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.
Through names and narrative, we experience physical places in profound and sometimes unseen ways. A name can evoke a concept, a sense of home, connect us, and have deep meaning for communities and families.Kate Beane (Flandreau Santee Dakota and Muskogee Creek) holds a BA in American Indian Studies and a Ph.D. in American Studies at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She served as a Charles A. Eastman Pre-doctoral Fellow at Dartmouth College, and as a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is currently a public historian and works in Native American Initiatives at the Minnesota Historical Society. Kate recently worked with her family to champion the cause of restoring the Dakota name Bde Maka Ska (from Lake Calhoun) in her ancestral homeland of Bde Ota (Minneapolis). Kate believes that the dominant narrative of history should be updated and rewritten to honor the languages, lives, and legacies of its Indigenous peoples.
Syd Beane (Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe) is an educator, community organizer, and documentary filmmaker. His great-grandfather was Rev. John Eastman, the older brother and mentor of Charles Alexander Eastman (Ohiyesa). Syd served as Project Manager of The Dakota Land Study in Minnesota Before 1862 Research/Book Project which was completed with the publishing of the book Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota. This book was awarded the Minnesota History Book of the year for 2012. He was writer and co-producer of the documentary film Native Nations: Standing Together for Civil Rights shown nationally on ABC, NBC, and the Hallmark Channel. He is Executive Producer/Co-Producer of Ohiyesa: The Soul of an Indian.
Shamell Bell is a mother, community organizer, dancer/choreographer, and a doctoral student in Culture and Performance at UCLA’s World Arts and Cultures/Dance department. Bell received her M.A. in Ethnic Studies from UC San Diego and B.A. with Honors in American Studies and Ethnicity specializing in African American Studies at the University of Southern California. Her work on what she calls, “street dance activism” situates street dance as grassroots political action from her perspectives as a scholar, dancer, and choreographer. Shamell’s research examines street dance movements in South Central Los Angeles through an ethnographic and performance studies lens. Her street dance experience includes featured roles in music videos, award shows, and tours. An original member of the #blacklivesmatter movement, beginning as a core organizer with Justice 4 Trayvon Martin Los Angeles (J4TMLA)/Black Lives Matter Los Angeles to what she now describes as an Arts & Culture liaison between several social justice organizations such as the BLM network, Blackout For Human Rights, The Undercommons at UCLA, among others. She also consults for social justice impact in the tv, film, and music industry with credits such as George Tillman Jr.’s film adaptation of Angie Thomas’ best selling book, “The Hate U Give”. Shamell is also a member of a think tank for actor, activist, and rapper Common’s philanthropic company, Think Common.
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.
Julia Bogany is a member of the Gabrieleno Tongva Tribe. She is a mother, grand and great grand mother. She is also a very respected “Elder” of the tribe. She was a preschool Director, Middle school Coordinator and instructed child development for home Day Care. She also has training in Child development Indian Child Welfare and Native American Studies. She is also Vise -Present of the Keepers of indigenous Way (KIW). She constantly, incessantly and voluntarily enjoys teaching and helping her tribe. She has worked for over twenty years for the American Indian community for her tribe. She has provided cultural, FASD, ICWA, training and workshops in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside areas and Sacramento. She teaches Tongva language, basket weaving and cultural classes. All the work she’s done is for her great grandchildren’s future and for the future of her tribe.
Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán is a multimedia artist, activist/organizer, critic, and educator, orchestrating visual, acoustic, performative, textual, and terrestrial techniques to produce work across the Américas, Africa, the Arab world, Asia, Europe, Australia, and the Pacific. Bodhrán is the author of Antes y después del Bronx: Lenapehokingand South Bronx Breathing Lessons; editor of the international queer Indigenous issue of Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Thought; and co-editor, with Rosy Simas, of the Native issue of Movement Research Performance Journal. Bodhrán has been a frequent collaborator with Rosy Simas Danse, as a multimedia artist, installation and performance assistant, creative/critical/marketing/grant writer, journal editor, community outreach and engagement specialist, dialogue facilitator, and event organizer for We Wait In The Darkness performances; Seneca Women and Haudenosaunee Homelands: Living Memory and Movements installation; The Fibers with Which We Weave: Native Artists Decolonizing Performance and Place dialogue; Skin(s ) performances; the Native issue of Movement Research Performance Journal; and Weave performances. Bodhrán’s current long-term solo multimedia project, Yerbabuena/Mala yerba, parts of which appear in 22 nations, is a womanist, queer, transgender multiracial remapping of New York and California, the East and West Coasts, and the Atlantic and Pacific worlds.
Kalia Brooks Nelson is a New York based curator and educator. Brooks Nelson holds a PhD in Aesthetics and Art Theory at the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts, Portland, ME. Previously she was a Helena Rubinstein Fellow in Critical Studies at the Whitney Independent Study Program, received an MA in Curatorial Practice from the California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco and a BA in Sociology and Geography from the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. Brooks Nelson is also an ex-officio trustee on the Board of the Museum of the City of New York. She has curated and co-curated numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad including exhibitions at Gracie Mansion Conservancy, New York, NY; New York City Hall; International Center of Photography, New York, NY; Philadelphia Photo Art Center, Philadelphia, PA; Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Queens, NY; the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA), Brooklyn, NY; Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Art Center on Governor’s Island, NY; Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York, NY; Rush Arts Gallery, New York, NY; California College of the Arts, San Francisco, CA; and Arts Initiative Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan. Brooks Nelson is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Photography and Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has taught in the department for eight years with a focus on visual cultural theory, the history of photography, and the business of art. She has also been on the committee to facilitate a series of international conferences entitled, Black Portraitures, to foster discourse around the image of the black body in Western art and culture. Brooks Nelson has also been an Adjunct Instructor at Cooper Union’s School of Fine Art and at Parsons School of Art, Media and Technology. She has lectured extensively in public talks and symposia at venues including Harvard University; the Museum of Art Sao Paulo, Brazil; College Arts Association national conference; Society of Photographic Education national conference; David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland, College Park, MD; New York University, New York, NY; The Odeon Theater, Florence, Italy; La Sorbonne, Paris, France; La Bellevilloise Culture Center, Paris, France; the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. Brooks Nelson has written and served as photo editor for publications including Art Forum; Art South Africa Magazine; Exposure, The Journal for the Society of Photographic Education; Posing Beauty: African American Images from the 1890s to the Present, W.W. Norton; Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs, Harper Collins; The Light Work Annual, Light Work; and Reflections in Black: A History of Black Photographers 1840 to the Present, W.W. Norton.
