People

Below, in alphabetical order by last name, are the headshots and bios of the people helping to shape the Groundwork gathering: Groundwork Advisors, Session Proposal Reviewers, Featured Storytellers, Session Presenters, Forum Facilitators, and Social Media Activators. The Guild is grateful for this wonderful community of collaborators!

 

A curly-haired light brown-skinned femme gazing into the distance with a slight smirk on their face with their arms crossed. She is wearing a patterned long sleeve shirt with a high neck and a bow tied on the front. In the blurred background are lights hanging from the ceiling and a seating area. The entire photo is in Black and White.

Session Presenter

Afroetic (she/they) is a young, Black, Queer, emerging and self-proclaimed interdisciplinary artist and healer, whose work exists at the intersection of art and justice. They create captivating and radical statements through spoken word, movement, design, theater, performance, and groundwork practices, centering Black folks in all artistic manifestations. Afroetic uses her passion for grassroots organizing to nurture and connect with her community beyond the dreamy yet honest storytelling that shines through all of their work.

 

I am a white woman, I was told once by an Irish elder that I have the map of Ireland written all over my face.  I have Freckles and I have sunglasses on my head.  My hair is shoulder-length brown and dyed purple.  Today my hair is shoulder length, the brown graying with dark blue lowlights.   In the picture, I am wearing the same earrings as today and I am standing in Cynthia Toms art space.  I am holding a notebook and I am smiling, obviously overjoyed, I just finished making art.

Session Presenter

Julie Andersen (she/her) is an integrative craniosacral practitioner, curator, and visual artist in the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California. Julie has produced cross-cultural art exhibitions and experiences throughout San Francisco and China in high-tech and traditional art shows. An artist with 20+ years experience supporting health and healing utilizing integrative art & somatic philosophies and therapies. The goal is relaxation and integration allowing for body and mind awareness that taps into inherent ease, trust, intuition, and the creative process through embodied experiences that bring the subconscious to consciousness. Her passion lies in creating art, events, and art-making experiences that integrate mind, body & spirit to support the inherent health in both the individual and the community and that encourage long-term relationships with impact.

 

A sunlit image of a relaxed brown-skinned woman with dark, free curls that rest above her ears. Kwayera leans her head agains her hand, her arm open and propped on the back of her chair. She is dressed in a yellow patterned, gauzy shirt and is adorned in gold bracelets, earrings, and necklace and a ring on her pointer finger. She is smiling comfortably and gazes directly into the camera. The shade of her lipstick complements her bright pink manicure. The background is blurred.

Featured Storyteller

Kwayera Archers (she/her) combination of frequent international travels with her parents as well as being raised in both Jamaica, WI and NYC, USA, was the beginning of what piqued her cultural curiosity. Developing a respect and deep passion for understanding and working in partnership with communities to reach to their desired outcomes, became her quest. Rooted in real life business experience on the front line first as a professional modern and ballet dancer where she toured the world as a performer as well as providing lectures and arts residencies, and later, becoming the founder and CEO of the NYC based Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, Inc, Kwayera collaborated with the Brooklyn community for over 25 years to grow Ifetayo from a minute budget to a multi-million dollar institution. She now travels the world sharing her insights on philanthropy and social responsibility, cultural intelligence, organizational transformation, mindful leadership, and community and employee engagement.

 

A headshot of a light-skinned woman with dark long hair that lightens towards its ends. She is wearing a bright red top, dangling beaded earrings, and she is smiling openly. She is standing in front of a wall of deep teal, square, tiles with dark grout.

Session Presenter

Rachelle Archer (she/her), expressive arts coach & consultant, is the founder of Artful Leadership. She helps educators impact young lives sustainably by putting their own well-being first, so that they can lead with a full tank and create a community culture that will carry students and staff through challenging times. She has 25 + years experience in youth development, working at the intersection of arts, education, and healing, primarily with unhoused youth in San Diego. She believes that everyone can be a leader, humans thrive in community, and the well-being of that community starts with us doing our inner work first.

 

Black and white gridded photo featuring twelve ARTE youth and four ARTE team members with raised fists, each within their own Zoom square.

Session Presenter

Art and Resistance Through Education (ARTE) is a nonprofit organization that amplifies the voices of young people for human rights change. ARTE educates youth on human rights and equips them with the knowledge to identify the root causes of systemic inequity, provides participants with space to use the visual arts to express their own experiences around human rights, and helps youth develop organizing skills that enable them to mobilize and steer society towards justice.

 

Christopher approaches the camera's gaze with a look of speculation, coy knowing, and a close-lipped smile. He is wearing a bright yellow, button-up shirt. He has pulled back his long, dark hair into a bun atop his crown, and his pinkish skin is framed by both black, rectangular glasses and a trimmed, salt & pepper goatee. He is sitting and behind him is wooden bench, fence, and a few green leaves.

Session Presenter

Christopher Beaulieu (he/him), Co-Founder of B4TheOther Creations, is known as "The Game Changer" and "The Playmaker" across the globe. He is an educator and artist with over 25 years of experience facilitating Community Building and Play Exploration rural retreats & educational residencies. Being one of the pioneers of facilitating Play pedagogy, he is certain that the level of effort, risk and communication we put into our lives is in direct correlation with what we get out of them. Training includes: Shakespeare & Company, Dell Arte International (Graduate), Movement Chair of SETC, Society of American Fight Directors, Pilobolus.

 

Kathy, a brown-skinned woman with short cropped black hair, turns to engage the camera with a wide smile. Her lips are a deep red. In her three-quarter profile, one amber earring dangles from her left ear which perfectly matches her cowl-neck top. The background is cement grey.

Session Presenter

Kathryn Bentley (she/her) is a theater professional with years of experience as an actor, director and teaching artist. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Theater Directing. She was instrumental in developing the CHIPS In Motion program at CHIPS Health and Wellness Center in St. Louis. This program utilizes performance to teach the community about health and wellness issues. She serves as an Associate Professor in Southern Illinois University Edwardsville's Department of Theatre and Program Director of Black Studies. Kathryn is certified by The National Conference for Community and Justice of Metropolitan St. Louis (NCCJ STL) as a FaciliTrainer.

 

A young woman with very long straight brown hair down her back. She is smiling at the camera and wearing a Boston university grey sweater.

Session Presenter

Hi, I’m Karolina Bermudez (she/her), I’m a graduating senior attending Boston University. My love for learning about art comes from my two-year internship at the Art Institute of Chicago, where I’ve led conversations about artworks through tours and designed public engagements for Chicago youth with the Teen Council. I’ve collaborated and created with other artists as a Young Teaching Artist at Marwen, where I co-facilitated free animation and collage classes. I am excited to further support artists through this opportunity to elevate their voices on a national level!

 

In this close-up headshot of Will, a fair-skinned, youthful man who holds an engaging smile for the camera. His short-cropped strawberry blond hair frames his entire face, including a trimmed beard and moustache. He is wearing a collared shirt that is dark blue with a small red & white pattern. The greenery behind him is blurred.

Session Presenter

Will Bonfiglio (he/him) has served as Director of COCAbiz since 2019. He holds a MA in Nonprofit Management from Washington University in St. Louis, where he also completed a Graduate Certificate in Human Resources Management, and a BA in Organizational Development and Theatre from Vanderbilt University. He is also a professional actor, having performed with many regional theatre companies: ERA, Max & Louie Productions, The New Jewish Theatre, Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, SATE Ensemble Theatre, Stray Dog Theatre, and Variety Theatre. He was awarded the St. Louis Theatre Circle Award for Outstanding Actor in a Comedy in 2017, 2019, and 2020. An alumnus of the Fulbright Program, he previously worked in the field of international education for over five years.

 

A light brown young person wearing dark shades, black dress, and blue coat. They are smiling in front of a pink wall.

Session Presenter

Brianna Bryant (she/her) is a multimedia artist and undergraduate student at the University of Michigan Dearborn. She has been recently been featured in the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation video: “How Storytelling Effects Change.” She is also a 2021-2022 Modern Ancient Brown Art resident, who will work under McArthur Binon to produce independent work.

 

Within a grey beach landscape at dusk, rocky cliffs are captured to the left of the frame and in the distance, water laps the shore to the right, and a person stands in the center of the foreground. They are holding a long, wooden paddle, parallel to the ground. They are bundled in a blue & white knit hat, a plaid yellow coat, and from behind their large, wooly, red scarf, they are smiling and looking to the camera with warmth.

Session Presenter

Born in Quezon City on the Island of Luzon to Cebuano and Boholana parents, they were 10 years old when they immigrated to the San Francisco - East Bay Area. Mylene "r.a.d. Leng Leng" Cahambing (she/he/her/him/i/you/we) is a multimedia Dream~Weaver ARTibista, a twin sister, an auntie, a wife, a former Foster Care Public Health Nurse, a Disability Wellness Advocate and the Founder of Rekonstraksyon, a virtual space to raise awareness about living in a majority of ‘non-concussed world’ with a Persistent Post-Concussive Syndrome. A dream manifests as Vision Holder of Balik sa Dagat Bangka (Return to the Sea Canoe) Journey, rooted in the grassroots kommunity effort that built a 22-foot long dugout outrigger bangka as a ‘World’ Canoe to create safe spaces to shift ancestral traumas via water-craft building and dream power Paddle to Heartfulness workshops.

