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Getting to Know You: Dinah Jean-Philippe, Nonprofit Founder

Dinah Jean-Philippe is an artist, activist, and educator from Miami, Florida. Dinah is the founder of an inclusive arts organization dedicated to providing education to children who are typically underrepresented in the arts.

The organization’s work is rooted in the foundational belief that art has the power to transform lives and energize communities.

Dinah Jean-Philippe is known throughout the Miami arts community as a creative, philanthropic, and passionate individual with a deep desire to make the world a better place. She has extensive training in the field of education and has been involved in the nonprofit sector for ten years. In her role as the founder of a noted arts education nonprofit organization, Dinah Jean-Philippe spends most of her time educating children from a wide variety of backgrounds on the arts. She is also an artist of considerable regard in her own right, having displayed her work in multiple venues across Florida.

What do you currently do at your nonprofit organization?

As the founder, I am one of the heads of the organization. One of the major facets of my role is being a community youth educator. I spend a few hours each week visiting local schools and clubs, encouraging traditionally underrepresented kids to appreciate and make art as a means of therapy and healthy self-expression. There is an administrative element to my position, as well.

What was the inspiration behind founding your nonprofit organization?

There was no such nonprofit organization or anything similar when I was young. I’d always wished there was, as it could’ve provided me with much-needed knowledge, experience, and support during the early years of my career. However, that being said, I was already very interested in art when I was a little girl. In many ways, I founded the organization for kids who aren’t like I was back then. I founded it in order to reach children who have had either no exposure to the arts or very little. These kids generally come from underprivileged backgrounds, so usually the arts aren’t a top priority for their schools, parents, or guardians. I think that’s so unfortunate. I believe that there is so much to be gained by simply presenting the arts to these children and giving them a chance to engage. At the very least, it might help them gain a different perspective on life. At the most, it may stimulate the minds of some creative and talented youngsters who wouldn’t otherwise have known that pursuing the arts was a viable path for them in life. The organization is all about education and encouragement.

What defines your way of doing business?

In a few words? Creativity and compassion. At least those are the traits I hold most dear, and the ones I hope I employ the most during the course of carrying out the organization’s activities.

What keys to being productive can you share?

In my administrative capacity, I find that it always pays dividends to respond to any inquiries and communications as soon as I possibly can. I think doing so makes people feel valued, which in turn makes them enjoy working with you. So, whenever I receive a text message, phone call, or email, I do my best to reply quickly. When I’m in the studio, though, my focus is entirely on whatever project I happen to be working on. As far as my art is concerned, I clear my mind of all administrative or extraneous tasks. I leave my phone in another room and concentrate wholly on creating.

Tell us one long-term goal in your career.

I would love to expand the reach of the organization as much as I possibly can. I want us to engage with as many children as we possibly can. I think opening the eyes of typically underserved children to the beauty and magic of art is the most noble way the organization can spend its time and resources. I believe that inviting today’s young people to appreciate and become involved in the arts—especially those who wouldn’t normally have any exposure to art—can do more to positively transform the future than almost anything else.

What would you tell your younger self? 

If I could say anything to my younger self, it would be this: “Dinah—stop doubting your abilities. You’re talented. What will help you the most in life is to explore that talent.” 

What are some of your favorite things to do outside of work?

I love traveling. As someone once said, “Travel broadens the mind and nourishes the soul.”

How would your colleagues describe you?

I would hope that my colleagues would describe me as open-minded, approachable, and passionate about both education and art. I think they would also say that I work very hard to grow the organization.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

Being an artist and the founder of a nonprofit organization is an atypical career choice, I’ll grant that, but I will say that it allows for a much better work life balance than many other professions. I think I’m quite fortunate in that respect.

What is one piece of technology that helps you the most in your daily routine?

I conduct a large amount of the organization’s business using my smartphone, whether I’m calling people, texting, sending emails, or conducting research.

What are some of the keys to your success?

The number one thing is engaging with kids. Beyond that, I credit my passion for art and my love of education with my success.

How do you measure success?

In the field of artistic education, metrics definitely don’t tell the whole story. However, that being said, the number of children that come up to me after a presentation and ask follow-up questions always pleasantly surprises me, and I think, indicates that I’m on the right track.

What advice would you give to aspiring to succeed in your field?

I think some of the most important traits to cultivate when pursuing a career in artistic education are patience and open-mindedness. The other really crucial thing is to capture the sense of wonder that art inspires within you and somehow translate it into something palatable for the audience—in this case, children. After all, the whole point of our organization is to impart the magic of art to the youth and inspire the next generation to appreciate it and create more of it.

Read more:
Getting to Know You: Dinah Jean-Philippe, Nonprofit Founder

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