Lauren Testa is an operations specialist with over a decade of experience in events and non-profit arts management, focused in community-based practice. She joined The Flea in May 2022 to strengthen their growing rentals program in alignment with The Flea’s Mission & Values. As a naturally curious individual, Lauren is excited by new ideas and working collaboratively to find innovative and equitable solutions.
Lauren joins The Flea after seven years in operations, event management and venue rentals at BRIC, a multi-disciplinary public art center located in Brooklyn. Prior to that she co-directed an artist-founded organization, Artists Alliance Inc. where she managed exhibitions and events at Cuchifritos Gallery + Project Space, was responsible for reestablishing AAI’s visual artist residency program within The Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center and developed community engagement initiatives throughout the Lower East Side. She currently serves on the AAI Board of Directors.
Lauren holds a BA in Art History from SUNY College at Purchase and was a participant in NYFA’s Emerging Leadership Program.
Erica provides general management and/or financial services to various non-profit organizations including The Flea Theater, the american vicarious, Space on Ryder Farm, Target Margin Theater and Caborca, and is a member of the Board of Directors of The Builders Association.
Yordhy Herrera joined The Flea full time in 2022 as Facilities Manager after over 4 years of operations and technical experience. He studied mechanical engineering, automotive repair and service, and holds certifications in construction safety, scaffolding, and automotive service excellence.
Yordhy is passionate about visual design, solving challenging problems, fixing hardware, and cooking (try his patacón!). Yordhy lives in Queens with his dog, Joey.
Martin Meccouri is a creative producer who comes to The Flea with over a decade of experience working in the performing arts. He has worked in various artistic, programmatic, fundraising, and educational capacities at Fine Arts Center at UMass Amherst, Amherst College, Random Access Theatre Company, La Jolla Playhouse, UCSD (Outstanding Contribution to Undergraduate Instruction in Theatre & Dance Award), The Classical Theatre of Harlem and most recently, Theatre Communications Group.
Martin is passionate about risky artistic work, unlikely collaborations, intercultural and multilingual aesthetics, and facilitating opportunities for emerging artists. He believes in strengths-based leadership and is a Gallup-certified executive coach and organizational consultant in the CliftonStrengths(c) assessment model.
He holds a BFA from Emerson College (summa cum laude), an MA from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and an MFA from UCSD.
Niegel is a theater director and performance artist who sculpts social spaces into unique communal environments where we make new rituals, excavate our pasts and imagine future narratives. His theater work has been produced by Classical Theatre of Harlem, HERE Arts Center, Hip Hop Theatre Festival, Magic Theatre, New York Fringe Festival, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, The Public Theater, Summer Play Festival and Todd Theatre, and his walks have been produced by Abrons Arts Center, American Realness, Dartmouth College, Elastic City, Jack, The New Museum, Prelude Festival, PS 122, the Van Alen Institute and Visual AIDS. He often collaborates with artist Todd Shalom. Together, they conceive and stage interactive performances in public and private environments.
Smith was the associate director of the Tony Award winning musical FELA! – restaging that production in London, Lagos and its world tour, assistant directed the off-broadway production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and both the broadway and off-broadway productions of Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change. He has worked on the artistic staffs of The Public Theater, Trinity Repertory Company and Providence Black Rep. He is a 35th Anniversary Artist-in-Residence at Second Stage Theatre and the Associate Artistic Director of Elastic City.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Smith has received grants and fellowships from Theater Communications Group, Tucker Foundation, and Van Lier Fund. Before surviving high school in Detroit, he grew up in the North Carolina piedmont, fishing with his dad, shopping with his mom and inventing tall-tale fantasies with his two younger brothers.
Renee K. Smith joined the team at the Flea as the Interim Executive Director in June 2022. As a strategist she believes that everyone can manifest their dreams by creating a strategy that encompasses the right people at the right time. Her tenure as a nonprofit leader, thought partner and manager has led her to develop systems to increase transparency, accessibility and efficiency using technology and the passion of an organization’s human resources. During her tenure she has served in various capacities at various organizations including Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy where she had been on staff for 16 years. She continues to use her skills in operations, communications, digital strategy, fundraising, program design and community engagement to assist organizations and small businesses with creating systems to reach their desired outcomes.
As an artist and entrepreneur, Renee has traveled, performed and presented around the world in countries including Prague, Italy, London, France, Cuba, Brazil, Guinea, Senegal, Ghana, Benin, Jamaica to name a few. As a cultural curator, Renee has presented virtually and in person, produced music videos, performances and events and created global opportunities for communities of the African diaspora to come together to learn, celebrate and heal through the annual conference Grand Rising Summer Solstice Summit.
This Brooklyn native is also the proud owner of Akika Flower Essence & Apothecary, a wellness practice that uses plant intelligence to cultivate healing and transformation for individuals and our collective consciousness through flower essence infused products, consultations and a reconnection with indigenous cultural practices as stewards of the Earth.
Renee holds a Master’s degree in Nonprofit Management/Social Entrepreneurship from The Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy, New School University; a Bachelor’s degree from Hunter College in Dance Education and Early Childhood Education; a certificate of completion from the Non-Profit Middle Management Program at Columbia University and the Executive Leadership Program sponsored by Community Resource Exchange (CRE).