Shaneka Ramdeen, Civic Hall Director of Culture & Events
“I don’t want to see Woke Work thought of as “the black events for POC” at Civic Hall. I don’t want to increase segregation; I want it to be integrated. I want members to attend and learn from each other and be part of the conversation. Without that, we’ll never grow.”
Pronouns: She, Her, Hers
Meet Shaneka Ramdeen. Shaneka has been with Civic Hall just shy of two years. She joined the staff as our Community Manager, later becoming Engagement & Partnerships Director, and was recently promoted to the position of Director of Culture & Events. Shaneka is a self-described artsy nerd, who enjoys taking her sketchbook around the City and capturing the “feeling” of what she sees. Over the course of her young career she’s acted as a Graphic Designer for the FDNY, done sales at Atlantic Records, and marketing at Esquire Magazine. Shaneka describes herself as an introvert, “passionately curious”, and is a chronic volunteer — especially where animal welfare is concerned. In fact, she is a Partnership Manager at Brooklyn Badass Animal Rescue and a regular “roadie” at Rock & Rawhide. She hopes to open her own shelter one day and is driven by a love of empowering others to make sustainable change. You can follow Shaneka on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram (@lovelyquills).
What Does She Do?
After acting in various roles at Civic Hall, Shaneka recently assumed the newly created position of Director of Culture & Events.
Shaneka continues to work with the rest of the Civic Hall team to glean data from the recent Member Feedback Survey. Based on community response, she intends to bring back Member Showcases later this winter and open demos to all members. Earlier this year she launched an event series, Woke Work, which was inspired by the passing of loved one who lived with and advocated for mental health issues. “Woke Work strives to create safe spaces and supportive communities for women of color. Topics of the series include mental health, identity, and culture.”
Shaneka is also looking forward to building on the work Tamika Taylor did for last year’s well-regarded Black History Month.
How Did She Get Into This Work?
“My grandmother was the matriarch of the household. And she was always making sure that you were driven by a higher power. To Do Unto Others. All of that was instilled into me.”
Shaneka’s mother was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis while she was in utero. “I saw her go from walking to leg braces, to cane, to walker, to wheelchair. I’ve been taking care of her since I was thirteen.”
Shaneka discovered that volunteering, initially with the National MS Society, New York City – Southern NY Chapter, made her feel less hopeless. “Not only regaining your power but empowering others who have lost theirs.”
On campus, Shaneka gained experience in event organizing and saw her passion for volunteer work only grow. “I was truly inspired to impact change in my local community by crafting unique experiences and supporting others who strived to build meaningful community events.”
Initially, she was trained in graphic design, but after two years of creating templates, she realized that she wanted to do something to impact change and return to school for a degree in Advertising, PR and Technology — knowing that her future focus would be in the area of cause marketing.
How Did She Come to Civic Hall?
You might say when Civic Hall moved to 22nd Street, that Shaneka came with the place.
Shaneka had been working as a contractor for Change.org, one of Civic Hall’s member orgs. She recalls Civic Hall being known by her colleagues as “the quiet place to go to work” and admired that the space was about empowerment, inclusion, and civic engagement.
As luck would have it, she was searching for a full-time role just as we were moving into change.org’s office space two Thanksgiving’s ago. Shaneka got to know staff helping us cart boxes and used her expertise to help us find a/c outlets. While hiring was frozen at that moment, she had her first impressions of staff, including Tamika Taylor and Jessica Goldfarb. And they were good first impressions. Later, she interviewed with Veronica Ludwig and became Community Manager winter 2016.
When asked how it was to be Community Manager during that transition, Shaneka is candid: “It was a really strange time to be a community manager when there was no community!”
What is She Reading?
Shaneka is currently reading Michelle Obama’s Becoming: An Intimate Conversation with Michelle Obama.
“While “inspiration” is the closest word I can use to describe the autobiography, it doesn’t do it justice. Often times, we (as a society) get so caught up in success, that we forget about the struggle that led there. Michelle explores it all; the depths of her pain, the triumphs of her victories, and the strong black woman who persevered. Needless to say, I strongly recommend this book!”
What Is Her Ask of Civic Hall?
“Do good, together. Civic Hall is such a unique community of “doers” that my simple ask is for us to do more, together. There have been countless times when members have inquired about hosting roundtable discussions or workshops to impact change or collaborate for the greater good. If you have an idea about how we can better serve you, then I encourage you to reach out and share with us!”
Regarding programming, Shaneka believes, “staff shouldn’t dictate what we should build here. I really want to open the floodgates for members to say, ‘I want my space to be like this…’” Shaneka is sanguine. “Right now we’re at the beginning of an upswing. There hasn’t been enough attention paid to the community itself. While the vision’s been great, you can’t have a community without the community.”
Finally, the work of being an inclusive community is ongoing: “I don’t want to see Woke Work thought of as “the black events for POC” at Civic Hall. I don’t want to increase segregation; I want it to be integrated. I want members to attend and learn from each other and be part of the conversation. Without that, we’ll never grow.”