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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 is 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.
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.
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.
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.
Kyle T. Mays (Black/Saginaw Anishinaabe), is a transdisciplinary historian of urban history, Critical Ethnic Studies, and Afro-Indigenous Studies. Currently a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of History at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he is working on a book titled, Indigenous Detroit: Indigeneity, Gender, and Race and the Making of a Modern American City, which examines the role that Indigenous people and representations of them played in the development of 20th century Detroit.
Penelope McCourty is a movement-based arts educator and performing artist living in Brooklyn, NY. For the past 15 years, she has worked with several locally and nationally known performance companies and community arts organizations. As a performer, teacher and choreographer, she was a member of Marlies Yearby’s Movin’ Spirits Dance Theater (1995-1999), Liz Lerman Dance Exchange (1999-2002), and Reggie Wilson/Fist and Heel Performance Group (2002-2006). Her choreographic work has been presented at St. Mark’s Church, Joyce Soho, Chicago’s Links Hall, Towson University and San Francisco State University. She has assisted, directed, and/or choreographed: The Oedipus Plays – The Shakespeare Theatre Company (DC and Greece); Countdown – Off World Theatre (NY); Love (and other related) Songs – BAX/Brooklyn Arts Exchange (NY).
Dylan Miner, is a Wiisaakodewinini (Métis) artist, activist, and scholar. He is Director of American Indian and Indigenous Studies and Associate Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities at Michigan State University. An adjunct curator at the MSU Museum, he is a founding member of the Justseeds artists collective, and on the board of the Michigan Indian Education Council. Miner has published extensively and exhibited widely. He holds a PhD from The University of New Mexico and his book Creating Aztlán: Chicano Art, Indigenous Sovereignty, and Lowriding Across Turtle Island was published in 2014 by the University of Arizona Press.
Dipankar Mukherjee is a professional director originally from Calcutta, India with a 25-year history of directing. He is the Artistic Director of Pangea World Theater, an international theater in Minneapolis that is a progressive space for arts and dialogue. As a director, he has worked in India, England, Canada and the United States. Dipankar has worked at the Guthrie Theater, Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, New World Theater, Alliance Theater and at the Young Vic in London. Dipankar has worked with dancers to create cross-cultural work using his knowledge of Kalaripayattu, an Indian martial arts form. His aesthetics have evolved through his commitment to social justice, equity and deep spirituality and these factors, along with a response to relevant politics, forms the basis of his work. Dipankar has been awarded the Twin Cities International Citizens Award by the Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for contributions in the area of human rights and international co-operation. Dipankar has received the Humphrey Institute Fellowship to Salzburg and has been a Ford Foundation delegate to India and Lebanon. He is a recent recipient of the Bush Leadership Fellowship award to study non-violence and peace methodologies in India and South Africa.
Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre is an MC, two-time National Poetry Slam champion, activist and educator based in Minneapolis. He currently serves as the managing director of TruArtSpeaks (www.TruArtSpeaks.org), an organization that cultivates literacy, leadership, and social justice through the study and application of Hip Hop Culture. Guante has performed everywhere from the United Nations, to the Soundset Hip Hop Festival, to countless colleges, high schools, clubs, theaters and rallies across the US, and his work has been featured on Upworthy, Welcome to Night Vale, Everyday Feminism, and beyond. For more information, check out www.guante.info or follow him on Twitter at @elguante.
Alesia Montgomery, is an urban ethnographer who explores the crossplace of community, nature, technology & memory. She writes and lectures on black urban regimes, urban greening, social media, and social theory. Alesia has taught at Michigan State University and CUNY-Queens, and she has collaborated with research teams at the UCLA Center on the Everyday Lives of Families and at the American Institutes for Research. Born in South L.A., she received her Ph.D. in sociology from UC Berkeley.
Jessica Care Moore, is the CEO of Moore Black Press, Executive Producer of Black WOMEN Rock!, and founder of the Jess Care Moore Foundation. An internationally renowned interdisciplinary poet, recording artist, educator and activist, she is a 2016 Kresge Arts Fellow and a 2013 Alain Locke Award Recipient from the DIA. moore is the author of The Words Don’t Fit in My Mouth, The Alphabet Verses The Ghetto, God is Not an American, Sunlight Through Bullet Holes, and of a forthcoming collection of poems and visual art installation, We Want Our Bodies Back, that honors the life of Sandra Bland. A proud native Detroiter, Jessica Care Moore first came to national television prominence when she won the the legendary “It’s Showtime at the Apollo” competition a record breaking five times in a row, with a poem.
Juanita Moore, is a museum professional with 40 years of experience, having served as a curator, educator, administrator and museum planner with three national museums. Ms.Moore is the current President & CEO of the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History (Detroit, MI), the largest museum of its kind in the nation. Prior to assuming her current post, she served as Executive Director of the American Jazz Museum and the Gem Theater located in the 18th & Vine Historic District (Kansas City, MO).
