Felecia Gaston

Executive Director, Performing Stars of Marin

Executive Director, Performing Stars of Marin
February 18, 2010 1:33:07 PM PST
This native of Georgia-turned-Marinite for the past quarter of a century takes great pride in the day of her birth - December 1, 1955, the moment in history that Rosa Parks, a brave black women in Montgomery, Alabama, defied tradition and decades of segregation by refusing to let a white person take her seat on a bus. Felecia Gaston founded Performing Stars of Marin in 1990, which is a multi-faceted organization that has evolved naturally and efficiently over the years.

Performing Stars' mission is to build pride, character, discipline and self-esteem through exposure to and participation in the art. Felecia Gaston founded Performing Stars in 1990. Since that time this non-profit has helped thousands of children who are underserved due to economic and social barriers to access professional training in dance, and music, obtain social skills and various enrichment opportunities.

The programs that Performing Stars have organized for the children from the ages 3 to 16 are numerous and include various professional dance classes, music, TV and radio training, etc. Every year 150 children are enrolled in these programs and successfully finish them. Due to its long history, the successes of Performing Stars are numerous. Just one of the examples is John Lam, who since the age of 4 years old had been a participant in the Performing Stars of Marin and received a dance fellowship to the Boston Ballet from the Princess Grace Foundation in 2005 in New York in the presence of HSH Prince Albert of Monaco. Other children who attended the classes provided by Performing Stars became professional dancers, dance teachers and even Directors at the Universities.

The services provided by Performing Stars also include various events such as visits to museums, theatres, participation in sport events, coastal camps and so forth. All this helps the children to acquire not only the professional training, but also social skills, broaden their backgrounds and gain confidence in themselves.

Felecia Gaston has always wanted to transform children's lives, help them feel better about themselves and gain self-esteem. When Felecia was a child, she was denied her dream of becoming a ballerina. " "In Georgia I wanted to [take lessons] but I couldn't because of segregation." Because of this, when she founded Performing Stars in 1990 the first things offered to children were movies, plays and the ballet. "I am? living my life through them." ?Felecia Gaston introduces mostly minority children to, among other things, dance, art and etiquette?is a consummate fund-raiser, organizer of events and, by all accounts, a public-relations genius. She is a walking billboard for what's right with Marin City and what's needed to maintain it as a dynamic, evolving community with a unique historical past that should not only be remembered, but celebrated. She is enormously popular throughout Marin and has no bigger fan than Tom Peters, executive director of the Marin Community Foundation? Peters, who has called her "the one-woman powerhouse known as Felecia Gaston," says she "is a leader and a teacher who matches passion with results." " (Retrieved from Pacific Sun. Feature: City of women. By Don Speich, November 23, 2007).

As Performing Stars is a non-profit, it is always challenging to make sure that the organization has enough financial resources. But due to leadership and enthusiasm of Ms. Gaston, Performing Stars has ensured its sustainability and is actively searching for partners, applying for various donations, grants and is organizing fundraising events. To add to this, the former students, who attended the programs at Performing Stars when they were children, come back and provide their support as well. All this proves that this non-profit is successful and that there is a need in these services.

The Executive Director of Performing Stars, Felecia Gaston, is a natural leader that inspires people to go and do everything possible to achieve their goals. It is due to her leadership and enthusiasm that this organization has been successful for 19 years. First of all, having overcome the difficulties in her own life, Felecia has tried to help others and to serve as a role model for the children who are underserved due to economic and social barriers. Felecia mentioned "? when I get older I will be able to say I am happy with what I have done, the lives that I've changed."

Felecia's latest success in leadership is forming a new organization- the Phoenix Project of Marin. It is a potent, new community connections center in the 200 Lot of Drake Avenue in Marin City. This is the vulnerable heart of our Marin City village, and Phoenix Project is developing a wide range of compassionate, preventative, intervention-centered, results-oriented programs to meet the challenges facing our Marin City youth in today's economic times. It is due to Felecia's inspiration, enthusiasm and persistence that this project has acquired so many partners (among them Marin Housing Authority, Project Impact, Marin County Probation Department, Marin County Public Defender's Office, the Marin County Sheriff's Department, Marin County District Attorney Office, California Mentor Foundation, Marin City Community Development Corporation, Marin County Board of Supervisors and the Marin Community Foundation and others) and gained so much support from the community.

In addition to her civic work, Felecia has been freelance writer and has written for the New Bay View Newspaper, the Sun Reporter and the Marin Independent Journal. She has penned two publications, Gaston's Guide to Ethnic Cuisine in the Bay Area and Gaston's Guide to African American Establishments in Northern California. Felecia has also promoted and produced many events in the Bay Area, by volunteering with the San Francisco Black Chamber of Commerce, Northern California Women in Film in Television, where she coordinated several events - featuring Spike Lee, on his student film "Joe's Bedstuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads" and a A Tribute to Cicely Tyson. In Marin, she has produced a welcoming event for Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Bishop Desmond Tutu and A Tribute to the Original Tuskegee Airmen.

Her awards include the Bank of America- Business Award (1973), Daisy Award- Girls Scouts of America (1990), Marin Women's Hall of Fame (1999), Marin Human Rights Commission - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award (2002), and 2006 - Jefferson Award - KPIX, Channel 5. She also has been featured on television with a ABC7 Salutes by Cheryl Jennings, Anchor, KGO-TV (2006) and the Hallmark Channel-New Morning Television (2006).

Website: http://www.performingstars.org