Kendra Janelle Ross, PhD
Kendra has spent a good portion of her life immersed in music. This was inevitable given that she was born into a family of preachers, musicians, and singers. She grew up singing in church, all the while engaging in debates with her maternal grandfather, a revered pastor and civil rights activist in Youngstown, OH, about issues of the day and the role of the church in social justice movements. Through these conversations, Kendra became fully aware of the power of reaching the masses through unconventional means. Her love of music led her down a path of not only recording and performing as a solo artist and alongside many internationally renowned artists. She is also widely acknowledged as a seasoned and insightful music business professional and sought after facilitator, having developed workshops aimed at providing independent artists with a guide to navigating the music business.
Kendra’s story is unique because of the immense talent that she displayed in the recording studio and on stage complimented by her skills in the corporate entertainment boardroom; skills cultivated as an undergraduate student in Music Business and Technology at New York University. This business acumen led to her spending nearly twenty years at the Universal Music Group, most recently serving as the Director of Label Process Operations. During her tenure there, Kendra obtained master's degrees in Liberal Studies and Anthropology at Brooklyn College and The New School, respectively. Fully equipped with education and experience, she knew it was time for the next chapter of her life.
Kendra recently completed her PhD in Community Engagement and is currently an Assistant Professor of Sports, Arts, and Entertainment Management in the Rowland School of Business at Point Park University. In addition to teaching and researching, she is a partner with ACT3 Consulting Partners, LLC, a firm specializing in arts/culture, community and technology-driven projects focusing on community development and engagement, event management, communication technology, entertainment production, and diversity and inclusion for local clients such as Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, Macedonia Family and Community Enrichment Center, UniSound and McAuley Ministries. Through ACT3, Kendra is able to fully integrate everything that matters most to her: the arts, education, cultural awareness, and social justice. Her work as co-chair of #ArtsInHD, a collective of artists in Pittsburgh's historic Hill District community, also allows her to engage all of these aspects.
After taking a hiatus to focus on completing her studies, Kendra has not loss sight of her first love: to tell stories through her art. A recent collaboration with multimedia artist Lori Hepner manifested into a live performance art project known as Hepner & Ross in Intersection*ology. A feminist exploration into the power of women, technology, and individual voices, Kendra created and performed the soundscape to complement the real‑time light painting system developed by Hepner used to draw with light using their bodies. Intersection*ology has been awarded grants by the Heinz Endowments, the 2018 Carnegie International, and The Opportunity Fund. It has been performed at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture and Kelly Strayhorn Theater’s Alloy Studios in Pittsburgh, PA, the International Symposium on Electronic Art in Durban, South Africa, the InLight Richmond Festival in Richmond, Virginia, and the Luminaria Festival in San Antonio, Texas.
In addition to leading change within organizations and communities, and producing her own creative and scholarly projects, Kendra’s ultimate goal is to help other creatives find balance as they navigate life. She hopes to model a life of varied experiences and to inspire others to know that it is not necessary to solely follow one path. Life is chock full of possibilities and is meant to be lived joyously.