Liz & Juwan
Liz Simmons & Juwan Alston
Chair, Board of Directors, Levine Museum of the New South
Liz was born and raised in Norfolk, VA where much of her family still lives. She attended Maury High School, as did her grandparents, parents, and her two brothers. In a family of very strong personalities with even stronger convictions, Liz developed early on a passion for fighting for a cause, and perhaps, some would argue, a penchant for stubbornness.
Liz headed to Charlottesville, VA for college at the University of Virginia where she majored in History and spent the summers interning for political campaigns. After a stint in Washington, D.C. where she worked at the National Gallery of Art, she pursued her Masters degree at Teachers College Columbia University in New York and began her career at Scarsdale High School teaching United States History and Government, a job she absolutely adored.
In New York City, Liz was reacquainted with a college friend, Walker Simmons, to whom she has now been married for 16 years. Walker’s job brought them to Charlotte in 2000, where they have been busy raising Walker, Macie, and Eli (ages 14, 12, and 9, respectively.) Liz currently is on hiatus from teaching to be a full-time mom and community activist.
Liz’s passion for education, civic engagement, and history have found a perfect home at Levine Museum of the New South, where history is used to build community. The opportunity to raise funds for their innovative History Matters programs was the driving force behind accepting the daunting challenge of dancing on a stage before a live audience. Liz did take ballet lessons for many years with the Old Dominion University Ballet company in Norfolk, but no one would say that she was particularly talented, or graceful. She is, however, delighted to be able to raise funds and awareness for her beloved Levine Museum.
A few fun facts about Liz:
- Favorite relaxation spot: sitting on the beach with friends and family
- Favorite hobbies: running, cooking and cocktails
- In addition to her regular work: Liz spends time as a board member and champion of Pat’s Place Child Advocacy Center
- Honors: appointed as a Trustee of The College Foundation of The University of Virginia
- Patty & Juwan: $6,800.00
- Jennifer & Drew: $3,250.00
- John & Sarah: $2,400.00
- Kandi & James: $1,000.00
- Gene & Sarah: $1,000.00
- David & Elizabeth: $850.00
Hometown: Round Rock, TX
Seasons with Charlotte Ballet: 2
Juwan began dancing at the age of 15 at Cedar Ridge High School in Round Rock, TX.He was awarded the Senior Hip-Hop Scholarship at The Texas Association Teachers of Dancing, Inc. convention in June 2012. Juwan began seriously studying ballet at Dancers Workshop in Austin, where he performed in Nutcracker and Paquita Grand Pas de Deux. In 2013, he attended American Ballet Theatre’s Summer Intensive on scholarship. That same year, he received a number of awards for his choreography featured in the National Parent Teacher Association’s Reflections program. Juwan attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in 2014, where he performed in Ethan Stiefel’s Nutcracker, Sir Frederick Ashton’s Birthday Offering, Susan Jaffe’s Metallurgy, and George Balanchine’s Allegro Brillante. Currently, he serves as a professional mentor for Texas Future Dance Educators.
A few fun facts about Juwan:
- Dancing Since: Age 15
- Favorite thing about Charlotte: I love how vibrant the city is. It’s my first time living in a metro-type area, so I’m very excited to explore all that Charlotte has to offer
- Favorite vacation spot: The Bahamas were pretty great, but I want to continue exploring to find that one extra special place
- Advice for aspiring dancers: “Don’t give up, no matter how hard it gets. Keep an open mind, and don’t be afraid to say ‘yes.’”