JANE M. SAKS, Executive Director
Ms. Saks is a cultural advocate, arts producer, writer and educator. She has worked to challenge and champion issues of gender, sexuality, human rights, race and power within the worlds of arts and culture, politics and civil rights, policy and advocacy, academia and philanthropy.
She is the founding Executive Director of the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media. The Institute is a creator and curator of innovative work and ideas investigating issues relating to women and gender through all the arts and media. The first and only entity of its kind in the nation, the Institute offers an innovative approach that merges arts and cultural production with critical theory, research and education. The Institute addresses human rights, access, representation, equity and participation, as well as race and class, using the arts and media as a central means of social change, educational, policy engagement and advocacy.
Currently, she serves on several boards and committees including: Trustee Nathan Cummings Foundation, Program Committee Chicago Council of Global Affairs, Chicago Foundation for Women’s LBTQ Giving Council, Radio Diaries of National Public Radio, Friends of the South Africa Constitutional Court Architecture and Art Programme Committee, OUT at Chicago History Museum, Program Committee, Chicago Committee of the African Women’s Development Fund and Human Rights Watch. She is a Fellow in the Chief Executive Program of National Arts Strategies, 2011-2013. She is a member of the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council for the City of Chicago.She is a published poet and, as a writer collaborates with visual artist and architects including, Jim Hodges, Kerry James Marshall and Inigo Manglano-Ovalle. In May 2010 she was commissioned to write for the exhibition catalogue, Jim Hodges: New Work solo exhibit at Dieu Donne, New York, NY. She has served as the Producer, Co-Producer, Creative Advisor and Series Producer on many original creative works in various media and art forms including “Sweet Tea: Gay Black Men of the South,” “MILKWEED,” “Congo: Women Portraits of War,”(which has traveled internationally to over 25 venues including the United Nations, New York and Geneva, the Nobel Peace Center, Sweden, Yale University, Connecticut and the US Senate as part of the hearings on Darfur and the DRC.), JOMAMA JONES, *RADIATE, and the new award winning international radio series in partnership with Chicago Public Media and National Public Radio “Gender, Human Rights, Leadership and Media.”
She is an invited lecturer at civic, cultural and educational institutions internationally, and the recipient of awards and honors including: a 2005 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellowship; 2008 Woman of Valor Award; 2009 Business and Professional People for the Public Interest “40 Who’ve Made A Difference Award;” and a 2009 inductee to the City of Chicago Gay and Lesbian Hall of Fame. In 2010 she received the Impact Award from the Chicago Foundation for Women, the Visionary Award from Rape Victims Advocates and the Beyondmedia Education’s 2010 Media Justice Award. She and the Institute were also awarded the Leppen Leadership Award from About Face Theatre in 2010. In 2013 she received the Connecting Cultures Award from Changing Worlds for her passionate support of the arts, and will also receive the Esteem Award from PrideIndex.com in recognition of her significant contribution to the African-American LGBT community (July 2013).
Along with her work at the Institute involving public lectures, recently she has been an invited speaker by Northwestern University, University of Chicago, the Field Museum of Chicago, the United Nations, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Woodrow Wilson Center, US State Department, Department of Cultural Affairs Chicago, New York University and at the International UN sponsored conference in Washington DC, Women Deliver. She was Chair, Arts Task Force for the Council on Foundations’ annual conference in April 2013. She is an ongoing Guest Critic at Yale University in the Graduate Art School .
KIPA L. DAVIS, Assistant to the Executive Director
Ms. Davis joined the Institute in October 2008 as the Assistant to the Executive Director. She brings with her extensive knowledge of non-profit administration specializing in accounting procedures, branding and marketing, grants management, event planning, and database administration. Ms. Davis has a solid background in business administration and non-profit management. She has a long time interest and education in women’s studies, literature, and political science.
In her role as Assistant to the Executive Director, Ms. Davis provides essential administrative support to the Executive Director, manages budget and financial systems, provides support for the Institute’s programs and events, maintains correspondence with donors, artists, scholars, Fellows, Advisory Board members and community partners, and has developed and maintains the growing communications and marketing strategies of the Institute. Ms. Davis oversees contract agreements with host venues for the nationally and internationally travelling photographic exhibition Congo/Women. She works closely with the Institute’s Research Assistant on short and long-term research initiatives and projects. Ms. Davis works with representatives from multiple units across Columbia College including academic departments, student organizations, and various offices of the College on Institute collaborations as well as external collaborators.
Chelsea Rendlen, Research Assistant
Ms. Chelsea Rendlen joined the institute in Spring 2012. Her role as Research Assistant includes administrative support for the Institute. She also helps to produce programs, as well as document them. She sees the Institute as a place to merge her interests regarding media, social issues, and creating change.
She is pursuing her B.A. in Film and Video from Columbia College, concentrating in Directing and Screenwriting, with studies in Philosophy. Ms. Rendlen intends on graduating Spring of 2014. Her development of technical video skills have enabled her to adequately document different events hosted by the Women's Institute while marrying that with a critical eye developed in the study of Philosophy. While at Columbia, she has produced and written several short films.