Veronica Santiago Liu has been involved in community arts organizing for 24 years, most recently as founder and general coordinator of Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria. Since Word Up's founding in 2011, she has programmed several series focused on local writers, musicians, and filmmakers, and has curated the work of local artists in the gallery space—including the recent commission (in partnership with Realengo Studio) The Heights/El Alto. In 2018, Veronica had the pleasure of sharing the Word Up story in talks and on panels in Buffalo, Memphis, Toronto, Geneva, and throughout New York City, and in September she was a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree. Prior to Word Up, she was a contributing editor at Seven Stories Press for more than a decade. She also served as the project manager for Northern Manhattan Arts and Culture (NMAC). Veronica sits on the Diversity Task Force of the American Booksellers Association, the advisory board for Healthy Families Washington Heights, the working group of Northern Manhattan Community Land Trust, and the community advisory board for freeform radio station WFMU. Her writing, comics, and photography have been published in Broken Pencil, Quick Fiction, In/Context, and other journals and zines.
Elizabeth Lorris Ritter
Elizabeth Lorris Ritter is a community dynamo and tireless advocate for the Washington Heights-Inwood community. Whether delivering effective government service in Senator Adriano Espaillat's office, serving admirably for twenty-five years as founding president of the Hudson Heights Owners Coalition, or being one of the most important leaders on Community Board 12 for over two decades, Liz's strong support and love for the arts has enhanced countless uptown groups. She is a bridge-builder in a time of wall-builders. Her unmatchable level of civic engagement is all about bringing people together—looping in one person to the next to ensure that great things happen for our beloved Upper Manhattan. She is a friend to friends and the most loyal and keen of counselors. Liz is tireless, fearless, bold and loud—just what we need in a time in which the amplified voices of "nasty women" will win us the day.
The totality of her remarkable achievements make Liz a most deserving recipient of the UPstanding Person of the Year award.
of Dichter Pharmacy
Manny Ramirez has combined the world of pharmaceutical health with that of community activism and established himself as a positive force in the community. He grew up in Inwood and started working at Dichter’s when he was thirteen years old, doing deliveries for 25 cents an hour. After finishing pharmacy school, he came back in 2007 to buy the business after the death of George Liebmann, the owner and his mentor. When, in 2012 the store burned to the ground, Manny, with help from friends in the neighborhood, reopened in the present location. In addition to being one of the last independent pharmacies in the area, Dichter’s has become a community center with many local groups using the basement space – without charge – including UP Theater, Inwood Toy Swap, Preschool on the Planet, The Dichter Pharmacy Poetry Society, the Girl Scouts and many, many others.
UP Theater is proud to honor Manny as our 2017 Upstanding Person of the Year.
Martin Collins is a lifetime Inwood resident and tireless champion of Uptown causes, both artistic and civic. Uptowners will recognize Marty’s face as an ever-present audience member as well as a staunch supporter of the Northern Manhattan arts community, including UP Theater Company, NoMAA, The United Palace, Moose Hall Theater, both the NYC Multicultural and Inwood Film Festivals, as well as The Northern Manhattan Arts Stroll, of which he is co-founder. His many efforts have helped build strong ties between the business and arts community in Northern Manhattan. Inwood may also recognize Marty’s voice as the public address announcer for Columbia University athletics, as well as for Manhattan College, Baruch College and New York University. His years of dedicated public service include such posts as the former chair of Community Board 12 and its Economic Development Committee, as Deputy Chief of Staff to NYS Assemblyman (now Senator) Adriano Espaillat, and as Councilmanic Aide to former Council Member Robert Jackson. He is currently the Veterans Business Assistance Coordinator at the Washington Heights & Inwood Development Corporation.
UP Theater is proud to recognize Marty as the 2016 UPstanding Person of the Year!
of The Uptown Collective
Led Black embodies the polyphonic pocket of Upper Manhattan. He is a keen chronicler of its hip hop present, but not at the expense of its mofongolicious history. A Dominican-American writer, blogger, and entrepreneur who grew up in Washington Heights, Led is the founder of the Uptown Collective, which is a hyper local site dedicated to Washington Heights, Inwood and Harlem. Under his helm the Uptown Collective has established itself as the voice of Uptown Manhattan online. Led is also a documentary filmmaker and producer. In addition to managing Social Media for the Uptown Collective, Led has provided his Social Media expertise to various organizations, projects and outlets.
UP Theater proudly honors Led Black as our 2015 Upstanding Person of the Year!
of Bread and Yoga
UP Theater Company is proud to pay tribute to a person who devotedly stands up for Northern Manhattan community and culture.
Since her Bread and Yoga studio first opened in Inwood it has been a mecca for anyone with a good idea about how to make this neighborhood a better, richer, more inclusive place to live. It provides creative programming that inspires personal development and deep rooted connections to the community. Through the lens of mindfulness, health and creativity Bread and Yoga continues its vision to contribute to the growth and vibrancy of Upper Manhattan.
Marcela sets the ideal for perseverance, industriousness, and resilience in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles. She is an inspiration. And she is, unequivocally, beloved by all. UP Theater is proud to honor her as our 2014 UPstanding Person of the Year.