 

This image shows a tight shot of a woman with golden brown skin, flush cheeks, and short textured auburn hair who is smirking slightly at the camera. She wears a boat neck black shirt with thin white stripes and a short silver necklace with a rectangular pendant. She is standing in a brightly lit gallery space that is out of focus.

Social Media Activator

Eepi Chaad  (she/her) is a practicing multidisciplinary artist, advocate, and environmentalist who tells stories using textiles, fibers, metals, places, and people. Eepi’s work studies humanity’s evolving relationship to natural and built environments. Eepi studied architecture at the University of Houston. She was selected as one of the first resident artists for the City of Houston while working with an environmental non-profit in Galveston. After taking a sabbatical for the residency, Eepi took her current role as Director of Community Engagement at Art League Houston. Additionally, Eepi currently serves as a facilitator for the Artist INC Houston program, and on committees with the Houston Museum Educators Roundtable and Arts Connect Houston. Eepi believes art is for every community and creativity is in every human.

 

Tabari looks to the camera as though he is greeting a friend with a kind, close-lipped smile and warm, dark eyes. He is a light brown-skinned man with a full, black beard that is just beginning to grey. He is wearing a Newsboy cap and a custard yellow, button-up shirt. From behind him, several framed prints are revealed as well as a grey, sculpted bust.

Session Presenter

Tabari A. Coleman (he/him), MPA is a training consultant and social justice advocate known for his thoughtful, direct approach in facilitating dialogue sessions that focus on building empathy. With more than 18 years-experience in diversity and inclusion training and social justice work, he brings a wealth of knowledge, passion and expertise to his work. He previously worked as the Director of Professional Development for the Anti Defamation League, and is a trainer for the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJSTL) where he has been facilitating anti oppression programs. He travels nationally and internationally delivering training programs, workshops and giving presentations.

 

A headshot of a fair-skinned woman, smiling openly, with light brown, straight, shoulder-length hair that is swept across the side of her face. She is wearing dark-rimmed round glasses, long turquoise and orange dangling earrings, and white top with red embroidery at the sleeves. The background appears as a light aqua color and it is blurred.

Session Presenter

Ann Davis (she/her), the founder of Mistakes Welcome, is a Trauma Trained Expressive Arts & Somatic Experiencing Practitioner with 30 years experience in public health & education. She supports teachers, students and families impacted by traumatic stress to reclaim their vitality and step into the fullest expression of themselves. Ann believes every human is capable of growth, change, and transformation and that we heal in safe and nurturing relationships. Utilizing the power of the arts, Ann demonstrates how what's happening in our bodies directly impacts our behaviors, empowering clients to find unique solutions to their particular challenges.

 

A young black woman smiling at the camera wearing a blue jean jacket and neon green/pink top. She has long black braids past her shoulders.

Session Presenter

Tanykia “Diamond” Davis (she/her) is a young adult, opportunist, and artist from Detroit, MI. She helped to found and execute Living Arts’ Open Arts Fest, now in its third year, and also has been teaching dance at University Preparatory Academy and with Alnur Dance Company. She is always interested in meeting new people, networking, mentoring, and finding new opportunities and she even attended the National Guild for Community Arts Education’s national conference and the National Young Artists Summit in Austin, TX this year. In her free time, she loves singing, photography, and makeup and she is striving to become a successful businesswoman and event planner.

 

A group of seven participants stand and sit in a group photo, outside wearing masks.

Session Presenter

Earl's Garden Mae's Kitchen is a community-based garden located in Englewood, on the South Side of Chicago. Our mission is to foster community healing and transformation through gardening, arts practice, performance, mental health, and educational programming. Our motto is: "when gardening and art come together, healing happens."

 

On the left is Cynthia, a light-skinned woman with white, short curly hair, wearing a bright orange shirt and black pants. She stands with support from a rollator walker while talking with a younger woman with light brown skin, a black dress and long curly brown hair pulled partially up in a bun. They are standing in the middle of a brightly lit gallery space with vibrant paintings behind them against a white wall.

Session Presenter

Cynthia Edmondson (she/her) is an older adult artist and student in Art League Houston's Healing Art program. Healing Art serves adults living with severe illnesses such as HIV/AIDS, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and fibromyalgia as well as physical disabilities. Led by experienced artist-teachers, the program provides students with an extensive support structure in a safe and creative environment and is one of the only programs of its kind for adults in Houston outside of hospital or clinical settings. Cynthia is living with multiple sclerosis and has also been active with the M.S. Society of Houston. In a 2020 artist statement, she writes: "Certain themes have woven through my life, many originating from family and early experiences: love of nature, feeling like an outsider, wanting to travel, and my intermittent pursuit of art [. . .] when I was invited to attend the Healing Art Program at Art League Houston, I decided to “take the chance”. It has proven to be an exceptional experience and has brought the various threads of my life together into a rich visual tapestry. I have used experiences living in Germany, hiking, biking, gardening, family, and dealing with a chronic illness."

 

Aimee sits in her home with a big, welcoming smile on her face. She is wearing a navy sweater, under which a white collar frames her face, purple pants, and navy socks. Behind her are books, records, a lamp, and some houseplants.

Session Presenter

Aimee Espiritu, M. Ed. (she/they) launched Espiritu Consulting in October 2017 rooted in her satiable quality to connect things. Aimee's calling is to combine the creative methodologies from her Industrial Design training with her drive to make creativity accessible for all. She facilitates spaces that center liberation and equity to collectively find solutions. Aimee is able to authentically practice these passions as a strategist, facilitator and creative consultant. She brings 17 years of management experience in nonprofits, school districts, museums, foundations and government institutions. Aimee's consulting practice lives at the intersection of arts and culture organizations, racial equity, strategy and thought-partnership.

 

Headshot of a light brown Mexican-American male with pulled back hair with two braids down to the chest. William has a goatee and long side burns. He is wearing two silver small hoop earrings and cherry red glasses and he has a piercing on his right nostril and bottom left lip. He is wearing a black t-shirt and a multicolored stripped “reboso” or long woven scarf wrapped around his neck. The background is blurred and shows multiple screen printed posters on white paper that high light a quote by Grace Lee Boggs that says, “The only way to survive is by taking care of one another.”

Featured Storyteller

William Estrada (he/him/él) is an arts educator and multidisciplinary artist. His art and teaching are a collaborative discourse that critically re-examines public and private spaces with people to engage in radical imagination. He has presented in various panels regarding community programming, arts integration, and social justice curricula. He is currently a faculty member at the School of Art and Art History at UIC. William is engaging in collaborative work with the Mobilize Creative Collaborative, Chicago ACT Collective, and Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative. His current research is focused on developing community based and culturally relevant projects that center power structures of race, economy, and cultural access in contested spaces that provide a space to collectively imagine just futures.

 

A dark skinned young person wearing a blue face mask is holding up a gold picture frame in front of their face and body.

Session Presenter

Magnificent "Mags" Farrell (they/them) is 16 years old and does circus work with Wise Fool in Santa Fe, New Mexico. They’ve been doing circus since 2016 and this upcoming summer will mark their 5 year point at the circus! They’re an intermediate to advanced Unicyclist and Juggler. They also took up trapeze 3 years ago and haven’t stopped doing it ever since! Magnificent was a part of American Youth Circus Organization’s 2020 Hup Squad and wrote various articles about different circus topics.

 

Ashanti is surrounded by nature from where she sits on a granite rock. Her long locs lighten towards the tips, complementing her radiant smile as she looks directly into the camera. She wears small-framed glasses, a silver neck necklace, and is dressed in dark grey. Her hands are clasped on her upper thigh and she wears two rings on her right hand.

Session Presenter

Ashanti Files (she/her) works as a Registered Nurse has published her poetry and fiction writing in journals including, most recently, the Northern New England Review and their FRONT/LINES: Poetry of Nursing and Pandemic Perspectives and the For Colored Girls Graphic Novel (forthcoming 2021). In 2019, she published her own collection of poetry, Woven: Perspectives of a Black Woman. She is the Founder of Writers of Oya, a writer's program for middle school girls of color exploring intersections of poetry, spoken word, mental health, social issues, and resilience. In 2021 she was named Urbana Poet Laureate and a MVICW Poet Fellow.

 

Kayla, a young light brown-skinned girl, grins at the camera with a look of playful delight. Her light brown afro fills the frame. She is wearing a deep purple top with a band of pink. The image is taken from above her height so that behind her a portion of parked, grey car and the asphalt ground are revealed.

Session Presenter

Kayla Files (she/her) is 11 years old and the youngest member of the Writers of Oya. Her poetry reflects on her experiences as a middle child and the struggle with being heard by adults. She enjoys using similes and metaphors to discuss her interpersonal relationships and societal dynamics.

 

A light-skinned, blonde femme holds a microphone with both hands. She is smiling, mid-delivery, and clearly engaged with an audience. She is wearing a black short-sleeved top, a silver watch, and a red lanyard with name-tag. Her long, straight, blond hair is down. A full-leaved tree is behind her as well as indistinct brick architecture.

Session Presenter

Karen Finn (she/her) is the Executive Director of the Springfield Cultural Partnership. In her current role, she works to advance the SCP's mission of sustaining strong and secure arts and cultural environment in Springfield. She has been an entrepreneur and business owner as well as held positions with higher education and the federal government. She has experience in community service, advocacy, and program management. Karen also holds a Master's of Business Administration (MBA) degree and is a recipient of the prestigious U.S. Presidential Management Fellowship. She relocated to the Springfield MA area in 2018 with her husband and her two sons.

