Leilani (Lay-lah-nee) Ricardo joined NEFA in August 2022 in the role of Program Officer, Theater. In this role, Leilani partners with the team on administering NEFA’s portfolio of theater programs and services including the National Theater Project, managing the program’s community partnerships and supporting its strategic growth, and coordinating with the Communications department.
Prior to joining NEFA, Leilani was the longest serving Director of Education to date at Urbanity Dance in Boston, MA, overseeing both the Community and School pillars. She implemented programming aimed at equitable access to dance education through partnerships with Boston Public Schools, EdVestors, Bloomberg Philanthropies (Bloomberg Arts Initiative), the United South End Settlements, expansion of Urbanity’s Access for All Fund, and the Boston Youth Dance Festival. Leilani also served as a Guest Lecturer at the New England Conservatory for the 2021–2022 academic year and was a guest of the 2022 RaceB4Race cohort of the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at ASU. As an arts educator Leilani has also run programming for Boston Ballet, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Boston Theater Company, Urbanity Dance, and launched the drama programs of several charter schools.
A working artist, Leilani earned her B.A. in Dance, Theater from Dean College and is a lifelong martial arts practitioner with multiple black belts, most notably Kajukenbo and Arnis. She uses this training as dancer (Kat Nasti Dance), actor (Imaginary Beasts, Boston Theater Company), and frequently serves as dance and/or fight captain (Maiden Phoenix Theatre, Praxis Stage, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company) as well as a choreographer in her own right (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s CSC2). Originally from Limerick, ME, she currently resides in Malden, MA.