Margaret Morton joined the Ford Foundation in February 2015 as part of the Creativity and Free Expression team, supporting grant making in the arts and other forms of cultural expression. Previously, she was deputy commissioner of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, overseeing funding for arts and cultural program activities and capital infrastructure. She also served as the department’s general counsel, in which capacity she devised new frameworks for grant programs, designed development resources to support arts administrators, and implemented a new model for addressing the affordability of space for artists. Margaret holds a JD from Georgetown University Law Center and a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College.
Rebecca is a Zimbabwean-American theater artist, creative consultant, producer, and cultural organizer. She crafts spaces for youth and people of color to gain a sense of place and identity through the creation of art. She has trained with ArtSpot Productions, Dah Theater, Urban Bush Women, and Junebug Productions in performance, devising, directing and story-telling. Rebecca’s process weaves stories, songs, and movement into a tapestry that entices audiences to connect, discuss, struggle and question their relationships – to each other, to memory, and to their bodies. Rebecca’s most recent works are her solo piece Looking at A Broad, Last Call’s Alleged Lesbian Activities, and ArtSpot Productions’ Cry You One. She is a co-director of LOUD (New Orleans Queer Youth Theater).
Dr. Uma Mysorekar, an Obstetrician and Gynecologist, was born in Bangalore, India and has been involved in several social organizations since 1976. As President of the Hindu Temple Society of North America, has initiated numerous programs to bring the community together including spiritual and cultural activities. Initiated several interfaith meetings to bring about awareness of Hinduism and spoke at numerous functions to educate people on Hinduism. Charged with responsibility for daily affairs, Temple expansion, communication and the implementation of various programs.
Ryan Myers – Johnson is an arts administrator, dance educator and curator of place-based performance. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Dance and Film from the University of Michigan. Ryan has extensive experience in event planning, arts administration, management and leadership, stemming from her many years working in the feature film industry and dance production. After completing the obligatory traveling “muse” phase of her arts career, Ryan returned home to Detroit. Having grown tired of the “Ruin Porn” dialogue and cultural gate-keeping around arts access, Ryan founded Sidewalk as means to celebrate the city that nurtured her artistic practice. All of this was made possible by her exposure to arts in Detroit. Through Sidewalk, Ryan hopes to show people the magic Detroit that she knows best.
Nora Naranjo Morse was born in the United States in 1953 and has lived in northern New Mexico all her life. She comes from and still lives in a small indigenous community that is noted for its strong clay tradition. Nora creates monumental earthworks and sculptural forms influenced by Native American philosophy and Pueblo architecture. She continues to create with organic materials, using indigenous concepts of social practice that focus on environmental concerns and cultural perspectives. She recently began working in film and video, documenting contemporary indigenous issues both internationally and in the United States.
Meena Natarajan is a playwright and director and the Executive and Literary Director of Pangea World Theater, a progressive, international ensemble space for theater and dialogue. She has led the theater’s growth since it’s founding in 1995. Her scripts have been professionally produced both in India and the U.S. She is currently on the boards of NPN, the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists and is a National Theater Projects Advisor at New England Foundation of the Arts. She is past President of Women Playwrights International. She was recently awarded the Visionary Award for mid-career leaders from the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits.
Sarah O’Neal is a 20 year old writer and poet of multi-ethnic descent. Her work grapples with social issues around race, gender, islamophobia, and the complexity of identity. She is a two time Youth Speaks TPS finalist and a VONA fellow. She has been featured in AJ+, Everyday Feminism, and UpWorthy. She believes poetry possesses transformative power by bringing marginalized voices to the center.
Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio is a Kanaka Maoli activist, poet, musician, educator, and a PhD candidate in English at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Her formal research areas are indigenous theory, translation theory and Kanaka Maoli moʻolelo. Jamaica’s introduction to formal education began in her hometown of Pālolo at Ke Kula Kaiāpuni o Ānuenue where she honed her aloha for ʻŌlelo and ʻike Hawaiʻi. Jamaica is a proud graduate of Kamehameha Schools Kapālama. After high school Jamaica attended and graduated with honors from the Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity program at Stanford University and a later received a Master’s degree in the Arts Politics program at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts. Jamaica is a widely published poet and professional performer and has shared her poetry throughout Oceania, on 5 of the 7 continents, and at the White House by invitation of President Obama. In her free time, Jamaica facilitates poetry workshops for local and Kanaka Maoli youth in Hawaiʻi and is a board member of the award winning organization, Pacific Tongues. Currently Jamaica is a junior faculty specialist at native Hawaiian Student Services at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.
Hye Yun is a writer, actor and filmmaker based in New York. Along with her award winning web series HEY YUN Season 1 & 2, she has written, directed and performed in a several short films & directed a viral video FIRST KISS NYC, which was featured on Huffington Post, The Daily Mail & more. Her work has been featured in NBC News Asian America and Janet Mock’s SoPOPular on MSNBC. She is humbled to be named one of 12 Emerging Feminist Game-Changers in Media, Journalism and the Arts by Nat. Brut. She is currently creating a new web series BKPI with Turner Broadcasting’s digital incubator studio, Super Deluxe.
