Cecilia 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.
Cecilia’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, Cecilia 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. Cecilia 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 Cecilia’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 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.
Cobe Williams, community director
Cobe is a crucial part to the Noah's Arc Foundation mission in addition to his important work with Cure Violence spreading peace across the globe. Cobe is a co-creator with Noah's Arc Foundation leadership of many sports and community outreach programs, and is a champion of the Rock Your Drop: Drop of Consciousness movement.
Mikey Davis, community coordinator
Mikey is an integral part of Noah's Arc Foundation and has taken on a leadership role in co-developing the sports curriculum. In addition to his work with Noah's Arc Foundation, Mikey is a celebrated youth counselor with Youth Guidance's Becoming A Man program. His warm and caring energy inspires and motivates all who have the pleasure of working with him.
Cobe Williams, Community Outreach Director
Ricardo “Cobe” Williams works as a national trainer for Cure Violence, selected as one of the top 10 NGOs by Global Journal in 2013. Cobe travels the globe and the US training violence interrupters in mediation and conflict resolution strategies for Cure Violence.
Cobe began his career with CeaseFire Illinois, the Cure Violence partner organization in Chicago as a violence interrupter in Englewood on Chicago’s south side. His work and personal journey was chronicled in the 2011 award-winning film “The Interrupters” which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011 and aired on PBS’ FRONTLINE in January, 2012 as a two-hour special. The film was selected by New Yorker magazine, Chicago Tribune, Entertainment Weekly and the LA Times as one of the best films of 2011. One film critic wrote that the work of Cobe and the others profiled in the film is “heroically life affirming.” Another termed it “inspiring.”
Cobe has made scores of public appearances to discuss the film with non-profit and public groups throughout the US and abroad. He has received the “Hero Award” from former Illinois governor Pat Quinn and was recognized by the Mayor of Milwaukee, University of Illinois at Chicago and Chicago State University for his work. He has spoken at various forums including at the U.S. Capitol, the United Nations, the American Bar Association and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, as well as at numerous colleagues and universities including Notre Dame, Iowa, Loyola, University of Chicago and NEIU. Cobe has also spoken with high school students and residents at juvenile detention centers around the country, as he has a passion for mentoring urban youth.
Growing up in Englewood, a south side community in Chicago long-associated with poverty and street-violence, Cobe’s father was murdered when he was 11 years old. His loss had a profound impact on Cobe, who went on to emulate his father’s lifestyle. As a young man, Cobe was imprisoned three separate times for drug-related charges and attempted murder. During his final stay, he made a decision that he wanted and needed to be there for his own young son. In 2007, soon after his release, he was hired by CeaseFire Illinois as a violence interrupter. Cobe’s passion for helping and mentoring urban youth has enabled him to make a significant impact through CeaseFire Illinois and Cure Violence nationally and internationally. He is now one of three Cure Violence trainers who deploy globally to train new violence interrupters and outreach workers at Cure Violence partner program sites throughout the world.
He is married and lives in a Chicago surburb with his wife Andrea, a nurse, and their four children.
Board of Directors
Joakim Noah, Co-Founder
New York Knicks
Two-Time NBA All-Star & 2014 Defensive Player of the Year
Cecilia Rodhe, Co-Founder & President
Sculptor, Art Therapist / Instructor
Interested in donating your time & talent to create positive change in our community?
On an ongoing basis, we are looking for:
Artists & coaches who want to bring their talent into schools to inspire kids
Undergraduate & graduate students who are interested in getting involved with research related to arts, sports, policy, program evaluation, & education
Email email@example.com & tell us why you want to get involved.
Art Program Intern
Do you want to use your creative talents to create positive change? NAF's Art Program Intern opportunity may be right for you!
Research & Evaluation Intern
Are you interested in making data-driven improvements to youth programming? NAF is seeking a Research & Evaluation Intern to help build and implement our program evaluation model.
Are you a professional or hobby photographer looking to use your talent for a good cause? NAF is looking for volunteer photographers to help capture programming in Chicago and New York.
SquareSpace Website Designer
Do you have a passion for building beautiful websites? NAF is looking for a SquareSpace website designer to help take our sight to the next level!