top of page

BIPOC Leadership Circle

2023 Retreat: A Recap

Thank you for joining us in Los Angeles, BIPOC Leaders!

BIPOC Leadership Circle Banner

About the BIPOC LC In-Person Retreat

The 2022 cohort of artEquity's BIPOC Leadership Circle met in-person June 14–17, 2023, on the lands of the Chumash, Tongva, and Kizh peoples (now known as Los Angeles). Prior to this retreat in 2023, the BIPOC Leadership Circle Cohorts met virtually. 

Thanks to Our Partners and Venues in Los Angeles 

We share our gratitude for the generosity shown to us by our Los Angeles-based partners and venues: Inner-City Arts, Plaza de la Raza, and La Plaza de Cultura y Artes

DAY 1: JUNE 14 | Welcome Reception


The BIPOC Leadership Circle Retreat began with a welcome reception at the home of Carmen Morgan, founder and Executive Director of artEquity. The evening started off with an offering and land acknowledgment from Joel Garcia. Lauren Turner Hines then graced us with a pouring of libations as she invited us to remember our ancestors by speaking their names into the space. Artists Meena Malik (artEquity National Facilitator Alum 2019) and Aristides Rivas shared a musical and storytelling offering that wove together personal narratives with how music (and love) have been a force of healing in their lives. The cohort then broke bread together with a meal crafted by Chef Daria and her team at Le Sassier Catering. It was a wonderful evening of connection under the stars that set the tone for the rest of the retreat.

 Photos by DVR Productions

DAY 2: JUNE 15 | Intergenerational Leadership and Mentorship


Day 2 began at Inner-City Arts (ICA) with the theme of intergenerational leadership and mentorship. The day began with a land acknowledgment and artistic offering by Tina Orduno Calderon, a Tongva native culture bearer. Shelby Williams-Gonzalez, CEO of ICA, followed up with a greeting to the group and shared context about ICA’s work and the surrounding community. The Los Angeles Music and Art School (LAMusArt)’s Youth Jazz Ensemble then played the leaders into lunch, with facilitator Patricia Garza sharing LAMusArt’s mission of working with the East Los Angeles community to provide access to multidisciplinary arts programs. What an incredible way to call in the theme of intergenerational leadership and mentorship. Lunch was provided by NongLA, a local Vietnamese food restaurant created by siblings Elaine and Victor Phuong as a way to honor their mother’s cooking.


In the afternoon, the squads began presenting their Blueprint for Leadership in Action projects. Each squad presented their own unique perspective on leadership: Squad 2 shared a powerful metaphor of leadership as water; Squad 3 expanded on the idea of burnout and what some justice-centered strategies and systems for self-care may be; and Squad 4 prompted the cohort to think about the question, “What do you hope to grow into?” as they traced their hands on seed paper, which participants could plant in the earth. 

After a rich full day, the cohort ventured to dinner at Back on the Beach Cafe. They were greeted by Clove Galilee, Cultural Affairs Supervisor at the City of Santa Monica, and then enjoyed their evening meal alongside views of the Pacific Ocean. 

Photos by DVR Productions

DAY 3: JUNE 16 | Identifying Pathways to Connect and Build


Day 3 took place at Plaza de la Raza. Luis Alfaro began with land and ancestor acknowledgments. Tomas Benitez, Development Director of Plaza de la Raza, then shared about the history, mission, and work of Plaza de la Raza. Chef Mercedes and the team at Caribbean Soul Kitchen LA provided lunch as the leaders reflected on the previous day’s Blueprints for Leadership in Action presentations.

The cohort spent the afternoon with the final squad presentations. Squad 5 began by calling into the space the names of their grandmothers and shared their “Beez” framework, including how important the breath and body are to healing. Squad 1, Nanny’s Daughters, shared their agreements around decolonizing meetings and wrapped up by asking “What are you bringing to the cookout?”


In the afternoon, Leticia Rhi Buckley, CEO of La Plaza de Cultura y Artes, welcomed our leaders to explore the museum and the permanent exhibit, LA Starts Here!, which highlights the untold origin stories of Los Angeles. Dinner that evening was held at La Plaza Cocina and the menu was crafted by Chef Lucy Ramirez Thompson of Pez Cantina and her team. Chef Lucy led a cooking demonstration for one of the signature dishes, fish tacos, during which she shared her story about how her love of Mexican cooking combined with her love of seafood inspired the menu for the restaurant she runs alongside her husband. As the evening wrapped up, the leaders departed full—from the day’s presentations, from the dinner, and more.