Linette Popoff-Parks, Professor and Chair of music at Madonna University, is a performing member of the Tuesday Musicale of Detroit, performed with local and national artists, and has premiered works by local composers such as Elaine Lebenbaum. She has entertained audiences at Chamber Music at the Scarab Club with works of female composers like Clara Schumann, Amy Beach, Mel Bonis, & Elfrida Andree. Linette is a member of the College Music Society, Livonia Area Piano Teachers Guild, the Michigan Music Teachers Association & Music Teacher National Association. Most recently, she was nominated for a Grammy Music Educator Award for 2015.
On September 1, 2015, Anne Pasternak joined the Brooklyn Museum, one of the oldest and largest fine arts collections in the nation. Previously, she served as President and Artistic Director of Creative Time, a non-profit arts organization based in New York City that commissions and presents adventurous public art projects. In her twenty years of leadership, the organization collaborated with hundreds of artists, expanded its work globally, and introduced millions of people to innovative contemporary art practices. Renowned projects include performances in the historic Brooklyn Bridge Anchorage, sculptural installations in Grand Central Station’s Vanderbilt Hall, sign paintings in Coney Island, skywriting over Manhattan, and among the most remarkable, the Tribute in Light, the twin beacons of light that illuminated the sky above the former World Trade Center site six months after 9/11, and which continue to be presented on the anniversaries of that date.
Anne has been committed to initiating projects that give artists opportunities to engage in the big issues of our times while also expanding their practice, including such now-renowned artists as Doug Aitken, Laurie Anderson, Cai Guo-Qiang, Nick Cave, Paul Chan, Jenny Holzer, Vik Muniz, Shirin Neshat, Tom Sachs, Kara Walker, and many more. She is known as a field innovator, having launched international programs such as the Creative Time Summit, the largest art and social-justice conference in the world, and Creative Time Reports, which provides artists with a space to voice analysis and commentary on issues too often overlooked by mainstream media.
With her demonstrated imagination and skill, Anne envisions new ways to connect the Brooklyn Museum’s historical collections with leading-edge ideas and practices. Deeply passionate about engaging broad audiences and the limitless power of art to move, motivate, and inspire, she is a staunch advocate for the civic and democratic roles our cultural and educational institutions can play.
Mayra Peters-Quintero is a senior program officer on the Ford Foundation’s Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice team. Her grant making has supported national, state, and local organizations that advance sound policy for immigrants. Prior to joining Ford in 2008, Mayra held various positions in the public, academic, and nonprofit sectors working on immigrant rights. She earned a joint degree in law from New York University, where she was a Root-Tilden-Snow scholar, and in international development from Princeton University, where she was a Ford Foundation Fellow. She completed her bachelor’s degree in political economy at the University of California, Berkeley. She is originally from Panama.
Tawana “Honeycomb” Petty, is a mother, organizer, youth advocate, poet and author. She was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan and is intricately involved in water rights, digital justice and visionary organizing work in Detroit. Tawana is a past recipient of the Spirit of Detroit Award, Woman of Substance Award, Women Creating Caring Communities Award, Detroit Awesome Award and was recognized as one of Who’s Who in Black Detroit in 2013 and 2015. She is the author of Introducing Honeycomb and is due to release her second book, Coming Out My Box in August 2016. Visit honeycombthepoet.com for more info.
Lori Pourier has been involved in the arts, social justice, and community development fields for 27 years and has served as president of the First Peoples Fund since 1999. Dedicated to a vision for strengthening Native communities through culture and arts for much of her life, Lori focuses her efforts on helping to enhance Native communities and bringing new philanthropic resources to Native artists and culture bearers directly. Her early work began at First Nations Development Institute and the International Indigenous Women’s Network. Lori received the Center for Social Innovation Fellowship at Stanford School of Business and holds an MS from Southern New Hampshire University’s School of Business.
Jeannene Przyblyski is an artist, historian, and educator. She has lived in San Francisco for 30 years as a working artist/scholar, serving as Professor and Dean of Academic Affairs at the San Francisco Art Institute and San Francisco Arts Commissioner (2004-2009). In 2012 she moved to Los Angeles to work at CalArts and explore the remembered territory of her youth.
Marlène Ramírez-Cancio is associate director of Arts and Media at the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics. Housed at New York University, Hemi activates creative thinkers in the Americas involved in artistic practice and cultural transformation. Through gatherings and digital platforms, Hemi researches, preserves, and circulates socially engaged performance, creating new avenues for dialogue and action. Marlène is also co-founder and co-director of Fulana, a Latina video collective whose works have been shown internationally at film festivals, museums, universities, and online at fulana.org.
