OUR TEAM

Meet our award winning team of artists, leaders and change makers.

Artistic Staff

Headshot of Artistic Director and co-founder Sarah Crowell

Sarah Crowell

Artistic Director Emeritus

Sarah Crowell is the Artistic Director Emeritus at Destiny Arts Center. Sarah has held a variety of leadership roles at Destiny for the past 30 years. She taught modern dance and hip hop dance in onsite programs and in school programs. She co-founded and co-directed the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company for 27 years. She served as the organization’s Executive Director from 2002-2007. She served as the Artistic Director from 2007-2020. Sarah made the transition to her Artistic Director Emeritus role in June 2020. Her new role will be to advise and support the organization’s program team and performing arts leaders, as well as to serve on the board of directors. Sarah believes that the arts are an essential component of the journey to social justice. Her work with the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company, a troupe for teens to co-create original movement/theater productions based on their own experiences, continues to perform for up to 20,000 audience members a year at conferences, festivals and other community events. The company has been the subject of two documentary films and was awarded the National Arts and Humanities Youth Program Award in 2017, the nation’s highest award of its kind. In addition to her work teaching dance, theater and violence prevention to youth and educators locally and nationally in schools and community centers, Sarah performed and toured nationally with modern, jazz and dance/theater companies in Boston and the Bay Area, including Impulse Jazz Dance Company and the Dance Brigade. She also co-directed and performed with the dance/theater company i am! Productions. Sarah received nine California Arts Council Artist in Residency grants for her work at Destiny and a National Endowment for the Arts grant to author a curriculum guide for artists working with teens called Youth on the Move: a teacher’s guidebook to co-creating original movement/theater performances with teens. Sarah was the recipient of the Purple Moon DreamSpeakers award, the KPFA Peace award, the the KPFA Women’s History Month Local Hero award, the Bay Area Dance Week Dancer’s Choice award, the Alameda County Arts Leadership award, and the National Guild for Community Arts Education Milestone award. In 2016, Sarah was inducted into the Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame and was part of the YBCA 100, a list of visionaries assembled annually by the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Sarah has also been a finalist for four Tony Award for Excellence in Theater Education.
Headshot of one of the Destiny Arts co-artistic director Rashidi Omari

Rashidi Omari

Director of the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company and Senior Teaching Artist

Rashidi Omari is the Co-Artistic Director of the Destiny Arts Youth Performance Company (DAYPC) and Senior Teaching Artist at Destiny Arts Center. He teaches dance and spoken word at our North Oakland Center and in school and community spaces throughout the bay area, and presents on Destiny’s Creative Youth Development model around the country and around the world. An Oakland original, Rashidi has been with Destiny in various roles since 2003, and became the Co-Artistic Director of the DAYPC in 2010. Rashidi knows that creative exploration and expression are integral components of culture and society. He believes that collaborative arts practices help nurture confidence, connection and cooperation which in turn helps to foster transformative social change. Rashidi has been dancing since the age of three and has been performing locally, nationally and internationally since 1993. He has performed as a dancer and M.C. with Unidentified, Company of Prophets, Loco Bloco, Starchild Entertainment, Unsmokables, Ashe West Dance Company, Liberation Dance Theater Company, and Kiandanda Dance Theater Company, to name a few. Rashidi can’t stop and won’t stop creating music and performance material as an artist. Rashidi’s love and breadth of knowledge of hip hop and performance comes from his experience growing up before and during what is referred to as the “Golden Era” of hip hop, and being inspired by great performers like Michael Jackson, Tina Turner, Prince and Sammy Davis Jr.
Headshot of the Martial Arts Director Tes Tekelu

