News & Ideas  -  Sierra Leone First Kettering Foundation Artist-in-Residence

Democracy and the Arts News Sierra Leone

Work will affirm and advance inclusive democracy through the arts

Today we announce the appointment of distinguished Ohio Governor’s Award recipient, poet, and playwright Sierra Leone as our first artist-in-residence through fall 2025. Leone’s work with Kettering’s Democracy and the Arts focus area encompasses collaborations with all of the foundation’s work.

Leone is the executive director and cofounder of the Home of Urban Creative Arts. For over a decade, Ohio has benefited from her vision of creative urban arts as a potent artistic medium to bridge communities across racial, cultural, ideological, and economic gaps. She has also significantly impacted youth through her work with arts organizations, schools, and neighborhoods via her company’s educational arm, Signature Educational Solutions. Leone is committed to ongoing growth and learning, as exemplified by earning an MBA with an emphasis on project management and an MA in applied behavioral sciences, which heavily influenced her work and study of culture and behavior through the lens of the creative process and activism. She is currently one of four artists commissioned to develop and design the Seed of Life Memorial, which will commemorate the victims of the 2019 Dayton Oregon District shooting.

Leone’s understanding of the relationship between arts and activist communities will support Kettering’s work to affirm and advance inclusive democracy through the arts. Throughout the residency, she will work with local artists and arts organizations on Kettering’s Civil Rights Dayton initiative, including developing a curriculum and leading a music and arts summer camp for teens at Levitt Pavilion. Leone will also conduct workshops at the EboNia Gallery for artists participating in an exhibition curated by Bing Davis and work with The Human Race Theatre Company on a participatory project based on stories about belonging that have been shared by community members.

“Many of us often don’t see the connections between democracy and our daily lives,” said Joni Doherty, senior program officer for Democracy and the Arts. “Sierra is an artist who makes democracy personal and tangible, both in her work and through her connections with people.”

Kettering Foundation president and CEO Sharon L. Davies said, “We are delighted to have Sierra work with the foundation as its inaugural artist-in-residence. We welcome the opportunity to engage with her ideas, insights, and experiences as we all work toward a deeper understanding of how to advance inclusive democracy.”