Maria Cherry Rangel
Director of Strategic Initiatives
As Director of Strategic Initiatives at FFL, Maria Cherry Rangel works towards resourcing and shaping FLL’s future, and utilizes her expertise in arts and culture, racial justice, and LGBTQ organizing to inform FFL’s programs.
Maria Cherry Rangel is a New Orleans based cultural organizer, philanthropy strategist, equity coach, and organizational capacity building specialist. Focused on interrupting systemic bias in philanthropy and support for grassroots arts ecologies, her advocacy has ensured that millions of dollars have been redirected to communities of color and LGBTQ communities, and towards artists who have faced significant disinvestment by the arts funding infrastructure.
A respected voice in the arts and culture sector, she was the Co-Founder/Director of Mangos with Chili (2006-16), where she developed the work of more than 150 queer and trans artists of color, launched 80-plus productions via national tours and local seasons of programming, initiated dialogue around bias in the arts funding infrastructure, and ushered in a new era of possibility for QTPOC centered arts and culture. During her tenure at the National Performance Network (NPN, from 2015-17), she advanced the organization’s development goals, radically increased NPN’s analysis and practice of racial and social justice, and introduced the work of NPN to younger generations of artists and cultural workers. As Equity Auditor for the 2017 MAP Fund panel, she served in a groundbreaking role that disrupted systemic bias as it emerged during the grants panel process, and provided a new, equity based model for the field for grants review processes.
Maria serves on the boards of LOUD: the New Orleans Queer Youth Theater and Peacock Rebellion, and is part of the team conducting Ford Foundation’s arts and culture scan of the South. She leads with her lifelong commitment to making a place at the table for everyone, and ensuring that the work of underrepresented artists and cultural workers is lifted up, recognized, and always possible.