Cat Willis is the founder and director of the Tannery World Dance and Cultural Center located in Santa Cruz/San Francisco Bay
Area. She is originally from Rochester, N.Y., where she began her dance education with Garth Fagan Dance, with whom she studied extensively for six years. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Dance from SUNY Brockport. Cat serves on the Arts Council of Santa Cruz Grants Advisory Committee, the Arts Council of Santa Cruz grants panel, Friends of Santa Cruz County Parks Advisory Committee, and was the 418 Project’s 2009 Artist in Residence and the Theatre Bay Area’s CA$H grant recipient in Dance. She received the 2014 Gail Rich Award for her excellence in arts leadership in Santa Cruz County. Her cross cultural studies in dance have led her to the Caribbean and West Africa and she currently lectures at the Edna Manley School of Visual and Performing Arts in Kingston, Jamaica.
Ms. Willis is a skilled leader with a passion for bringing together communities through the arts. Her leadership has grown the Tannery World Dance Center from a fledgling start-up to a half million dollar budget over eight years through steadily building partnerships, providing a cultural hub for the community, and developing strategic policies alongside the board that were sustainable and relevant to the needs of the community. Her dedication to equity and access to resources and expanded platforms for artists continuous to lead her through her life’s work.