Kai EL´ Zabar

Visionary Kai EL´ Zabar has worked as CEO of arts organizations and as editor, writer and multimedia consultant accumulating a significant number of years in experience as an executive, journalist,publisher, public relations, media training, marketing, internal and external communications.

Kai currently continues her life’s work as Editor-in-Chief of Chicago News Weekly  where she has resumed her column, “E NOTES.” She is ecstatic to be in the position to grace Chicago and the world with a publication that articulates the Black voice.“It’s no secret that we see things from a perspective different than  that of our fellow Americans made up of people representing the world,”  she says. “CNW realizes that more than ever that our voice is necessary and worthy of being heard. I am grateful that I can mentor youth in the ‘business of newspaper publishing’, its value, purpose, and mission as well as its invaluable history in America and what it all means.”


As  Executive Director of  eta Creative Arts Foundation (2019-2021), she said many questioned, “How do you move from executive editor to executive director?’ And I shared, ‘Seamlessly, in each situation as the team leader, I provide the vision while empowering staff who manage and drive the process to achieve the goals, benchmarks and milestones step by step to manifest the mission.   Though different—from broadcast, to print, social media and the stage, they are all platforms where we tell stories.  My responsibilities lie in the ability to provide the vision; and  to implement and execute the strategy to transform the vision into reality.”


In 2014 Kai joined the iconic 115-year old "Chicago Defender" newspaper as the first woman Executive Editor of the organization. She brought the ‘Voice’ of the 'Chicago Defender" through her popular weekly E Notes commentary, which parlayed several appearances on CNN and other news outlets. She completed her tenure with the paper, December 2016. Her E Notes is quoted in two Books published in 2020; “A City Divided,” by David A. Harris and“Journalism in The Age of Virtual Reality,” by John V. Pavlk


Her journalism experience is extensive including positions at various prestigious newspapers and magazines like "N’DIGO Magapaper" as one of the founding staff established its signature cover look.  Other media to which she has contributed are "Today’s Chicago Woman," "Elan Magazine," "BLOWIN, the Progressive Arts Magazine,"  "Shoptalk,"  "American Visions," "Elle Magazine," "Black Collegiate," "Black Books Bulletin," "Essence," "Downbeat," "Jazz Times," "Cadence," "Mademoiselle," "NAACP Crisis Magazine," "The Image Awards Journal" and more. She has appeared on CNN and NBC, Chicago Tonight, and featured in the Chicago Tribune, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, The New Yorker;  the cover of Crain’s Chicago, (twice), She has been heard on radio V-103, WGCI, WBEZ,WVON, TBT and more.

In Los Angeles Kai worked at CBS, BET, Disney, PBS and Red Shoe Diaries, NAACP Image Awards, C.O.R.E. Digital Pictures as a writer,associate producer, copywriter and or script doctor. She also served as the editor for the official Tavis Smiley website. She also worked at the City of Los Angeles, Cultural Affairs Department in the Office of Festivals and Gallery Theatre as the Assistant to the Director producing theater and festivals.

Kai received the 2019 Charles Mingus Award for ‘Outstanding Community Collaboration, LA; the 2015 Maya Angelou Literary Award for outstanding literary work. She is the recipient of the 88-87 "Best of Show" CASE Award for creativity; the Andreana M. Floyd Memorial Scholarship '95; Leadership Illinois Class of 95 Graduate; The 1994 KIZZY Award and the JPH 1997 Rose Award.  Kai was listed in Crain's Chicago Business' 1996 & 1997 Top 500 Most Influential in Business. She has completed the Landmark Education Curriculum for Living and Leadership Training Program. She is listed in the 1998-1999 Kensington Who's Who and ran the 2002,03 & 05 LA Marathons.

Kai has served on numerous boards of non-profit organizations whose missions concern matters that she is passionate about. Some of the boards she has served on are the AACM/Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians, FEPA/ Forum for the Evolution of Progressive Arts, Youth Communications,  The Chicago Association of Black Journalists, Jackson Park Hospital Young Professionals, Jackson Park Hospital Women’s Board. She currently serves on the boards of WriteGirl of,Budding Artists, and Ida’s Legacy.

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