TAHIRA, an award-winning storyteller, performing and teaching artist, is dedicated to inspiring and empowering youth through storytelling and music. She is nationally-recognized for her multiple talents and unique ability to give students a blended experience of scholarship and performance art.

As a teaching artist with Young Audiences Arts for Learning, TAHIRA’s is highly sought after for her assemblies, residencies and teacher professional learning workshops. TAHIRA has led the development and implementation of United We Create, a suite of programs designed to use the arts as a school-based intervention to educate, connect, and raise awareness about Islamic culture throughout the world. She also serves as an arts integration and arts enhancement consultant for the Creativity Consultant Project.  A lifetime member of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. TAHIRA is the 2020 recipient of their highest award for service, the Linda Jenkins Brown Nia Award.

TAHIRA says she has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Her childhood passion for words has led to her mission to use storytelling and music to empower young people to think critically, choose wisely, and believe fervently in their ability to succeed. She spells her name with all capital letters as a reminder of the enormous responsibility she has to use her gifts to be of service to her community.

“My great joy is seeing how storytelling sparks the imagination and nurtures all parts of the human experience. It enables young people to connect with each other and the world around them but most importantly it is a vehicle for them to see themselves and honor their unique voices and perspectives. This award affirms for me that my work as an artist and arts advocate is valued. I am so grateful for Young Audiences Arts for Learning for providing me with immeasurable opportunities to use my talents to positively impact the lives of New Jersey’s youth.”



The Governor’s Awards in Arts Education began in 1980 to promote awareness and appreciation of the arts, recognizing the creativity, talent and leadership of the award winners. Each year, awards are presented to approximately 20 educators and 80 students. National and statewide organizations select the students for their exemplary work in creative writing, speech, dance, music, theatre and visual arts and the leaders for their exceptional commitment and contribution to arts education. The program also recognizes arts educators and arts education advocates, whose leadership has helped nurture the development of students in the arts across the state.

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The Governor’s Awards event is a partnership of the Arts Ed NJ, the Department of Education, Art Pride New Jersey Foundation, the Department of State and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Additional support is provided by: the Afro-Academic, Cultural, Technological and Scientific Olympics; Art Educators of New Jersey; Art Administrators of New Jersey; Dance New Jersey; New Jersey Council of Teachers of English; New Jersey Speech and Debate League; New Jersey Music Educators Association; New Jersey Performing Arts Center; Writer's Theatre of New Jersey; Speech and Theatre Association of New Jersey; New Jersey Thespians and Young Audiences of New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania. The cooperating organizations, award sponsors and individual members of the planning council dedicate their time to make sure that excellence in the arts is rewarded, and work tirelessly throughout the year to plan this special event. The Governor's Awards in Arts Education ceremony are a major collaborative effort of the arts, education and state government.