Ron Ragin, writes, sings, composes, and makes interdisciplinary performance work that integrates sound, text, and movement. His creative interests include music of the African Diaspora, embodied ancestral memory, improvisational creative processes, liberation aesthetics, and the development and maintenance of spiritual technologies. Ron grew up in Perry, Georgia and received his musical training at the Saint James CME Church. He’s had the honor of performing with brilliant souls like Amara Tabor-Smith and Grisha Coleman, studying my crafts with luminaries such as Joy Harjo and Brenda Wong Aoki, and performing as a soloist on Christopher Tin’s Grammy Award-winning album Calling All Dawns. For more than seven years, Ron worked in the field of arts philanthropy as a program officer at the Hewlett Foundation and Robert Rauschenberg Foundation.
Martha Redbone is a leading contemporary Native American voice beloved by music connoisseurs and recognized by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, which has collected and presented her musical works. Martha is an award-winning musician who has established a solid history of performing, educating, and mentoring worldwide. After her critically acclaimed album The Garden of Love: Songs of William Blake, produced by Grammy recipient John McEuen, her new work, Bone Hill, continues the exploration of her Appalachian mountain culture and heritage. The musical theatre piece was inspired by her family and created in collaboration with Aaron Whitby and Roberta Uno.
Noʻu Revilla – is a poet, educator, and PhD candidate. Born on the island of Maui, she is of Hawaiian, Tahitian, Visayan, and German descent. Her chapbook Say Throne was published in 2011 by Tinfish Press. Her poetry has also been featured by the Honolulu Museum of Art as well as Poetry Magazine, Black Renaissance Noire, Hawaiʻi Review, and Kore Press. She has performed throughout Hawaiʻi as well as in Toronto and Papua New Guinea. In May 2015, she organized the first Aloha ʻĀina Zine Workshop in solidarity with the Kiaʻi Mauna of Mauna Kea.
Fox Rich is author of Speak, Fox Rich! She is known across the country as The Realist Speaker of the 21st Century. Her audiences shout out loud, Speak, Fox Rich, when the word that she shares challenges or connects with their own experiences. Fox Rich is a formally-incarcerated woman, a prisoner’s wife, a mother of six sons and the matriarch of the Rich family. They have endured 19 years of incarceration together. She speaks both nationally and internationally on subjects ranging from love to politics. Her messages are filled with images of self-awareness, courage and conviction as she compels the listening audience to understand that mass incarceration is slavery and should be abolished.
Eugene Rodriguez, a USA Artist Oliver Fellow, explores tradition, change, identity and connection through composition, performance, teaching, media and community building. After receiving a Masters Degree from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music in 1987 he formed youth group Los Cenzontles and incorporated the non-profit in 1994. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 1995 for his production of Papa’s Dream with Los Lobos and Lalo Guerrero. Eugene has produced three documentaries and numerous musical albums that featured numerous traditional and popular musicians including Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, David Hidalgo, Ry Cooder, and Taj Mahal.
Favianna Rodriguez is a transnational interdisciplinary artist and cultural organizer. Her art and collaborative projects deal with migration, global politics, economic injustice, patriarchy, and interdependence . Rodriguez lectures globally on the power of art, cultural organizing and technology to inspire social change, and leads art workshops at schools around the country. Favianna’s mission is to create profound and lasting social change in the world. Through her bold and provocative art, she has already touched the hearts and minds of millions. In addition to her fine arts and community work, Rodriguez partners with social movement groups around the world to create art that’s visionary, inspirational, radical and, most importantly, transformational. When Favianna is not making art, she is directing CultureStrike, a national arts organization that engages artists, writers and performers in migrant rights. In 2009, she co-founded Presente.org, a national online organizing network dedicated to the political empowerment of Latino communities.
Tere Romo is the program officer for arts and culture at the San Francisco Foundation. A curator and scholar, she previously served as the arts project coordinator at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center. She was the arts director at the Mexican Fine Arts Center Museum in Chicago and resident curator at The Mexican Museum in San Francisco. Romo was also the program manager for the Organizational Support Program at the California Arts Council, where she also developed a Traditional Arts Program and helped develop the Multi- Cultural Arts Advancement Program. An art historian, she has published essays on Chicana/o art and is the author of the monograph, “Malaquias Montoya” (2011).
Garth Ross is the Vice President for Community Engagement at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., where he has produced over 5,000 performances featuring artists from all fifty states and over fifty countries. He is responsible for the Millennium Stage daily, free performance series, as well as many other notable projects and festivals including “Joyful Sounds: Gospel Across America,” “Look BothWays: Street Arts Across America,” “American Voices with Renee Fleming,” “One Mic: Hip Hop Culture Worldwide,” and “Finding a Line: Skateboarding, Music and Media.” Garth received his BA in English Literature and Music from Connecticut College, and is a Henry Crown Fellow of the Aspen Institute.
