Cumbo Is Among Brooklyn Exposed's 20 Female Power Players





(Clockwise top left: Susan Doban, Lexy Funk, Alie Shaper, Laurie Cumbo)

March is Women's History Month, and in honor of the occasion we'd like to applaud Brooklyn's powerful, successful women. These are the women who shape the way we eat, dress, and learn new things; the ones changing our environment and our politics; the women writing and creating, thinking and making a difference.


A Brooklyn native and Executive Director and Founder of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), Laurie Cumbo is also running for the 35th District City Council this year. Politics is a natural evolution for Cumbo since the museum, known for incisive politically and socially charged exhibits, came out of Cumbo’s graduate thesis at New York University.  MoCADA started out in a Bedford-Stuyvesant brownstone before moving to a building in the BAM Cultural District in 2006. Running for City Council is a new step, but she hopes to continue pushing for arts education and support. The 35th District covers the neighborhoods Fort Greene, Clinton Hill, Prospect Heights, Crown Heights and part of Bedford-Stuyvesant. In her campaign biography, she says, “I am most driven by my desire to reform the inequity that has become institutionalized on so many levels of City government and continues to erode core American values.”



Other honorees include:  

  • Lena Alhusseini, Executive Director of the Arab-American Family Support Center
  • Tina Chang, Poet Laureate of Brooklyn
  • Caroline BaneErika Geldzahler, and Sarah Sanneh, co-owners of Pies ‘n Thighs in Williamsburg
  • Sandra Chapman, Deputy Borough President (Brooklyn’s second-in-command) 
  • Kerry Diamond, co-owner of SeersuckerSmith Canteen Coffee Shop, and Nightingale 9
  • Susan Doban founded Doban Architecture and co-founded the design company Think Fabricate
  • Lena Dunham, best known for writing, directing and acting in the HBO show Girls, in 2012 and author of Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She’s Learned.
  • Yonnette Fleming, urban farmer and educator, founded the Hattie Carthan Community Farmers Market alongside the Hattie Carthan Community Garden in 2009.
  • Lexy Funk co-founded Brooklyn Industries
  • MaryAnne Gilmartin, Executive Vice President of commercial and residential development at Forest City Ratner Companies
  • Karen Hopkins, President of the Brooklyn Academy of Music 
  • Lynn Parkerson founded Brooklyn Ballet
  • Maria Roca, Founder and Chair of Friends of Sunset Park
  • Leila Shams, fashion designer, whose works are worn by the likes of Nicki Minaj, Fergie, Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan.
  • Winemaker (and engineer) Alie Shaper founded Brooklyn Oenology Winery and
  • Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles 


Published in Brooklyn Exposed, Arts & Leisure, Wednesday, March 6th, reporter, Jessica McKenzie

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