Cécilia Rodhe, Co-Founder & President
Cécilia Rodhe is an artist and certified expressive art therapist who has spent more than two decades sculpting, She has had exhibitions at many prestigious galleries in New York, Paris, Stockholm and Geneva. All of her sculptures express the dichotomy of strength and fragility that is at the very center of what it is to be human.
Cécilia’s professional career began as model at the age of fourteen. After winning the title of Miss Sweden in 1978, she moved to New York for the first time and signed a contract with the Elite Agency. At age of 45, she went back to school to further her education as an expressive art therapist, receiving her certificate in the creative art therapy program at the New School for Social Research.
In 2010, Cécilia co-founded NAF alongside her son, Joakim. She personally created the “Expression from the Inside for Kids®” art program, which allows children to express how they feel by creating sculptures from clay. Cécilia believes that when young people are presented with a range of emotions, and then shown how to apply those concepts to their clay, they learn how to sculpt not only what they see – but also what they feel.
Under Cécilia’s direction and guidance, NAF launched the Drop of Consciousness™ movement to promote peace, unity and positive change in Chicago. The symbol of the movement is the Drop of Consciousness™ pendant, based on a sculpture of the same name created by Cecilia nearly two decades ago. The Drop of Consciousness™ represents the tears and strength of the mothers who have lost children to gun violence, and those who wear it pledge to take a stand against violence.
Joakim Noah, Co-Founder
Joakim Noah was born in New York City on February 25, 1985. A third-generation athlete, the fiery center of the New York Knicks (formerly of the Chicago Bulls) has become renown for his unstoppable passion, tireless energy and relentless work ethic – both on and off the court.
After experiencing success at both the high school and collegiate levels – including two consecutive National Championships with the Florida Gators – Joakim was selected as the ninth overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft by the six-time NBA Champion Chicago Bulls. He played a key role as "the man in the middle” night after night at the United Center, and propelled the Bulls to seven consecutive playoff appearances. In 2016, Joakim realized a childhood dream to play in his hometown on the New York Knicks. Joakim is a two-time All Star, and was named the Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year in 2014.
For Joakim, giving back to the community is a priority and is something he has been committed to since early in his career. He is passionate about the well-being, emotional development and physical safety of children, so he founded Noah’s Arc Foundation in 2010 with his mother, Cecilia Rodhe.
Joakim is incredibly active within the foundation, developing strong relationships with the children, teens and young adults who participate in the art and sports programs. He also is a huge advocate for peace in Chicago, and works diligently to facilitate programs and events that encourage young people to reduce violence in their communities. In recognition of his community efforts, Joakim was named the winner of the February 2015 NBA Cares Community Assist Award and was selected as the recipient of the 2015 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award.
Anna-Claire Whitehead, Executive Director
Anna-Claire Whitehead joined the Noah’s Arc Foundation as Executive Director in January 2017. She is a results-driven non-profit leader who is eager to build positive and effective relationships with stakeholders to effect positive change and drive outcomes. As Executive Director, Anna-Claire works to expand NAF’s programs and partnerships in support of our youth and movement for unity, peace, and positive change.
Prior to joining NAF, Anna-Claire served as Managing Director of External Affairs for the national youth mentoring non-profit Spark. During her time at Spark, Anna-Claire formed a relationship with NAF when three of her program participants created the Shoot Hoops Not Guns campaign. After witnessing the youth take the #RockYourDrop pledge and seeing how inspired they were by the moment, she felt deeply connected to NAF’s mission which led to her joining the team.
Anna-Claire began her career in Washington, DC, working closely with national, political and business leaders. She is a native Washingtonian with deep family ties to New York. Anna-Claire is a graduate of James Madison University in Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs and is completing a Business Foundations Specialization from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Cobe Williams, Director
Ricardo “Cobe” Williams serves as NAF's Community Director in addition to his role with Cure Violence. Cobe’s passion for helping and mentoring urban youth has enabled him to make a significant impact through his work with NAF, including the co-creating of the NAF Stand UP League.
Mikey Davis, Coordinator
Michael "Lil Mikey" Davis serves as NAF's Community Coordinator in addition to his role with B.A.M. Working with Joakim Noah and NAF has been transformational for not only the youth but for Mikey as well witnessing the compassion and care for Chicago's young people.