Meet Alesha HenleyOur curtain opens on today’s member highlight, Alesha Henley, the senior managing director of the Center of Creative Arts—or COCA—a national leader in arts education. As senior managing director, Alesha is responsible for all internal functions including marketing, operations, and human resources. Even though she doesn’t have children of her own, she is passionate about children—she believes that children are our future and that art is a fundamental part of a child’s development.
Over the recent years, COCA has grown rapidly as an organization. Recently, they went through an extensive and in-depth process to examine the structure of the organization to be in a better position to support and grow COCA to its full potential. Alesha works daily supporting her team of 35 staff and 200 teaching artists to embrace the changes that result from the new structure and roles, empowering them to continue their work in building a collaborative culture.
In addition to her work with COCA, Alesha runs a marketing consulting firm, A Dose of Insight, in which she helps small businesses create their marketing strategy. She’s also in the midst of contributing a chapter in a book on overcoming systemic racism. The working title of her chapter is “Banishing the Myth – “I’m Not Good Enough.” Her lived experience has included obstacles along her career path where she was told that she wasn’t ready or wasn’t “good enough” to take on the next career challenge. Her own soul searching helped her determine that, in fact, she was good enough and a door being closed meant another one was soon to open. It’s a classic “is it them or is it me?” question. Through her contribution to the book, she hopes to share some of the stories that helped her move forward as an African American woman.
Alesha sits on the board of The Glass Slipper Project, a Chicago-based organization that helps young women attend their proms in style, and the board of St. Louis Black Repertory Company. In addition to being on these boards, she volunteers at RUNG for Women. In 2020, she was awarded the St. Louis Diverse Business Leader Award, and in 2019, the Legacy Award from the National Council of Negro Women.
Alesha was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and spent much of her adult life in Chicago. She is married, loves to read (particularly the kind of books that provide a complete escape from reality), bike, and enjoys a good happy hour with friends.
Alesha’s recommendation: don’t compare your behind-the-scenes with others’ highlight reels! - Pastor Steve Furtick Jr.