Leila Abdelrazaq is a Chicago-born, Palestinian author and artist. She graduated from DePaul University in 2015 with a BFA in Theatre Arts and a BA in Arabic Studies. Leila’s debut graphic novel, Baddawi, was shortlisted for the Palestine Book Awards. She is also the creator of a number of zines and short comics. Her creative work primarily explores issues related to diaspora, refugees, history, memory, and borders. Leila has been involved in organizing around the Palestinian cause and the city of Chicago since 2011. She is currently a core member of For
Keith Joseph Adkins is co-founder and artistic director of the New Black Fest, a festival of new playwriting and discussion from the African diaspora. Among the works TNBF has commissioned are Facing Our Truth: Ten Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race, and Privilege; Hands Up: 6 Playwrights, 6 Testaments, and Un-Tamed: Body Hair Attitude: Short Plays by Black Women. Keith is also a playwright, with works that include The People Before the Park (Premiere Stages, 2014), Pitbulls (Rattlestick Theater, 2014), and Safe House (Cincinnati Playhouse, 2014). He is a former culture blogger for The Root and a recipient of the 2015 Helen Merrill Mid-Career Playwright Award.
Mohamed Amin Ahmed migrated to the United States 20 years ago and has played numerous roles in both civic and corporate worlds. At the onset of the 9/11 crisis, Mohamed joined the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism, and has since been the Chapter President for Minnesota. He is the founder of Average Mohamed, an organization that passionately promotes ideas of counter terrorism through the use of popular culture. His counter terrorism mantra is: “It takes an idea, to defeat an idea”. He currently works as a Manager for a local gas company and lives in Minneapolis with his wife and four children.
Ismael Ahmed was appointed Senior Advisor to the Chancellor and Associate Provost of Metropolitan Impact at the University of Michigan-Dearborn beginning January 2011. Prior to that, he served in Governor Granholm’s administration as Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services. He co-founded the Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services in 1971 and was appointed executive director in 1983. The son of first generation immigrants, Ismael Ahmed is co-founder of The Arab American National Museum in Dearborn and now serves as an executive member of its advisory board. Since 1998, he has been producer and host of “This Island Earth” on WDET Public Radio in Detroit.
Devon Akmon is the director of the Arab American National Museum. Under his aegis, the AANM was named an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and achieved accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums. As director, Akmon has established new relationships with individuals and organizations that have resulted in the expansion of the museum’s mission and programming throughout the nation. Most recently, Akmon has overseen the physical expansion of the museum with the creation of the Annex, a new community arts space immediately adjacent to the museum.
Claudia Alick is an associate producer at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, producing events that bring OSF into artistic collaboration with the local community–such as the Green Show and the Daedalus Project–and audioplays, such as the Grammy-nominated Hamlet. Her one-person show Fill in the Blank, exploring disability and the medical industry, was last performed in OSF’s Presents series. Named by American Theatre Magazine as one of 25 theater artists who will shape American theater in the next 25 years, Claudia served as artistic director of Smokin’ Word Productions, is an NYC Fresh Fruit directing award recipient, and was featured on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam.
Taylor Renee is an arts writer, cultural critic and facilitator based in Detroit, Michigan. Her interests lie at the intersection of arts, culture and equity. She is the co-founding editor of ARTS.BLACK, an online publication for art criticism from Black perspectives predicated on the belief that art criticism should be an accessible dialogue. Taylor has contributed to publications such as ARTnews, Contemporary &, Hyperallergic, and the MetroTimes, Detroit. She is also the co-facilitator of the Black Artist Meet-Up, Detroit, and a member of the Detroit Narrative Agency Advisory Team (DNA). Taylor Renee received her M.L.A from Harvard University in Museum Studies and her B.A from Howard University in Art History and Business Administration.
Dr. Maribel Alvarez is executive director of the Southwest Folk Alliance and a trustee of the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, where she has written and lectured about food, heritage, nonprofits, cultural policy, artisans, and stereotypes. Also an anthropologist, Maribel has documented the practices of more than a dozen of the country’s leading emerging artistic organizations and she has done research as a Fulbright Fellow in Mexico. In addition, she is an associate research professor in the School of Anthropology and a public folklorist at the Southwest Center, both at the University of Arizona.
Raquel De Anda is an active member of People’s Climate Arts, a network of artists and activists who produce artwork in service of social movements. The group was recently awarded the Robert Rauschenberg Artist as Activist Fellowship. Raquel is also an independent curator, cultural producer, and community organizer based in Brooklyn, New York. She began her career as associate curator at Galeria de la Raza, a contemporary Latino arts organization in San Francisco, and has continued to support the production of socially engaged artwork in both Mexico and the US. She holds an MS in design and urban ecologies from the New School’s Parsons School of Design.
Erika Andiola is the former Press Secretary for Latino Outreach for Bernie 2016 and current Political Director for the campaign’s successor organization, Our Revolution. She is also a former Congressional Staffer for Arizona Congresswoman, Kyrsten Sinema. She co-founder of the Dream Action Coalition and started her community organizing experience when she co-founded the Arizona Dream Act Coalition. She then served in the National Coordinating Committee and the Board of Directors for the United We Dream Network. Her personal struggle as an undocumented woman herself, with an undocumented family, has given her the drive and the passion to keep fighting for immigrant and human rights.
Ben Ashworth – Who is Ben Ashworth? That depends on who you ask. The art community will tell you that Ben Ashworth is an accomplished visual artist, designer, builder, and skateboarder. His friends will tell you that he’s a lunatic who skates too fast and works too hard. Either way, his work exists at the collision of art, skateboarding, community, and play, and it speaks largely for itself. He’s also one of the founding members of the now legendary DC Fight Club, an underground skatepark/gallery/creative space in an abandoned warehouse which became a center for local and national cultural events. He works a 9-to-5 as George Mason University’s Sculpture Studio Manager, is currently a MFA candidate in the School of Art at GMU, and is a core member of Workingman Collective, a DC-based artist collective formed in 2005.
Giizhigad [Christy B.] is an Anishinaabekwe artist & cultural worker. Her art blends traditional & contemporary indigenous culture in the modes of: Dance, Hand Drumming, Singing, Visual Arts & Craft in order to strengthen roots, honor traditional lifeways, contribute to healing & wellness of Mother Earth and all our relations. You can see some visual representations in her Travels with The Aadizookaan last fall here: #DagWaaGin now on youtube https://youtu.be/M6e-9esOIuU
Kai Lumumba Barrow (b. 1959, Chicago) is a visual and performance artist who lives and works in New Orleans. Barrow is concerned with notions of Black fugitivity and radical imagination. Her sprawling paintings, installations, and sculptures are formed in traditional and non-traditional spaces to transgress biological, ideological, and carceral borders. Comprised of archaeological and environmental construct. Barrow’s found object sculptural installations and ritualistic environments use materials such as dirt, moss, rocks, machines, coffee beans and chicken bones as a visual and ethnographic language. Together with her four muses: Absurdity, Sarcasm, Myth, and Merriment, the work performs queer, Black, feminist resistance.
Suhaly Bautista-Carolina is a Brooklyn-based artist, educator and community organizer. She earned her B.A. and MPA from NYU, where she was named one of “NYU’s 15 Most Influential Students” before serving as Engagement & Education Manager at Creative Time. Suhaly is an alumna of the Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship and graduate of Columbia University’s Summer Teachers and Scholars Institute, “The Many Worlds of Black New York.” Her work has been published in the United Nations’ International Museum of Women and Caribbean Vistas Journal. As of 2016, Suhaly is a Weeksville Heritage Center Ambassador, a Willow Arts Alliance Fellow and a member of the collective, Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter. She is currently serving as the Director of Public Programs at the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) and Community Relations Manager of the Brooklyn Museum.
Shane Bernardo grew up in his family’s grocery store on Detroit’s west side. For 13 years, Shane’s family helped cultivate a nurturing environment for the South East Asian, West African and Afro-Caribbean cultures through culturally relevant foods as well as recipes, traditions, rituals and ancestral struggles linked to these foods. As a result, Shane developed a heightened awareness of social and economic conditions within the context of a racially, ethnically and culturally stratified community. Shane is also a long-life Detroit resident in food justice issues as the outreach coordinator for Earthworks Urban Farm, a program of the Capuchin Soup Kitchen.
