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Announcing The Clifton House's First Staff Hire

Updated: Apr 19


The Clifton House is delighted to announce Joël Diaz has been appointed as the organization’s first Director of Programs. Dedicated to the legacy of National Book Award Winning poet Lucille Clifton and her artist-activist husband Fred Clifton, the organization is a haven for the cultivation and celebration of the literary, visual, and performing arts. 

Joël is a writer, educator, and steward for arts and culture with a vested interest in storytelling, community building, and creative placemaking. He has garnered leadership expertise in arts administration, public programming, publishing, and non-profit management, helping organizations champion artists and expand community access to the arts.

Said Diaz: “It is an honor to extend Lucille and Fred Clifton’s commitment to nourishing generations of artists and activists by providing a sanctuary for their becoming. I am eager to lead the organization’s public programs, exhibitions, publications, and artist residency.” 

From 2020-2023, Joël was the inaugural director of SCAD Museum of Art’s Walter and Linda Evans Center for African American Studies. During his tenure, he created dynamic learning and engagement opportunities that advanced the awareness and public knowledge of Black Diasporic and African American culture, activated the Center’s permanent collection, and designed public events to inspire audiences. As guiding pillars of his work, Joël strives to create meaningful connections with communities, find thoughtful entry points for interpretative experiences, and be a catalyst for change. 

His immersive, multi-disciplinary programs included a site-specific commissioned performance by visual artist Nastassja E. Swift; a technological, sensory based, sound design production by collaborative duo Akeema-Zane and Rena Anakwe; and an improvisational performance by composer and writer JJJJJerome Ellis. Joël executive produced a short film, Speech and Time, about JJJJJerome Ellis’s artistic practice which won a 2023 gold Telly Award. He also co-curated Aaron Douglas: Sermons, an exhibition celebrating the artistic contributions and influence of Aaron Douglas. 

Joël spent nearly a decade in New York City organizing programs for many influential arts institutions including The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Pioneer Works, and The Museum of the City of New York. 

Joël’s writing has been featured in The Nation, The Feminist Wire, and Interviewing the Caribbean. He co-organized two seasons of the Segue Reading Series and was a 2018 Poet’s House Fellow. As a consultant, strategic advisor, and sensitivity reader, he has worked with major and independent publishers, as well as other educational organizations, to enhance their literary offerings. 

Clifton House Founder and President Sidney Clifton states: “We are delighted to welcome Joël Diaz to The Clifton House team.  His experience, vision and commitment to excellence clearly aligns with our mission to provide stellar programming and resources to the underserved creative community as we continue my parents’ legacies.”

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