A selfie of Patricia in front of cream-colored walls. She has brown skin and dark brown hair cut close. She wears large, thick-framed grey glasses, red lipstick, a white dangling earring, a pearl necklace, a button-down shirt with white and dark blue vertical stripes, and a grey wrap vest.

Session Proposal Reviewer

Patricia Ford (she/her) or "Pstylzz" is a master hairstylist at King of Kings Studio Arts and Entertainment and a Fashion Refiner at Still Life's Journal Beauté. She is also a Dancer and a Director of Programs with The Legacy Arts Project and has performed at many venues around Pennsylvania. Health and Wellness has become her priority personally and for the organization, hence the term "Arts for Wellness". After at least 15 years in the Arts business, her love of Hair and the Arts has been the perfect mix, this has exposed her to many opportunities in the Arts and Fashion communities in Pittsburgh. The work she does keeps her very engaged, and she finds it very exciting to see Pittsburgh's Art and Fashion Community continue to grow.

 

Vanessa turns to the camera with a confident, close-mouthed smile. Her photographer has expertly lit her warm brown complexion, with rosy cheeks, pink eyeshadow and black eyeliner. Bangs fall across her forehead and her wavy shoulder-length dark hair ends in ombre copper tones. She is wearing sparkling pendant earrings and a black top. The background is white.

Session Presenter

Vanessa Ford's (she/her) rich Central American heritage has encouraged her to embrace family, to appreciate every culture and racial background and to find a way to always be of service to others. She began singing in the church choir at the age of seven. For the past 12 years she has been a Community Music School of Springfield teaching artist and in 2020 Program Director of Trust Transfer Project. Vanessa is the founding director of the Springfield CommUnity Chorale where she brings singers together from all backgrounds and cultures. Vanessa makes a difference in the lives of others through her life, community service and music.

 

A headshot of a brown-skinned woman with an all-encompassing smile, looking into the camera joyfully. She is wearing an aqua top, stud earrings, and her dark hair rests atop her head where it sways to the right.

Session Presenter

Ashley Lauren Frith (she/her) is a violist, songwriter, educator, and currently the Director of Racial Equity and Belonging at Community MusicWorks in Providence, RI. Focusing on care partnerships, her anti-racism work particularly addresses how racism affects our individual and collective interiority; with an emphasis on how we can enter this work through the practice of care. Ashley was music director, composer, lyricist for the Trinity Repertory Company's season production of Jose Rivera's Marisol. In combination with mindfulness practices, she explores the use of sound as a healing modality and the effect these tools can have on mental health.

 

Image Description: Illuminated in the foreground, Teri appears to be in mid-stride. Though the image crops just below her collarbones, from her position her arms look actively engaged. She is wearing a maroon tank top and her shoulder-length, salt and pepper locs are pulled back by a dark grey headband. She looks straight into the camera with her warm, dark eyes.

Session Presenter

Visual artist, writer, yoga teacher, African-American woman and Breast Cancer Survivor‚ Teri Gandy-Richardson (she/her), took ownership of Park Slope Yoga Center in 2014. Having exhibited her art nationally and internationally for 20 years, her background in creative arts therapies extended her pragmatic and creative approach to teaching yoga in studios, schools and hospitals, including oncology yoga. Encouraging a wide range of students to recognize and value personal strengths and efforts, her process offers yoga and meditation as full, workable and integrative practices. Teri breaks down philosophical teachings to elicit grounding and practical support for anyone deepening their quest for self-discovery.

 

A headshot of a fair-skinned woman with long, blond, curly hair surrounding her face. She is looking over her right shoulder to the camera so that we can see her welcoming smile in full view, but her torso is turned away facing the left of the frame. She is wearing a dark grey top, complementing the light grey background.

Session Presenter

Dance Entropy is a professional not-for-profit modern dance company founded in 1998, supporting the vision of Artistic Director, Valerie Green (she/her) to use creation, performance, and teaching as a means to link dance and the people of a particular community. The workshops and individual sessions span Ms. Green’s knowledge, wisdom, and lifetime of many modalities cultivated into a unique working practice over the course of the past 25 years. Green is a Certified Core Energetics Practitioner and is also certified in Body Mind Fitness.. Her sessions may integrate creative movement, improvisation, movement analysis, body reading, energy and breath work, body mind embodiment and consciousness, shamanic journeying, somatic experiencing, and intuition.

 

Gregory appears to be mid-speech, with the corners of his mouth slightly upturned. He has warm brown skin, a mustache and beard, and wears a red-orange beanie, a dark shirt worn open with a white shirt underneath, and a strap that says "Guess" across his left shoulder.

Session Presenter

Gregory Greer (he/him) is a graduate of the Girard Academic Music Program in Philadelphia, where he founded a school drumline to provide Black students an opportunity to practice and perform in a culturally-authentic medium. Just a few years after graduating, Gregory started his own event planning and entertainment company, YDD Entertainment. Gregory has toured over a dozen major cities in North America as a DJ for featured artists. Since joining Mad Beatz Methods as a teaching artist in 2020, Gregory has elevated our discussions on the importance and role of music in Black communities with his perspective and heartfelt desire to educate white peers.

 

A smiling, young Black man with caramel skin and short brown hair, wearing a black turtleneck. With crossed arms posing in front of a gray background.

Session Presenter

Deonté Griffin-Quick (he/him) is a nationally recognized, award-winning arts administrator and consultant with a proven track record of envisioning and implementing change at the local and regional level. Deonté serves as Director of Programs and Services at New Jersey Theatre Alliance where he builds lasting partnerships, leads statewide initiatives, and oversees programming to support the cultivation of 40 professional theatre companies. He is a recipient of the inaugural Individual Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Award from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies. Deonté holds a BA in Theatre with a Communications minor from Kean University, as well as a Certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the Workplace from the University of South Florida, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Arts Administration at Drexel University. www.deontegq.com

 

An olive-skinned woman with long, brown hair, partially tied back, looks at the camera with her chin tilting slightly down. She smiles lightly. She is wearing a grey sweater and she is standing in a gallery space with a foil background in front of beautifully embroidered silk garments.

Session Presenter

Leah Elizabeth Gross (she/her) graduated from NYU with a degree in screenwriting from the Tisch School for the Arts. She has been working in New York, writing, managing big projects and living a life of adventures. Starting as a core girl with TVbyGIRLS at 13, Leah continued to develop her love for media and filmmaking including associate producer for The Pain of a People, a documentary about the 2018 revolution in the Gambia and developing the Adventures series for 55+ students with Barbara Sharon Wiener.

 

Ashley is standing in a grassy field, wearing a purple and pink scarf tied around their head, large silver hoop earrings, and a t-shirt that says "Stand with Black women". They have light brown skin and loose curls, and smiling with their mouth closed while holding up the camera.

Advisor

Ashley Hare (they/them) is based in Phoenix, Arizona. Their career has shifted and expanded from stage management and teaching artistry, to arts therapy and arts administration. Now, they work to integrate wellness, joy, community organizing, elder and ancestral knowledge, and CYD youth-led practice together. They have facilitated programming within shelters for youth who are homeless, and in group homes, rehabilitation facilities, juvenile detention centers, public and private schools. Ashley is the Deputy Director of Equity and Human Development for the National Guild for Community Arts Education. They are a co-founder of InSite Consultants AZ, a racial equity group centering wisdom at the margins, and have served as arts director for city government and nonprofit arts organizations. Ashley supports Re:Frame Youth Arts Center as a co-founder and adult accomplice who shares leadership power with a 50% youth staff and 50% youth board. They also serve as a board member for Mass Liberation AZ, an organization working to abolish incarceration for youth and adults.

 

A brown-skinned 21-year-old black woman smiling. Her hair is styled in pale pink locs with blue seashell hair jewelry. She's wearing a black dress, but you can see two tattoos: one that reads "222" on her right shoulder and a tulip on her left shoulder. The background is bright pink and shows Imani's shadow.

Forum Facilitator

Imani Harris (she/her) is a 21-year-old Black woman born and raised on the eastside of Detroit. Imani is a Renaissance graduate, and is currently a senior at Northwestern University studying Journalism and African American studies. A former community organizer with 482Forward, an education justice organization in Detroit, She's passionate about racial justice and racial identity development within the Black community, and hopes to use her writing to think through and theorize about these things more. She also hopes to use her organizing and youth activism skills from her high school years to continue supporting young Black Detroiters however they see fit.

 

A close up shot of Katikka wearing a white blazer, two necklaces, and a stud earring. She has warm brown skin, full eyebrows, and a knowing smile.

Session Presenter

Katikka Harris (she/her) graduated from Girard Academic Music Program in Philadelphia and went on to attend Delaware State University, playing in the Approaching Storm Marching Band and studying music. She is a program coordinator for North10 Recreation Center and teaches middle years students as well.

 

An olive skinned man with short black hair and eyebrows smiles broadly at someone past the camera to the left. He is wearing a black suit coat and a white, collared button down shirt. Behind him is an ornate, formal room with a crystal chandelier and balcony.