Dahlak Brathwaite is a multi-faceted hip-hop artist, maximizing his abilities as musician, actor, poet, and educator within the transformational space of the theater. Since launching into the national spoken word scene by winning the Brave New Voices international poetry slam, Dahlak has performed on the Tavis Smiley Radio show and the past two seasons of Russell Simmons’ presents Def Poetry Jam on HBO.
adrienne maree brown is a science fiction writer and social justice facilitator living in Detroit. She is a contributor to and co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements, and is a healer, doula, pleasure activist, and auntie.
I’m a member of two independent but interconnected organizations: Free School and Writer’s Block. We are a heterogeneous group of poets, artist, learners, teachers, makers and practitioners. Some of us are incarcerated. We publish incarcerated writing utilizing a variety of media and we organize inside and outside the prison in the service art, education, community and abolitionism. We’ve been working collaboratively to protest and publicize the accumulated and concentrated disadvantages that reproduce the structural inequalities that perpetuate carceral regimes.
Mahogany L. Browne is a poet, publisher and Artistic Director of Urban Word. The author of numerous collections of poetry, her most recent work, Redbone, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. Mahogany is also the founder of the Women of Color Reading Room and the Director of the Black Lives Matter Program at Pratt Institute. As the publisher of Penmanship Books, she publishes poetry collections from local Youth Poet Laureates from across the United States.
Kristen Adele Calhoun is the Program Director of Arts in a Changing America. As an actor, writer, and cultural organizer, her work exists at the intersection of activism and challenging the status quo. She serves on the leadership council of Artist 4 Change NYC, an artist-run collective dedicated to making a positive impact in communities through activism, connecting allies, and sharing the tools necessary for making change. From 2014-2015, she served as a consultant for the Arts and Culture portfolio of the Ford Foundation. She is currently co-writing Canfield Drive, a play about Ferguson, Missouri under the commission of 651 Arts in Brooklyn and The St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre. A native of Dallas, Texas, she is a graduate of the University of North Texas and the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and currently calls Harlem her home.
Peter Callender is a native of Trinidad, West Indies, now making his home in Oakland, Ca., by way of New York City. He has performed on and off-Broadway, in several regional theaters across the country and in all the major theatrical houses in the Bay Area. He is currently an associate artist at California Shakespeare Theater, where he’s appeared in over 25 Shakespeare productions. He is an award-winning actor, director, teacher, coach and mentor, but he is most proud of his son, Brandon, on his graduation from University of Chicago in June! More info about Mr Callender can be found on his website: www.lpetercallender.com.
P.Carl is the creative director of ArtsEmerson, where s/he co-artistic directs an annual season of international work for the downtown theaters of Emerson College. S/he is also director and co-founder of HowlRound, a knowledge commons by and for the theater community. Operating from the core belief that theater is for everyone, Polly seeks to use the work of the theater in concert with opportunities for public dialogue to foster civic transformation through the shared experience of art. S/he holds a PhD in comparative studies in discourse and society from the University of Minnesota.
Jakeya Caruthers is a doctoral candidate at Stanford University where her research interests include the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and embodiment; black comedic traditions; and popular culture and media representation. Some of her analytic musings can be found on The Feminist Wire, Racialicious.com, in the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and in the classroom where she teaches topics like Queer Afrofuturism, and Black Women Artists and American Visual Culture. Before and throughout graduate school, Jakeya has been involved with a number of organizations working toward social and economic justice including INCITE! Women and Trans People of Color Against Violence, Free Marissa Now!, the Highlander Research and Education Center, and Jubilee USA Network.
Detroit-based artist/community advocate Halima Cassells occupies a myriad of roles that are unified by a deep and unwavering devotion to fostering community inter-connectivity. In practice she designs spaces for authentic engagement and collaborative artistic expression, as well as projects that engender new economy practices. She works as an independent artist and assumes leadership roles at Center for Community Based Enterprise, O.N.E. Mile project, Oakland Avenue Artists Coalition, Incite Focus Fab Lab, North End Soup, and the Free Market of Detroit.
Danny Cendejas is currently an organizer with ICE Out of Richmond. This group was created as an organized community response to the raids, deportations, abuses and criminalization against our community. ICE Out of Richmond is comprised of individuals from different nationalities, race, socio-economic status, religion, sexual orientation and life styles, that have come together to say NOT ONE MORE! ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) Out of Richmond wants local police, schools, and governmental agencies to not collaborate with ICE.
Jeff Chang is executive director of the Institute for Diversity in the Arts at Stanford University. His first book, Can’t Stop Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, won the American Book Award and Asian American Literary Award in 2005. Who We Be: The Colorization of America, published in 2014, explores the contemporary American cultural landscape amidst massive demographic changes. Jeff edited Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop, co-founded CultureStr/ke and Colorlines, was named one of 50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World by Utne Reader in 2009, and was selected as a USA Ford Fellow in Literature in 2008.
Cézanne J. Charles, Director of Creative Industries – Charles directs Creative Many’s statewide and regional creative industries programs providing the knowledge, networks and advocacy needed to help empower the practices of artists, creatives, designers and makers within the state. Programs under her direction include The Kresge Artist Fellows Professional Practice program, Resonant Detroit funding and mentorship program, Professional Development Summits, and Make + Do. Charles is also responsible for co-leading the design and implementation of Creative Many’s creative industries research, reporting and supporting efforts to define public policy strategies, sector supports and investment priorities. http://www.creativemany.org Charles also co-directs rootoftwo, LLC, an award-winning hybrid design studio founded with John Marshall in 1998 that makes hybrid design projects, social objects, experiences, and works for the public realm – typically at the scale of devices, furniture or small buildings. Based in metro Detroit, their works create a condition where we can perceive ourselves, the here and now and the future differently. http://www.rootoftwo.com
Ananya Chatterjea, Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre: People Powered Dances of Transformation, is an art-maker who envisions her work as a “call to action” with a particular focus on women artists of color. Ananya is the recipient of a 2012 McKnight Choreography Fellowship and a 2011 Guggenheim Choreography Fellowship. Her most recent work, Roktim, was described as being characterized by “cohesive, precise movement vocabulary” and a “unique aesthetic” that “found a fresh liveliness in the agriculture sweatshop nightmare” (Star Tribune, 9/20/15). Roktim toured on a State Department tour to Ethiopia and was presented as they keynote performance at the Crossing Boundaries Festival in Addis Ababa. Ananya is Professor of Dance at the University of Minnesota, where she teaches courses on Dance Studies and technique.
Don Chen leads the Ford Foundation’s Equitable Development team, supporting urban development strategies to reduce poverty, expand economic opportunities, and advance sustainability in cities and regions in the US and developing countries–with a focus on shaping the delivery systems for affordable housing, community improvement, infrastructure, and city and regional planning. Don joined the foundation in 2008 as a program officer in Metropolitan Opportunity. Earlier, he founded and served as CEO of Smart Growth America, where he led efforts to create the National Vacant Properties Campaign and Transportation for America and managed a merger with the Growth Management Leadership Alliance.
Marissa Chibas is a recipient of the TCG Fox Fellowship in Distinguished Achievement. Her solo show Daughter of a Cuban Revolutionary has toured the U.S., Europe, and Mexico. Marissa is on the Theater School faculty at CalArts where she heads the bi-lingual initiative Duende Calarts that collaborates with innovative Latino(a) and Latin American artists to make adventurous theater work. For Duende she conceived and wrote Shelter, which premiered in April 2016 at Lincoln Park and was presented at the Kennedy Center. Her play, The Second Woman, opens in Fall 2016 at the Bootleg theater in Los Angeles.
Climbing PoeTree has infused our movements for justice with award-winning multimedia hip-hop theater, dual-voice spoken word, world music and grassroots organizing. They have toured internationally through South Africa, Cuba, the UK, Mexico, India, Scotland, and throughout the U.S. including 11,000 miles toured on a bus converted to run on recycled vegetable oil. They’ve presented at diverse venues from the United Nations to Harvard University, and have been featured alongside visionaries such as Alice Walker, Alicia Keys, Cornel West, and Angela Davis, who remarked, “Each time I have the pleasure of attending a performance by Climbing PoeTree, I feel enriched, renewed, and inspired.”
