The Pursuit of Purpose Awards recognize individuals who are making significant contributions in the artistic areas of our event and helping to develop the next generation of artists.
This year’s honorees are:
A graduate of Regis College, Brenda has over ten years experience working with low-income, minority, and immigrant youth and their parents. Brenda worked as a teacher in the public school system, specializing in bilingual education. She also worked for three years as an educator for the Boston juvenile court system, where she designed and led programs with high-risk and first-time youth offenders. At Hyde Square Task Force, she is responsible for the development of the Ritmo en Acción Youth Dance Initiative, which started as a pilot program in 2002. Since the start of the program, it has grown to deliver comprehensive arts and cultural activities to more than 500 children each year. The success of the initiative has earned it the prestigious Coming Up Taller Award from the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in 2007. She has also been recognized as a Hero Among Us in 2008 by the Boston Celtics and by El Planeta as one of the 2011 PowerMeter’s list of 100 most influential people for the Hispanic community in Massachusetts. Brenda is currently on the Boston Cultural Council and the English High School Site Council. Even with all of her professional successes, Brenda continues to work and invest in the community of Jamaica Plain where she grew up.Learn More
Michael is the founder and Artistic Director of Medicine Wheel. It began as a paid summer employment program for youth ages 14 to 18. Students worked 25 hours a week for 8 weeks on various individual and group projects as part of the main Medicine Wheel public art projects at No Man’s Land and its Poetry Path.The Medicine Wheel after school arts program at No Man’s Land goes beyond providing cultural enrichment. This program also brings together youth from the neighborhood who are bussed to schools elsewhere with youth from elsewhere who are bussed into the neighborhood, promoting friendship and a sense of community between traditionally hostile groups. In 2002 the program was awarded the Boston Peace Party Community Star Award from the Harvard Youth Violence Prevention Center for outstanding work in fostering peaceful neighborhoods.
Michael is known as one of Boston’s most innovative and courageous artists who produces visually stunning, ambitious public works of art that serve and inspire communities on many levels. His work stems from his heartfelt desire to beautify and make life better for all. Michael holds a BFA and MFA from Boston University, where he studied with Philip Guston and James Weeks. Learn More
Susan is co-founder and Director of the Boston Asian American Film Festival. The Boston Asian American Film Festival (BAAFF) empowers Asian Americans through film by showcasing Asian American experiences and serving as a resource to filmmakers and the Greater Boston Community. The festival also features “Short Waves,” community driven short films by local youth about the Asian American experience and community. Geared towards novice filmmakers, Short Waves participants take part in a one-day workshop which provides hands-on instruction on the production of a short film/video, storyboarding, casting, and basic editing on Mac using iMovie. BAAFF is a program of the Asian American Resource Workshop.
Susan also represents national productions including shows such as American Experience, Curious George, Arthur, Simply Ming and The Victory Garden to the pubic television community for WGBH. Learn more
Here is a link to the Short Waves films: Click here for films
Anthony “Tony” Williams
Founder and Director of Tony Williams Dance Center, was born in Naples, Italy, and raised in Roxbury and Jamaica Plain. He has been involved in Dance for 30+ years providing opportunities for low income youth as Artistic Director for Ballet Roxbury and critically acclaimed Urban Nutcracker.
Mr. Williams remembers how his early exposure to dance opened up a treasure of self expression that was hidden to him. Ballet gave him the confidence to take on the challenge of an exciting new career; while offering him the necessary tools to make a successful transition from adolescence to adulthood. At age 16, after experiencing trouble as a street gang member, he discovered a pathway to international success through ballet. His strong athletic abilities in track, baseball and gymnastics accelerated his dance training.
Mr.Williams began his early training with the Lithuanian ballerina, Tatiana Babuskina. Afterwards, Mr. Williams received a scholarship from the Boston School of Ballet, training with E. Virginia Williams (founder of the Boston Ballet) and Sydney Leonard. Along with Mr. Williams’ first teachers, he also attributes his success to Sam Kurkjian, Hector Zaraspe, Perry Brunson and Frank Bourman.
Mr. Williams joined the Boston Ballet in 1964 and after dancing for only three years, Mr. Williams worked his way up from Corps-de-Ballet to Principal Dancer.He then danced soloist roles with the Joffrey Ballet and was a Principal Dancer with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Gulbenkian Ballet of Portugal, and the Norwegian National Ballet.Learn more