Staff

Martha Diaz  | Founder and President | Board Member 

Martha Diaz (MD) is an award-winning social entrepreneur, media producer, archivist, curator, educator, and founder of the Hip-Hop Education Center. MD has traversed the Hip-Hop entertainment industry, the public arts and education sector, and the academy over the past 30 years. Through her exhibitions, and publications of research reports, books, and curricula, she has chronicled Hip-Hop history to preserve its cultural value and memory. MD curated the first Hip-Hop movie series presented by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and served as a guest curator at the Museum of the Moving Image. A graduate of New York University’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, MD has worked on archival projects with Parkwood Entertainment (Beyoncé Knowles-Carter), Tupac Shakur Estate, and The Paley Center for Media to name a few. Among her numerous fellowships, MD has served as a Senior Fellow at the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation – National Museum of American History, Nasir Jones Fellow at Harvard University, and Senior MacArthur Civic Media Fellow at the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. MD is currently a Visiting Scholar at Virginia Union University, and Chair of Archives, Curatorial, and Education at the Universal Hip Hop Museum.

Kashema Hutchinson | Associate Director | Fresh, Bold & So Def Collective

Kashema Hutchinson,  Ph.D. is a Professor in Urban Education at the CUNY. She has a B.A. in Communications: Advertising/Public Relations and an M.A. in Social Research. She is Co-Director of the Undergraduate Leadership Program at Futures Initiative at the CUNY Graduate Center.  For the over three years, Kashema has facilitated discussion groups with incarcerated male and female participants in the New York City Department of Corrections facilities as well as alternative schools. Her research interests include, but are not limited to the school-to-prison pipeline, socialization of Black girls and women, zero-tolerance policies, mattering and marginalization, mindfulness and Hip-Hop pedagogy. Kashema synthesizes rap culture with everyday life, such as turning Yo Gotti’s “Rake It Up” into a how-to guide for writing. She also creates and uses Hip-Hop infographics as tools to facilitate discussion topics such as the role of women and history, philosophy, behavioral economics, crime and class and knowledge of self.

Queen Herawin | Assistant Director of Curriculum Development

Queen Herawin is a Hip-Hop artist, visual artist, curator, professor, and cultural ambassador to the U.S. She is a member of the family-based group, The Juggaknots. As a group, they have produced projects such as The Re-Release, Use Your Confusion, The Love Movement and WKRP in NYC. Metamorphosis, her solo album released in 2015, gave an expanded view into her creative expression and individual voice. However, projects such as the Lyricist Lounge Vol. 1, set a tone in the early 90’s with the song “Weight” showing her lyrical position as an Indelible MC. She would later follow up with another strong feature alongside brother Breeze Brewin on Prince Paul’s Hip-Hop-like-Opera, A Prince Among Thieves. She also has a solid track record of collaborations with various artists such as Apani B Fly, Mr. Len of Company Flow, Wordsworth, Masta Ace, Cymarshall Law, Tiye Phoenix, Stahhr and others. She has toured both within the U.S. and internationally, sharing her passion for music with fans worldwide.  She is a certified educator, with teaching experience as an educator and art educator for over twenty years. Her knowledge as an educator has brought her to classrooms in the Bronx and Westchester areas of NYC, along with Chicago, IL, and Peru. She is currently a professor at Monroe College in New York.

Board of Trustees

Rachel Weingeist | Chair 

Rachel is a sought-after advisor to foundations, museums, private collectors, residencies, artists, and estates. Her expertise is grounded in strategic issues relating to fundraising, technology implementation, program development, acquisitions, collections management, estate planning, valuation, and deaccessioning of private and public art collections. Throughout her career, Rachel has specialized in building international strategic alliances and partnerships with the goal of successfully connecting innovative funding sources to new and existing programs, across the cultural space. As a curator with 30+ exhibitions, collections advisor, and program director with a focus on contemporary Afro-Cuban and contemporary Tibetan art, Rachel has over two decades of experience in the cultural sphere and arts administration. She has published seminal texts and developed innovative programs and new markets that celebrate diversity spanning cultures, genres, and disciplines, focusing on projects and exhibitions from sacred and isolated places. Among many initiatives, Rachel recently co-founded Virtual Culture, an educational platform launched to enrich the lives of pandemic impacted New York City public school students. She is a member of the Harvard Cuban Studies Advisory Board. Rachel is also a key digital and strategic advisor to the Universal Hip Hop Museum. Much of Rachel’s work across artistic alliances has been celebrated and featured in public media and has received support from both public and private funders.  She is thrilled to be a part of the launch of the Hip Hop Education Center, helping to bring innovative technology to Hip Hop Education to benefit the wide array of communities that The Center serves culturally.