Common is defining the times with his 11th studio album, Black America Again. The 15-track collection is the Chicago rapper’s most political to date, a call to action inspired by the works of filmmaker Ava DuVernay, social critic Ta-Nehisi Coates and the Black Lives Matter uprising, among other 21st Century cultural touchstones. “The album denotes the journey of Black life and Black people living in America,” Common shares. “From all the struggles to the things we’ve overcome to the injustices to the inequality to the dehumanizing that has existed in all eras, not just the civil rights. But from the days since we arrived on the shores of America — it’s been, again.” The title track, “Black America Again,” featuring Stevie Wonder, is produced by jazz maestros Karriem Riggins and Robert Glasper and finds Common’s searing rhymes addressing these themes, including materialism versus legislation with quick-witted observations like “Who freed me?/Lincoln or Cadillac?” In October, Common previewed three new records from the album — “Letter to the Free,” The Day Women Took Over” and “Little Chicago Boy” — during an exclusive N.P.R. “Tiny Desk” performance at The White House, a first for both the public radio service and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. On “Letter to the Free” (already a 2016 Critics’ Choice nominee for Best Documentary Song from DuVernay’s “13th”), Philly soul crooner Bilal joins Common for a modern take on Billie Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” where the pair deliver a moving testimony of what it means to be free but not equal. “Institution ain’t just a building, but a method of having Black and brown bodies fill them,” Common raps before asking “Will the U.S. ever be us?” Meanwhile, “Little Chicago Boy” is a rumination on masculinity that doubles as a hug-you-tight dedication to Common’s late father, Lonnie Lynn, long a staple on the MC’s most popular albums. Common explains: “You get to that point where you see your parent as a human being, not the all-encompassing parent with all the answers and I wrote about that, appreciating my father for all of who he was as a human being.” Throughout Black America Now an undercurrent of salvation exists via what Common calls “unapologetically, unashamedly God music.” “I’ve listened to more gospel music more than ever in my life,” he says. “I always felt like it was always necessary, as artists, that we have musicians and people that are able to communicate God in ways and places that some people who look for God may not go.” With the help of a host of collaborators ranging from Marsha Ambrosius (“Love Star”), John Legend “Rain”) and J Dilla (TK, TK, TK), and influences from James Baldwin, Zora Neale Hurston and Lin-Manuel Miranda, Common seeks to construct a piece of art that’s as timely as it is timeless. “I wanted to write this well, so let me set the bar so that I could strive for that,” he says. “This new story is really the expression of who we are as Black people from a 360-degree angle of who we are. The colors of who we are, the joy, the humor, the grace, the freedom, the fun, the rhythm, the pain, the chains, the prisons. I wanted this to be an artistic expression of what Black people and Black culture are at this time.” This is Black America. Again.
Complex Movements is a Detroit-based artist collective supporting the transformation of communities by exploring the connections of complex science and social justice movements through multimedia interactive performance work.
Beatriz Cortez is an artist and writer. She was born in El Salvador and has lived in the United States since 1989. Her work explores simultaneity, the existence within different temporalities and different visions of modernity–particularly in relation to memory and loss in the aftermath of war, the experience of immigration, and the exploration of possible futures. She has exhibited her work in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington DC, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. She teaches in the Department of Central American Studies at California State University, Northridge, and lives and works in Los Angeles.
Liz Medicine Crow, Haida/Tlingit, is from Keex Kwaan (Kake), Alaska. On her Haida side she is Eagle Tiits Gitee Nei, Hummingbird. On her Tlingit side she is Raven Kaach.adi, Fresh Water-marked Sockeye Salmon. Her maternal grandparents were Mona & Thomas Jackson, Sr. of Kake, her paternal grandparents were Lillian and Charles Cheney of Washington. Her parents are Della and William Cheney of Kake. Her husband, Cloud Medicine Crow, Hidatsa, is a contemporary American Indian artist. Although she works in Anchorage, Liz’s heart is always at home in the village with her family and people.
Integrating Native knowledge and values into organizations, governance mechanisms, and everyday life is a primary passion and responsibility she has pursued through her education and career. Liz received her BA (BFA Equivalency) from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado, and her professional degree from Arizona State University College of Law, graduating with a Juris Doctorate degree and a Certificate in Indian Law. Since coming to First Alaskans Institute, Liz has served as the Director of the Alaska Native Policy Center, Vice-President, and now serves as the President/CEO, providing a direct link for her to be of service to our Native peoples.
Teddy Cruz is known internationally for his urban research on the Tijuana-San Diego border, advancing border neighborhoods as sites of cultural production from which to rethink urban policy, affordable
housing, and civic infrastructure. A recipient of the 1991 Rome Prize in Architecture, he represented the US in the 2008 Venice Architecture Biennale, received the Ford Foundation Visionaries Award in 2011, and received the US Academy of Arts and Letters Architecture Award in 2013. Teddy is a professor of public culture and urbanism at the University of California, San Diego, where he directs the UCSD Cross-Border Initiative with political theorist Fonna Forman.
Deborah Cullinan joined Yerba Buena Center for the Arts as CEO in September 2013. With her stewardship, YBCA has sharpened its mission and vision; regrounding the organization in its origins as a citizen institution and San Francisco’s premiere art center built by the community, for the community. Fostering a “culture of invitation”; Cullinan brings together creative citizens of all kinds to spur social change. Prior to joining YBCA, Deborah served as the Executive Director of San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts for 17 years. She is a co-founder of ArtsForum SF, and a member of the Board of California Arts Advocates, Californians for the Arts, MissionHub, and the Community Arts Stabilization Trust.
Kevin Currey is a program analyst on the Ford Foundation’s Sustainable Development team, working on expanding community access to and control over forests and other natural resources and on promoting climate change policies that benefit low-income rural communities. Before joining Ford, he worked as a consultant to the United Nations Development Programme, advising on the creation of its biodiversity strategic plan. Kevin holds a master of environmental management degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, where he studied the anthropology of development and conservation, and an undergraduate degree from Yale University in environmental studies.
Jennifer Wild Czajkowski is Vice President for Learning & Audience Engagement at the Detroit Institute of Arts, her hometown museum. She is a member of the DIA’s strategic leadership team with responsibility for gallery and exhibition interpretation and all public programming, including adult and family learning, school programs, art making, film, and music. A long-time member of the DIA staff, Czajkowski has played a critical role in transitioning the DIA from an internally-focused institution to one that increasingly co-creates projects with museum audiences and includes the voices and perspectives of community members in project development.
Tom DeCaigny is San Francisco’s Director of Cultural Affairs and oversees the San Francisco Arts Commission (SFAC), the $24 million city agency that champions the arts as essential to daily life by investing in a vibrant arts sector, enlivening the urban environment and shaping innovative cultural policy. Established by City Charter in 1932, the SFAC is charged with overseeing the design quality of public infrastructure, stewarding the landmark Cultural Equity and Cultural Center Endowments (totaling over $6 million in annual grant investments) and implementing San Francisco’s ‘2% for Art’ public art ordinance. Mr. DeCaigny has a B.A. degree in Dramatic Arts from Macalester College in St. Paul, MN.
Ty Defoe (Giizhig) is a member of Wisconsin’s Ojibwe and Oneida tribes. A Grammy Award winner for Come to Me Great Mystery: Native American Healing Songs, he is a two-spirit/trans* activist, cultural pioneer, writer, and musician, and is known for his cultural education, hoop dancing, and eagle dancing. Ty received an Indigenous Heritage Festival Award and a National Endowment for the Arts grant for The Drum is Thunder, the Flute is the Wind. He co-created CRANE: on earth, in sky (with Heather Henson) and is a 2016 Robert Rauschenberg artist-in-residence, an artEquity facilitator, and a Theater Communications Group (TCG) Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Fellow.
María López De León is the President, CEO and board member of the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures (NALAC). In January 2013, President Obama appointed Ms. De León to serve on the National Council on the Arts. In 2012 and 2013, Ms. De León was named among the nation’s Fifty Most Powerful and Influential People in the Nonprofit Arts.
