Black History Month

Speaker Series

April Couch: It's never too late to do what you were born to do, an artist's journey

February 10, 2021 | WATCH THE RECORDING HERE

Join us for a virtual talk with local artist and owner of Totally Tangled Creations, April Couch. This talk will focus on how art reflects our world and how April’s connection to and perspective on recent and historic social issues impacts her art. Through her inspirational and interesting journey, April shares that it's never too late to do what you were born to do.


April Couch is a local artist, CZT, & owner of Totally Tangled Creations.

“As a graduate from Baldwin Wallace with a degree in Business Administration and Management, I spent 17 years in banking at FirstMerit Bank before deciding to stay home to raise my three children. After my children were all in school, I started working as a substitute teacher. If someone had told me even a year ago that I would someday be considered an artist, I would have thought it quite funny.

I am a self-taught Zentangle inspired artist, and Certified Zentangle Teacher. A Zentangle is a complicated drawing that is built one line at a time. Simple tangles, or patterns, are combined in an unplanned way that grow and change in unbelievable and amazing ways. Every piece, whether on paper, wood, metal, stones, ceramics, or the beach, are unbelievably detailed, unique and amazing works of art. What I love the most about this art form is that there are absolutely no creative limits or boundaries. Anything is possible one line at a time!

I started seriously pursuing my art in 2012 and fulltime in 2014. I am passionate about the Arts as well as mentoring and encouraging young people to pursue their artistic dreams. I am dedicated to ensuring that my art will support me when I can no longer do it. Therefore, I am always pushing the limits of what I can do with it.”

Dr. Donna M. Whyte: America, Race and Me

February 18, 2021 | WATCH THE RECORDING HERE

Dr. Whyte's lifelong commitment to racial equity has its roots in her mother's experience as a licensed pilot and Whyte's education in Cleveland Public Schools. She will share how some of her successes, failures, and experiences with racial equity for her and her children have shaped her life's work at Cleveland State University and involvement in the Shaker Heights community.


Dr. Donna McIntyre Whyte has a long career as a higher education professional in both administration and teaching at Cleveland State University. She is a native Clevelander, and graduate of Cleveland Public Schools. Moving to Shaker Heights in 1982, Whyte’s community involvement began as co-president of the Moreland Elementary School PTA. Subsequently, she is a former trustee of the Shaker Heights Board of Education and Shaker Heights Public Library Board, and currently serves on the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Committee. She spent most of her 28-year administrative career at CSU as director of the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs from which she retired in 2013. Since 2009, Whyte has been a part-time faculty member in the departments of history, comparative religion, black studies, and urban studies. Among her most popular courses are the Religious Ethics of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and Cleveland: The African-American Experience. In 2016-2017, she came out of retirement to serve as Interim Director of CSU’s Black Studies Program and Visiting Associate Professor.

She is a co-author of the 2016 book, Boycotts, Busing, and Beyond: The History & Implications of School Desegregation in the Urban North. Whyte has also held administrative positions at the University of California-Irvine, Temple University and The Ohio State University. Whyte is proudest of the achievements of her daughters, Miata Hunter, principal of Shaker Heights Middle School, and Mariama Whyte, singer, songwriter, and arts educator. Dr. Whyte holds a bachelor’s in Spanish and master’s in Adult Education from The Ohio State University, and Ph. D. in Social Policy History from Case Western Reserve University.

Director’s Desk: Representation, with guest Angel Chapman, Executive Director of NewONEShaker

February 21, 2021 | WATCH THE RECORDING HERE

The Shaker Historical Society has a treasure trove of objects and materials related to the North Union Shakers and Van Sweringen brothers, but what about the rest of Shaker Heights’ history? How can SHS properly serve our community if certain time periods, stories, and people aren’t represented in our collections?

Join Brianna Treleven, Executive Director of the Shaker Historical Society, and Angel Chapman, Executive Director of NewONEShaker, for an honest discussion about the lack of representation at SHS and the work NewONEShaker is doing to address gaps in equity and diversity in our community. Angel will also talk about upcoming opportunities and ways YOU can become involved in this important community work.


Angel Michelle Chapman serves as Executive Director for NewONEShaker, a community-based, nonprofit organization focused on creating relationships to help ensure equitable opportunities for Shaker students and families. Additionally, Ms. Chapman serves on the board of directors for the Shaker Heights Youth Center and in supportive leadership for Shaker PTO Council. Angel’s academic credentials include a law degree from Florida A&M University, and a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from North Carolina A&T State University. She is a Shaker Graduate and mom to five amazing adult children, three of whom are Shaker alumni.

Historic Preservation: How it all began and how it should end, or can it?

February 23, 2021 | 6pm | WATCH THE RECORDING HERE

Have you ever wondered why buildings in the same neighborhood can look so different? Join virtual guest speaker Crystal Montgomery as she discusses how historic preservation began as well as modern issues, including construction and additions and how a building design looks. Crystal will give examples of what is appropriate and what is not, and all attendees are encouraged to participate and express their opinion!


Crystal Montgomery is currently a Historic Preservation Specialist for Northrup Grumman at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio for the past eleven years. Before joining the NASA team, she worked with architectural firms in Cincinnati, Ohio after graduating from the University of Cincinnati with a six year Bachelors of Architecture degree and a certificate in Historic Preservation. Her love of historic preservation began in her home town of Shaker Heights, Ohio, but one firm in particular gave her a start with rehabilitation work on old commercial buildings. While in Cincinnati, she was a member of the Cincinnati Preservation Association and volunteered in support of their events. Upstairs Downstairs annual tour was the favorite. As a member of the American Institute of Architects, she became an Associate board member for two years creating learning events for the younger architects.

Additionally, she became a founding member of the National Organization of Minority Architects – NOMA CLE as the Secretary for three years and is currently the parliamentarian. In 2019 she became a trustee for the Cleveland Restoration Society and in 2020 became a member of the Landmark Commission of Shaker Heights.

Princeton Prize in Race Relations

The Princeton Prize in Race Relations, awarded based on leadership rather than academics, creates an opportunity to spend meaningful time with other youth leaders from communities all over the country. Winning students are those who take dynamic, sustained action to challenge their schools and communities in the name of racial equity, promoting respect and understanding among all Americans. This video captures the impact of the Symposium on Race for the winners.

The winner from every region nationwide attends a Symposium on Race, which will be held virtually this year in June. The recognition includes a cash prize ($1000) and a local ceremony, and often leads to network connections that students find invaluable as they develop their civic leadership for the long term. The Prize winner becomes part of a community that spans many age groups, all walks of life, and communities all over the country. The network in Cleveland is particularly strong, and winners get to know each other across the generations.

Applications for the Princeton Prize will be accepted from January 1st until March 1, 2021.

More information can be found on the Prize website,, including the link to the application itself.