R. Kimberly Grigsby
Ignition Community Glass (ICG) Executive Director
Juris Doctorate Degree, 1997
Howard University School of Law
Bachelor’s of Arts Degree, 1994
Spelman College, Political Science
Redefining Possible is what Kim has done her whole career. Educated as an attorney, Kim practiced nationally as a litigator for many years before redefining what was possible for herself. Kim looked to serve the people in the most needed communities, opting for a life outside of the courtroom she looked to draw from her experiences and share them with others who were less fortunate. Kim found that most community development was created in silos, and she looked to break the mold by creating public and private partnerships to help elevate the standards for the residents in the most significantly impacted neighborhoods.
Kim specializes in working with and for community nonprofit organizations which are unique. Some of her most interesting projects included leading the Step IT Up America program in Chicago and the Midwest where she led a team who took inner city minority women in Chicago, trained them in information technology careers and placed them at Fortune 500 companies, resulting in more than 150 new jobs for diverse talent in the greater Chicagoland area. She then led the Chicago Community ToolBank where she supplied high quality hand and power tools to neighborhoods and organizations to support their efforts to do charitable work around the Chicagoland area.
From there, Kim pivoted and started working in the arts where she led transformation efforts with Ensemble Español Spanish Dance Theater, one of the oldest and largest Spanish Dance company in the United States. Dance and visual arts come very natural to Kim as she is the oldest great granddaughter of Vaudeville/Tap legends The Whitman Sisters and the oldest granddaughter of visual artist and arts educator, Jefferson Eugene Grigsby, Jr. Kim’s strong ties to the arts community spurred her to found the Grigsby-Whitman Foundation, a nonprofit geared to preserving the artistic legacy in her family.
In her continued drive to Redefining Possible, Kim has taken the helm of the Ignition Community Glass (ICG), a Chicago youth nonprofit whose mission is to provide opportunities for arts impacted communities to be exposed to, experience, and be transformed by glass blowing and the glass arts. Kim explained, “Growing up in a family where art is the norm provided an appreciation and creative outlet for emotional growth. Art offers a small glimpse into the world of what we are feeling. Art is immersive, impacted by our environment and our experiences and is both public and private at the same time. Art is historical, in the moment and futuristic. Art is an expression of our humanity and art is healing. As we move forward at Ignition Community Glass, we plan to provide greater access to these artistic opportunities for arts impacted people. As an expensive artform, glass blowing, and glass arts are not commonly offered to disenfranchised neighborhoods. Ignition Community Glass will be redefining possible by making this unique form of art more accessible to all communities, particularly minority and disadvantaged communities.”
Never one who is happy with what is, Kim always sees the possibilities of what can be. Kim constantly is pushing the limits of her personal abilities. Kim has been, and continues to be, a resource for big business and community organizations that help to redefine what it means to support, give, affect and make possible what is often thought to be impossible.