BRYCE DETROIT. Evolutionary emcee. Pioneer of Entertainment Justice and 21st Century HipHop. As a culture creator, he is a national award-winning music producer and curator for the O.N.E. Mile [Detroit] project. As co-founder of Detroit Afrikan Music Institution, and founder of Detroit Recordings Company, he uses entertainment arts and community cultural legacies to promote new Afrikan and Indigenous narratives, cultural literacies, and new cooperative music economies. Bryce is also a founding member of Detroit Resists.
DJ Spooky aka Paul D. Miller is a composer, multimedia artist, editor and author. His DJ MIXER iPad app has seen more than 12 million downloads in the last year. In 2012-2013 he is the first artist-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC starting this fall. He’s produced and composed work for Yoko Ono, Thurston Moore, and scores of artists and award-winning films. Miller’s work as a media artist has appeared in the Whitney Biennial; The Venice Biennial for Architecture, the Ludwig Museum in Cologne, Germany; Kunsthalle, Vienna; The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and many other museums and galleries. His book Sound Unbound, an anthology of writings on electronic music and digital media is a best-selling title for MIT Press. He has been featured everywhere from Elle to CNN to SyFy. DJ Spooky’s Rebirth of a Nation was commissioned in 2004 by the Lincoln Center Festival; Spoleto Festival USA; Weiner Festwochen; and the Festival d’Automne a Paris. It was the artist’s first large-scale multimedia performance piece, and has been performed in venues around the world, from the Sydney Festival to the Herod Atticus Amphitheater, more than fifty times. The DVD version of Rebirth of a Nation was released by Anchor Bay Films/Starz Media in 2008.
Abby Dobson is the 2016 Artist-in-Residence with the African American Policy Forum. A Sonic Conceptualist Artist, Abby has performed at the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage, Apollo Theater, Blue Note, and The Tonight Show. Her CD, “Sleeping Beauty: You Are the One You Have Been Waiting On” was released in 2010 to rave reviews. Abby received a JD degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a Bachelor’s degree from Williams College. Passionate about using music as a tool for empathy cultivation, Abby seeks to inspire audiences to promote transformative social change. She creates music to privilege black female voices and composed “Say Her Name” in tribute to black women/girls lost to state violence. Abby Dobson is currently wrapping up recording for “Sister Outsider”, slated for release in 2017. www.aapf.org
D’Lo is a queer/transgender Tamil-Sri Lankan actor/writer/comedian. He is a co-producer for DisOriented Comedy. His solo shows Ramble-Ations and D’FunQT and D’FaQTo Life have toured internationally. He is an NPN artist, a Ford Foundation Travel Grantee for workshops with Queer/Transgender artists (Chennai), and an APPEX fellow through the Center for Intercultural Performance (Bali). A documentary based on D’Lo’s life/work, called Performing Girl has screened at festival circuits & universities internationally. His TV/film credits include co-starring LOOKING, TRANSPARENT and SENSE 8. This year he will be featured in Sundance Fellow Adelina Anthony’s feature-length film BRUISING FOR BESOS in the supporting lead role of Rani.
Hasan Elahi is an interdisciplinary artist working with issues in surveillance, privacy, migration, citizenship, technology, and the challenges of borders. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions at venues such as SITE Santa Fe, Centre Georges Pompidou, Sundance Film Festival, and at the Venice Biennale. Elahi has spoken at Tate Modern, American Association of Artificial Intelligence, International Association of Privacy Professionals, TED Global, and the World Economic Forum. His work is frequently in the media and has appeared on Al Jazeera, Fox News, and on The Colbert Report. He is currently Associate Professor of Art at University of Maryland, ranked #1 Most Militarized University in the US by vice.com and equidistant from the CIA, FBI, and NSA headquarters.
Brandon Evans hails from Philadelphia, PA. He received his Bachelors of Science in Liberal Studies from West Chester University of Pennsylvania with areas of study in Theatre and Comparative Literature. He is currently pursuing a graduate degree in Theatre at the University of Hawaiʽi at Mānoa.
Negin Farsad was named one of the 50 Funniest Women by the Huffington Post, one of the 10 Best Feminist Comedians by Paper magazine, and was selected as a TED Fellow for her work in social justice comedy. She has written for and appeared on Comedy Central, MTV, PBS, IFC, Nickelodeon, and other networks. She is a director and producer of the features Nerdcore Rising, starring “Weird Al” Yankovic, and The Muslims are Coming!, starring Jon Stewart and David Cross. Her next film, 3rd Street Blackout, starring Janeane Garofalo, will be released in 2016, along with the book How to Make White People Laugh (Grand Central Publishing).
Writer/Performer Jinho “The Piper” Ferreira is a rapper, actor, and screenwriter from Oakland, California. He was one-third of Flipsyde, an alternative hip-hop band that has toured internationally with artists such as Snoop Dogg, The Black Eyed Peas, Akon, The Game, Busta Rhymes, and more. Flipsyde has written anthems for the 2006 Winter Olympics and the 2008 Summer Olympics. In 2009, Piper won the Creative Promise Award for screenwriter at the Tribeca Film Festival for his CIA thriller: Walter’s Boys. In the spring of 2010, Piper paid his way through a Bay Area law enforcement academy, eventually graduating in the top percentile and delivering the commencement speech. The paradox of being a member of the Black community and a hip-hop artist, while simultaneously working in Law Enforcement, served as the inspiration to write Cops and Robbers. The ingenuity of this play led to him being a scholarship recipient for a performance workshop with Anna Deavere Smith at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The Cops and Robbers Project consists of a one-man-play, an audio play, a 6-song musical soundtrack, and a book written by Piper and his wife Dawn Williams Ferreira, Ph.D.
Kondwani Fidel is a writer, speaker, and spoken word poet who holds a B.A. in English from Virginia State University. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Huffington Post, and elsewhere. He has been published in The Root and The Afro. He has lectured and shared poetry at countless universities, conferences, and literary events around the country. Fidel is the author of Raw Wounds. He is from, and currently lives in, Baltimore, Maryland.
Adam Fong is a cultural entrepreneur and a composer, performer, and producer of new music. He has helped build two innovative arts service organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area: Emerging Arts Professionals (Co-Founder 2008; Director 2011-14) which is a network dedicated to the development and growth of next generation arts and culture workers and Center for New Music (Co-founder 2012; Executive Director) which serves the practitioners of creative, noncommercial music in San Francisco by providing resources including space to work, rehearse and perform, and access to a like-minded community. Fong’s own compositions have been performed throughout California, at many US universities, and internationally. Fong received an MFA in Music Composition at California Institute of the Arts and an MA in English from Stanford University. He further serves the arts and his communities through numerous advisory boards, panels, and committees at the local and national level.
Elijah Ford’s current work explores the way loving friendships, fleeting memories, and escaping through daydream interlace. The California Native received his B.A. in Painting from Cal State San Bernardino in 2011 and MFA from California Institute of the Arts in 2014. A month after graduating from CalArts he moved to Detroit, knowing little about the city but figured it was the right place to start his art career. Upon moving to the midwest, he started working with One Custom City at Talking Dolls where he learned to screen print. He lives and works in his studio in Hamtramck, Michigan.
Devin Kamealoha Forrest was raised in Hāʻena by his maternal grandparents Elizabeth Mahuiki Chandler and Francis Elias Chandler Sr., it is from them that he acquired his love for Hawaiian culture. His great grandmother Rachel Nāhaleʻelua Mahuiki was one of the last native speakers in Hāʻena and helped with Hawaiians revitalization. He learned hula from his uncles and aunties in an ʻohana setting, along with many cousins, and eventually went into formal hula training later in life with Kumu Hula Lehua Matsumoto. All these influences are what fuels his love for Hawaiian poetry. He eventually went on to the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo where he enrolled in Ka Haka ʻUla ʻo Keʻelikōlani College of Hawaiian Language and received a B.A. in Hawaiian Language and a Masters for Hawaiian Language and Literature. He is still an avid composer of both modern and older styles of Hawaiian composition focusing mainly on his kūlāiwi of Hāʻena.