Session Presenter

Cory Michael Herman (he/him) is director of the Alliance Stage Company in New York City. Additional New York directing credits include The Storm (starring Alison Fraser & Sharna Burgess); Mulberry Street; Against All Odds (Mazer Theatre); Curtains Up!; [Im]Perfect Comedy; and Chatterton Country Club. Cory assisted Charles Messina in the world premiere, Off-Broadway run of A Room Of My Own (starring Ralph Macchio & Mario Cantone) as well as the staged reading of The Wanderer: The Story of Dion. He established Sirovich Senior Theater, an acting group for senior citizens, which has run for over a decade downtown at the Educational Alliance. In his early career, he co-directed P.R.I.D.E. Youth Program’s National Vocal Team; worked as a production assistant on the music video I’ve Got The Music In Me (Jordin Sparks); and performed under contract for the Walt Disney Company.

 

A glowing headshot of a light-skinned woman looking towards a light in the upper right corner of the image. She is wearing a dark green, sleeveless top, two delicate necklaces, and she is touching her face with her right hand, displaying the thick silver bracelet on her arm. She is smiling pleasantly at the camera. The background is a gradient vignette from light behind her to dark corners.

Session Presenter

Diane Jacobowitz (she/her) has a distinguished career in teaching, performing, choreography and arts administration. She has taught dance for over 26 years to all ages and backgrounds, and was instrumental in establishing the Dance Major at Long Island University, where she was a Dance professor for 9 years. Diane choreographed/directed her own company, Diane Jacobowitz Dance Theater for 15 years, which toured, and performed throughout the Northeast. Diane founded/directed/led Dancewave from 1995-2019 creating exemplary dance education programs, including Dancewave Thru College and Beyond, and serving thousands of young dancers who lacked the means to afford classes or pre-professional training.

 

A photo of three young artists standing side by side with their hands on their hips in a parking lot. They all are wearing black dresses.

Session Presenters Micky Johnson, Jaleshea, and Maya

Hey y’all! That’s me! My name is Micaela "Micky" and I use she/her pronouns. I work on content curation and event management. I believe in the power of conversation, and the ripple effect one can create just by speaking up. We are powerful, we are strong, and we are worthy of being heard. So #unmutemeplz !

Jalesha (she/her) is a recent college graduate and the campaign’s social media manager and event coordinator. "My biggest dream for the #unmutemeplz campaign is to mobilize young people to advocate for themselves in a way that is effective, by providing resources and having conversations with youth online that activate them to create change in their communities."

Maya (she/her) is a leadership team member and content creator for the #unmutemeplz campaign. Maya is a talented poet and artist and a passionate advocate for youth voice. As an Alumni of Creative Action’s Youth Cinema Collective and a native Austinite, Maya truly believes in the power of art in change.

 

Calida stands with her hand resting on a white door, with a patio and trees in the background. She has long brown, blonde, and red curly hair, brown skin, and is wearing a white button-down shirt with a black blazer and dark denim pants.

Advisor

Calida Jones (she/her) is an accomplished musician, social justice advocate, and educator with more than 20 years of experience in performance planning, workshop and curriculum development, volunteerism, project management, and teaching in private and public institutions. Working with arts and cultural organizations across the nation, she has led efforts in advancing equity, diversity, inclusion, and access. Passionate about intentional purposeful teaching and community engagement, her personal mission is to ensure that children with limited resources have access to musical opportunities and activities. She is also committed to correlating the art of teaching to life skills and community building. Calida is currently a Vice President at Arts Consulting Group. She is also a founder and managing partner at CNJ Associates and previously served as the Director of Engagement of The Hartt School at the University of Hartford. She has served in other leadership capacities with Music Matter, the Hartford All-City Youth Orchestra, and with El Sistema-inspired programs such as PROJECT MUSIC and Waterbury Symphony Orchestra’s Bravo Waterbury! Calida serves as President of the Connecticut Arts Alliance and as Board Clerk for El Sistema USA, where she also chairs the Racial Diversity and Cultural Understanding Committee. She has received numerous honors during her career, including a scholar fellowship at the Aspen Ideas Festival, Elizabeth L. Mahaffey Fellowship, Grammy Music Educator Award nomination, 2018 Connecticut Arts Hero Award, and the Father Thomas H. Dwyer Humanitarian Award for her work in Waterbury, Connecticut. Ms. Jones holds a bachelor of fine arts degree in violin performance from Indiana University of Pennsylvania and a master of music degree in violin performance and Suzuki pedagogy from The Hartt School.

 

Sarah is wearing a blue short sleeve dress, with black hair pulled half way up and black eyes. She is seated holding her violin at her side.

Session Presenter

Sarah Kim (she/her), a violinist, joined Community MusicWorks as a resident musician in 2017. From 2008 – 2013, Sarah was a member of the Apple Hill String Quartet, resident ensemble of the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music. Based in Kansas City from 2013 – 2017, Sarah enjoyed teaching a wide spectrum of students and received the 2015 Studio Teacher Award from the Missouri chapter of the American String Teachers Association. Sarah holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Stony Brook University, a Master of Music degree from the Yale School of Music, and a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University where her principal teachers included Pamela Frank, Phil Setzer, Peter Oundjian, and Miriam Fried.

 

M. Carmen Lane looks directly into the camera with an inviting, all-seeing gaze. While Carmen's lips are sealed, their presence feels like a smile. They are wearing a signature, tan felted hat, a dark blue denim shirt with light pinstripes, and a white t-shirt with red collar underneath. Carmen is standing in front of a white clapboarding and a window screen is visible over their right shoulder.

Featured Storyteller

M. Carmen Lane (Carmen—no pronouns), MSOD is a two:spirit African-American and Haudenosaunee (Mohawk/Tuscarora) artist, writer and facilitator living in Cleveland, Ohio. Lane’s work ranges from experiential educator to diversity practitioner to organizational systems consultant to experimental artist—all of it integrates ancestry, legacy, and spirituality; pursues expansion, experimentation, and play. Lane is founder and director of ATNSC: Center for Healing & Creative Leadership, an urban retreat center and social practice experiment in holistic health, leadership development, Indigenous arts and culture and the Akhsótha Gallery located in the historic Buckeye-Shaker neighborhood. In addition numerous publications, exhibitions, and honors for their creative and intellectual leadership, in 2016, Lane became a birth/postpartum and end-of-life doula. Lane attended Earlham College receiving their BA in Women’s Studies with a focus in feminist art history, theory & criticism and later earned their MS in Organization Development & Change from American University.

 

Mika looks into the camera in mid-movement with a joyous smile and mischievous glance. She is outside and her movement, or the wind, sweeps her salmon-colored t-shirt across her body. The sky behind her is grey.

Session Presenter

Originally from Oakland, CA, Mika Lemoine (she/her) has spent the last decade as the Artistic Director of the Destiny Junior Company and a Mentor Teaching Artist at Destiny Arts Center. Mika collaboratively holds space for young people to build community and leadership through participating in Hip-Hop and Street Dance while paying homage to their lineage and social context. She collaboratively holds space for adults to learn together about Creative Youth Development and antiracism work. She believes that creative expression is vital to social change and being human.

 

A light-skinned woman smiles slightly at the camera with lips closed. She has wavy, brown hair to her shoulders, with a wisp cascading slightly over her left eye. She is wearing a black blouse with gold and amber specks.

Session Presenter

Vita Litvak (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based artist, educator, and arts administrator. She is currently the Director of Education at Fleisher Art Memorial, a community school of the visual arts, where she oversees the design and implementation of more than 100 adult and youth classes. She is leading a new creative aging initiative at Fleisher and designing new programs to serve older adults in South Philadelphia, work that has been funded and shared by the National Guild for Community Arts Education. Litvak received her BA in Fine Arts from Haverford College and her MFA in Photography and Film from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has been an art educator for more than ten years, including positions as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Haverford College, Adjunct Professor at Moore College of Art and Design, Monmouth University, and Stockton University.  Her art practice is rooted in the photographic medium and extends into video and community-based projects. 

 

A smiling young Latinx artists with black and red hair. They are wearing a black shirt with red car, taking a selfie in front of a white door.

Session Presenter

Trinity “Trini” Lugo (she/they) is a 20 year old Latinx artist, poet, actress, and writer. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona .She is a Transforming Artistic Collaborator with Rising Youth Theatre, where she has been working since 2016. She has worked as a director, performer, and crew member, but is most passionate about writing, and is the editor of Rising Youth Theatre’s online literary magazine, Speak Up Sound Off. The art she creates allows her to express the world in her eyes but also a way of sharing who she is in a deeper sense. She’s hardworking and a big dreamer. She hopes to leave her mark in the world.

 

A close-up from the chest up of a smiling white male with short brown hair that is parted to their left side and green eyes. He is clean shaven, with some stubble appearing. He is wearing a light blue dress shirt with a dark gray tie that has very thin orange diagonal lines. The background is a bright, neutrally painted room.

Forum Facilitator 

A member of Lifetime Arts staff since 2012, Nathan Majoros (he/him) is responsible for the planning and execution of Lifetime Arts’ national initiatives. He has provided coaching and guidance to a variety of stakeholders, which has enabled the implementation of over 600 creative aging programs across the country. His expertise ranges from curriculum development to building sustainable partnerships. Nathan is an alumnus of the National Guild’s Community Arts Education Leadership Institute, and a graduate of the University of the Arts, where he received his Master of Arts in Teaching and Bachelor of Fine Arts degrees. Nathan is a visual artist, and primarily works as a painter and a printmaker.

