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.
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.
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.”
Krystal enjoys spending time with her husband, David, a designer ; 3 year old son; and mother, Lisa. She loves sports, especially fútbol, hanging with her ‘Mamaz Tribe’ group and is a self-proclaimed ‘foodie’. She is also a member of the international, historically Black sorority, Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.
Danielle is a passionate humanist, a proud advocate, and a true believer in justice and equality for all. At Portland State University, Dada Danielle co-founded the re-creation of Black Student Union (BSU) in 2014 which still operates today. Additionally she served as a Director in ASPSU, Portland State’s student government where advocated space for people of color and worked to increase student voting. She was also a program coordinator for the Multicultural center/La Casa Latina and the founder the Caribbean Community Connection (C∛). Dada Danielle studied Health Sciences B.S. with focuses in Business and Black Studies.
After completing her studies at Portland State, Danielle sought a career abroad. She taught in Kuwait where she was responsible for teaching Art and English.
Never one to stray too far from her roots, during her time in Kuwait Danielle became a member of (LAPA LoYAC Hip-hop dance crew) where she performed at various events and ceremonies. During her time with the crew, her crew mates exposed her to East African, Indian and Arabian Hip-hop fused dance styles that showed the truly global reach of the genre. Upon returning back home Danielle continues to learn new cultures through dance.
Kayla Banks is passionate about the arts, community engagement and outreach for underserved communities. For her undergraduate degree she studied performing arts and business administration at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado. She also studied Spanish and culture with a Gilman Scholarship in the Atacama Desert and the capital city, Santiago in Chile.
She is a local performing artist who has studied West African dance, trained in modern and ballet and teaches dance in Portland. In February 2015 she premiered an Afro-contemporary dance piece called “Sankofa” for the New Visions Dance Festival in Colorado. She has danced professionally in New York, Colorado and Oregon.
Kayla believes that each child and adult can reach their full potential through community support, instillment of confidence and the right resources. As the Program Coordinator she hopes to build the Kúkátónón program into all that it can achieve by meeting the community’s needs and spreading the culture of dance, especially African Dance as an uplifting experience for all.