Eleanor Savage is a senior program officer at the Jerome Foundation. She serves on Grantmakers in the Arts’ Support for Individual Artists committee and has been involved in its racial equity forums. Previously, she was associate director of events and media production at the Walker Art Center for 16 years. Eleanor has produced and curated many community-focused events through Intermedia Arts, the Walker Art Center, and KFAI radio. She is a queer activist and media artist and has produced documentary and experimental video work in collaboration with many Minnesota and New York City artists.
Brittani Sensabaugh is an independent documentary photographer from East Oakland, CA. She is deeply committed to a social practice she calls “building” that goes outside traditional boundaries between artist and subject, connecting deeply into people’s lives. Her most recent work, 222 Forgotten Cities, has received critical acclaim across the country and was featured on the PBS Newshour. Brittani is a Creative Producer with the National Alliance for Media Arts and Culture, and is a lead artist in the Oakland Fence Project . She is available for commissioned work: firstname.lastname@example.org
Annette Evans Smith is president and CEO of Alaska Native Heritage Center. Under her leadership, ANHC has strengthened its role in statewide advocacy for Alaska Native language preservation. Annette is chair of the governor-appointed Alaska Native Language and Preservation Advisory Council. In 2015, the governor of Alaska honored her with the Distinguished Service to the Humanities Award, and in 2009 the Alaska Journal of Commerce recognized her as one of Alaska’s Top 40 Under 40.
Annette is the President and CEO of Alaska Native Heritage Center (ANHC). Under her leadership, ANHC has strengthened its role in the local arts and culture community as well as statewide advocacy for Alaska Native arts and languages. Annette is chair of the governor-appointed Alaska Native Language and Preservation and Advisory Council. In 2015, she was honored with the Distinguished Service to the Humanities Award by the Governor of Alaska and in 2009 she was recognized as one of Alaska’s To 40 Under 40 by the Alaska Journal of Commerce.
Her prior work involves service with Southcentral Foundation and The Northern Forum. She holds a bachelor’s degree in international relations from Stanford University and serves as a member of the Foraker Operations Board, a trustee with the Western States Arts Federation, serves on the Alaska Native Advisory Panel for the Alaska State Council on the Arts and the Advisory Board for the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Alaska Native Business Management Program.
Annette is Koyukon Athabascan, Yup’ik, and Alutiiq, is actively learning the Yup’ik language through her grandmother and more recently Denaakk’e (Koyukon Athabascan) from teachers Susan Paskvan, Eliza Jones, and Esther McCarty.
Annette is married to Daniel Smith and they are teaching Yup’ik and Denakk’e languages to their two sons, William and Daniel.
Jackie Sumell is a multidisciplinary artist inspired most by the lives of everyday people. Her work speaks to both traditional artist communities and those historically marginalized from the political process. Her work with Herman Wallace is the subject of the Emmy Award Winning documentary Herman’s House. In the wake of Herman’s death she continues to speak about her work, the use of prolonged solitary confinement and passionately presents an experienced vision to end its practice. She received a B.S. from the College of Charleston, and M.F.A. from Stanford University. Ms Sumell currently resides in New Orleans Louisiana where she continues to work on Herman’s House, Solitary Gardens and several other advocacy based projects. She is 2013 Soros Justice Fellow and adjunct faculty at Dillard University.
Vicky Holt Takamine is a graduate of Kamehameha Schools and received her BA and MA in dance ethnology from the University of Hawai‘i. In 1975, she graduated as kumu hula (master teacher of Hawaiian dance) from Maiki Aiu Lake. In 1977, Vicky established her hālau hula (school of Hawaiian dance), Pua Aliʻi ʻIlima. In 2001, she established PAʻI Foundation to protect and preserve Native Hawaiian cultural traditions and the natural and cultural resources of Hawaiʻi for future generations. She is executive director of PAʻI Foundation and a lecturer at the University of Hawaiʻi at Manoa.
Hailed as the “Punk Diva”, Malesha Jessie Taylor is a vanguard artist and activist. She is a classically trained opera singer, with a Masters in Vocal Music from the Thornton School of Music at USC. Malesha has performed with the Los Angeles Opera, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, the Boston Pops Orchestra, the San Diego Opera, and the San Francisco Opera. She has sung in the Walt Disney Concert Hall and at the Lincoln Center.
Yet Malesha has also taken the power of her art outside the concert hall, and into diverse communities. She has staged impromptu, pop-up performances in bodegas, laundromats, buses and barbershops in the historical Black community of Bedstuy, Brooklyn. These performances and the resulting interactions with spectators, collectively named “Guerrilla Opera,” were filmed and selected for the 2013 exhibition, “Cultural Fluency: Engagements with Contemporary Brooklyn,” at the BRIC Rotunda Gallery. Malesha also conceived and produced “Opera Open-Stage,” an open-mic experience for opera singers blending the style of slam poetry and traditional recital. This project exposed opera to new audiences at non-traditional venues such as a pub on the corner of a busy street in East Village and the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. TimeOut Magazine named “Opera Open-Stage” one of the Top 10 Shows for Music.