 

Person with large smile in lower left corner of the photo has light white complexion, short brown hair, and stubble. They are wearing a dark blue t-shirt and black baseball cap with a purple and magenta  patch that reads "Radio." They are also wearing a light purple backpack with a child on their back. In the background is a rocky trail with orange rocks and dirt. Pine trees can be seen off in the distance.

Forum Facilitator 

Noah Martin is the Director of Creative Youth Development and Artistic Director of Changing Lives Youth Theatre Ensemble at Creative Action in Austin, TX. Noah’s work with youth and adults is focused on collaborative theatre-making processes and multi-arts experiences that build community and foster meaningful social dialogue. He has worked in schools, museums, and community settings in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, and Austin.

 

A woman smiling at the camera with long straight dark hair, wearing a dark gray sweater.

Session Presenter

Lissette Martinez (she/her) is a Miami educator who is constantly learning, making mistakes, and learning some more with humor, humility, and patience. She began in arts education because she believed/believes that the arts are necessary for helping all people grow into their full selves. After 4 years of being an arts administrator, Lissette has returned to education and learning about the intersection of abolition and education, specifically through educators like Bettina Love, Dena Simmons, Niki Franco, Akiea “Ki” Gross, Dr. Farima Pour-Khorshid, and the Abolitionist Teaching Network, among many more. She also has to give flowers to Quanice Floyd, Ashley Hare, and James Horton who, under their guidance and leadership, modeled practices centered in community, joy, and liberation.

 

A closeup of Jeff with a dark background. He has light skin and short, white hair, and wears a dark cap, wire-rimmed glasses, and a dark jacket with a shirt collar visible underneath.

Session Proposal Reviewer

Jeff Mather (he/him) is a community-based public artist & environmental sculptor & interdisciplinary teaching artist based in Decatur, GA. He has served since 2012, forty five days every semester, as STEAM Artist in Residence at Drew Charter School. Jeff also travels to Logan, Utah twice a year, where he is the lead artist for the Beverly Taylor Sorenson Arts Access program, a full inclusion arts program that serves students with disabilities. Jeff will be serving as the design coach for a new urban agriculture project in Atlanta this year. He’s been a member of Alternate ROOTS since 1992. Several of his public art projects were partially funded by ROOTS' Community/Artist Partnership Program. Jeff will be leading an ITAC, International Teaching Artists Collaborative, Think Tank and work group on STEAM partnerships this fall.

 

As a light-skinned woman with a kind smile, Lee Anne's headshot is expertly lit, revealing her blue eyes and the blond highlights in her shoulder-length wavy hair. Her hand brushes her neck and brings to our attention her dangling, blue earrings. She is wearing a long-sleeved, navy blue blouse. The sepia toned background in blurred.

Session Presenter

Lee Anne Mathews (she/her) is a professional theatre artist and educator, having worked in the arts for over thirty years. As an actor, director, and producer, she has travelled the world working for regional theatres, theme parks, and entertainment venues. As a public speaking coach and facilitator, Lee Anne has worked with dozens of corporations, non-profits, and individuals using the arts to apply outcomes such as better communications skills, collaboration and empathy, and DEI awareness. As an award winning artist and advocate, she strives to help people empower the characters of their best selves.

 

Eileen stands in an empty, well-lit theater. Her  light brown hair sweeps across both of her shoulders and her grey-blue cashmere scarf, which is wrapped around her neck. She is wearing a black long-sleeved top which blends into the background, creating a relief for her light complexion and welcoming smile. She has on two silver hoop earrings and a silver chain.

Session Presenter

Eileen McCaffery (she/her) has served as executive director of Community Music School of Springfield since 2012. Prior to joining CMSS she was a partner in San Francisco-based Montgomery Asset Management--Director of Global Marketing. In 2019 Eileen was finalist for the Massachusetts Cultural Council Commonwealth Awards, Massachusetts highest honor for achievement in arts and sciences. Under her leadership at CMSS, the Sonido Musica partnership was a catalyst for bring music back to the Springfield public schools, having received a National Endowment for the Arts grant, the Yale University Distinguished Music Educator award, the Massachusetts Association of School Committees' Outstanding School Partner award.

 

A fair-skinned woman with brown hair pulled up with a braid crowning her head and pale pink flowers pinned above her right ear. She is smiling, looking off in the distance. She wears a blue top with a brown sweater and a multi-colored scarf wrapped around her shoulders.

Session Presenter

Jessica McCracken (she/her), MPA, brings people together through the creative process. Her career began at the Center for Elders and Youth in the Arts, Institute on Aging in 2007. She holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis in Nonprofit Arts Management. With great dedication to collaboration, Jessica co-founded Creative Aging San Francisco, a collective of individuals utilizing the arts to support healthy aging. Expertise: arts program development, community collaboration, nonprofit administration.

 

Jordan folds his arms and smiles gently, with a light blue glass window behind him. He has caramel colored skin, a shaved head, and a dark, full beard. He wears wire-rimmed glasses and a deep purple turtleneck.

Session Presenter, Session Proposal Reviewer 

Jordan C. Medley (he/him) is the current Marketing & Communications Manager at The Arts Council of Winston-Salem & Forsyth County. In addition to his work with the Arts Council of Winston Salem Forsyth County, Jordan currently serves as a community leader and advocate for LGBTQIA+ BIPOC creatives. Additionally, Jordan currently serves as an advisor to a nonprofit, Paige Johnston Thomas Giving Tree, and on the Board of directors for Dance Project Inc., Jordan is a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, where he received the Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in contemporary dance. Jordan is also a Master of Arts in Arts Administration candidate at Winthrop University, where he expects to complete his degree in the spring of 2023. Since graduating from UNCSA, Medley has been a North Carolina-based dancer, choreographer, and community leader. From managing his own dance company, Medley of Moves, to becoming a co-founder of the first Black Creatives Revival cohort in the state of NC. Jordan is a believer in dismantling the status quo, centering LGBTQIA+ BIPOC creatives, and working to create an abundance of leadership opportunities for the latter.

 

A fair-skinned woman with a brown, bowl cut and wire-rimmed glasses lies on the floor, propped up on her elbows. She is tickling a tabby cat under the chin while smiling at the camera. The cat is splayed on the floor holding her wrist. The woman is wearing a black leather jacket, a watch, and a turquoise necklace with matching, dangle earrings.

Session Presenter

Elizabeth Merritt (she/her) is the American Alliance of Museums’ Vice President for Strategic Foresight and Founding Director of the Center for the Future of Museums (CFM)—a think-tank and research & development lab for the museum field. She studied ecology and evolution as an undergraduate at Yale and received her masters in cell and molecular biology from Duke University. Prior to starting CFM, Elizabeth literally wrote the book on museum standards and best practices, as director of the Alliance’s accreditation and excellence programs. She notes this was perfect preparation for her current role as agent provocateur—challenging museums to question assumptions about traditional practice, and experiment with new ways of doing business. Elizabeth is the author of the Alliance’s annual TrendsWatch report and works with museums around the world to help them build a better tomorrow. Learn more about AAM's work in creative aging here.

 

A light skinned person with short hair shaved on the sides, smiling directly into the camera. They have on a white tshirt and black blazer.

Session Presenter

Indi McCasey (they/them) believes in the power of intergenerational, creative collaboration to foster social change. Indi is a white, queer, creative catalyst who has spent two decades working at the intersection of arts, education, and community health. They currently partner with districts and community arts organizations to provide professional development, advocacy, and strategic planning in their work as a consultant and Executive Director of the Arts Education Alliance of the Bay Area. As a member of the Creative Youth Development National Partnership, they are committed to the partnership's three goals of Racial Equity, Youth Voice, and Collective Action.

 

A side view of a light skinned woman smiling broadly to someone past the camera. Her brown hair is pulled back into a loose, messy bun and she is wearing a greyish brown, long-sleeve top. Behind her is a solid tan background.

Session Presenter

Carly McCollow (she/her) is an educator & facilitator in NYC, and a grad of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. She has collaborated closely with Theater Mitu, and worked as a Teaching Artist with BAM, Arts for All, and The Moth, where she was a Lead Coach in storytelling work with the National Aphasia Association. Her reflections on that work are published in The Word Escapes Me: Voices of Aphasia. With the Healing Arts Initiative, Carly developed a photography workshop with residents of Jewish Home and Lifecare. Inspired by the healing potential of storytelling and documentary theater, Carly received her MSW degree from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. She has since served as the Program Director of after-school programs in Lower Manhattan with Educational Alliance, and facilitated professional development workshops around social and emotional development, trauma-informed work, racial justice, and restorative processes with Ramapo for Children and Girls Leadership.

 

Four young folx sitting on a blue and black polka dotted picnic blanket on top of grass. Sitting on the picnic blanket L-R: Tiebe, a young person with hair in two low buns, wearing a black sweatshirt and pants, holds a yellow water bottle in her left hand while reading from 3 white papers on the ground. Gina, a young person in a black t-shirt with her hair down, reads the papers with Tiebe while sitting criss-cross. Ameena, a young person with hair down in a black long-sleeve shirt and blue jeans, sits on her knee looking at her friend. Lola, a young person in black shirt and sweatpants, looks up at Ameena. In the background there is a neighborhood with houses, trees, and cars.