Tesfaye Tekelu

Martial Arts Director

Tesfaye Tekelu is the Martial Arts Director at Destiny Arts Center, where he teaches Aikido and other forms of Martial Arts as well as gymnastics and dance. Originally from Ethiopia, Tesfaye has been with Destiny since 2016. Tesfaye believes that the study of Martial Arts encourages young people to improve their self-confidence, learn important values, develop healthy habits and improve their ability to focus and persevere. Prior to moving to the Bay Area in 2015, Tes taught martial arts and offered trainings in non-violent communication in New York City schools. While in New York he also served as Peace and Culture Director for the arts-based peace education organization Kids Creative. In addition to his work at Destiny, Tes is Chairman of the Board and Co-founder of Institute for Social Advancement (ISA) which endeavors to advance youth empowerment and entrepreneurship, conflict-resolution and peace-building, education, gender equality and HIV awareness in both the United States and Sub-saharan Africa. Tes is also responsible for introducing the discipline of Aikido in East Africa. Tesfaye currently holds a 3rd degree black belt in Aikido and has training in other martial art forms. He was awarded the State of California Senate Certificate of Recognition in honor of his work by Senator Mark Leno. A teacher-trainee at Strozzi Institute, Tesfaye is always learning and always creating—in his free time, he writes and produces music in the United States and Ethiopia.

Administrative Staff

Headshot of Grants Director Joy Tang

Joy Tang

Grants Director

Joy Tang is the Grants Director at Destiny Arts Center, where she supports fundraising, writing, and evaluation practices that honor and uplift the work of educators, artists, and youth development professionals. Originally from Houston, Texas, Joy has been with Destiny since 2011. Joy believes that movement/arts practices can provide individuals of all ages with a felt sense of their own power and beauty. Her work is part of a shared effort that supports young people in gaining self-knowledge, voice, and a sense of accomplishment through arts. Before coming to Destiny, Joy taught high school English and ESL in Houston and holds an English/Language Arts teaching credential with an English Language Learner authorization in Texas and California. Since arriving at Destiny, Joy has supported the organization’s first grants-funded intergenerational performance collaborations and helped to increase public funding by over 70% between fiscal years 2015 and 2018. Joy holds a B.A. in English with a minor in Chinese Studies from Brigham Young University and an M.A. in Folklore from the University of California, Berkeley, where she completed her thesis, Dancing Towards Freedom: An Auto/ethnography on the Relationship between Salsa, Following, and Agency. She is a current member of the Grant Professionals Association; a volunteer copyeditor for Cultural Analysis, an online journal for folklore and popular culture; and teaches yoga at Options Recovery Services in Berkeley, CA.

Teaching Artists

Headshot of one of Destiny Arts teaching artists

Aaron Kierbel

Teaching Artist

Aaron is a rhythmALLogist and teaching artist at Destiny Arts Center, where he teaches drumming and percussion at schools throughout the East Bay. He is originally from Los Angeles, CA and has been teaching with Destiny Arts since 2015. Aaron knows that rhythm is one of the most powerful, direct and universal ways of unifying a group of people, ushering in creativity, connection and personal transformation. In addition to his work at Destiny, Aaron teaches with several other leading Bay Area teaching arts organizations, such as LEAP, Attitudinal Healing Connection and East Bay Center for the Performing Arts. Aaron is founder of RhythmALLogy (www.rhythmallogy.com), an organization using interactive drumming and rhythm making for building community and human potential. He has presented workshops on several continents, working with youth and adults in schools, jails, corporate boardrooms and everything in between. He is also an integral member of the Bay Area music scene, playing with groups such as Jazz Mafia, Orchestra Gold, La Misa Negra and is internationally touring drummer with Rupa and the April Fishes, visiting 30 countries since 2005. Aaron studied jazz drumming performance at Sonoma State and San Francisco State University, pursuing a deeper study of rhythm in Cuba, Ghana, Morocco and Italy. He has taken a plethora of rhythm facilitation trainings all over the world with such teachers at Arthur Hull, Simon Faulkner, Musicians Without Borders, Christine Stevens and others. He holds a BA in Integral Studies from C.I.I.S in San Francisco and draws inspiration from coffee, laughter, found sounds, mistakes and the boundless creativity of the youth he teaches.