After becoming a mother, Malesha intensified her focus on the politics of cultural production, essentially asking the Hamilton question,“Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?” Marginalized communities – communities of color, women, and youth – struggle to find their stories reflected in the arts, in the media, and in society at large. Malesha helps share the stories of this new majority in her role as a bridge-builder between artists, educators, demographers, marketers, and business leaders. She has become a thought leader in using creativity to address inequity, and using art as a tool for activism.
Malesha is currently in the production phase for “Girl Sings Opera,” a conversation and performance piece that tells the story of her journey in classical music, featuring interviews with other local, classical composers and musicians of color. She has also gotten involved with local social justice and community organizing efforts, and also started publishing about issues of power and diversity within the arts. Her essay “Is Your Theatre Only Diverse and Inclusive Twice A Year?” was published last month by HowlRound. She was also a guest speaker at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, ArtChangeUS: REMAP a conference through Arts in a Changing America. Malesha lives in Southern California with her husband and three children. www.musesalon.org
Myrtle Thompson-Curtis a life-long Detroiter. Mother and grandmother, concerned citizen and neighbor, Co-founder of Feedom Freedom Growers Garden. Program of Cooking Fresh Workshops as well as a Board Member of the bogg’s Center to Nurture Community Leadership.
Tiffany Thompson Classically trained, Tiffany has played roles from Shakespeare to August Wilson, working in major American repertory theaters, on and Off-Broadway, as well as cast in recurring roles for daytime and primetime TV. Tiffany’s recent credits include Raisin in the Sun, The Great Gatsby, One Man Two Governor’s, and Romeo & Juliet. Tiffany received a BFA from SUNYPurchase, Conservatory of Theater Arts & Film. She also studied various acting techniques with Dean Irby & David Bridel. She was also cast as Matti Campbell opposite Teagle F. Bougere in Jo Turner’s Come and Gone, directed by Del Roy Lindo.Tiffany is anticipating completion of a MFA in May, 2017: Hilberry Professional Acting Company at Wayne State University.
Tiffany Thompson Classically trained, Tiffany has played roles from Shakespeare to August Wilson, working in major American repertory theaters, on and Off-Broadway, as well as cast in recurring roles for daytime and primetime TV. Tiffany’s recent credits include Raisin in the Sun, The Great Gatsby, One Man Two Governor’s, and Romeo & Juliet. Tiffany received a BFA from SUNYPurchase, Conservatory of Theater Arts & Film. She also studied various acting techniques with Dean Irby & David Bridel. She was also cast as Matti Campbell opposite Teagle F. Bougere in Jo Turner’s Come and Gone, directed by Del Roy Lindo.Tiffany is anticipating completion of a MFA in May, 2017: Hilberry Professional Acting Company at Wayne State University.
Edwin Torres serves as Deputy Commissioner of Cultural Affairs for the City of New York, leading work to integrate culture with the Mayoral administration’s equity agenda.
Before joining the City of New York, Torres served as a program officer for The Rockefeller Foundation. He has also held positions at the Dean’s Office at Parsons the New School for Design; on the Arts and Culture team at The Ford Foundation; and at the Bronx Council on the Arts. Mr. Torres holds a Master of Arts in Art History from Hunter College and a Master of Science in Management from The New School.
Sayda Trujillo was born in Montreal and grew up in Canada, Guatemala and the USA. She is a theatre artist specializing in voice and movement, as well as devising physical theatre performances. Teaching and performance experience abroad includes work in Guatemala, Ecuador, Singapore, Spain, Germany, Colombia, UK, Egypt, Palestine with The Freedom Theatre and India. Her three solo shows BANANA LEAVES, DEFINITELY OOPS, and I WAS RAISED MEXICAN have been presented nationally and internationally at theater houses including La Mama ETC, RedCAT, and NYTW. Since 2005 Sayda has volunteered for Clowns Without Borders performing for thousands of children in Latin America and the Middle East. A graduate of CalArts; the Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theatre; and the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. Sayda currently teaches in the Central American Studies Department at CSUN. For more info visit: www.saydatrujillo.com
Carlton Turner is Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS, a regional non-profit arts organization based in the South. He has been a member of Alternate ROOTS since 2001 and has served on the organization’s board as a regional representative and officer, and on staff as regional development director. He is also a co-founder and co-artistic director of M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Action Before Early Extinction), a performing arts group that blends jazz, hip-hop, spoken word poetry, and soul music with nontraditional storytelling. Throughout his career he has been a lead convener with Voices from the Cultural Battlefront Organizing for Cultural Equity. Carlton was named to the Kennedy Center Honors Artist Advisory Board in 2013.