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.
Calderón has exhibited her work at El Museo del Barrio, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, The Queens Museum, Socrates Sculpture Park, The Portland Museum of Art, Pioneer Works, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Arsenal de la Puntilla and Galeria 20/20 in Puerto Rico, Art in Odd Places Festival, and SmackMellon among others.
She is a PEPATIAN artist; a South Bronx-based organization dedicated to creating, producing and supporting contemporary multi-disciplinary art by Latino and Bronx-based artists founded by visual artist Pepon Osorio and dance/choreographer Merian Soto. Moreover, she continues to be an advocate and activist for conscious arts revitalization in the South Bronx. She has been included in such books as Frescos, 50 contemporary artists from Puerto Rico, Strange Material: Storytelling through Textile, and EMERGENCY INDEX VOL. 4 ‘s annual performance publication. Melissa was born and bred in the Bronx.
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.
In 10 seasons at OSF: Director of a 10-year initiative to create up to 37 new plays sprung from moments of change, inspiration or conflict in American history, inspired by Shakespeare’s history plays and bringing together playwrights, historians and theatres nationwide. Playwright, The Very Merry Wives of Windsor, Iowa. Other credits: Co-founder, with Bill Rauch, of Cornerstone Theater Company and, as resident playwright, helped to develop the company’s signature style of adapting classic plays into modern, community-specific contexts; wrote more than 25 of the company’s productions for stages across the country, including the Mark Taper Forum, Long Wharf Theatre, Arena Stage, Pasadena Playhouse, Yale Repertory Theatre, New York Shakespeare Festival, Great Lakes Theater, the World Shakespeare Conference, the shuttered mother plant of Bethlehem Steel, a dirt-floor cattle sale barn in Oregon and a crowded California shopping mall. Film/TV: Developed hour-long television pilots for CBS and F/X; script work for Judging Amy.
Mandy Carter is one of the leading African-American lesbian activists in the country. She has a 43-year movement history of social, racial and lesbigaytrans justice organizing since 1968. Raised in two orphanages and a foster home in upstate New York for her first 18 years, Carter attributes the influences of the Quaker-based American Friends Service Committee, the former Institute for the Study of Nonviolence, and the pacifist-based War Resisters League to her long time sustained activism. And her commitment to multi-racial, multi-issue organizing, Most recently, Ms. Carter has been named the American Civil Liberties Union-North Carolina’s 2011 Frank Porter Graham Award winner. Mandy Carter was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the “1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005” in order to recognize, make visible and celebrate the impressive and valuable, yet often invisible peace work of thousands of women around the world. And while the “1000 Women” didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize, the second pillar of the project included a book about the 1000 peace women, an interactive online platform, and a traveling exhibit. Carter helped found two ground breaking organizations. Southerners On New Ground (SONG) and the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC). SONG integrates work against homophobia into freedom struggles in the South. She served as its Durham-based Executive Director from 2003-2005. NBJC was founded in 2003 and is the only current national civil rights organization of concerned black lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and allies dedicated to fostering equality by ending racism and homophobia. NBJC actively pursues ways to counter anti-gay organizing within African American communities. Carter’s political involvement is also quite extensive and includes: serving as campaign manager for North Carolina’s Senate Vote ’90 and North Carolina Mobilization ’96 political action committees; serving, again, as campaign manager for Florida Vote/Equal Voice based in Miami; participating in a 2000 election year non-partisan, statewide voter empowerment campaign, which was initiated by the African-American Ministers Leadership Council of the People For the American Way Foundation, and the Florida NAACP, and which resulted in one of Florida’s largest black voter turnout’s ever. During the 2008 presidential elections, Carter was one of the five National Co-Chairs of Obama Pride, the LGBT grassroots infrastructure for Barack Obama’s historic 2008 presidential campaign. She had done the hard work of organizing grassroots networks, especially of people of color, throughout out the South. She was also a member of Hillary Clinton’s North Carolina LGBT Steering Committee up until the May 2008 North Carolina Democratic Primary that was won by Obama.
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.
Dessane Cassell is a native New Yorker and a graduate of Oberlin College. She joined CCL after completing a Joint Curatorial Fellowship with the Studio Museum in Harlem and the Museum of Modern Art. As part of the inaugural class, Dessane assisted with curatorial, publication, and research initiatives between both museums, and her recent projects include co-organizing a film series and gallery exhibition for MoMA Film, which focused on historical constructions of blackness and otherness in cinema, as well as assisting with recent Studio Museum exhibitions, Signature and Fictions. Previously, Dessane was selected to serve as a U.S. Fulbright Fellow in South Africa, where she focused on literacy development and producing a series of podcast and radio projects with a local artist collective. Dessane has also contributed essays to various publications, including forthcoming Studio Museum and MoMA publications.
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.