Tionenji Aiken was re-introduced to Artspace in October 2016, when she agreed to speak on a Breaking Ground panel about the changes facing the Lowertown arts community. Today, Aiken manages Artspace's website, social media, and graphic design; and is the program manager for the Rafala Green Fellowship Program. She joined Artspace in November 2016 with a Baccalaureate degree in Cultural Studies, Comparative Literature, and Film from the University of Minnesota; as well as a mini-MBA in Strategic Management from the St. Thomas Opus School of Business. She has a long work history as an art consultant, and arts administrative leader at organizations like the Saint Paul Almanac, The Givens Foundation for African American Leadership, Hennepin Theatre Trust, Bedlam Theatre, and Walker West Music Academy. Aiken is also one of the contributing organizers for Giant Steps MN, a conference in its eighth year that focuses on creating a space for the cross-pollination of ideas while highlighting the kindred spirit and shared challenges of artists and entrepreneurs globally and nationally. Her collective work experience runs the gamut from project management, stage management, public art curation, art direction, grant writing, and special event coordination...and she's even been a part of an art department for an award-winning Sundance film.
Outside of the Artspace headquarters, Tionenji is a writer who focuses on narrative poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction short story. In 2015 she was selected to be a Givens Foundation Emerging Writers Fellow. In 2017 she was invited to perform at the Great Twin Cities Poetry Read. You can find one of her commissioned poems on 7th Street in St. Paul, as part of the Saint Paul City Sidewalk public art project. She currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Twin Cities Jazz Festival and the advisory boards for Made Here MN, a public art program at Hennepin Theatre Trust, and the Center for Moving Cultures.
Tionenji is delighted to work at a place where her personal, professional, educational and creative background are intimately tied and can inform her daily work. She feels uniquely linked to and passionate about the Artspace mission because she was raised in Lowertown Artists Lofts, an early Artspace development that predates the organization.