Fonna Forman is a Professor of Political Theory at the University of California, San Diego and founding Director of the UCSD Center on Global Justice. She is best known for her reconstruction of Adam Smith’s thought, recuperating the ethical, social, spatial and public dimensions of his political economy. Current work focuses on climate justice in cities and on human rights at the urban scale. She is presently Vice-Chair of the California Climate Solutions Group, and serves on the Global Citizenship Commission, advising UN policy on human rights. From 2012-13 she served as special advisor on Civic and Urban Initiatives for the City of San Diego and led the development of its Civic Innovation Lab. With Teddy Cruz, she directs the UCSD Cross-Border Initiative, and is a principle of Estudio Teddy Cruz + Forman, a research based political and architectural practice in San Diego. Their research emphasizes urban conflict and informality as sites of intervention for rethinking public policy and civic infrastructure, with a special emphasis on Latin American cities. They are presently co-investigating a Ford Foundation funded study on citizenship culture in the San Diego–Tijuana border region, in collaboration with Antanas Mockus and the Bogota-based NGO, Corpovisionarios.
Praised for her originality in song composition and ability to stir the deepest emotions with spellbinding and soulful vocals, Paula Fuga has established herself as one of Hawai’i’s most respected live performers.
At an early age, she faced the vulnerabilities of living homeless on the beach, seeing the destruction of drugs and violence. Despite having overcome such adversity quite successfully, she is living her career with much gratitude and humility. Fuga relentlessly strives to inspire youth across the world, sharing her story of perseverance and hope. She makes countless efforts to participate in various community projects focusing on protecting the environment and spreading the fundamental values of her native Hawaiian culture. Fuga is an artist on a mission and music is her vehicle.
Starting off as a poet, she bloomed into a songwriter when she began playing the ukulele in High School, studying under master instructor Roy Sakuma. Upon the release of her debut Album Lilikoi, Fuga was awarded the Na Hoku Hanohano Award for Most Promising Artist.
Since the release of her latest recording, the EP “Misery’s End,” which featured guest appearances by Ziggy Marley and Jack Johnson, she has headlined the Alma Surf Festival in Sao Paolo, Brazil, performed with Jack at Madison Square Garden and the Sydney Opera House Forecourt. She was featured on the song “Love Will Find a Way” with Nahko Bear and Trevor Hall for the album of her life long collaborator and guitarist, the musical genius Mike Love. She was honored to be a part of the 52nd Annual Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, performing alongside the Hawaiian cultural icon, Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole for the winning group, Hula Halau O Kamuela. She is among distinguished artists honored to perform for the President, having been invited for the 3rd time to the White House in Washington, DC.
Currently, Fuga continues to widen her fan base as she embraces different genres of music with her signature entrancing vocals. She hopes her new album, entitled “Rain on Sunday”, will be out before the end of 2016. She plans to keep traveling the world as she lives out her dream and shares her gift with a message of love.
“Music is my first love. Love is my first language.” – Paula Fuga
Harry Gamboa Jr. is a Los Angeles-based artist, writer, and educator. He is the founder and director of Virtual Vérité (2005-Present), an international performance troupe. He is a co-founder of Asco (1972-1985), the Los Angeles-based performance group. He is a faculty member of the Photo/Media Program at California Institute of the Arts. His work has been exhibited by museums nationally and internationally at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Liverpool, UK; Musée de l’Elysée, Switzerland, and Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
Dustina Gill, Sitomni Sa Yapi Win, Paints Red Around Her, hails from the Wahpekute band of the Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate of South Dakota. A lifelong advocate of native youth, Dustina worked as the legislative aide for her tribe. After nine years of kicking open federal and state doors to expose injustices, demand treaty obligations be upheld and advocate for native youth she realized her efforts would be better spent as a non-profit focusing on native youth and young adults, Dustina established “Nis’to Incorporated” a native youth non-profit organization. Nis’to is a Dakota word that means, concern for others outside of ourselves.
Gan Golan is a NY Times bestselling author, artist and activist. His books include the hit satire “Goodnight Bush” and critically-acclaimed “The Adventures of Unemployed Man.” His work combines grassroots community organizing with high-profile, media-genic public spectacles that shift popular narratives and mobilize communities. A fan of pop-culture, he has created original video games projected onto the side of buildings to challenge corporate power, and invented a fake sports team, the corporate “Tax Dodgers” to address economic inequality, who were installed in the Baseball Hall of Fame. Recently, he helped design the largest climate mobilization in history, The People’s Climate March.
Ebony Noelle Golden is CEO and principal engagement strategist at Betty’s Daughter Arts Collaborative, LLC, a Harlem-based cultural arts direct action group that works nationally. She is also a director and choreographer who stages site specific rituals and live art that profoundly explores the complexities of freedom in the time of now. She is a co-designer of Freedom in the Time of Ferguson and serves as the lead engagement strategist for the project. Visit her website: bettysdaughterarts.com
Guillermo Gómez-Peña (US/Mexico) is a performance artist, writer, activist, radical pedagogue and director of the international performance troupe La Pocha Nostra. Born in Mexico City, he moved to the US in 1978. His performance work and 11 books have contributed to the debates on cultural & gender diversity, border culture and US/Mexico relations. His artwork has been presented at over nine hundred venues across the US, Canada, Latin America, Europe, Russia, South Africa and Australia.
Balitrónica Gómez’, The Phantom Mariachi, is a symbolic inhabitant of past, present and future San Francisco. This bold persona appears as a walking censorship bar. She silently speaks of the devastating erasure of complex identities. The Phantom’s mission is to inspire people in San Francisco and other cities undergoing similar processes of extreme gentrification to respond with creative and critical commentary to their own local issues.
Kevin Gover is the director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. Kevin began as director in December 2007. Born in 1955 in Lawton, Oklahoma, he is the son of Bill and Maggie Gover, civil rights and Indian rights activists. Gover received his J.D. degree (cum laude) from the University of New Mexico School of Law in 1981, and his A.B. in Public and International Affairs from Princeton University in 1978.
Following law school, Kevin served as a law clerk in the chambers of the Honorable Juan G. Burciaga, United States District Judge for the District of New Mexico. He then joined the Washington, D.C. offices of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Kampelman, where his practice was limited to representing Indian tribes, tribal agencies, and Alaska Native corporations.
Kevin returned to New Mexico in 1986, where he established a small Native American-owned law firm that specialized in federal Indian law. Gover, Stetson, Williams & West, P.C. grew into the largest Indian-owned law firm in the country and represented tribes and tribal agencies in a dozen states. Gover served as Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs in the United States Department of the Interior from 1997-2001. As the senior executive of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, he won praise for his efforts to rebuild long-neglected Indian schools and expand tribal and BIA police forces throughout the country. His tenure as Assistant Secretary is perhaps best-known for his apology to Native American people for the historical conduct of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
Upon leaving office, Kevin resumed the practice of law at Steptoe & Johnson, LLP in Washington, D.C. In 2003, he joined the faculty at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law at Arizona State University and served on the faculty of the university’s Indian Legal Program, one of the largest such programs in the country. He taught courses in federal Indian law, administrative law, and statutory interpretation, as well as an undergraduate course in American Indian policy.
Throughout his professional career, Kevin has given freely of his time, serving on several committees of the Federal Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He has served as well on a number of non-profit boards, including the Southwestern Association for Indian Art, Futures for Children, and the Grand Canyon Trust. He has also served on the boards of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas and the Salt River Development Company, an enterprise of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
Reggie Gray, a Brooklyn native and pioneer of flex dancing, recently choreographed his largest production, FLEXN, at the Park Ave Armory and toured with this production to places like Brisbane, Australia and Manchester, UK. He has also choreographed recently for Public Works: The Odyssey, a New York City theater production. Gray has won several top dance titles, danced for music videos, television shows, and reality competitions–he flaunted his own moves on the third season of America’s Best Dance Crew and has founded a dance competition called The D.R.E.A.M RING (Dance Rules Everything Around Me). Gray specializes in pauzin, an animated and cinematic flex style that he developed early on in his dance career. FLEXN styles include bone breaking, pauzin, gliding, get low/floor, connecting, hat tricks, and punchlines which are influenced by the ’90’s Jamaican street dance styles “brukup” and “dancehall.” Gray spends his time choreographing productions that speak to current events (such as police brutality), organizing battles and performances, and filling any spare time by filming and editing dance videos. He looks forward to the growth and popularity that FLEXN continues to gain.
