Kehrein Center names new leader

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Reesheda Graham-Washington has been named founding executive director of the Kehrein Center for the Arts.

The Kehrein Center’s board of directors announced this week that Graham-Washington had been selected after an extensive search. “With significant consideration given to what is essential to successfully lead the Kehrein Center, we have selected Reesheda to serve in this critical role. … Reesheda clearly possesses the passion and commitment necessary to collaborate with the community.”

The Kehrein Center noted that Graham-Washington, an Austin native who used to serve on the board of directors, has a background in entrepreneurship and education administration, as well as a commitment to the arts and community development.

To close out Black History Month and start Women’s History Month, the center will host “An Evening with Reesheda Graham Washington” from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 1. The free event will showcase the vision Graham-Washington has for the center.

Her experience includes serving as chief experience officer of L!VE, a for-profit grassroots-generated café and creative space that fosters sustainable, indigenous business incubation focused on the middle-class in the Austin community. She also has served as executive director of Communities First Association, a national, faith-based organization that specializes in asset-based community development.

The Kehrein Center is the product of a years-long effort to restore an architecturally-significant but unused auditorium into a fine and performing arts center, complete with a 900-seat storytelling theater, art gallery and community gathering place — one of the few major projects to occur on Chicago’s West Side since the 1968 riots devastated the area.

It opened at 5628 W. Washington Blvd. in May 2019.

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