Artists for Humanity’s 25th Anniversary Celebration


Artists for Humanity’s 25th Anniversary Celebration


Artists for Humanity’s 25th Anniversary Celebration


My fellow alum speaker, Will "Black Oni" Wiggins and I at the after party!
My fellow alum speaker, Will “Black Oni” Wiggins and I at the after party!


This past Saturday night I had the wonderful opportunity to share a little bit of my story with 250 of Artists for Humanity‘s closest friends and supporters at their 25th Anniversary celebration and fundraising dinner, and then party the night away at their Greatest Party on Earth! What a night—We heard from Artists for Humanity (AFH) co- founders Susan Rodgerson and Jason Talbot, followed by dinner by Lydia Shire in the painting studio transformed into a gorgeous dining room, saw a video done by Cramer on AFH’s past, present, and future, and then I shared the stage with fellow AFH alum, designer, artist, and YouTuber Will Wiggins. The whole evening was donated to AFH. I was so honored to be invited to be part of the event.

The organization was founded in Boston in 1991. Their mission is to bridge economic, racial, and social divisions by providing urban youth with the keys to self-sufficiency through paid employment in art and design. I was lucky enough to be one of those youth when I was in high school, when I joined their graphic design department in 1996. At that time, they were in their old building on A Street—A real raw warehouse space. I loved it. I told the story of how I remember going there after school and feeling so energized and inspired by my fellow artists and mentors, even if I had a tough day in high school that day. I mean, we got PAID to do creative work for real clients like Reebok and JAM’N 94.5! I designed my first logo while I was at AFH for a charity event called the Snowball.

Rendering from
Rendering from


AFH has been in their newer building called the Epicenter on West 2nd Street since 2004, a move that allowed them to more than double the number of teens they could employ. It was the first building in Boston to achieve platinum LEED certification—Pretty cool. But now they maintain a waiting list of 150 teens because they are running out of room and capacity again. As part of the event this past weekend, they shared the model for the new expansion they are working on that will allow them to double the number of employed youth yet again! This new building will be energy positive, which means it will create more energy than it uses. Incredible.

Dinner in the painting studio, dancing to Booty Vortex, performances by aerialist Matthew Brouillard and Boston Circus Guild, and fellow alum Will Wiggins, co-founder Jason Talbot, and myself. Photos courtesy of Will Wiggins, Jason Talbot, and Janna Mach/Artists For Humanity


Being part of AFH instilled in me a sense of community, collaboration, entrepreneurship, and a place to feel free and supported to create. It prepared me for a creative career, and gave me the tools to be bold enough to find my own path to that career. I’m so grateful to have had that experience, and for everyone who has been involved in and supported AFH over the last 25 years. I can’t wait to see what the next 25 years and beyond bring for them, and I look forward to being a supporter. And by the way, if you’ve never been to their annual Greatest Party on Earth, I HIGHLY recommend going next time! It truly is the greatest party on earth! (and I’ve been to a LOT of parties)

To learn more about AFH, or to get involved and help create jobs for Boston’s youth, head over to


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4 Comments Leave a reply

  1. Will Wiggins

    That was one hell of a night. I’ll never forget it!

    • susan Rodgerson

      Hey Will – many thanks to you too!!! I am thrilled that you guys are back in my world.Remember every last Wednesday – you both are welcome to come by.

      xoxoxo S

  2. susan Rodgerson

    Dear Renessa,
    You are the best – thank you for being an inspiration to me and a good friend too! Keep it happening and love every minute (almost)!!

    I hope to see you as often as possible.

    Much love,

  3. Lorraine Johnson

    You’re our champion Renessa!! It was an amazing nice and you and will are stars. Thanks for sharing your story.


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