Advocacy in Action: Meet the KFW Board – Ciera Shields
CIERA L. SHIELDS, Board Member since December 2013
If you need evidence of the power of grassroots connections to build communities look no further than KFW board member Ciera Shields. It was 2013 and Ciera was working as the first female exhibition coordinator for the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage when Elmer Lucille Allen, who runs the Wayside Christian Mission Art Gallery and volunteers for KCAAH, told her KFW was looking for board members.
“I knew I was a feminist from a very young age. I was kind of raised as a feminist as I was primarily raised by my father. He always encouraged me to get things accomplished on my own and demand my respect from men who try to disregard my talents because I am female,” said Shields.
She sees her unique background as a source of strength and inspiration.
“Both of my parents inspire me. I was raised unconventionally, there were not many single fathers around in the 80’s and 90’s, and I would see the struggles both of my parents endured to make sure me and my brother were okay. They both had to deal with stereotypes of what a mother should be and what a father should be, so they definitely inspire me to work as hard as I do and to help others,” said Shields.
In her role as exhibitions coordinator at KCAAH, Shields would occasionally do talks and walk-throughs of exhibits on display and would encourage young girls to network with the talented women in the arts and theater in Louisville who could help them further their dreams.
“Every chance I get, I try to point female artists and young girls in the direction of KFW. I ask them what their hopes are, who their audience is, and if they have ever considered applying for funding through KFW,” said Shields. “KFW is about feminism and social change in a positive manner, and if their artwork or production encompasses those traits I encourage them to apply.”
“I want women and girls to be empowered more than ever and to use KFW as their platform to build a stronger connection between women and young girls in our community. I believe it’s important for young girls to know that voices should be heard and that they aren’t alone in the struggles they have faced or are facing. Madeleine Albright said it best—“It took me quite a long time to develop a voice, and now that I have it, I am not going to be silent.”
KFW Board Members Showcase “This I Believe”
At a recent retreat our wise and wonderful KFW Board spent time contemplating their role in sustaining the mission and values of KFW. Board members participated in a “This I Believe” exercise to reflect each person’s personal vision for KFW and how she could create connections with our community. No two statements were identical, but our word cloud pictured below provides an indication that our board shares one omnipresent goal.