AHCMC Welcomes Mary Nichols

A native of the DMV area, Mary Nichols is a renaissance woman devoted to bringing together her two favorite passions: art and technology. We chatted with Mary about her background in the arts, what led her to work for AHCMC and more. 

AHCMC: To get started, tell us a bit about yourself and your background in the arts.

Mary: Hey! My name is Mary (a.k.a DJ Fusion).

Growing up in different areas of Prince George’s County, MD, I’ve always been into the arts. I played various instruments (saxophone and flute) and drew a lot of artwork when I was younger.

I got heavily into DJ-ing as a college undergrad at Rutgers University and, in addition to doing events, started a radio show focused on music in the Black Diaspora (Hip-Hop, Soul, Funk, Jazz, etc.), commentary & interviews called the FuseBox Radio Broadcast.

I am also a founding member of one of the first Hip-Hop-based student organizations at the university called RUSCH (Rutgers University Student Community of Hip-Hop). Throughout the years, I’ve spoken and presented panels- including a TEDx Talk- in the United States and Canada on how changes in technology can affect the independent music industry and media creatives in many ways, especially with the various Hip-Hop generations.

Lastly, I’m a proud member of the Washington, D.C. chapter of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), where, in the past few years, we established a union pay scale for DJs and other musical creatives.

AHCMC: Radio and podcast host, DJ, photographer, writer…you are quite a multitalented creative! Do you still practice any of these art forms? And if so, do you have a favorite?

Mary: Thanks for your kind words!

If I had to choose (it’s hard!) – I would say DJ-ing is my favorite creative outlet. It’s taken me to so many places I never thought of back in the day at ALL, and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed. DJing is basically putting together a patchwork quilt of music for everyone to enjoy and embrace, music they may or may not have been exposed to beforehand.

I still DJ often (in my home studio and at various events) and host a music, commentary & interview-based podcast, FuseBox Radio Broadcast, with one of my best friends.

I’m getting back to going out on the recreational and professional end with photography – the COVID era and an accident I needed to recover from pushed that back a bit. I hope to cover community and national events in the near future, along with writing some editorial pieces for my soon-to-be relaunched blog, The Futon Dun.

My latest creative challenge is working on an EP of Hip-Hop and Soulful House beats that I hope to release before the end of the year.

AHCMC: What led you to work for AHCMC?

Mary: AHCMC offered a wonderful opportunity to utilize my lifelong passions and skillsets – the arts and technology – to help the many creative arts communities growing in my home state, Maryland. As a working creative in various arenas for the majority of my adult life, I deeply empathize with the needs of individuals, collectives and other organizations who need support – whether promotional, structural, educational, monetary, etc. – to continue producing art of all kinds and to subsist healthily while doing so.

After reviewing AHCMC’s work and goals, I had to reach out, and I’m glad it led to where we are today!

AHCMC: What have your first few weeks been like?

Mary: It’s been really exciting!

I’ve learned a lot about AHCMC in a hands-on way and how all the departments work together for a common goal. I’ve also been researching the growing technological needs of the organization and Montgomery County’s arts community to determine how to meet those needs.

I feel great seeing and experiencing the team environment where everyone is passionate about the local arts community & advocating for them while assisting whenever one can beyond any job description (in other words, you will definitely work on your concentration, but can help in other areas as well.)

AHCMC: What are you most looking forward to as the Technology, Data, and Operations Assistant Manager?

Mary: I’m looking forward to the day-to-day inner workings of the organization, helping AHCMC update our database and project management systems and putting my hands in the tech our creative communities need to promote their work to as many people as possible!