With a broad smile, Kimberley Hayes greeted the guests coming into the reception area on the third floor at the African American Art and Cultural Complex in San Francisco.
Though she had already been working for two weeks as the new executive director at the complex, this was her introduction to San Francisco and the neighboring African American community.
“I want to make an impact and I want the complex to matter in and out of the community and in San Francisco,” said Hayes.
As jazz played from speakers, she chatted with those who attended the reception, including the complex’s former executive director London Breed, former Supervisor Ann Marie Conroy, Cheryl Davis from Mo Magic and Black community activist Ed Donaldson.
Breed left the position at the complex, where she worked for 10 years, after being elected to the Board of Supervisors for District 5, which encompasses the Western Addition, Hayes Valley, Haight, and Lower Pacific Heights areas.
The Cultural Complex is a hub for the African American community in San Francisco. It is the home of the Sergeant Johnson Art Gallery, the Burial Clay Performing Arts Theatre, a state of the art music-recording studio, two other art galleries, a dance studio and a multi-purpose room.
Programs for Western Addition youth are also run out of the complex.
“Kim Hayes came from the corporate world to work with us,” said Rev. Arnold Townsend, a board member at the Cultural Complex. “She is dedicated to working with young people and in the community, and I am glad we have her.”
Hayes plans to initiative programs that will have a direct impact on people in the Western Addition and San Francisco’s African American community. A native of Virginia, she has a BA degree in political science from Hampton University and a MA in public administration from Farleigh Dickerson University in New Jersey.
A presidential intern in the Clinton administration, she worked as an organizer in the campaign to help elect Barack Obama in 2008. Hayes became familiar with the Cultural Complex after meeting Breed in 2008 in Washington DC at Obama’s inauguration.
“She was excited by what we were doing, and she would come out here and volunteer and helped fundraise,” said Breed. “Her hire is great for the cultural complex. Everything changes, and in this case, change is for the better.”
“For the past four years, I have seen her at least two times a year helping out in and around the African American Art Cultural complex,” said Melorra Green, visual arts coordinator and curator at the complex.
Hayes came to San Francisco from a job in sales and marketing for MTV in New York City. She said it was a hard choice to make, but she couldn’t pass up the opportunity to run the complex.
“I see the complex as a valuable commodity to the community,” said Hayes. “My goal is to take it to the next level.”