Don Harrell

Adjunct Professor of Arts and Humanities

About Me:
I have a professional career that includes significant experience as an administrator, educator, arts organization executive board member producer, director, performing artist, and arts activist. My work is and has been aimed at using education as a primary tool in the effort to eradicate racism and other types of oppression. I am co-founder of Orisirisi African Folklore- an awe inspiring African adventure rooted in the history, culture, and traditions of Africa, inclusive of folktales, legends, and myths, spirited drumming, dance and song, children’s games, lectures on special topics, and a healthy dose of the obligatory African tradition of audience participation. The nationally and internationally acclaimed performing arts and educational initiative was founded in 1986, with the expressed purpose of sharing the beauty and poignancy of African and African American life and culture.

Since inception the company has provided its unique brand of folklore, for countless people from a vast array of demographics and cultural specific backgrounds at primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, festivals, churches, libraries, museums, conferences, corporate and teacher in-services, television and radio programs, theme parks, and special events, while exhibiting an unwavering commitment to the needs of the individual, the group, the community, and society at large.

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Master of Arts in African Area Studies, With emphasis on African and African-American Music Culture, and Theatre Arts, 1983

University of Ghana, Legon, UCLA Graduate Research Fellow, With emphasis on African Music, Dance, and Oral Traditions August 1982-December 1982

Peoples College of Law, Los Angeles, Ca.
Emphases on Torts, Criminal, and Contract Law

Union College, Schenectady, New York, Bachelor of Arts in American Studies, With emphasis on Psychology, Political Science, and African-American Culture,1975

Norfolk State University, Norfolk, Va. Psychology Major with emphasis on human growth and development

Teaching Positions

Valencia College, 2014-prresent, Adjunct Faculty of African American Humanities,

University of Central Florida, Africana Studies Program 2011-Present Adjunct Professor Courses: Evolution of Hip-Hop, Introduction to Africana Studies, and Black Intellectual Experience

Columbia College, Department of Dance 1998-1999 Artist-in-Resident, Taught African Dance and Drumming, and produced and directed a culminating performance.

Coastal Carolina University, Department of Theatre Arts 1994-1998 Adjunct Professor Courses: Music of Africa, African-American Music, African Drumming and Dance, and Meeting the Needs of African-American Males

Awards and Affiliations Florida Alliance for Arts Education, 2003- Present National Association of Black Storytellers, 2001- Present Alternate Roots, Executive Committee, 1997- Present Union College U.N.I.T.A.S. Diversity and Community Award, 2012 Walt Disney Company Diversity Award, 2006 UCLA African-American Student Association Graduate Fellow Award

1984 Publications and Productions “Narratives of the Eatonville Storytellers,” (Orisirisi African Folklore and Florida Department of Cultural Affairs, Department of Historical Preservation, 2012); “Orisirisi Moonlight Stories” (Orisirisi African Folklore, 1998); “Orisirisi Drum Sermons” (Orisirisi African Folklore, 2007); “A Different Image,” Motion Picture Soundtrack (Alile Productions, 1982

Select Artistic Efforts "In The Field":
African Drumming Instructor, Boys and Girls Club of Central Florida 2012-Present Teaches African drumming, and provide African folklore to students participating in middle school cultural enrichment programs around in Orange County Public Schools. Performing Artist/Arts Educator, Bach Festival Society of Winter Park Fresh Starts 2009-Present Provides African Folklore performances in public schools and libraries for the organization’s cultural outreach program. Artist-in-Resident, Brevard Cultural Alliance 2009-Present Provides long term arts education programs in public school or youth-centered community organizations in Brevard County, Florida. Performing Artist/Arts Educator, Orange County Arts Education Center 2009- 2013 Provided African Folklore performances in elementary, middle, and high schools in Orange County, Florida for the organizations cultural outreach programs in participation with Orlando Magic sponsored Magic Journey to the Arts Program. Performing Artist/Arts Educator, Young Artists of Virginia 2008-present Provides African Folklore performances in public schools and libraries for the organization’s cultural outreach program. Performing Artist/Arts Educator, Walt Disney World Entertainment 2008-present Serves as a performing arts resource for the companies Special Programs Performing Artist/Arts Educator, Walt Disney World Magic Music Days 2001-2008 Provided African Folklore Performances for the companies outreach program in public schools in Orange, Osceola, Polk, and Lake Counties Performing Artist/Arts Educator, Walt Disney World Entertainment 2000-2008 Produced and performed in “Orisirisi Traditional African Folklore” an atmosphere attraction at Walt Disney World’s EPCOT Center World Pavilion. Performing Artist/Arts Educator, South Carolina Arts Commission 1987-Present Serves as an artist-in-resident and performing artist in support of the organizations Artist-in Residence, Arts in Basic Curriculum, and Gifted and Talented Programs

Additional Employment History
Chief Executive Officer, Orisirisi African Folklore 1986-Present Serve as administrator, producer, director, and performer for an arts education and performing arts company. Executive Director, Malcolm X Community Center, Los Angeles, CA 1980-1982 Conducted all administrative duties associated with the operation of a community arts center. Counselor, Volunteers of America Upward Bound, Los Angeles, CA 1977-1979 Provided counseling for unserved youth, with the goal of helping them prepare for and obtain higher education opportunities. Teacher Chesapeake Public Schools, Chesapeake, VA 1975-1977 Developed and implemented a social studies curriculum for students in an alternative learning environment. Assistant Director, Union College Upward Bound, Schenectady, NY 1973-1975 Conducted administrative, supervisory, and counseling duties for a federally-funded compensatory education program.




By Appointment