Brooklyn’s Finest: Nitasha Kawatra

This week is my last at the Brooklyn Museum, and so I thought we’d do a special edition of “Brooklyn’s Finest” this month by way of transitioning over the 1stfans leadership here at the Museum. Even before 1stfans launched, Shelley and I spent a lot of time talking about what would happen with the program if either of us were to leave the Museum. After all, we would ask each other hypothetically, how would a membership based on personal relationships work if one of the two people running it weren’t there? The answer, as is often the case with regard to internal thinking, lies in continuing to be as transparent as possible and introducing the next person continuing the program.

Nitasha Kawatra, who will now be Interim Membership Manager, will now be running the 1stfans program with Shelley. Those of you in 1stfans may already know Tash, since she’s usually at the Target First Saturday meetups and is a 1stfans member herself. In the spirit of an open transition, what follows is a quick interview with Tash, which we hope will allow 1stfans to get to know her better and serve as my official departure from the group.


Tash, tell me how you have been involved with 1stfans so far.

I’ve been helping manage the 1stfans groups on Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, and often help out with the First Saturday meetups. That’s actually one of my favorite aspects of 1stfans because I really enjoy talking about the program with our First Saturdays visitors who are interested in signing up. It’s also been especially fun to get to know the 1stfans who come out every month because they are so enthusiastic about participating in all of our events, and it’s been amazing to see how their relationships have grown not only with our staff but also with each other.

You mentioned the meetups. Which has been your favorite, so far?

My favorite meetup was when we launched 1stfans with the Swoon interactive printing event.  I felt like I was already getting to know our new members pretty well because the materials they chose to print on were indicative of their personalities (the pizza box was particularly great). I was also just blown away by how many people came out to support the program that night.

Unlike me, you actually live in Brooklyn. What made you decide to move here, and what do you like most about your ‘hood?

It really was a quality of life decision to move here. After living on the Lower East Side of Manhattan for a few years, I was looking for a neighborhood that was a little more laid back but still has a lot of personality and Cobble Hill just seemed like the perfect fit. I live right on Smith Street so it’s really lively and eclectic, but I love that I can always duck onto one of the quiet tree-lined streets nearby (mostly to lust after all the beautiful brownstones).  I haven’t lived here that long, but have totally drunk the Brooklyn kool-aid.

What’s your commute like? This is my favorite question in “Brooklyn’s Finest,” so I want to be sure we have you on the record.

I’m fortunate to have a really convenient commute on the B71 bus, at least for a few more precious weeks (It’s one of the buses that got sacrificed in the MTA cuts). One of my fellow riders started a petition this morning to save the route though, so I have a glimmer of hope that I’ll get to stick with my above-ground commute.

As the most experienced “foodie” on the membership staff, what are your favorite haunts around the Museum?

Give me a fish taco from Chavella’s any day of the week .  The food there is so incredibly fresh and delicious there and the homemade hot salsa will bring tears to your eyes (which is a good thing, in my opinion). I’m also pretty attached to Cheryl’s Global Soul. Not only do they have the friendliest staff, but the fact that they were able to make a carnivore like me so addicted to their vegetarian chili is pretty impressive.

Lastly, anything you want people to know about your new role with 1stfans? And what do you like about membership work, in general?

From the beginning I’ve felt really privileged to be part of such an innovative Membership program with you and Shelley, and I’m looking forward to continuing to grow the program and connect more personally with all of our 1stfans. In general, Membership work appeals to me because I really enjoy coming up with ways to open up the Museum as much as possible to our most loyal donors—it’s important to me that our Members see exactly where their support is going.  Members can start to get to know me on Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, or get in touch with me by e-mail.

To meet more of our staff, visit the Brooklyn’s Finest Flickr set.