Who We Are
Garlia Cornelia Jones
Blackboard Founder / PAAL Producing Director
Garlia is a writer, producer, photographer and mother from Detroit, MI. In 2008, Garlia founded Blackboard Plays, a monthly series devoted to Black Playwrights. She is one of the founding producers of Harlem9, OBIE Award winners for, “48Hours in…™Harlem”. Her Essays and articles have appeared in "The New York Times", "The Washington Post”, "Salon.com" and “American Theatre”. Her work as a playwrights has been supported by the cell, The Fire This Time Festival and #24viralmonologues. She was a guest artist at Wayne State University 2020-2021. She worked on an MA in African American and African Diaspora studies at Indiana University before coming to New York for her MFA in Playwrighting which she earned at The New School for Drama. Garlia is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and the Producing Director of PAAL, where she also received one of their first childcare grants in 2019. Finally, Garlia was a Line Producer at The Public Theater (“Socrates”, “Much Ado About Nothing”, (filmed for Great Performances on PBS), “Mojada”, “for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enough, “Coal Country”, “The Visitor”). She was also the Line Producer for Mobile Unit’s Summer of Joy, Shakespeare: Call and Response - August 2021. Garlia was the Co-Creative Producer of #ToBeBlack, released on Juneteenth 2020 and Co-Producer of “Forward Together” a Virtual event, in support of The Public. During the Fall of 2020, Garlia was the co-developer and Curator of the #Saytheirnames projection installation. In April 2022, Garlia was promoted to the first ever Director of Innovation and New Media at The Public. Garlia is the Creative Producer for the Obsidian Theatre Festival in Detroit, MI. Finally, she is the Executive Producer of the Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival (#BMPFest), a festival focused on the stories of Black families from Black Black artists with families. #BMPFest is now in its 2nd year! www.garliacornelia.com
Artistic Producer/General Manager
Amber D. Gray is a theatre Producer, Director, Performer, Choreographer and Administrator. She received a BFA in Musical Theater at Rockford University. Her first major performances began at a very young age performing all over Houston and surrounding areas including the Opening of the Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, Superbowl XXXVIII Pre-game show with Josh Groban, for previous Presidents and much more. During college and after graduation Amber performed in the Chicago area receiving her Equity Membership Candidacy. Amber then returned home to Houston and began directing, choreographing, teaching Musical Theatre and later becoming a Dance Studio Director. Amber’s career then led her to Washington DC where she was the Company Manager at Arena Stage Theater. Following DC, Amber then found herself in New York City as the Assistant Line Producer at The Public Theater. She has now returned to Houston Assistant Directing (Alley Theatre’s High School Play, A Nostalgia Fest and upcoming, A Christmas Carol; Stages Repertory Theatre: upcoming, cullud wattah) and recently performed in Stages Repertory Theatre’s Putnam County Spelling Bee as Marcy. She is currently the Associate Artistic Director for New York’s Reading Series BlackBoard Plays, General Manager for Detroit’s Obsidian Theatre Festival and the Senior Producer for Detroit’s GhostLight Productions, Inc. For more information about Amber, please visit her website at www.amberdgray.com.
Brianna Pippens is a Visual and Performing Artist based in Washington, DC. Artistically known as Banana Peppers, she creates illustrations, paintings, drawings, animations, and cut out work that focuses on race, nostalgia, and the nuances of black identity and experiences. She is a self-taught visual artist that began sharing her visual artwork in 2010. As a trained singer and dancer, Brianna has been able to tap into those modes of expression to influence her art style and dedication to honing her craft. Brianna has displayed her art at pop-up events and in local galleries in the DMV area as well as provided visuals for many small and large organizations. She creates from the heart and aims to share artwork that impacts others positively.
Char Manlove-Laws, CFRE
CFRE fundraising professional based out of the Baltimore, Washington DC region from Wilmington, DE. Currently works for a major institution managing a portfolio of 125 donors with capacity to give more. Previously worked in corporate relations for two major theaters in the DC area. Have had a passion for theater arts since middle school and am always excited to provide arts access to others. Salesforce, Tessitura, Mail2, LexisNexis, and iWave experience.
Certified Fund Raising Executive | Fundraising Professional at the National Aquarium | MA in Arts Management | Theater Lover
John Sloan III
Associate Producer/Film Producer
John Sloan III is a Detroit based arts professional and community organizer. After studying musical theatre at The University of Michigan, Sloan spent over fourteen years working in New York, LA, several regional theatres, and on the national tour of Disney’s The Lion King. He is the Founding CEO/Artistic Director of GhostLight Productions, and Producing Artistic Director of The Obsidian Theatre Festival, and the Film Producer for the Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival. Sloan is a Composer and Lyricist whose most recent credits include Hastings Street and #24viralmonologues. He currently serves as lead organizer for Black Lives Matter Detroit, and is the Director of Operations for The Detroit Safety Team.
Zoe Communications Agency
Frankie + Feleceia Wilson are a Dallas- based couple passionate about family, business, the arts and community.
They currently serve as co-principals of the Zoe Communications Agency, an award winning strategic communications firm named for their daughter born with Down syndrome, Zoe. She's the basis of their approach toward marketing - understanding how people communicate before we engage.
With five degrees between the pair of them, Frankie and Feleceia are award-winning millennial digital natives with over 30 years of combined experience in the strategic communications space. Frankie is currently working on adding the family's sixth degree - a Ph.D. in psychology and applied behavior analysis.
The couple live in Downtown Dallas with Zoe and their newest addition, Ellington, born fall of 2021.