Session Presenter

The Mosaic Collaborative (TMC) was established in 2018 by two Black, Queer women as an organizational change management firm focused on anti-racist, diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives that allow each of us to celebrate our uniqueness while contributing to the whole. We believe that igniting real, sustainable change requires a multi-layered, tailored approach that includes all voices. As our name signifies, we work in collaboration with a diverse group of strategic management and facilitation professionals with a wide variety of sector and content expertise. With over 25 years combined experience, the TMC team integrates and champions anti-racist, equity, inclusion, and social justice philosophies in all areas of their work and lives.

 

A close up of Barbara. She has light olive toned skin, and dark hair that blends into the black background. She wears subtle pink blush. She flashes a calm, knowing smile.

Session Presenter, Session Proposal Reviewer

Barbara Mumby-Huerta (she/her) is an artist and community organizer—both passions stem from her upbringing in California's rural Central Valley: as the youngest of five raised by a single mother, the arts became an integral part of her life while her passion for social justice was deeply influenced by her family's Native American heritage and work as migrant farmers. In the philanthropic field, Barbara has designed equity-based grants programs for early childhood education, workforce development, social services, and arts & culture. She is the Vice President of Programs and Partnerships for the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and an alum of the Open Society Racial Equality Fellowship where she is developing a tool kit to address racism in public art. Barbara holds bachelor’s degrees in studio arts and Native American studies from UC Berkeley and master’s degrees in museum studies and business administration from John F. Kennedy University.

 

In this studio headshot, a brown-skinned femme peers knowingly into the camera with stillness across her face. Danyla's hair is pulled back into two buns atop her crown, her eyes are adorned in turquoise eyeshadow and her closed lips shine. She is wearing a black tank top and the background is dark grey.

Session Presenter

Danyla Nash (she/her) is a Freshman at Urbana Highschool. She has the ability to take her challenges and connect them to larger Social, political, racial and economic themes. Her voice is fierce and unafraid. In her writing, she poses questions and boldly demands answers.

 

A light-skinned femme connects with the camera lens from an angle, with an open smile of inviting play and delight. She is wearing her dark, wavy hair up in a twist on the side of her head just above her left ear in such a way that her dangling shell earring is framed in contrast. She has on a bright yellow t-shirt, a dark necklace, and behind her is wooden fence and some green-leafed vines.

Session Presenter

Malia'Kekia Nicolini (she/her) received her inoa (name) traditionally from inoa po (mothers dream), inoa ho'ailona (symbol), and inoa ulaleo (ancestors voice). She is a teaching artist, director/choreographer, gratitude enthusiast and Vibrational Activist. As an interdisciplinary artist, she weaves all her experience together to empower dreams and create beauty. She holds a BFA from New World School of the Arts and an InnerMBA from MindfulNYU in conscious leadership and mindful sustainability in business practices. Malia'Kekia is the Co-Founder of B4TheOther Creations which travels throughout the US and internationally offering professional development, theatrical productions, and educational residencies.

 

Marina is standing with a big, open smile, with green foliage in the background. She has long, straight brown hair, light skin, and is wearing a black bomber jacket with an orange stripe down the sleeves, and a black button down shirt underneath.

Session Presenter

Marina Nir (she/her) is an educator, producer, performer, and curator. After years of training to become a classical flutist, Nir moved to Philadelphia in 2015 to rediscover creative joy through punk, pop, and electronic music. As a first generation American with complex roots, Nir’s musical writing explores themes of mixedness, decolonization, and accountability. Similarly, Marina’s teaching aims to center the identities of her students and help them maintain a sense of community and home through music. Marina is a musical director at Abraham Lincoln High School in Philadelphia. Learn more: www.murayamamusic.com

 

Purple, a brown-skinned woman smiles with her whole being as she looks into the camera, her wide grin reaches the joy in her eyes. Her dark hair is cut close. She is turned so that we only see her right ear which holds a gold stud earring. She is also wearing a gold necklace and black top. The camera's flash illuminates her iridescent eyeshadow and throws a shallow shadow against the bright red wall behind her.

Session Presenter

Sheikia S. Norris (she/her), lyrically known as Purple was born in The Bronx, resides in Newark, NJ & is enrolled in the graduate program at Goddard College. Purple's performance or classroom experience is dynamic and unforgettable! Enthusiasts appreciated her energy, impeccable flow, and clever deliverance. Currently, participating in intentional conversations and program development for Hip Hop art, culture, and community as the NJPAC Hip Hop Art & Culture Program Director, Next Level Program U.S. Cultural Diplomat. Purp is a diversified talent poised for success in a host of areas.

 

The image shows, Toya Northington. An African American woman with gold aviator glasses and a stern facial expression looking directly into the camera wearing a gray dress, with yellow earrings, and a multicolored African necklace in front of a gray concrete wall. The image was taken at the Speed Art Museum by photographer, Amber Thieneman

Session Presenter

Toya Northington (she/her) is an artist, researcher, and former social worker who's personal mission is to rebuild pathways in order to restore and liberate individuals, communities, and systems through artistic expression. Prior to her current role at the Speed Art Museum, she was the founder of ARTTHRUST, a mental health and social justice organization in Louisville, KY, that uses art to heal, uplift and advocate for LGBTQ+ youth and youth of color, providing them tools to cope with and ultimately thrive against adversity. Toya helped develop the Speed Art Museum's Community Connections: "Our Life, Our Stories" workshops for older adults. She discusses lessons she's learned about the intersection between creative aging and diversity, equity, accessibility, and inclusion (DEAI) in an article featured in the American Alliance of Museum's recent report, "Museums and Creative Aging: A Healthy Partnership."

 

A closeup of Paula with green foliage behind her. She has light brown skin, dark brown straight hair falling to her shoulders, and is wearing large, dark-framed glasses, a silver septum ring, a black choker necklace, and a black top.

Advisor

Paula Yamilet Alvarado Ortega (she/her) is currently enrolled at Phoenix College where she is working on her Criminal Justice and Theatre degrees. She is the CYD National Youth Coordinator​ for the Creative Youth Development National Partnership. She is the youth co-founder of RE:FRAME Youth Art Center, a transforming artistic collaborator at Rising Youth Theatre, and an alumni of the 2019 National Young Artists Summit (NYAS). She loves and admires NYAS because it brings communities together from different forms of arts and leadership from across the country. Within all her work as an artist and community organizer, she focuses on completely shifting the way young people are included and valued. Alongside her peers, she ignites new norms where young people are recognized as leaders, compensated for their time, and work alongside adults equally.

 

Korean woman with bright red hair. Wearing a black shirt, with a golden hue of twinkle lights behind her.

Featured Storyteller

Sun “Phoenix” Park (she/her) is the Founder of Voice of Purpose. She has been a leader in community arts as an artist-educator and organizer since 2005. Today she is blazing a path forward with the development of Purpose Rooted Arts Education—a pedagogical framework for transformative community arts engagement. Sun has played key leadership roles with several social-justice oriented community arts organizations in Canada. She currently provides council and consulting for organizations in stages of transition and transformation.

Sun holds a degree in International Development, and pursued graduate studies in the fields of Psychotherapy, Bio-Energetic Therapy, and Energy Healing. Phoenix’s artistic practice includes spoken word, singing/songwriting, visual arts, and Brazilian Zouk dance. Phoenix’s true calling is to guide those engaging in transformative community arts practice, to embody their purpose to deepen their impact in the world.

 

A dark-skinned femme stands amidst a New York City Street with passersby, cars, streetlights, and buildings in the background. Melissa is wearing a floppy rimmed hat which creates a shadow around their face so that their open gaze is like the center of a flower. Melissa is wearing black lipstick, mouth slightly parted. Melissa's eyes are relaxed and reveal several layers of neutral-toned eyeshadows. Melissa is wearing a round, gold earring, necklaces, a beige knit top, and a large open scarf of dark and light brown on opposite sides that cover each shoulder.

Session Presenter

Melissa Parke (no pronouns) is an Afro-conceptualist artist and the founder of Black Teaching Artist Lab (BTAL), Pan-African Cultural Exchange (PACE), and Zora's Legacy. Melissa also created and trademarked the Afrocentric Social-Emotional Learning framework.

 

A white-skinned femme with a wavy multicolored bob half sits in front of a giant window, the Chicago skyline behind her. She has a light wash of bright pink lipstick, a black turtleneck, and the tiniest gold hoops.

Featured Storyteller

Coya Paz (she/her) is the Artistic Director of Free Street Theater and an Associate Professor in The Theatre School at DePaul University, where she is serving as the Interim Dean during the 2021-2022 school year. She is the author, with Chlor Johston, of Ensemble-Made Chicago: A Guide to Devised Theater, and holds a PhD in Performance Studies from Northwestern University. Coya is passionate about racial, economic, and geographic equity in the arts, especially in Chicago, and above all, she believes in the power of poetry and performance to build community towards social change.

 

A light-skinned woman with short, sandy-colored hair gazes off in the distance, smiling slightly. She wears a black top and a strand of red beads around her neck. In the blurred background are bushes with bright, fuchsia flowers in front of a white building.

Session Presenter

Jennifer Peringer's musical horizons are broad; she has played keyboards, congas, tablas, saxophone, and accordion with salsa, latin jazz, Indian music, folk and pop bands. Her work as a classical pianist involves solo performances, vocal and theatrical accompaniment, and collaboration with various chamber music ensembles, including her trio The Bernal Hill Players. She has been teaching at Community Music Center since 2000. She individualizes curriculums to meet her students’ needs, and uses a wide variety of teaching strategies.