Rich Nice | Co-Chair

Rich Nice goes down in music history as the first rapper signed to Motown. He then toured for a few years before helping to create Track Masters Entertainment where he wore multiple hats as Marketing Director/A&R. As A&R Executive, Columbia Records: Responsible for a huge artist roster, worked closely with the Presidents of Black Music and Tommy Mottola. During his tenure at Columbia notable projects: Maxwell, Fugees, Wyclef Jean, Lauryn Hill, Jermaine Dupri, Mary Mary, Best Man soundtrack, Nas, Destiny’s Child, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Will Smith, and Michael Jackson. He then expanded his reach to Theatre and supervised music for “Def Poetry” on Broadway working closely with Director Stan Lathan and the entire original cast, the show won a Tony Award. As a Consultant/ Producer he’s worked with Multi-Platinum artist/actor Ludacris and his Disturbing Tha Peace label DTP/Capitol, & DTP/DEF JAM. The Fast & Furious Soundtrack, Pitbull, 2Chainz, Chingy, Snoop, Too Short, Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis, Deborah Cox, Just Blaze, Marsha Ambrosius, Bilal, Rene Neufville, The Marleys, Krs One, Rakim, Kool Herc the Father of Hip Hop, Kanye West, Dj Premier, Rick Rubin, Dj A-Track, Ford Motors, Mountain Dew, McDonald’s, Microsoft Xbox, NIKE, MTV, VH-1, BET, WE, TEMPO Networks. As an independent, Rich has worked at high levels within entertainment. Creating a platform called The A&R Room to discover new talent, which can be heard on Sway in the morning, Shade 45 Channel on Sirius/Xm. Currently a consultant, Hip Hop musicologist, the Associate Director of the Hip Hop Education Center, and an Adjunct Professor teaching Music Entrepreneurship and Broadcast Theory.

Jeff Wallman | Treasurer

Jeff Wallman is a cultural preservation leader. Trained by the legendary scholar and Library of Congress director E. Gene Smith, Jeff led the Buddhist Digital Resource Center on its global effort to preserve and make available endangered Buddhist manuscripts and woodblock prints, creating the largest digital library in the world of Buddhist literature. Jeff’s technology work draws from a wide range of technologies from library and information science, digital asset management, semantic web, ontologies, search engine development, linked open data, web development, user experience, and multi-language resource development. Joining technology and organizational leadership, Jeff has extensive experience in board development, strategy and fundraising that advance cultural organizations. He is the founder of the program Digitizing, Archiving and Making Accessible the National Library of Mongolia, founder of the Fragile Palm Leaves Preservation program, founder and architect of the Harvard Digital Repository Service program for Long-Term Preservation of Tibetan Texts, and founder of the Sanskrit and Chinese Buddhist Library Network. Jeff is thrilled to advance the work of the Hip-Hop Education Center as a powerful nexus of information, education, and empowerment for women and youth.

Marisol Vargas | Board Member 

Marisol Vargas is 1st generation Mexican-American, a descendant of a hard-working family whose biggest dream was to provide an opportunity for growth, success & a bright future.  And that’s what she sought out to do while making a difference in the community and tapping into her passions that fuel her mission.  Marisol’s inspiration is drawn from everyday elements weaved into music, art, fashion, and culture within various countries she’s visited, studied at, and worked in.  Her repertoire includes 12+ years of Marketing and Advertising experience for international, multi-billion corporations where she has proven to exude a pioneering spirit.  She specializes in spearheading omni-channel marketing initiatives in customer experience, technology, media & data-driven intelligence to create business solutions, with a focus on identifying growth opportunities all while developing C-level trusted advisor relationships.  Marisol is recognized as a socioeconomic project leader in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil for her volunteer work that empowered local communities through educational literacy projects.  She also collaborated on a high-profile documentary featuring Hip-Hop Legend, Tupac Shakur. Marisol also serves as Marketing & Operations Director for Hip-Hop CommUniversity (HHCU), a project-based e-learning platform for underserved youth.  HHCU offers a personalized school-to-career pipeline that includes school credit opportunities, mentorships, career development, CTE badges & certification.  Recently launched during the pandemic, the goal is to increase equity through access to Hip-Hop, technology, and educational innovation.  To accomplish this, HHCU partners with teaching artists, nonprofits, and music, technology, and entertainment companies by creating new teaching jobs and reigniting the education workforce.

Regan Sommer McCoy | Board Member 

Regan Sommer McCoy is an NYC-based curator, community archivist, and arts administrator. She is the Chief Curator of The Mixtape Museum, an initiative that encourages the research, archiving, preservation, and data analysis of mixtapes. Her mixtape scholarship has been supported by appointments with Columbia University, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, The Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, and a 2022 research grant from the Association for Recorded Collections (ARSC). Sommer is currently a consultant to the Black Beauty Archive and the Museum of Pop Culture’s Hip-Hop Collection and is on staff at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in Creative Social Impact. Her most recent article, “Mixtape Memories: Hip-Hop Community and Culture at NYC’s Mixtape Museum” appears in The ARSC Journal (2021).

Jauretsi  Saizarbitoria | Board Member 

Jauretsi has over 20 years of Media experience in both print publishing and web content. She’s held senior positions at Details, Jane, and Paper Magazine before entering Digital Content with clients including eBay, Pharrell Williams, The Standard Hotel, The New York Times, Vanity Fair Agenda, The Last Magazine, Saturdays, and Nowness (LVMH). Film credits include Director for East of Havana (Sony/BMG) on Cuba’s hip hop movement, Quest For Cuba (Okayplayer) on Questlove visit to Havana, and Story Producer for Give Me Future (Apple) on Major Lazer & Diplo’s visit to Havana. Today she serves as Content & Communication Manager for West Coast region of the prestigious global membership club, Soho House.

Advisors

Jennifer Johnson, Ph.D.

Simma Bakare

Irma McClaurin, Ph.D.

Rolando Brown