Educate, Motivate, Inspire – Change the world! ~ This is the philosophy Chinyere Tutashinda lives by. Chinyere has over 15 years of organizing and training experience and is committed to working for change. With a BA in Journalism and an MA in Media Activism, Chinyere uses her education and dedication to the community in all that she does.
Roberta Uno is a theater director and the Director of Arts in a Changing America, a national project on changing demographics and the arts based at the California Institute of the Arts. She was the Senior Program Officer for Arts and Culture at the Ford Foundation 2002-2015. From 1979-2002, she was the founder and Artistic Director of the New WORLD Theater, at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and a Professor of directing and dramaturgy. New WORLD Theater worked at the intersection of artistic practice, community engagement, scholarship, and activism toward a vision of a ‘new world’—one that broke the confines of multiculturalism and was an artistic harbinger of America’s shifting demographics. View the Archives
A member of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers, she is currently directing and co-writing the musical Bone Hill, composed and co-written by Martha Redbone and Aaron Whitby. Her publications include The Color Of Theater: Race, Culture, and Contemporary Performance, UK: Continuum Press, 2002; Unbroken Thread: Plays by Asian American Women, Amherst: UMass Press, 1993. She is the editor of new editions in 2015 of Monologues for Actors of Color: Women and Monologues for Actors of Color: Men, UK: Routledge
Nyasia Valdez is a lifelong Southwest Detroiter who identifies as queer, Black, and Mexican. Her activism began with youth led immigrant justice organizing through One Michigan, and she was part of a sit in at the Detroit Obama campaign office in 2012 to demand an executive order for a halt on deportations. As programs manager of Young Nation she coordinates community led participatory design in Southwest Detroit, rooted in art and social justice. As co-coordinator of a citywide youth social justice network she connects youth led organizers across intersecting issues and neighborhoods. A commitment to activism runs in Nyasia’s family and is deeply inspired to do this work by generations of relatives. Nyasia is also a connoisseur of hot sauce and was the champion of her high school’s jalapeño eating contest.
Clyde Valentín was born and raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. He is the co-founder and former Executive Director of Hi-ARTS (formerly known as the Hip-Hop Theater Festival). Most recently he became the inaugural Director of Ignite/Arts Dallas: A Center for People, Purpose + Place at Southern Methodist University’s Meadows School of the Arts. Valentín has served as consultant and panelist for Creative Capital, has advised the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP) on the development of a new leadership program for mid-career cultural leaders, and is on the Board of Theater Communications Group (TCG). Clyde lives with his wife in Dallas, Texas.
Jose Antonio Vargas is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and filmmaker whose work centers on the changing American identity. He is the founder of Define American, a nonprofit media and culture organization that seeks to elevate the conversation around immigration and citizenship in America, and the founder and editor of #EmergingUS, a digital magazine focusing on race, immigration, and identity in a multicultural America. #EmergingUS is the first-ever media property owned by an undocumented immigrant.
Jodi Voice is a member of the Mvskoke Creek, Oglala Lakota, & Cherokee (Oklahoma) Nations. Jodi was born in Dallas TX and has lived in Oak Cliff her entire life. She is a product of The “Relocation”Program implemented and funded by the US government. Her father was located in Dallas in the early 70’s. Jodi attended Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas and studied and majored in Social Work and Welfare as well as Indigenous and American Indian Studies. She delved into organizing and activism by supporting and standing in solidarity with Palestinian people and became a member of the first all indigenous delegation to Palestine. Since then Jodi has taken what she’s learned in the world of activism back to her community by organizing with various community groups and committees with a focus on highlighting cultural identity and traditions. Jodi organized with the Parent Advisory Committee for several years and planned large Native community gatherings. She currently organizes with the American Indian Heritage Day in Texas Committee, Indian Citizens Against Racial Exploitation (I.CARE), and Streets Organizing for Liberation (SOL) and was recently a Cohort Coordinator/member with Complex Movements during their Dallas residency of “Beware of the Dandelions.”
Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation, has been connected to the foundation nearly all his life. Ford-sponsored programs made his education possible, from the inaugural class of Head Start in 1965 to Pell Grants that helped him earn undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Texas. After a decade on Wall Street, he served as COO of Harlem’s Abyssinian Development Corporation, a Ford grantee. Following eight years in urban development, he was recruited to the Rockefeller Foundation, where he rose to vice president for US and international programs. He joined Ford as vice president in 2010, and became president in 2013. Darren serves on numerous boards and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Allison Warden (AKU-MATU) is an Iñupiaq Eskimo inter-disciplinary artist with a passion for the self-determination of Indigneous Peoples. She raps under the name AKU-MATU and is an “Artist in the Schools” for the Alaska State Council of the Arts, giving workshops to youth, empowering them through the use of theatre and music. She has performed as AKU-MATU at Columbia University twice as part of concerts held by the Department of Ethnomusicology. Her one-woman show, “Ode to the Polar Bear” has traveled extensively across Alaska and has been completely reworked into a longer piece, “Calling All Polar Bears” which debuted at Pangea Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota as part of a National Performance Network performance residency grant. The show focuses on climate change and the push to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. In 2011, she had a speaking role in “On the Ice” a film by Inupiaq filmmaker Andrew MacLean. In 2012, she received a Rasmuson Individual Artist award in performance art and also in 2012 was an “On Our Radar” artist for Creative Capital in performance art. In 2013, she received a Connie Boochever fellowship in performance art from the Alaska State Council of the Arts. She recently performed at the Anchorage Museum as part of her cinematic funk-fusion band, Yada Di. She is currently working on her AKU-MATU album with Seattle-based DJ WD4D. The first track, “Ancestor from the Future” is expected to be released in late July 2014.
