RAMÓN RAMOS ALAYO -
Ramón Ramos Alayo was selected by the Cuban government to study dance in Santiago de Cuba at age eleven. In 1990 he earned a masters degree in contemporary and folkloric dance and dance education from the Havana's National School of Art. a graduate of Havana’s National School of Art, specializing in folkloric and contemporary dance. He was a principal dancer with several prominent Cuban dance companies, including Danza del Caribe, Narcisco Medina Contemporary Dance Company, touring throughout Europe, Belize, and Canada. His success continued after relocating to the U.S. in 1997; he has performed as a dancer with numerous outstanding companies, including Robert Henry Johnson, Kim Epifano, Sara Shelton Mann, Zaccho Dance Theatre and Robert Moses’ Kin. Ramon currently teaches Cuban popular dance, Afro-Cuban modern dance and children's movement at several local dance studios and schools.
He is respected throughout the Bay Area as a dancer, teacher, choreographer and the founder and artistic director and choreographer of Alayo Dance Company (2002) and CubaCaribe (2003). As director and choreographer, his work is an innovative fusion of Afro-Cuban modern, folkloric and popular Cuban Dance. He eloquently articulates his aesthetic vision through a synthesis of these dance styles, citing from each traditions, movements, narratives and concepts indicative of Cuban culture.
Ramos has choreographed and produced twelve full-length dance performances. He was featured in the article “Dance Across America” in National Geographic Magazine in 2006, and received the prestigious Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation’s “Emerging Choreographer’s Award” (2005) to develop his piece, Blood + Sugar. Ramos was nominated for an Isadora Duncan Dance Award nominee for the ensemble performance of Los Guedes(2006). He was recognized as “Best Dance Dynamo” in the SF Bay Guardian’s “Best of the Bay” (2009), and was the recipient of a SF Bay Guardian 2010 Goldie Award, hailed by dance critic Rita Felciano as “the best Afro-Cuban dancer whose choreography stands well beyond traditional modes.” Most recently, his piece Goodbye was named one of the best premier’s in 2016 in Dance Europe Magazine.
JAMAICA ITULE SIMMONS -
Jamaica Itule Simmons is a fine artist, graphic designer, early childhood educator, dancer and executive director of CubaCaribe, a non-profit arts organization. She received her B.A. in 1999 with a double major in Art and Hispanic Studies from Lewis and Clark College and an M.F.A. in Graphic Design at The Academy of Art University in San Francisco. The topic of her thesis was Dance as the Survival of Identity Within the Context of Cuban Culture, culminating in the production of a video, hand produced book and exhibition. Itule’s exhibitions include: Mis Altares, Portland 1999; Emerging Artists, Portland 2000; Sobrevivir, San Francisco 2005. In addition to her work in visual arts she has studied Cuban dance intensively in Cuba with Ban Rarrá and members of Cojunto Folklorico Nacional de Cuba, Raices Profundas, Racatá, and Lady Salsa. Local teachers include; Danis “la mora” Perez, Susana Arenas Pedroso, Royland Lobato, José Barroso, Ramon Ramos Alayo, Yismari Tellez Ramos and José Rojas. She has performed with Alayo Dance Company, Ire Ile, Oyu Oro, Raices Cubanas. She was also a founding member and dancer with Las Que Son Son. She currently teaches at Monteverde School and has been the ED of CubaCaribe since 2014.
Ilana Andujar, Development Assistant
Development Assistant Ilana Andujar, As the youngest staff person, Ilana brings the perspective of a millennial to her work with CubaCaribe, including access to younger generations of Cuban and Caribbean Diaspora artists and familiarity with society’s changing norms.Andujar was raised in Oakland Califonria. She has a Bachelor of Science in Public Health Systems Management. Primarily working with non-profit organizations, dance has influenced her work with youth and community development.
MEMBERS OF THE BOARD
Jamaica Itule Simmons, President & Executive Director
Oakland, California, Teacher, Graphic Designer, Female, Latina
Amy Draizen, Secretary
Oakland, California, Educational Therapist, Female, Jewish
Aida Salazar, Treasurer
Oakland, California, Writer, Activist, Female, Mexican American
Oakland, California, Communications & Public Affairs, Male
Ramón Ramos Alayo, Artistic Director
Berkeley, California, Dancer, Choreographer, Teacher, Male, Cuban
Immigration Attorney, Woman, Cuban American
Natalia Fanta Lawrence
Richmond, California, City Planner, Afro Latina
ADVISORY BOARD -
Bill Martinez (2020-present) Immigration Attorney, Arts Producer, Male, Latino
Krissy Keefer (2003-present) Artistic Director, Dance Brigade, Female, American
Kristina Ramsey (2003-present) Spanish Interpreter, Female, German American
Yismari Tellez Ramos (2010-present) Dancer, teacher, choreographer, Female, Cuban
AMY DRAIZEN -
Amy Draizen is an Educator, Event Producer, and Arts Promoter who lead the ‘Dance in Cuba’ trips with CubaCaribe for many years. Her passion for Cuban dance, music and culture began in 2002 when she first traveled there to study dance. Professionally, she is an Educational Therapist and Consultant in private practice. She has done fundraising and event production with Girls, Inc., AJWS, Living Jazz, Piedmont Piano Co, and KQED.
ISAAC KOS-READ -
Isaac Kos-Read is the founder a president of Kos Read Group, Inc. an Oakland-based communications and public affairs firm. When not advocating for results for civic-minded organizations, you can probably find him dancing Cuban salsa. Upon graduation, Isaac studied with various teachers of Cuban style salsa in Mexico and Los Angeles, as well as in Cuba in 2003 with PlazaCUBA with dancers from La Escuela Nacional de Arte and Ban Ra Ra. Isaac and his wife/life/dance partner Mary Massella, who met in 2002 on the dance floor of old school LA Cuban salsa dancing community haunt Zabumba, won the 2005 Miami Salsa Rueda Competition. Together they founded Salsa by the Lake in 2007, which is now one of the longest-running and largest Cuban social dance gatherings.
Natalia Fanta Lawrence-
Natalia Lawrence was born in Panama and immigrated to the US with her parents as a young child. She relocated to the Bay Area in 1981 from Brooklyn, NY. She has a Master’s Degree in Urban Studies from Long Island University/Brooklyn and a Masters in Architecture from UC Berkeley. She retired in 2015 after a 30 year career as a City Planner, Community Development Specialist and Community Builder for the cities of New York, Daly City, Richmond and the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. Her writing has been published in the journal “The Caribbean Writer”. She has studied dance with New York and Bay Area and founded Las Puras Dance Company with Artistic Director, Yismari Ramos in 2010. Natalia brings years of board leadership, governance and fundraising experience to CubaCaribe. Natalia’s active interest in Cuba began in 1998 after participating in a US/Cuba Relations conference at UC Berkeley. Later that same year she attended an International Women’s Peace conference in Havana at the invitation of the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement. Over the last 22 years Natalia has visited Cuba many times for pleasure and in support of US-Cuba Solidarity work.
Florence Chamberlin has more than 20 plus years of experience as an immigration lawyer. She is a member in good standing of the Florida Bar since admission in 1997. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and received her law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law.
She has represented corporations and individual clients in proceedings before the
various administrative offices of the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS, ICE,
CBP) and at consular offices around the globe. She has extensive experience with complex family-based immigration matters as well as removal defense before the Executive Office for Immigration Review (immigration courts) and the Board of Immigration Appeals. Ms. Chamberlin has lectured on a variety of immigration law topics at conferences and seminars throughout the United States and has travelled extensively representing clients worldwide.