 

A brown skinned woman with grey and brown natural hair smiles at the camera. She is wearing a purplish-blue turtleneck sweater and large disc earrings that are red around the edges with a picture of a Black woman in the center.

Session Presenter

Erin Perry (she/her) is a mother, wife, teacher, artist, and arts administrator, and long time advocate for culturally relevant education and community engagement. She is the executive director of the Legacy Arts Project (LAP) and is passionate about the healing and transformative power of the arts. Since her first immersive experience with West African drum and dance, Erin has been on a mission to learn more about herself and the world through cultural exploration, appreciation, and expression. Erin consistently seeks and takes advantage of opportunities to deepen and expand knowledge that pertains to self, community, and organizational development. She has established a relationship with the National Guild for Community Arts Education and has participated in leadership development programming since 2017. The LAP participated in the Guild's 2020-2021 Rootwork Cohort and Catalyzing Creative Aging program.

 

A brown-skinned woman with a short Afro is smiling broadly at the camera. She wears a black blazer with an orange top underneath. A blurred, light brick wall is behind her.

Session Presenter

CJay Philip (she/her) is Artistic Director of Dance & Bmore, a Baltimore-based ensemble creating unique fusions of original music, movement, and spoken-word. They create socially conscious work that engage and invite audiences to celebrate life. Dance & Bmore also designs multi-generational community programs that seek to stimulate the imagination and strengthen relationships while building a sense of well being. CJay's work in community has been recognized with a Baltimore Social Innovators Award, an Arts Advocate Award and a Champion of Courage Award. CJay is a Robert W. Deutsch Fellow and one of the first Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellows. Dance & Bmore are resident artists at the Waxter Senior Center and their Elder Arts programs serves hundreds of senior citizens throughout Baltimore. DAB's free virtual Elder Jam connects seniors from Baltimore to Atlanta and New York every second Saturday of the month.

 

Achly embodies joy as she holds an oversized, yellow, papier-mache pencil with both hands up to her chin. Her tight curls are accented by lighter highlights and fall across her eyes, enhanced by red eyeshadow, and complementing her light brown complexion. She is wearing a pink top with a pattern of umbrella line drawings, a necklace on which a ring hangs, and a collection of yellow bracelets on her right arm. The background is dark purple.

Session Presenter

Achly Ramos (she/her) is a Sophomore at Urbana High School. She is of Puertorican descent and her writing explores her experiences being perceived as black with dark skin and kinky hair yet not always being accepted by either black or latina women. Her poetry explores social pressures faced by teen girls and brings an uplifting message about self love and self acceptance.

 

A closeup of Karla, with a dark background. Karla has honey colored skin and dark brown hair styled in a slicked-back bouffant, with the sides shaved. She wears glasses with dark frames that fade to clear at the bottom, and matching bright red lipstick, hoop earrings, and top.

Advisor, Featured Storyteller

Karla Estela Rivera (she/her) is a writer, performer, activist, and arts advocate who has leveraged her gift of storytelling ​to uplift and create opportunities for, with, and in underserved communities​. She is the Executive Director of Free Street Theater and a company member of 2nd Story in Chicago. Karla has served non-profit organizations for over a decade in roles spanning from teaching artist and youth worker to systems-level leadership in public affairs. She recently served as the co-chair of the Illinois Fine Arts Indicator work group which developed the nation’s first weighted accountability measure for the arts as part of the Illinois Every Student Succeeds Act plan. She is a native of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico, and holds a BA from Columbia College Chicago with graduate studies at New York University.

 

Martha leans against a wall adorned with a colorful mural, smiling and resting a flute on her shoulder. She has light olive toned skin and short, dark curly hair, and wears a necklace with a large silver pendant, silver bracelets, a black top, and dark pants.

Session Presenter, Session Proposal Reviewer

Recognized as a “Luminary” by the Mexican Consulate in San Francisco in 2011, and more recently as “Excelencia Latina” by LAM and Mundo Fox, Martha Rodríguez-Salazar (she/her) is a singer, flutist, conductor, and producer who has brought Latin American folk, classical, and contemporary music to the Bay Area for over 20 years. Born in Mexico and classically-trained at Mills College, she has served as faculty at Community Music Center (CMC) since 2000. As a founding choir director of CMC’s Older Adult Choir Program, Ms. Rodríguez-Salazar bilingually conducts three choirs in the city’s Mission District with repertoire based in Latin American music. Additionally, she teaches in the San Francisco school district’s mariachi program, delivers private lessons and group classes, and played a leading role in CMC’s team for the Community of Voices research study (led by the University of California, San Francisco) on the impact of choir participation for older adults.

 

A woman with light olive toned skin, bright red lipstick, and dark brown hair pulled back tightly and neatly into a bun is staring intensely at the camera while holding a flamenco pose with her right arm overhead and her left arm on her hip. She is wearing a black dress with large, turquoise polka dots with turquoise ruffles on her sleeves.

Session Presenter

Leslie Roybal (she/her) has enjoyed a professional career spanning over 20 years in both the contemporary dance and flamenco forms. She has performed around the world with The Metropolitan Opera, Pasión y Arte, A Palo Seco Flamenco, Entreflamenco, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana and in the New York Area and New Mexico tablaos. Leslie was first dancer and Co-Director of Murray Spalding Mandalas, with whom she produced several seasons of Mandalas at St. Mark’s Church in the Bowery in NYC, co-produced a film version of the work XIII and was at the helm of a preservation project for Ms. Spalding’s canon of work, which now resides in the NYPL Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center. As Program Director for Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, Leslie is dedicated to inspiring people of all ages and abilities through the flamenco art form and to mentoring rising flamenco artists. Most recently she created the Colmena Flamenca, a three-tiered framework of support and education for flamenco dancers at all stages of their careers. 

 

A young, light skin male outside under trees. He is smiling into the camera kneeling with one hand resting on his knee.

Session Presenter

My name is Seamus Schwaba (he/him). I am the proud leader of a youth theater company, WHAT ABOUT THEATRE! I love working with other young leaders. I am so excited to meet all of you!

 

I've got olive skin, purple glasses and long brown hair. I have my beautiful navy jacket with little flowers embroidered on.

Session Presenter

Bronwyn Shaunessy (she/her) has been working as a Naturopath for 35 years in the Hunter Valley NSW Australia. She embraces family life and enjoys time with her 5 children and partners and 8 grandchildren. She is on a life-long journey of self-healing, and supporting the healing of communities world wide. She brings a wealth of experience to her healing work and SoulCollage(r) workshops and trainings. Her SoulCollage(r) work encompasses training facilitators and workshops for laypeople to the more experienced. Her vision is to provide creative tools to support greater understanding for the self and each other. Bronwyn believes the pandemic has opened a portal for major transformations globally.

 

Winter stands with a small, closed-lip smile in front of artwork with yellow and black lines. They have long, dark, straight hair with soft bangs, and light skin with freckles. She is wearing a red, short sleeved shirt that is open to reveal a white top underneath.

Session Proposal Reviewer

Winter Smiley (they/she) is a Filipino multidisciplinary DIY-er born/based in San Diego. A babysitter and youth organizer, their work is grounded on the belief that powerful things happen when younger generations and their elders collide to create visionary + critical futures. Winter is committed to creating alternative learning structures that divest from the academic industrial complex, using genuine care, collaboration, and curiosity as their guide. Currently, they are part of Homegrown Youth Collaborative, an intergenerational, experimental co-learning space for young people in the San Diego and Tijuana region.

 

A light-skinned person with a wide open smile staring directly into the camera. She is wearing a necklace, light brown sweater, and has short wavy light brown hair.

Session Presenter

Audrey Spinazola (she/her) moved to San Francisco to follow her dream of becoming a clown. She has coached for a variety of creative youth development programs including Prescott Circus Theater, Circus Moves, and Circus Center SF, teaching both youth and adults a variety of circus arts. From 2016 -2019 Audrey was the Youth Performance Program Manager at SANCA in Seattle. She continues to invest in the circus and theater communities as a coach and teaching artists at SANCA and Dandylyon Drama, and as Program Manager for American Youth Circus Organization.

 

A black woman smiling directing into the camera, wearing a black top and large orange and yellow circle earrings. Her hair is short in twists.

Session Presenter 

DeLashea Strawder (she/her) is the Executive & Artistic Director of the Mosaic Youth Theatre in Detroit, MI, a full Guild member. Mosaic is a creative youth development organization that uses the arts to mentor, empower, and support youth to thrive. As an artist and arts administrator working at the intersection of education, arts & culture, and social justice, she knows firsthand how music and theater can foster engagement, transform communities, increase opportunity, and promote equity.

 

A light-skinned person with brown hair and a pixie cut smiles enthusiastically looking off to the left. They are wearing a long-sleeved, navy blue blouse with a collar.

