About Us


Nia Cultural Center empowers and improves the community through art, culture, education, and engagement in the birthplace of Juneteenth.


Rooted in history and commitment, we are torchbearers for a legacy built upon excellence, perseverance, and joy—a legacy carried forward by resilient families anchored in community, education, the arts, and culture.

Our Values


Legacies built on firm foundations are resilient. We respect and honor our history, including the people and events that are hallmarks of positive pathways forward.


A trademark of our perseverance and influence, we celebrate Black joy, excellence, and creativity through our arts & culture.


Empowering our community with education & resources is one of our most influential tools alongside hope, opportunity, and love.


Through collaboration, we build resilient families & communities to ensure our legacy is truly our ancestors' proudest dreams.

Our History

Nia Cultural Center began as a Community Youth Development program funded by the Texas Department of Family Services in the early 1990s in response to the growing problem of youth violence. Our first signature program, the Family Strengthening and Empowerment program, operated from 1996 to 2006.

The Family Strengthening and Empowerment Program, a cornerstone of Nia Cultural Center's initiatives, was a resounding success. It comprised two key components: the Transformations Girls Rites of Passage Program, which provided mentorship and life skills training to young people, and the Family Rites of Passage, which equipped adults with essential parenting skills. These programs, funded through partnerships with community organizations and agencies, significantly contributed to developing and empowering our community's youth. 

Our other vital programs included the Families and Schools Together Program, a substance abuse prevention and strengthening program for families, and Freedom Tour, a seven-state tour of the South to retrace the Civil Rights Movement.

Today, we continue to engage the community with resources, education, and events. Nia is active in “The Future is US,” a collaborative effort focused on decreasing the disparities faced by Galveston’s children and youth of color. Since 2020, Nia has been a champion and operator of the Juneteenth Legacy Headquarters, celebrating Galveston’s unique role in United States history with art and cultural expression.

July 24 2011 | ©Nia Cultural Center
Sue Johnson | Nia Founder | ©Nia Cultural Center | 126 Photography

Our Founder

  • About Sue Johnson
  • Awards
About Sue Johnson

Sue Johnson is the founder and executive director of the Nia Cultural Center, Inc. Sue created the center in 1992, driven by a desire to respond to the then-growing problem of youth violence and the disproportionately high rates of Black youth entering the juvenile justice system. Our name, "Nia," means purpose; it is one of the seven principles of Kwanzaa. 

Nia’s work is highlighted in Sue Johnson’s interview included in Clint Smith’s book “How the Word Was Passed,” named among the New York Times 10 best books of 2021. 

She is the consummate change agent - having served as board member, local collaborator, civic advocate - to ensure equitable solutions for all residents, especially families in marginalized communities.

Sue is a retired assistant director at the University of Texas Medical Branch. She is an adoring mother and grandmother and Sue is quite proud to be a native Galvestonian.  


Because of Sue’s dedicated service to the Galveston community, she has been the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including:

  • Houston Cultural Treasures by the BIPOC Arts Network Fund 
  • The Future is US Education Justice Warrior Award 
  • Woman of the Year Award by the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce 
  • Woman of Influence Award by the Galveston Daily News 
  • Citizen of the Year Nominee by the Galveston Daily News 
  • Comcast Mayor's History Maker's Award 
  • Galveston County Daily News' Everyday Hero Award 
  • The Texas Alliance of Black School Educator's Parent Engagement Award
  • St. Vincent's House Alfreda Houston Community Service Award 
  • The Booker T Washington Ex's African American Image Award
  • The Al Edwards Juneteenth Humanitarian Award  
  • The Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award