Queer Migrant Poet, Cultural strategist and organizer. Sonia Guiñansaca has been named as 1 of 10 Up and Coming Latinx Poets You Need to Know by Remezcla, as well as one of 13 Coolest Queers on the Internet by Teen Vogue, and was recently announced as the 2017 Artist in Residency at NYU’s Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Guiñansaca, a VONA/Voices alumni, has performed at El Museo Del Barrio, The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, NY Poetry Festival, Galleria de La Raza, and featured on NBC, PBS, Latina Magazine, Pen American, and the Poetry Foundation to name a few. She has emerged as a national leader in the undocumented/migrant artistic and political communities. Guiñansaca co-founded and help build some of the largest undocumented organizations in the country, coordinating and participating in groundbreaking civil disobedience actions in the immigrant rights movement. She has also founded some of the first creative artistic projects by and for undocumented writers/artists. For more information: soniaguinansaca.com
Tammy Hailiʻōpua Baker – As a playwright/director Tammy Haili‘ōpua Baker’s work centers on the development of an indigenous Hawaiian theatre aesthetic and form. Her work also focuses on the revitalization of Hawaiian language and culture, covering the use of theatre as a tool for language learning, and the empowerment of cultural identity through stage performance as exemplified by the works of Ka Hālau Hanakeaka, a Hawaiian medium theatre troupe she co-founded. Ka Hālau Hanakeaka’s productions have toured internationally and throughout the Hawaiian archipelago. In addition to her Hawaiian medium plays Baker’s English and Pidgin (Hawaiian Creole English) plays have been produced at various theatres in Hawai‘i. In the Department of Theatre and Dance at UH Mānoa she oversees the MFA Playwriting and Hawaiian Theatre programs.
Hailing from Chicago – now residing in the San Francisco Bay Area, JJ Harris founded Techboogie Media to bring diverse commercial-grade visual content to the world. His work producing, shooting and editing extends to a wide range of brands including the Super Bowl 50 Host Committee, Women Who Code, Adobe, and Impact Hub Oakland. Driven by his never-ending quest to perfect his craft, JJ continues to push boundaries when it comes to visual media, creating several videos that went viral. When he is not planning his next video shoot, you can find him immersed in nature with his camera.
Trey Hartt works at the intersection of art and activism. He received a BFA in Theatre Performance from VCU and in college began working with The Conciliation Project, a Richmond-based social justice theatre company that inspires dialogue on racism and oppression in order to repair its damaging legacy. Trey is the Board President for Alternate ROOTS, a regional organization supporting the creation and presentation of original art to eliminate all forms of oppression, and he currently serves as the Deputy Director of ART 180, helping to lead the juvenile justice project, Performing Statistics.
Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson is a 31 year old, Affrilachian (Black Appalachian), working class woman, born and raised in Southeast Tennessee. She has extensive experience with community organizing and is a former staff member of the Chicago SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) History Project, and a past member of the United Students Against Sweatshops National Coordinating, Political Education and Collective Liberation Committees. Additionally, she is a long-time activist working around issues of mountaintop removal mining and environmental racism in central and southern Appalachia, and has served on the National Council of the Student Environmental Action Coalition. She is also an active participant in the Movement for Black Lives. Ash-Lee served as a Highlander Research and Education Center board member from 2012 until becoming the Co-Executive Director in 2017. Ash-Lee comes to Highlander from Project South, where she served as a regional organizer and member. She is an active participant on the governance council of the Southern Movement Assembly, and organizer with Concerned Citizens for Justice (Chattanooga, TN).
Chinaka Hodge, Associate Director for Program and Pedagogy at YBCA, is a writer and educator from Oakland. A 2014 recipient of The San Francisco Foundation’s Community Leadership Award, Hodge serves as Alumni Development Coordinator for Youth Speaks and acts as Visiting Editor at the California Sunday Magazine.
Chris Herbie Holland is a NYC based activist, actor, organizer and co-leader of the activist collective Artists 4 Change NYC. He has worked regionally at theatres such as Northern Stage and Nantucket Theatre Workshop as well as locally with NYTW and The Lark. Over the past year, Chris organized a trip to Ferguson, MO to protest the FPD, helped organize guerrilla dialogues for This is Our Youth (Broadway) and Hands Up! (NBT) along with a teach-in and night of curated art at NBT. Chris remains a core facilitator for the curriculum Freedom in the Time of Ferguson.
Erik Paul Howard, is a photographer as well as co-founder of Expressions and Young Nation in southwest Detroit. He combines his passion for youth and community development with his love of photography. Using group activities such as lowriding and street art as a mentoring tool, Erik has been able to reach out to young people in the community of southwest Detroit. Erik’s photography documents his personal relationships and interactions in communities. It captures the excitement of people in their process of self discovery, development, and life experiences.
Natasha Huey is currently the National Programs Senior Associate for Youth Speaks, a teaching artist for Performing Arts Workshop, and the co-founder of Write Home, a project that makes creative spaces for homeless youth in Berkeley. For more, check out her website at natashahuey.com.
For over thirty years Wing Young Huie has been photographing the everyday realities of our complex and changing cultural landscape. Though much of it is has been focused on his home state of Minnesota, he has photographed around and outside the United States, with exhibitions in museums and galleries worldwide (a half-million people viewed his traveling exhibition in China, sponsored by the U.S. Embassy). But his most well-known projects have been large-scale public installations, such as Frogtown (1995), Lake Street USA (2000) and The University Avenue Project (2010), which transformed major Twin Cities’ thoroughfares into epic photo galleries, reflecting the lives of thousands of its citizens.
Ashley Hunt uses image, object, word and body to engage the ideas of social movements, the writing of history, and the building of new emancipatory spaces. His primary subject has been the U.S. prison system, the aesthetics and language that conceal its politics of race, class, capitalism and power. His current work, Degrees of Visibility, is a growing body of photo and text pieces that examine how prisons, jails and detention centers hide within the landscape, shot across all 50 US states and territories. Ashley lives in Los Angeles, where he directs the Photo and Media Program at CalArts.
Tani Ikeda is an Emmy-nominated director who creates narratives, documentaries, music videos, and commercial films. She was recently selected as one of Film Independent’s 33 Emerging Filmmakers as a Project: Involve Directors Fellow. Tani has directed films in Uganda, India, China and the US. Her work has been recognized in The Hollywood Reporter, Teen Vogue, and Cosmopolitan magazine, and has screened internationally at festivals around the world including the Sundance Film Festival. She is currently executive producing and directing a 6 part docuseries about Black Lives Matter with Pulse Films. At the age of 21, Tani Ikeda co-founded imMEDIAte Justice, a summer workshop and community outreach program for girls devoted to revolutionizing sex education through filmmaking. She is the current executive director of imMEDIAte Justice and was named one of the “25 Visionaries Who are Changing Your World,” by the Utne Reader. ImMEDIAte Justice has received national attention on CNN, NBC, and Univision. Ikeda tours the country speaking at universities and national conferences about her feminist filmmaking. Tani holds a Bachelors Degree in Film Production from the University of Southern California and currently resides in Los Angeles.
Baba Israel is an artist, producer, educator and consultant raised in New York by parents who were core members of the Living Theatre. He developed as a young artist exploring spoken word, Hip Hop, and experimental performance at venues such as the Nuyorican Poets cafe. He was Artistic Director of Contact Theatre in Manchester and is currently touring his multimedia performance The Spinning Wheel. He is a core member of Hip Hop/Soul project Soul Inscribed who recently completed the American Music Abroad program. Heholds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College.
Kai Kane Aoki Izu is a graduating senior at Stanford University working towards a BA and MA in Psychology. KK has had years of experience working in for-profit, non-profit, and start-up models focusing on marketing, business development, and strategic messaging. Intertwining both academic and professional knowledge, KK brings a fresh twist of creativity, ingenuity, and catalytic energy wherever he goes. A San Francisco native, KK is a passionate dancer and has toured professionally to Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and Australia. As a millennial, KK enthusiastically enjoys retirement planning and believes that financial literacy is the key to his generation’s success.
Danielle Jackson is passionate about ideas, culture, and community. She has worked on cultural and educational projects in more than 15 countries across the globe. As co-founder of the Bronx Documentary Center, she pioneered new ways to bring high-caliber work to underserved audiences. At Magnum Photos, she developed exhibitions for the world’s foremost photographers, filmmakers, and museums. She has taught students of all ages through Stanford in New York, New York University, and the Museum of Modern Art. Currently, she advises cultural institutions on community engagement and audience development strategies and is working on a series of lectures on visual culture and urbanism.
