communication and community-building, skills she now expertly employs in her marketing strategies. Beyond her role at Christina Cultural Arts Center, Courtney is the visionary owner of Harp and Hare, where her passion for arts and culture shines. Through this venture, she creates unforgettable experiences, bridging individuals with the transformative power of the arts. As the Marketing and Communications Manager, Courtney skillfully crafts narratives, designs impactful marketing strategies, and leverages her educational roots to enhance community engagement at the center, fostering a stronger connection with the wider community. Courtney Thornton epitomizes the fusion of creativity, education, and marketing expertise, embodying a journey from the classroom to entrepreneurship while highlighting her dedication to the arts and the potency of effective communication.

Alicia Burt-Powell is a native of Springfield, Massachusetts, but has called Delaware her home since the age of 10. Alicia obtained an Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science (with a minor in Sociology) from Southern Connecticut State University. Alicia has been an Early Childhood Educator for the last 23 years and has been employed as a Lead Teacher in CCAC’s Early Childhood Education Arts Academy since 2015. Alicia is a forward thinker and has a passion for not only giving children the best educational experiences, but also ensuring that what is learned will become “lifelong” lessons. Alicia’s interests are in public service, educating/mentoring youth and emotional wellness.

Hailing from Wilmington, DE, Tiana Pratcher graduated from Delaware State University in 2018 with a degree in Psychology. Currently, she is actively pursuing her Masters in Applied Family Science. With a rich background spanning 12 years, Tiana has dedicated her career to working with children, fueled by a deep passion for guiding them through various developmental stages. Her particular joy lies in witnessing the growth and emergence of unique personalities in the younger age groups, cherishing the transformative journey of learning and development.

Tiana Jackson commenced her journey at Christina Cultural Arts Center as a student. In September 2017, she transitioned to becoming a tutor for the HeArt Under the Hoodie program and soon after assumed a role as an aide in the preschool program. She has since graduated from Delaware Tech with an Associate of Arts in Teaching and now proudly serves at CCAC as an Assistant Teacher in our preschool program.

Kwame embarked on her journey with the Christina Cultural Arts Center as a student, engaging in performances and summer arts programs. Her commitment led her to join CCAC in September 2008 as a Teaching Assistant. A proud graduate of Delaware Tech with an Associate’s Degree in Teaching, Kwame is presently pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree at Wilmington University. Demonstrating her dedication, she now serves as a Lead Teacher in our preschool program.

Having previously worked at the DE Psychiatric Center and later serving as a behavioral support assistant at The Bancroft School, Ms. April joined Christina Cultural Arts Center during the 2022-2023 school year as a 1:1 instructional aide before transitioning to a full-time classroom aide. Outside of her professional role, Ms. April finds joy in spending time with her grandchildren and nurturing her plants. She takes great satisfaction in her role as a classroom aide at CCAC, building strong and meaningful relationships with each child.