Eric Ward is a program officer with the Ford Foundation’s Gender, Racial, and Ethnic Justice team, focusing on issues of racial justice. His grant making supports the consolidation of progress achieved in combating inequality and dismantling of institutional discrimination, and other barriers to full participation that racial and ethnic minorities and indigenous peoples continue to experience in society. Before joining Ford in 2014, he was a programme executive for US Reconciliation and Human Rights at the Atlantic Philanthropies, where he helped guide grant making in the areas of immigration, national security and rights, and civic participation and engagement.
paige watkins is a queer, nonbinary educator, student, artist and organizer from Detroit. They co-created the Black Bottom Archives, an online magazine and community space for Black Detroiters. Currently, they work with students at the James & Grace Lee Boggs School, and co-chair the Detroit chapter of Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100).
John McLaughlin-Williams is a four-time GRAMMY nominee, and the first African-American orchestral conductor to be awarded a GRAMMY. His recordings appear on the Naxos, TNC and Sono Luminus labels, and have received international acclaim from Gramophone Magazine, International Record Review, Fanfare, and Diapason. Past conducting engagements include appearances with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Colorado Symphony, National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine, Classic FM Orchestra Bulgaria, and the Chicago Sinfonietta. John is also active as violin soloist and chamber musician, and he has appeared as soloist with the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra, National Symphony, Portland Symphony, Virginia Symphony and others.
Risë Wilson is the inaugural Director of Philanthropy for the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. As a member of the foundation’s senior leadership team, she is spearheading the design of a grants program that embodies the fearlessness, innovation, and multidisciplinary approach Rauschenberg demonstrated in both his artistic practice and charitable endeavors. Before entering the field of cultural philanthropy, Ms. Wilson foundedThe Laundromat Project, an award-winning organization that mounts public art projects and other art programs in local laundromats as a way to help neighborhoods like Bed-Stuy, Harlem, and the South Bronx amplify their creative power. Her seventeen-year tenure inarts and culture includes roles at the Ford Foundation, Parsons: the New School for Design,MoMA, and the International Center for Photography. She holds a BA from Columbia University and an MA from NYU.
Torange Yeghiazarian is the Founding Artistic Director of Golden Thread Productions where she launched ReOrient Festival, New Threads, the Fairytale Players, and Middle East America (Lark/SilkRoad Rising). Torange’s plays include Isfahan Blues, 444 Days, The Fifth String, and Call Me Mehdi published in “Salaam. Peace: An Anthology of Middle Eastern-American Drama,” TCG 2009. Her articles and researchhave been published in The Drama Review, American Theatre Magazine, the Encyclopedia of Women and Islamic Cultures, and Cambridge World Encyclopedia of Stage Actors. Born in Iran and of Armenian heritage, Torange holds a Master’s degree in Theatre Arts from San Francisco State University.
Amer Zahr is an Arab-American comedian, speaker, writer, and adjunct professor at University of Detroit Mercy School of Law. He has headlined packed houses at New York City’s world-famous Carnegie Hall and the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. He is the founder of producer of the 1001 Laughs Ramallah Comedy Festival, a production in Palestine, as well as the annual 1001 Laughs Dearborn Comedy Festival in Dearborn, Michigan, in partnership with the Arab American National Museum. He is also the filmmaker of We’re Not White, a comedic and informative approach to the Arab-American struggle to get a box on the United States Census Form. Amer is the author of the well-read blog The Civil Arab, as well as his first book, Being Palestinian Makes Me Smile. Amer holds an MA in Middle East Studies and a JD (law degree), both from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Carol Zou is a Texangelena by way of the Chinese diaspora. Her work focuses on questions of layered human geographies, craft as non-western cultural production, and polyvocality through a community organizing model. She is known for organizing the art collective Yarn Bombing Los Angeles, a collective ranging from 20 to 500 crafters that creates public art through a crowdsourced, participatory model. Beginning June 2015, she is the project manager/artist-in-residence for Trans.lation, an arts and cultural platform initiated by Rick Lowe and commissioned by the Nasher Sculpture Center, located in the immigrant, refugee, Latino, and African American neighborhood of Vickery Meadow, Dallas, Texas.