After two years at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation in the role of Philadelphia program associate for community and national initiatives, Brittnie Knight will join the staff of the Leeway Foundation as communications director June 10.
The Foundation — which funds women and trans artists in the Delaware Valley — announced the hire in its May 23 newsletter. “Brittnie (she/her) is a black/biracial arts administrator with over five years of experience working in communications and programs for large to small scale nonprofit organizations,” the announcement reported. “Her passions lie in connecting and engaging people online and in-person … Brittnie, has previously worked at a range of Philadelphia nonprofits including Indego Bikeshare, and the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance.”
Generocity caught up with Knight for a quick Q&A.
Generocity: What drew you to the job at the Leeway Foundation? What do you hope to accomplish while you are there?
Knight: Leeway is always an organization I have orbited around since moving to Philadelphia six years ago. The people I have met that worked or overlapped with Leeway in some capacity have taught me the most about myself, my identity and how to do the work I find most important. So, it’s truly come full circle to be able to give myself to the organization and folx that have taught me so much.
In terms of what I want to accomplish I’m not sure yet. I know I want to do my job well, but how I best serve the community will be something I learn and I spend more time with them. I’m going in with no preconceived ideas of what folx want or need.
How will it be different from the work you did at Knight? Are there any similarities? What made you decide that the time was right for you to leave Knight?
Knight: Leeway is a family foundation based in, and funding in, Philadelphia that allows for a hyper local focus at all points, unlike Knight. There are a lot of differences. But I don’t think I’d be as prepared if it wasn’t for the large-scale philanthropic experience I gained at Knight. I knew it was the right time because there is not upward mobility in the organization.
I came to Philadelphia to get my M.S. in Arts Administration, which I completed in 2015, and to work with artists. I’ve worked professionally in Philly since 2013 in a number of sectors: arts and culture, transportation and philanthropy. I always knew I wanted to return to an arts centered organization. The fact that they focus in funding women, trans and GNC [gender non-conforming] folx makes it that much better.
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Tell us a little about yourself, not just your academic and/or professional background, but your life.
Knight: I am an artist! I have done theater since I could talk/walk and studied theater in undergrad. Unfortunately, I haven’t been on stage for a few years but I hope to return soon.
I’ve always loved words though, so I have taken my storytelling from the stage to paper, storytelling and photography. My art has always been words. My mother is a visual artist. My father is a singer. I’ve always been in a house that supports and loves the arts.
I am not a native Philadelphian. I do consider Philly home though. I have learned more about myself and the world than I ever would have in Erie, PA (where I grew up). And for that I will be forever thankful.
We see that Melissa Hamilton, who once interviewed you for CultureWorks, is also starting at Leeway in June, Is it a coincidence or are you friends who decided to apply at the same time?
Knight: Melissa and I are friends but it’s all a beautiful coincidence!
Anything else you’d like to add?
Knight: Support your local black and brown artists.-30-
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