2018 Awardee

Jordan Simmons

as Executive & Artistic Director, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts

Jordan Simmons has been a faculty member at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts since 1978 and served as Executive and Artistic Director for the past 32 years.  The Center’s mission is to engage youth and young adults in imagining and creating new visions for themselves and their communities through the inspiration and discipline of rigorous training in world performance traditions.  The Center affirms the uplifting power of the arts for Richmond and San Francisco Bay Area youth who must contend with systemic poverty, violence and other barriers to peace, justice and prosperity.  Jordan, a native of the Richmond community he passionately serves, is a creative and determined spirit, described at times as a visionary scholar, writer, director, teacher and performer.  While his portfolio includes more than 50 original productions, he considers his most important work to be the curriculum and culture that he and his mentors have nurtured at the Center.

Jordan has been tireless and inspired in guiding the Center from a small and fragile local program to a nationally recognized neighborhood anchor, reaching more than 5,000 youth annually in a stunning new facility that inspires youth stability and community pride.  Jordan says “Our youth and faculty have influenced me in a hundred ways to look to the causes and consequences of racial injustice and toward a vision of human potential.  Now I’m looking forward to reflecting and replenishing myself so I can work with my colleagues to reach toward deeper impacts, new initiatives and enhanced family support systems.”  While on sabbatical, Jordan plans to practice his shakuhachi (Japanese flute) and Ghanaian drumming repertoire; record and compose music; serve as elder Capoeira Mestre; and spend time hiking and camping in the Sierra with his family.  His sabbatical will also offer an opportunity for his gifted senior team to test drive their own growing leadership.