Session Presenter

Courtney Surmanek (they/them/Court) is a cultural organizer, educator, joker, multidisciplinary artist, and third-generation New Yorker. Court’s work with elders began at the Lowline on the Lower East Side in 2015, where they developed an intergenerational oral history program. They have trained extensively in creative aging with Lifetime Arts, TimeSlips, and University Settlement’s Training Institute for Artists in Healthcare and Creative Aging. Courtney has also developed creative aging projects for NYC (SU-CASA) & Virginia senior living communities. Court earned their M.F.A./M.S. in Theatre: Directing & Public Dialogue and Urban Planning at Virginia Tech, and has been a Visiting Fellow at Skidmore College's MDOCS Storytellers' Institute, a Social Practice Artist-in-Residence with ProjectArt, a Fellow at The Performance Project at University Settlement, and EmergeNYC Fellow at the Hemispheric Institute for Performance & Politics, as well as a member of the Broadway Advocacy Coalition, and a member of Reimagining Dementia: A Creative Coalition for Justice.

 

Heidi Swevens smiles at the camera warmly, her blue eyes emphasized by her sky-blue sweater.  She has light skin and short brown hair.  She wears a spiral silver necklace and round earrings.

Session Presenter

Heidi Swevens (she/her) is a disabled, queer, White human, an artist, deep questioner, friend, neighbor, colleague, daughter, sister, aunt, lover of nature and roller coasters. She became legally blind in her early 20s which sparked both inner and outer exploration of what it means to "see". She has been with Inclusive Arts Vermont since 2012 and currently serves as Director of Community Partnerships. Like many, her role during the pandemic pivoted to primarily remote work. This change both narrowed and expanded experience of "community". It also illuminated injustices and provided additional opportunities for changemaking, including participation in the Guild's Rootwork cohort.

 

A fair skinned, older adult woman smiles at the camera. She is wearing a black, long-sleeve shirt and oversized, purple glasses. Her short, salt and pepper hair is swept back with a black headband.

Session Presenter

Sarie Teichman (she/her) was a participant in the pilot Ping Chong & Co./ Educational Alliance Artful Storytelling program for older adults. She is a long-term Ed Alliance volunteer who “aged-in” to membership in their older adult programs. She is currently President of the Sirovich Center Advisory Board and supports arts programming, working with NYC community arts partners. She is also a member of the Alliance Stage Company, and participates in NYC aging advocacy initiatives. A jazz vocalist, Sarie is often found behind a microphone, either as an MC/DJ for Sirovich parties and special events, fronting her band, Just (Jazz!) Friends, or singing in one of three community vocal ensembles. A corporate “refugee”, in a prior life she worked in Training and Development and video production for major corporations.

 

Cynthia is looking off to the right side, with a blackboard in the background. She has light brown skin and dark brown, straight hair falling to her shoulders, and is wearing pink lipstick, a white fuzzy-textured necklace, a lavender colored top with white polka dots, and a metallic gold cardigan.

Advisor, Session Presenter

As a mixed-media, installation artist, painter, and curator, Cynthia Tom (she/her) identifies as a Cultural Surrealist, Visual Artist, and Community Curator with over thirty years or work in the making. She produces art workshops to help women unravel from layers of chronic heartache, and her art and curatorial projects are recognized for themes of healing, empowerment, feminism, and centering communities of color. Cynthia’s most recent exhibitions include the Smithsonian’s What is Feminist Art? and with the San Francisco Legion of Honor, De Young Museum, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, amongst others. She is the Founder of A PLACE of HER OWN, an arts-based healing program and is the Board President Emerita of the Asian American Women Artists Association.

 

A woman dramatically strikes a flamenco pose with her right arm and hand extended diagonally to the ground and her left arm bent to her hip. She looks down over her right arm. Her dark hair is pulled loosely back into a low pony tail and she is wearing a long dress with large flowers, a black cardigan and an olive green scarf.

Session Presenter

Elisabet Torras Aguilera (she/her) was born and raised in Barcelona, Spain. She earned her B.A. in Spanish Dance/Flamenco from the Conservatory of Dance and Theater and subsequently continued her studies in Madrid. She is trained in all forms of Spanish Dance, The Emma Maleras Castanets Method, Ballet and Contemporary Dance. Elisabet was a guest artist at Flamenco Festivals around the world with artists such as Manolo Carrasco, Javier Latorre’s Somorrostro Dansa Flamenca and Rojas & Rodriguez Company and has performed across the USA with Soledad Barrio & Noche Flamenca, Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana, Omayra Amaya Flamenco Dance Company, A Palo Seco Flamenco Company and with Latin Grammy Award winning artist Hernan Romero. In 2017 she was a guest artist/choreographer with Dance Heginbotham. Elisabet also appeared in the lead role in Paloma, an award winning short film by Sophia Conger. For the last 4 years, she has been the featured dancer for the Annual Gala of Zarzuelas at Carnegie Hall performing Escuela Bolera and Classical Spanish dances and as a guest artist for the Hudson Valley Flamenco Festival. Elisabet received the Award for Outstanding Artistic Career 2019 at Homenaje a la Prensa Internacional. Elisabet has resided in New York City since 2013 where she performs, teaches and lectures Flamenco and Spanish Dance.

 

Alexandra is caught in mid-action, smiling at something below the camera's frame. Her light brown hair is pulled back, revealing her fair skin, light eyes, and large, dangly earrings. A cozy, grey scarf is wrapped around her neck under which she is wearing black layers. Behind her, a cyanotype image of grass is hanging on a white wall.

Session Presenter

Alexandra Turner (she/her) is a teaching artist, professional development instructor, and arts administrator. Alexandra works with all ages in a variety of settings including schools, preschools, galleries and community programs. In addition to residencies and workshops for students and community members, Alexandra develops and leads professional development workshops. Alexandra joined the staff of Inclusive Arts Vermont in 2018 after three years of working as an independent contractor in various programs. Alexandra holds a BA in Studio Arts and an M.Ed. in Arts in Education. Alexandra is an multidisciplinary artist working mainly in kiln-formed glass and digital photography.

 

A Peruvian woman with light brown skin leans lightly against a large, ceramic sculpture made out of clay and terra-cotta depicting a Pre-Colonial figure with a blue face, wearing ornamental dress. The woman is smiling slightly with closed lips. Her black hair is pulled back and she wears black-rimmed classes and long, beaded earrings.

Session Presenter

Kukuli Velarde (she/her) is a Peruvian artist based in the United States since 1987. Her work has been shown extensively both nationally and internationally and she has received numerous awards and grants. Kukuli’s work is especially focused on the narrative possibilities of ceramic arts and the cultural traditions of Latin America. ”I am a Peruvian-American artist. My work, which revolves around the consequences of colonization in Latin American contemporary culture, is a visual investigation about aesthetics, cultural survival, and inheritance.” Kukuli has taught in undergraduate, graduate, and community art programs and instructs participants of all ages and various artist levels in ceramics and clay medium.. For the last four three years, Kukuli was a teaching artist and thought partner in the Art for the Ages program at Fleisher Art Memorial that serves Latino older adults in Philadelphia. Between 2010 and 2014.

 

A fair-skinned woman with shoulder-length, curly brown hair smiles directly at the camera. She is wearing a white, t-shirt and two pendant necklaces and stands in front of a beige background.

Session Presenter

Katie Wade (she/her), MEd, LPC, is passionate about ensuring we all have access to creative means of connecting with ourselves and others as we grow older. After working as a mental health therapist with older adults in an inpatient setting, Katie maintained a private practice while providing social connection programming and other services to older adults and caregivers, and now nurtures and grows innovative creative aging programs. Expertise: virtual connections, program expansion, organizational behavior.

 

A light skinned woman with chin-length brown, wavy hair smiles with closed lips. She wears a tank-style black top with a white geometric print; a long, silver necklace, and red lipstick. She is seated in front of some shelves with light blue and black boxes.

Session Presenter

Barbara Sharon Wiener (she/her) worked in the world of visual storytelling for over three decades, focusing on cultural documentaries, arts and interactive self discovery formats. She spent the first part of her career working in public television and the next part of her career as the founder and executive director of TVbyGIRLS. This non-profit worked with teen girls from diverse communities to use media making in the development of leadership, cross cultural collaborations and social justice change. Recent projects include Art from the Inside, working with incarcerated artists and the reformative power of making art and creative work with 55+ students.

 

A happy young man posing in a grass field carrying a tote bag filled with flowers and a baguette. He is wearing red-tinted sunglasses, a peach-colored shirt, and beige-colored shorts.

Social Media Activator

Xandro Xu is a first-year student at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a prospective neuroscience major with passions in music, the environment, and social impact/advocacy. Outside of working at the Center, Xandro is a clarinetist at the Penn Symphony Orchestra and a member of the Penn Live Arts Student Advisory Council. He also loves to take photos, travel, and listen to podcasts. Orchestra and a member of the Penn Live Arts Student Advisory Council. He also loves to take photos, travel, and listen to podcasts.

 

I am a light brown skinned womxn with brown hair, wearing a black cap with the word HEAL in white letters and  a grey scarf and yellow sweater and in the background is an open field with trees.

Session Presenter

As a Visual Artist, Patricia Ann Zamora "PAZ" (she/her) honors her traditions, culture, family, community and lived experience as part of her creative social practice. Her aspiration is for personal, collective and ancestral healing that leads to larger systemic change. Some of her lived experience includes: Director of Citywide Creative Arts at Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco Advisory Board - Arts Education Alliance for the Bay Area, Community Artist Intern for Southern Exposure and Mission Girls. She currently works for the Community Arts Stabilization Trust as a Community Engagement Specialist in the Bay Area. Her passion is to create through art a healing sanctuary for BIPOC, low income womxn to grow, learn and lead in the Central Valley & working with Cynthia Tom, PLACE Founder to expand the program.