Jim Leija has served on UMS's senior management team as director of education & community engagement since 2011, providing the strategic direction for UMS's community, University, and K-12/youth engagement and education programs, and leading the team that produces over 300 free or low-cost education events and a range of educational materials each season. During his tenure at UMS, Jim has been instrumental in designing and implementing two major educational and performance residencies with the New York Philharmonic; he served as project director for UMS’s “Engaging Dance Audience” grants (through Dance/USA and the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation); launched an arts-academic integration program with the U-M College of Literature, Science, and the Arts (supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation); and, most recently, co-curated UMS’s new theater series "No Safety Net" focused on current social issues. In 2018, Jim was publicly elected to a second four-year term as a trustee of the Ann Arbor District Library where he currently serves as treasurer. Additionally, he is a trustee of Dance/USA (the national service organization for professional dance) where he serves as chair of the dance presenters council. Jim is an occasional filmmaker and performer, and took top prize in the 2014 University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design Alumni Exhibition. His non-fiction performance essay “dance or die” is published in the anthology "Queer and Catholic" (Routledge). Jim holds three degrees from the University of Michigan: a master of fine arts in art and design, bachelor of arts in sociology, and a bachelor of fine arts in musical theatre. As a queer Latinx person, Jim is inspired by the growing visibility of stories from people of color, queer people, transgender people, and women across film, television, online media, and live performance. He hopes that this kind of storytelling and media representation is a harbinger for a more just society to come.
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