DJ 3rd Degree AKA Eli Jacobs-Fantauzzi is a DJ, filmmaker and story teller. He made his mark on the international music scene with MuthaLandMusic Mixes Vol 1-3. His unique style blends traditional music genres with modern rhythms to take people on a musical journey. His dedication to his craft is deeply connected to his commitment to social justice and the belief in the transformative power of music. Most recently, he has taken the stage in Zanzibar, Bali, Colombia, and Jamaica at world festivals, where he has energized crowds by spinning music that moves you to dance.
Composer Jon Jang became the first American born Chinese to compose a symphonic work that honors Chinese American history. For three decades, composer and pianist Jon Jang gives a musical voice to a history that has been silent. A majority of his works represents a chronology of Chinese American history in San Francisco. Commissioned by the Sacramento Philharmonic Orchestra and Oakland East Bay Symphony, Jon Jang composed The Chinese American Symphony (2007) which pays tribute to the Chinese laborers who built the first transcontinental railroad in United States
As an epic composer who writes large scale works for large and small chamber music ensembles, Jang’s other works include: Toisan Railway (2014); Oyama Canon in D (2013); Portrait of Sun Yat-sen (2011), When Sorrow Turns to Joy – Songlines: The Spiritual Tributary of Paul Robeson and Mei Lanfang (2000), Reparations Now! Concerto for Jazz Ensemble and Taiko (1988), Island: the Immigrant Suite No. 2(1995)for the Kronos Quartet and Cantonese Opera singer and the score for the dramatic adaptation of Maxine Hong Kingston’sThe Woman Warrior(1994)commissioned by the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Huntington Theatre in Boston and Center Theatre Group of Los Angeles (Mark Taper).
Pianist/composer Jon Jang has co-composed, co-led and recorded with great black artists such as Max Roach, James Newton and David Murray. His ensembles have toured at major concert halls and music festivals in Europe, China, Canada, United States and South Africa, four months after the election to end apartheid in April 1994. During 1999-2001, Jang toured with Max Roach as part of the Beijing Trio at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Zurich, Berlin, Milan and the Royal Festival Hall in London. Jon Jang was selected as one of the small group of composers along with Philip Glass, Meredith Monk and others to have works performed at the first Other Minds Festival in San Francisco and be in residency at Djerassi Resident program in 1993. In May 2013, Jang performed at The White House Forum on Asian American Pacific Islander Issues in Washington DC hosted by the US Department of the Interior and The White House.
New YorkTimes described Jon Jang’s music: “Like the ‘’Third Stream’’ composers of the 50’s who married jazz and classical music, Jang honors his two idioms without fully merging them. “Among Jang’s awards: History-Makers Award from the Chinese Historical Society of America; Mid-Career Visionary Artist Award from the Ford Foundation and the first Conservatory of Music alum to receive the Distinguished Achievement Award from Oberlin College
As a scholar, Jang has taught at Stanford University, University of California at Berkeley and UC Irvine. In 2012, Jon Jang was awarded the Martin Luther King Jr.-Cesar Chavez-Rosa Parks Visiting Professor recognition at the University of Michigan. In London in 1997, Jang was one of four artists selected by the British Embassy in Washington DC to participate in Reinventing Britain, a conference of prominent international scholars featuring Stuart Hall, Paul Gilroy and Homi Bhabba as speakers. During 2016, Jang presented his lecture, The Sounds of Struggle: Music from the Black Liberation Movement of the 1960s to the Asian American Movement of the 1980s at Columbia University, Hamilton College and Northeastern University.
A co-founder of Asian Improv aRts (AIR) with Francis Wong in 1987, the organization has produced over 70 recordings and over a hundred concerts. AIR has also nurtured and supported young and late starting artists by producing the first and early recordings of MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award Fellow and Harvard University music professor Vijay Iyer, Miya Masaoka and Jen Shyu, as well as Anthony Brown’s Grammy award nominated recording of Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite.
Ben Johnson, is the Director of Performing Arts for the City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA). Previously he was the Program Manager at the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA (CAP-UCLA), Director of Programs at United States Artists, Inc. (Los Angeles), Director of Northrop Concerts and Lectures at the University of Minnesota –Minneapolis, and Director of Education and Audience Development at the University Musical Society (UMS) at the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor where he worked in Detroit for 13 years. He is affiliated with many artists, foundations, funders, and national and international peer institutions.
Emily Johnson is an artist who makes body-based work. A Bessie Award winning choreographer and 2015 Guggenheim Fellow in Choreography, she is based in Minneapolis and New York City. Originally from Alaska, she is of Yup’ik descent and since 1998 has created work that considers the experience of sensing and seeing performance. Her dances function as installations, engaging audiences within and through a space and environment—interacting with a place’s architecture, history, and role in community. Emily received a 2014 Doris Duke Artist Award and her work is supported by Creative Capital, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Map Fund, a Joyce Award, the McKnight Foundation, New England Foundation for the Arts, and The Doris Duke Residency to Build Demand for the Arts. Emily is a current Mellon Choreography Fellow at Williams College and was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Minnesota, 2013 – 2015, an inaugural Fellow at the Robert Rauschenberg Residency, a 2012 Headlands Center for the Arts and MacDowell Artist in Residence, a Native Arts and Cultures Fellow (2011), a MANCC Choreographer Fellow (2009/2010/2012/2014/2016), a MAP Fund Grant recipient (2009/2010/2012/2013), and McKnight Fellow (2009, 2012). Her new work, Then Cunning Voice and A Night We Spend Gazing at Stars is an all night, outdoor performance gathering. It will premiere in 2017 and tour to Williamstown, MA; New York City; San Francisco; Chicago; and Melbourne, Australia.
Tish Jones is Founder and Executive Director of TruArtSpeaks, a Minneapolis based nonprofit arts organization. She is a poet, organizer, and educator with a deep passion for youth development, literacy, and social change. Jones has been published in multiple journals, anthologies, and poetry collections throughout the nation. Now serving as the Brave New Voices Leadership Fellow for Youth Speaks in San Francisco, she continues her charge of carving out space for the leaders of the next generation.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph is a poet and arts activist. He serves as chief of program and pedagogy at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and is a Broadway veteran, a National Poetry Slam champion, and the artistic director of HBO’s seven-part documentary Russell Simmons Presents Brave New Voices. Marc was an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship and one of 21 artists named to the inaugural class of Doris Duke Artists. He is the founding program director of Youth Speaks and a co-founder of Life is Living, a national series of one-day festivals deisgned to affirm peaceful urban life through hip-hop arts and focused environmental action.
James Kass ia an award-winning writer, educator, producer, and media maker. He is the founder and executive director of Youth Speaks, widely credited with helping to launch the youth spoken word movement now made up of over 85 programs nationwide. Creator and co-executive producer of the seven-part HBO series Brave New Voices and HBO’s Peabody-nominated Brave New Voices 2010, James also served as artistic director of the PBS series Poetic License. He curated the poetry for the first ever White House Poetry Jam, and in 2010 he delivered the commencement speech to the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s graduating class.
With 25 years of experience as a community engagement specialist and comedic storyteller, Robert Farid Karimi entertains and educates. Working for corporate clients like HBO, General Mills, and the Kresge Foundation, he brings food, comedy, and interactive storytelling to events as small as 25 as large as 5000+. With his background as a producer/writer of his own comedy cooking show and veteran of stages all over the world, he knows how to bring home issues that inspire audiences and even sparks innovation in organizations worldwide. He facilitates staff and board retreats, serves as keynote speaker for organizations worldwide, and creates interactive food experiences for corporate and nonprofit clients with his critically acclaimed wit and warmth. He currently works with cities, companies, and health professionals worldwide on making healthy messaging delicious using comedy, culture and food with his culinary cultural engagement project: ThePeoplesCook Project. He speaks on issues such as mixed race/consciousness, food politics, community deliciousness and the power of the Fool/Trickster to change the world. His next project, Champion Swimmer, a Knight Cities Challenge Winner, focuses on how culture shapes our fear of water with a pool-based performance piece to bring cultural history and humor back to the conversation about why communities of color don’t swim and create a world where those that fear the pool can find joy and transcend their fear and trauma. For more, go to http://www.karrrimi.com
Hari Kondabolu is a Brooklyn-based, Queens-raised comic who the NY Times has called “one of the most exciting political comics in stand-up today.” In March 2014, he released his debut standup album “Waiting for 2042” on indie-label Kill Rock Stars. He is currently NYU’s APA Institute’s “Artist in Residence” for the 2014-2015 Academic Year.