Headshot of one of Destiny Arts teaching artists

César San Miguel

Teaching Artist

César San Miguel is a Teaching Artist at Destiny Arts Center, where he teaches martial arts, drawing from his exploration of various disciplines since beginning his study of Aikido in 2000. An Oakland native, César has been with Destiny since 2019 and he is excited to give back to his community. César hopes that, as a young instructor of color, his work will inspire other young POC to study the martial arts. César believes that martial arts have the power to transform how we, as individuals, interact with and respond to the world around us. In addition to physical skills, youth who study martial arts learn qualities such as focus, self-discipline, empathy, and patience. These qualities allow them to engage their surroundings with compassion, strength, and integrity, as they inherit a troubled world. César is a personal student of Jan Nevelius Shihan, 7th dan Aikikai, of Stockholm, Sweden, and was awarded the rank of 2nd degree black belt by Nevelius Shihan in 2017. César has attended dozens of Aikido seminars both domestically and abroad taught by teachers from all over the world, and he hopes to one day teach such workshops. César has taught Aikido classes for adults in various dojo in California, and helps with the youth program at Aikido of Berkeley. In addition to Nevelius Shihan, César has studied with and continues to draw inspiration from Kayla Feder Sensei, Jorma Lyly Sensei, Charles Colton Sensei, Greg Angus Sensei, and Hiroshi Ikeda Shihan, to name a few. Over the years, César has studied Taijiquan, Goju-ryu Karate, Judo, Daito-ryu Aikijujitsu, American boxing, and he has trained with practitioners of various additional arts. César holds a Bachelor’s of Arts in Anthropology from Columbia University, and is a certified massage therapist, and owner of KiMusubi Massage.

Headshot of one of Destiny Arts teaching artists

Gabriel Christian

Teaching Artist

Gabriel Christian (they/them; he/him; etc) is a performance teaching artist at Destiny Arts Center, where they teach theater, storytelling, and performance in programs at schools throughout the East Bay. Born and raised in New York City, they have been with Destiny since early 2016. They began collaborating with Destiny as part of the flagship QEAR (Queer Emerging Artists’ Residency) program and were then invited to join the teaching staff that fall. Gabriel knows, through their personal experience, that performance is a vigorous space to exercise vulnerability and communication skills that enable one to enter into the wider world with fluidity, empathy, and freedom. As a young person who made their way to performance through spoken word, Gabriel sees the stage as a testing ground and a safe haven for the marginalized voice. Gabriel has performed in various regional productions in New York, New Haven, and San Francisco, in theatrical capacities ranging from bit ensemble player to dramaturg to lead, namely supporting productions by WePlayers, Theatre Rhinoceros, and Robert Woodruff at the Yale Rep. As a performance artist, they have shared countless devised pieces everywhere from the historic Stud Bar to Stanford, and have secured residencies at This Will Take Time, CounterPulse, CIIS, and Finnish Brotherhood Hall. In addition to their work at Destiny and their performance practice, Gabriel is an adamant yogi, even if time isn’t always quite on his side. Gabriel has studied with Jairo Cuesta and Jim Slowiak, the original collaborators of Polish theatre maker Jerzy Grotowski and renowned international theatre director Robert Woodruff. They interned with playwright Young Jean Lee, and held so many odd theatre jobs he’d need to grow new hands to count them. Gabriel holds a BA in Theater Studies from Yale University.

