Below you will find our staff and Board of Directors.
Executive Director: Charleston “the honorable hakim dough” Parham
Charleston Parham, professionally known as Hakim Dough, is a conceptual artist that utilizes music, fashion, print and film to convey messages. His intentions for creating art are to advance humanity, bridge communities and be of service to those in need. He is passionate about cultivating the minds of teens and young adults within the scope of his expertise, and is a life long learner that's eager to share the knowledge he acquires.
CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Che “rhymefest” smith
Driven by his motto, "true power is the power to empower others," Che "Rhymefest" Smith is a writer, artist, and educator, shattering negative stereotypes about hip-hop and proving that art can be a tool for community building.
In 2005, Rhymefest won a Grammy for co-writing the mega-hit "Jesus Walks" with his childhood friend, Kanye West. In the Fall of 2016, Che was selected as one of Chicago Magazine’s Chicagoans of the Year. Rhymefest was recognized for his hip-hop pedagogy by New York University’s Hip Hop Education Center in 2016. In 2017, Che was the first hip-hop artist to be named a prestigious Montgomery Fellow at Dartmouth College. Che stars alongside Alec Baldwin, Taylor Shilling, and more in the Emilio Estevez directed film The Public set for a Spring 2019 theatrical release.
Board member: dr. garrard mcclendon
An Emmy-award winning talk show host, professor, and author. He has hosted The McClendon Report TV and radio shows for Comcast and WVON-AM 1690, along with Garrard McClendon Live on CLTV in Chicago, and Off 63rd with Garrard McClendon on WYCC PBS Chicago. He is the author of “Ax or Ask?: The African American Guide to
Better English.” Dr. McClendon is currently an assistant professor and research fellow at Chicago State University, where he conducts studies on “teacher/principal perceptions and expectations of students.”
Board member: Exavier b. pope i, esq.
Exavier B. Pope I, Esq. is an award winning attorney, on air legal analyst, media personality, Fortune 500 speaker, content creator, writer, tastemaker, thought leader, & certified yoga instructor.
Mr. Pope is host & creator of #SuitUP Podcast through his production company 528 Media, a news magazine & variety program focusing on business, law & wider societal issues of sports mixed with music, style, & culture. Mr. Pope is known as #BestDressedManonTV.
Board member: todd walton
Todd Walton's drive, passion, energy, and edge are creating a unique model for generations to come. Combining a keen sense of creativity, innovation, and business/project management experience gained through the entertainment and philanthropic worlds Todd’s skill-set has undeniably created a receptive social environment for communities to promote education, cultural enrichment, and positive expression.
Currently Todd has partnered efforts with FAME Enterprises where he continues his work in philanthropy, business, and entertainment through various projects and collaborations with organizations and such as GM, Amnesty International/Arts for Amnesty, various GRAMMY Award Winning artists and producers, executive production of an award winning documentary film, and marketing engagements with astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison, among other notable clients and projects.
Co-FOUNDER: Donnie belcher (formerly donnie smith)
Ms. Donnie Nicole Belcher (Formerly Donnie Nicole Smith) started her professional career as a teacher in the Chicago Public School System. Donnie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Secondary Education with a concentration in English from DePaul University in 2006. She impacted thousands of students in her 12 years with the Chicago Public School System and many of her former students pursued careers in Education.
Donnie served as co-founder and Founding Executive Director of Art of Culture Inc. Under her leadership, the organization impacted 500+ youth, partnered with 20+ private and public institutions and garnered over 50 million impressions. Donnie has been featured in numerous publications such as CNN, Jet Magazine and People Magazine and is committed to using her success and access to empower underrepresented and underserved communities, increase equity and encourage agency. Donnie’s personal mission is to help others “close the gap between their reality and their dreams” and she works tirelessly as an entrepreneur, consultant and philanthropic leader to advance that mission.