Keba Armand Konte was born and raised in San Francisco and has been in Oakland as long. He is an artist, food entrepreneur and community man. His artwork has been published widely and exhibited in museums and galleries internationally. He is the cofounder of Guerilla Café, founder of Chasing Lions Café and Founder/Roaster for Red Bay Coffee Roasters. In his spare time he enjoys aquaponic gardening, judo and making vegan waffles for his family while listening to ol’ time singer Valerie June.
StevenLavine was president of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), an internationally recognized pacesetter in the education of creative leaders in all the arts. During his 27 years as president, CalArts has become one of the most ethnically diverse arts colleges in the US, established the much-imitated Community Arts Partnership (CAP) to bring arts education to underserved youth in Los Angeles, pioneered in a broad array of international collaborations, and built the Roy and Edna Disney/CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in downtown Los Angeles, which introduces adventurous audiences to the most influential new developments in the arts from around the world.
Is a major contributor to the life of Los Angeles and the nation, having served on such national boards as the American Council and Education and Americans for the Arts and local boards including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, KCRW-FM, the Villa Aurora, Idyllwild Arts and the Visiting Committee of the J. Paul Getty Museum. He served on then Senator Barack Obama’s Arts Policy Committee as well as on National Public Radio’s Working Group on the Future. Deeply committed to civic life in Los Angeles, Dr. Lavine served on the Architectural Selection Committee for the Los Angeles Cathedral. He co-chaired the Blue Ribbon panel that led to a major ten-year investment in arts education by the Los Angeles Unified School District. Internationally, his work in support of cultural exchange has been recognized by the Federal Republic of Germany’s highest honor, the Cross of Merit.
Eun Lee, is the founder of The Dream Unfinished, an Activist Orchestra which stands in solidarity with #BlackLivesMatter. After commemorating individuals such as Eric Garner and Sandra Bland in its 2015 and 2016 seasons, TDU’s 2017 season will raise awareness for the school-to-prison pipeline and its impact on youth of color. Eun’s work in TDU has been documented by The New York Times, WQXR, and The Huffington Post; and Eun has been invited to speak on TDU at New York University, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. Eun graduated from Northwestern University with a Bachelors in Music Education.
Jenny Lee, is the Executive Director of Allied Media Projects. She has been working at the intersection of media, art, technology, and social justice in Detroit for the entirety of her adult life. She currently serves on the national steering committee of the Arts & Culture Social Justice Network.
Michelle “Mush” Lee is a writer and youth advocate born in San Francisco raised between the city’s Tenderloin district and suburban Hercules. She is the recipient of the New York Hip Hop Theater Festival’s Future Aesthetic Grant and a storyteller whose work has been featured at the National Asian American Theater Festival, Girlfest: Hawai’i, Intersection for the Arts’ New Works Theater Festival, and on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. She is a 2015 CompassPoint Next Generation Leaders of Color Fellow. Michelle has taught in universities and youth detention centers across the country and is frequently a featured speaker on 21st century literacy, critical pedagogy, and contemporary youth voice movement. Her most memorable work, however, is in the presence of her teen students, facilitating moments of epiphany in ordinary places: cafeterias, gyms, and shoe stores. Currently, she serves as an arts integration specialist for Alameda County Office of Education, sits on the board for 826 Valencia and works as Youth Speaks’ Senior Teaching Artist. She lives in East Oakland with her superstar husband and their three children.
Kirsten Levingston is a former program officer with the Ford Foundation’s Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice team. She worked on justice system reform issues at the local and national levels, focusing her grant making on ensuring the enforcement of fundamental rights through reforms that improve access to effective, fair, and nondiscriminatory justice systems. Prior to joining Ford, Kirsten spent almost two decades as a lawyer and policy advocate focused on criminal justice and civil rights issues. She has a JD from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California.
Rafael Lopez-Barrantes is a full time Voice Faculty at the California Institute of the Arts since 2007 and Associate Director of Performance 2008-2015. My experience as a performer, researcher and teacher of extended vocal range techniques, goes back to the work I did as a member of the Roy Hart Theatre (1974 -1991) in the South of France, where we created our center for the arts. It was out of this context that I became a co-founder of Archipelago Theater Inc. in France (1984) and USA (1989) creating and directing theatre works. My years of research and performing with the Roy Hart Theatre, my commitment to the Puppetry Arts, my study of the Flamenco form and Japanese Traditional Performing Arts, my teaching at Duke University (1992-2007) and at the American Dance Festival (1992-2015), have led me to establish the foundations of my own interdisciplinary expression and inspired me to create a methodology to extend the vocal range of the performer.
Born and raised in New York City, Sade Lythcott is the daughter of Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, founder of the National Black Theater and legendary champion of African-American culture in New York. Following her mother’s death in 2008, Sade was appointed CEO of the NBT, and is also co-chair of the Coalitions of Theaters of Color. A graduate of New York University with a BA in art history, Sade lives in Harlem, NY. Prior to joining the NBT family, Sade has performed with several Off- and Off-Off Broadway theater companies, including appearances as Gail in Ron Milner’s “Urban Transition: Loose Blossom” at the New Federal Theater directed by Woodie King, Jr., and as Dorothy Dandridge in “Dorothy Dandridge: Before, After & Now” Directed by Dr. Barbara Ann Teer. In 2012 Lythcott wrote & produced highly acclaimed musical A Time To Love, garnering 3 AUDELCO nominations and the Key to Harlem for her excellence in the Arts. She is a recipient of the 2015 Rising Star Award from 651 ARTS and the Larry Leon Hamlin Legacy Award from Black Theatre Network.
Brandie Macdonald began work at First Peoples Fund in 2015 and has 8 years experience working within the nonprofit field. She developed and manages the First Peoples Fund youth-track programming, Dances with Words, centrally grounded on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Brandie also co-manages the National Native Artists Professional Development Training programs and technical assistance with First Peoples Fund. Brandie sits on the board of the Rapid City Arts Council. She is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation with ancestral ties to the Choctaw Nation, both located in Oklahoma. Brandie currently sits on the board of directors for the Rapid City Arts Council and the South Dakota Poetry Society. Brandie comes to First Peoples Fund from The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School, where she worked as their Museum Educator building the centers’ Education Department. She worked for The Charlotte Museum of History as the Manager of Education, and as an ongoing mentor and community builder within the nonprofit Native Explorers. She received the Smithsonian Affiliate Internship at the National Museum of the American Indian, the Diversity Fellowship for the American Association of Museums, became a Leadership Fellow for Intermedia Arts, and was named one of Charlotte, North Carolina’s, most Prominent Community Leaders under the age of 40 by Charlotte Building Initiative.
Jerry Maldonado is part of the Ford Foundation’s Equitable Development team. His grant making concentrates on integrated regional strategies for building stronger communities across the US by improving access for low-income families to permanently affordable housing, reducing blight, improving transit choices, and strengthening decent work opportunities. Jerry joined Ford in 2008 as a program manager overseeing the foundation’s post-Katrina Gulf Coast Transformation efforts. He has a master’s degree in public policy and international affairs from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University, where he concentrated in international relations with a minor in urban studies.
Detroit native Brian Marable first discovered his love for acting at his high school Cass Tech where he was a performing arts major. He then studied at both Howard University and Wayne State University. Favorite regional credits include: Dr. King in Mountaintop by Katori Hall, Boy Willie in Piano Lesson by August Wilson (Performance Network Theater), and Franco in Superior Donuts by Tracy Letts (Purple Rose Theater). Film credits include: Have a Little Faith (Hallmark Movie), The Citizen 2012 (Monterey media), Low Winter Sun (AMC). Brian is currently exploring writing for the stage in a collaborative play titled Grow which looks at marijuana law & property rights with 4Theatrsake, a Detroit based theater company. Life credits include father, son, brother, Detroiter.