Headshot of one of Destiny Arts teaching artists

Julia Chigamba

Teaching Artist

Julia Tsitsi Chigamba, grew up in the cultural traditions of Shona music and dance, guided by her parents who are both from a long line of musicians and storytellers. Julia is the first master Zimbabwean dancer to make her home outside of Zimbabwe. Her father, Tute Chigamba, is a master mbira player and her mother was a master dancer. Julia’s brothers, sisters and cousins were members of the Zimbabwean National Dance Company and later founded their own mbira and dance ensemble, Mhembero. The Chigamba family lived in poverty during colonial times, when ceremonies were banned, but they held onto their traditions. The family thrived following Zimbabwe’s independence in 1981, when traditional music was in demand. However, Julia was forced to re-locate to the U.S. in 1999, when Zimbabwe’s economic downturn began. She left three children, ages 4, 7 and 9 years, in the care of her parents, until she was finally able to bring them to live here in the U.S. in 2010. Two years after moving to the U.S., she established the music and dance company the Chinyakare Ensemble in Oakland, California, to share the beauty and wisdom of her culture. Julia and the Chinyakare Ensemble have continued to perform throughout the Bay Area and across the U.S. In 20**, Julia founded the non-profit the Kumusha Foundation in order to continue to preserve and promote traditional Zimbabwean music and dance. In addition, in 2014 she started her own clothing line of African inspired designs, the Tsuro Collection. Julia Chigamba’s professional experiences include tours of Africa, China, Europe, Canada and the South Pacific with Mhembero. She has performed at such prestigious venues as the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles; Davies Symphony Hall and the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. Julia has performed at social consciousness raising events at the University of California Berkeley and the East Bay AIDS Walk in Oakland. She and the group that she founded, the Chinyakare Ensemble are recognized for their authentic presentation of Zimbabwean music and dance and are regular invitees to the annual Zimbabwe Music Festival that takes place in the northwest; Camp Tumbuku in New Mexico; and the Collages des Cultures Africaines in Oakland. Julia and Chinyakare have performed in the Bay Area for Princess Nandi Zulu and Archbishop Ndungane from South Africa and have opened for Zimbabwean musicians Oliver Mtukudzi and Thomas Mapfumo. She is featured on recordings including Zviri Kufamba Zvishoma (Boka Marimba – 2000); Kushinga Mhavambo, (Kusinga Mhavambo – 1998); and Pasi Mupindu (Mhembero Mbira Ensemble – 1998). In 2015, Julia served as the cultural consultant on the play, The Convert, written by Danai Gurira. Julia has also taught Zimbabwean dance in schools throughout the greater Bay Area since 1999, and currently teaches dance at Destiny Arts in Oakland.

Headshot of one of Destiny Arts teaching artists

Kanukai Chigamba

Teaching Artist

Kanukai Chigamba is the Assistant Teaching Artist for the Zimbabwean Dance Class at Destiny Arts Center, where she assists Ms. Julia by drumming and also dancing during classes at the arts center and in schools across Oakland. Originally from Harare, Zimbabwe, Kanukai has been with Destiny since 2018. Kanukai believes that many Zimbabwean traditional dances are deeply rooted in their everyday life. She also knows that when working with young people, it is easier when they can connect with the culture they are being introduced to. She feels creating this connection between her own personal and the students’ experiences based on what we do every day and connecting it back to the choreography is such a beautiful process to witness. Kanukai has performed across the United States with the Chinyakare Ensemble, Afro-Urban Society, and Cheza Nami foundation. She has performed at events such as the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival, Zimfest, Monterey Bay Reggaefest, and the Africa Day Celebration in Washington DC. In addition to her work at Destiny Arts, she teaches dance workshops and performs in the Bay Area. She enjoys taking photos, hiking, and sleeping. Kanukai Chigamba holds a BA in Political Science and African Studies from California State University, Sacramento. She hopes to further her education and land a job at the United Nations one day. Kanukai draws inspirations from many African women dancers who are constantly evolving to better themselves and their art.

