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Krystal Ngene

Executive Director

Dada Krystal Ngene (pronounced n-ghen-nee) embraces her culture, authenticity, and life challenges to bring about learning opportunities and growth while using her passion, experience, and expertise to serve as a catalyst for positive change. As our Executive Director, Dada Krystal brings her understanding of the interconnectedness of the lives of people, and her strength in facilitating the connection of diverse groups of people that allows for the cross-pollination of ideas and unlikely sparks of enthusiasm, to foster an environment of unparalleled creativity and community for Kúkátónón.
Dada Krystal comes to Kúkátónón from the City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services, where she was responsible for program development and project management of the Bureau’s recruitment and hiring program from trainings and outreach strategies, to the coordination of new employee hire processes. In that position, Dada Krystal used an equity-focused lens and led the development and implementation of proactive diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Prior to her work at the Bureau, Dada Krystal worked at Ronald McDonald House Charities, Roger Williams Medical Center, The Therapy Collaborative, and Sunshine House.
Dada Krystal has a Master’s degree in Social Work from Portland State University (specializing in community-based practice and racial equity work), and a B.S. Ed. in Learning and Organizational Change from Northwestern University.
Joining Kúkátónón is also a personal commitment for Dada Krystal and her family. “We understand that the African and African American communities have a need that society in a larger context has not been able to meet. It is important that our communities and children have a safe place that encourages and instills a great sense of pride, confidence and education of our culture. Kúkátónón is critical in addressing this need. It also allows for our communities to create their own narrative and tell our own stories to counteract and educate mainstream society. This will help to create a more informed society that will benefit generations to come.”
Dada Krystal enjoys spending time with her husband, Baba David, a designer at Nike; 2 year old son; and mother, Lisa. She loves sports, especially fútbol, hanging with her ‘Mamaz’ group and is a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’. She is also a member of the international, historically Black sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

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Dana Shephard

Artistic Program Manager

Dada Dana’s past experience as a Director of a performing company and a member of several others, has broadened her artistic vision and creativity, especially on stage. Dada Dana is committed to creating the best performance for our patrons while assuring that everything is functioning behind the scenes.  Dada Dana coordinates and schedules our rehearsals and performances throughout the year, she is the main point of contact for those looking to book Kúkátónón, our members and their families.   While doing much of the communications and coordination necessary, she is also one of the Kúkátónón dance teachers.  You can find her bio under Teaching Artists.


Lily Burnett

Operations Manager


If you have attended a Kúkátónón event, made a donation, or emailed in a question about Kúkátónón, chances are you have met Dada Lily Burnett. Dada Lily has been Kúkátónón’s Operations Manager since August 2016 and is responsible for running our office, helping with development and marketing, writing and managing our grants, and working directly with our Executive Director, Artistic Program Manager, and Board of Directors to ensure that Kúkátónón’s operations run smoothly and efficiently.

Dada Lily grew up in Los Angeles, CA where she herself took dance, music, and theater classes from a young age. Dada Lily studied Theater Arts at the University of California, Santa Cruz where she earned her BA before moving to Portland, OR. She has been here for 6 years now and has worked with many local, arts-focused nonprofits such as: Vanport Mosaic Festival, The Color of NOW, Cerimon House, and BodyVox.

Dada Lily is very excited to work with Kúkátónón and to help the organization grow and succeed!