Headshot of one of Destiny Arts teaching artists

Samara Atkins

Teaching Artist

Samara Atkins is a teaching artist at Destiny Arts Center, where she teaches hip hop dance and movement in our programs at schools and community centers throughout the East Bay. Originally from Oakland, CA, Samara has been with Destiny since 2011. Samara knows that movement and dance are powerful tools for everyone to share their story, process, cope, and heal from the things we experience in our society. Movement brings communities together and connects people to people. Samara believes that through movement, youth are able to access and channel their emotions, communicate their experiences more clearly, connect with others, and empower, as well as express themselves in ways that allow them to thrive. Samara has danced for CHIC ft. Nile Rodgers at the 2015 FOLD Festival, representing Destiny Arts Center. She has been a featured dancer for Adobe Max product launch and their 2017 Adobe Design Achievement Awards ceremony. Samara has been featured in music videos, news articles, and was a dance journalist for Dance Studio Life magazine. She has co-founded Mix'd Ingrdnts, an all female-identified performance company est. in 2010, that exists to empower womxn, youth, and the community to express themselves through performance and dance education. As co-artistic director, choreographer, and dancer of the company, Samara has received notable dance awards, notoriety in the community and internationally, and appeared on the Harry (Connick Jr.) Show. She also was choreographer and director of Howard University's Vizion Performance Company while attending. Samara has been a dance company member and received training from two of Oakland's premiere studios/companies Newstyle Motherlode and Dance-A-Vision. In addition to her work with Destiny Arts Center, she has co-started and co-lead Power of Hope Bolinas since 2015, and been a lead-facilitator for Partners of Youth Empowerment Global's Creative Faciliation Training. Samara is a core member of the grammy-nominated Alphabet Rockers as choreographer, dancer, singer, and songwriter. Through Alphabet Rockers, Mix'd Ingrdnts, Destiny Arts Center, and her own mantra in life, Samara engages in, creates, and produces content that positively impacts social change and creates spaces for people to be seen & heard. She also really loves to travel and share her love of dance and storytelling.  Through Mix'd Ingrdnts, Samara has received Bay Area's Best Dancer award. She's also represented the US on a dance tour in China and workshopped with Debbie Allen at her studio with the St. Mary's Dance Ensemble, under Naa Dodua - Diane Green. Samara will always spread her joy and love of dance to people around the world.

Board Members

One of the Destiny Arts Board Members named Anna Karrer Manley

Anna Karrer Manley

Board Member

Anna joined the Destiny Arts Center board in 2019. As a former grantmaker, she was inspired by its impactful, social change-focused arts & movement programming, and eventually spent many Saturday mornings at the Center when her oldest child enrolled in martial arts classes. Her son felt immediately at home in Destiny’s inclusive, multiracial, and intergenerational community — something she hopes for every youth. Currently, Anna serves as Director of Communications at Metta Fund, a private foundation working to advance the health and wellness of San Francisco’s aging population, particularly those furthest from access and opportunity. She brings over 15 years’ experience in the philanthropy and nonprofit sector. Anna holds Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degrees in Global & International Studies as well as German Literature from the University of California at Santa Barbara. She also holds a Master in Public Administration (M.P.A.) from San Francisco State University. Having grown up in three different countries, Anna brings an immigrant’s perspective and deeply respects and values cultural relativity and difference. She spent many years traveling the globe and her passion for access, justice, and equity keeps her work as close to community as possible. When she is not shuttling one of her kids to school, or writing a press release, she can be found enjoying Friday nights at the Oakland Museum of California, reading the Sunday New York Times, or dragging the family on a hike by the water.

Romi Hall

Board Member

Romi Hall  has more than 10 years of experience working at the intersection of health, housing and community development. Romi is the current National Director of Healthy Homes and Communities at NeighborWorks America.

Most recently, Hall was director of neighborhood collaborations at EBALDC, where she led partnerships to generate a pipeline of nearly 400 units, attracted a full-service grocery store, secured more than $5 million from arts and culture and health /hospital funders, supported resident-led placemaking projects, and launched two new collaboratives. During her time at Beyond Housing, she helped plan and launch the 24:1 initiative. She also has prior experience in early childhood development and faith-based organizing. In 2019, she was named a Fulcrum Fellow with the Center for Community Investment, where she honed skills in capital absorption and community investment. She received her master's in public health from Drexel University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Most recently, Hall was director of neighborhood collaborations at EBALDC, where she led partnerships to generate a pipeline of nearly 400 units, attracted a full-service grocery store, secured more than $5 million from arts and culture and health /hospital funders, supported resident-led placemaking projects, and launched two new collaboratives. During her time at Beyond Housing, she helped plan and launch the 24:1 initiative.

She also has prior experience in early childhood development and faith-based organizing. In 2019, she was named a Fulcrum Fellow with the Center for Community Investment, where she honed skills in capital absorption and community investment. She received her master's in public health from Drexel University and her undergraduate degree from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Co-Founders

Headshot of one of Destiny Arts co-founder Anthony Daniels

Anthony Daniels

Co-Founder

Sifu Anthony Daniels is a Co-Founder of Destiny Arts Center and the former Director of Center-based Martial Arts programs at Destiny Arts Center, where he taught an eclectic mix of asian martial arts forms including Japanese Karate, Kung Fu (Wu Chien Pai), and Judo. Born and raised in Oakland, Sifu Anthony co-founded Destiny Arts Center in 1988, with Sifu Kate Hobbs. Sifu Anthony believes that when youth commit to the study of Martial Arts they will learn to prevent violence in their communities and build skills around cooperation and discipline. Sifu Anthony has taught martial arts, youth leadership, self-defense and conflict resolution to youth of all ages since 1980 at Destiny and in many other after-school programs in the Bay Area, including the California School for the Blind, Job Corps, the Chestnut Court Housing Projects, and Parks and Recreation programs. He has also taught youth and adults internationally in Switzerland and Mexico. Sifu Anthony holds a first-degree black belt in Judo and a fifth degree black belt in Wu Chien Pai Kung Fu. Sifu Daniels has taught martial arts at Destiny since 1988. He started studying at age 13 and received his Black Belt in Kung Fu in 1982 and in Judo in 1988. He was a five time state champion with the California Karate League in the 1980s. And a national collegiate medalist in both olympic Tae Kwon Do and judo Sifu Anthony holds an AA in Developmental Disabilities from Chabot College, a BA in Humanities from New College of CA, and an MA in Youth Leadership New College of CA.

Headshot of co-founder Kate Hobbs

Kate Hobbs

Co-Founder

Kate Hobbs a Co-Founder of Destiny Arts Center. In her role as Mentor Teaching Artist, she supported Destiny Teaching Artists to passionately share their art form with young people. Born and raised in San Francisco, Kate co-founded Destiny Arts Center in 1988 with the goal of offering high quality martial arts training for youth. Kate was particularly interested in teaching practical skills for de-escalating violence and promoting peaceful solutions to violence and abuse for young people and their communities. Kate returned to Destiny in 2013 to usher in the next generation of Destiny teaching artists and hone our martial arts curriculum. Kate believes that toughness, skillful expression, and positive experiences of community give young people what they need to creatively navigate their world and develop the capacity to survive and prosper in the face of inequality and injustice. Kate served as Destiny Arts Center’s Executive Director from 1988 to 1998. She then worked for Sports4Kids (now known as Playworks) from 1998-2005, where she wrote curriculum and developed trainings. Kate taught Physical Education with Berkeley Unified School District from 2005-2008 and worked in Early Childhood Education at UC Berkeley Childcare from 2008-2012. In 2006, Kate came full circle, establishing Oakland Kajukenbo Kwoon, an intergenerational martial arts school hosted at Saint Columba Church. Kate holds a seventh-degree black belt in Kajukenbo. She has a BS from UC Berkeley in Conservation and Resource Studies and a Master Teacher Certificate in Early Childhood Education.

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