Sarah Ashkin is a choreographer, educator, and curator using dance as a tool for embodied political intervention. She understands the performance-making process as a feminist, anti-capitalist, anti-racist practice that emerges from collaborative content creation and community engagement. As a dance educator and body-based artist she positions embodied expression as a tool to dismantle and rebuild our world for the better. Ashkin uses weight, task, gesture, humor, intimacy, and musicality to illuminate socio-political stories of people and place. Her work is made in response to specific sites of inquiry and situates itself between postmodern dance, performance art, and social practice. Her recent work is located at the intersection of critical whiteness studies and the body as archive. Her collaborative curatorial platform for place-based dance, GROUND SERIES, has created works in Los Angeles, London, New York, Philadelphia, New Mexico, and the San Francisco Bay Area. She lives in Los Angeles.
Maya Austin (Pascua Yaqui/Blackfeet/Chicana ) Currently serves as Arts Program Specialist with the California Arts Council where she manages the Arts and Public Media program, Organizational Development, Professional Development,and Statewide and Regional Networks programs. For nine years, she served as Senior Manager for the Indigenous Program at Sundance Institute, a non-profit organization dedicated to the discovery and development of independent artists and audiences. She managed Sundance Institute’s investment in Native American and Indigenous screenwriters, directors, and producers while building a global Indigenous film community. From 2012-2015, Maya was a Grants Administrator at the U.S. Department of Interior, Washington, DC, for the National NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) Program. While there, she worked closely and built a strong network with Native American tribes to supply them with resources, grants and programs through the NAGPRA Program. Under her supervision, she administered grant support to Federally recognized tribes and institutions. She has also worked for the Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum in Ignacio, Colorado; the Academy Film Archive, Los Angeles, California, and the UCLA Cataloging and Metadata Center. She currently serves as Vice-Chair of the Board for Vision Maker Media, a non-profit organization that empowers and engages Native peoples to develop, produce, and distribute their stories for public television. She continues to serve as a creative consultant for the New Zealand Film Commission and 21st Century Fox- Global Inclusion Initiatives. Maya is a graduate of the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA) with degrees in History, Film and Moving Image Archive Studies
Carmelita Becnel is a native Louisianian, currently the Production Stage Manager at Princeton University's Lewis Center for the Arts, and a proud member of Actors' Equity Association. She is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego, where she received her MFA in Stage Management.
Hope Chavez is a creative producer and arts administrator in New York City. Hope currently serves as the Programs Manager at A.R.T./New York consulting with and administering programming for more than 410 nonprofit theaters in New York. Primarily focused on the
education, racial justice, anti-harassment, accessibility, and grant programs, Hope serves the A.R.T./New York membership as a hub of information and resources to organizations ranging from $1,000- $10million in size. Beyond A.R.T./New York, Hope is also a freelance creative producer with projects at Joe’s Pub, Roundabout Theatre, La MaMa, FringeNYC, and others. From 2016-2018, Hope ran The 24 Hour Plays: Nationals, pushing the needle forward on the program’s diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. Additionally, Hope serves as the Managing Producer for Keen Company’s educational initiative, Keen Teens, which serves high school students across the tri-state area. In addition to managing the production elements for the semester-long program, Hope has focused on the accessibility of the program and the opportunities for radically local impact. She is also a proud member of Women of Color in the Arts (WOCA) and former mentee in their 2018 cohort of the Leadership Through Mentorship Program.
Maya Choldin joined Pig Iron Theatre Company as the Managing Director in July of 2014. Originally from Alberta, Canada, Maya received her Bachelor’s degree from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick. She came to Philadelphia to become an Arden Professional Apprentice in 1997. Maya previously worked as a stage manager for Opera Philadelphia, as operations manager for the Mann Center for the Performing Arts, and as production manager for the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts. In 2010 Maya transitioned to become the Director of Operations for George Mason University’s Hylton Performing Arts Center in Northern Virginia where she oversaw the opening of a multi venue performing arts center created by a tripartite agreement of the university, Prince William County and the city of Manassas. She returned to Philadelphia to become the General Manager of Pennsylvania Ballet during the multi-phase process of planning and building their new artistic home.
Brian Evans teaches voice & speech, stage combat and improvisation in the School of Theater at Ohio University. Directing credits include Cymbeline with Available Light Theatre, Romeo and Juliet at Monomoy Theatre, Henry IV, Part One and Shakespeare’s Fight Scenes at Oxford Shakespeare Festival and productions in Los Angeles such as Carpel Tunnel and One-Act Plays by Tennessee Williams. At OU, Brian has directed The Rover, Man Equals Man, What the Butler Saw, Lysistrata, Rashomon and Dutchman, among others. As an actor, he has worked at venues including Tantrum Theater, Greenbrier Valley Theatre, Human Race Theatre, the Colorado, Illinois and Oxford Shakespeare Festivals, South Coast Repertory, Porthouse Theatre and CATCO. Brian is an Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework, a Certified Teacher with the Society of American Fight Directors and a member of SAG-AFTRA and Actors’ Equity Association.
Karena Fiorenza brings more than a decade of experience as a leader, fundraiser and producer in the performing arts. She currently serves as the General Manager for the nationally recognized Steppenwolf Theatre. Karena also functions as the General Manager for the multi-disciplinary ensemble company, UNIVERSES. Previous tenures include General Manager for Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, associate managing director at both Berkeley Repertory Theatre and Yale Repertory Theatre, and executive director of contemporary dance company Robert Moses’ Kin. She is a 2014 TCG SPARK awardee, Chicago Dancemakers Forum board member and a member of the anti-racist movement, Enrich Chicago.
Katherine Freer is a multimedia designer working in theater, installation, and film. Her work is driven by the love of storytelling and belief in its power to shift the status quo. Her background in narrative film, documentary, animation, and computer science combine to generate work that is not only aesthetically beautiful, but pushes the boundaries of conventional storytelling. Frequent collaborators include Liz Lerman, Ping Chong, Kamilah Forbes, Tim Bond, Talvin Wilks, Ty Defoe, and Tamilla Woodard. Her theatrical designs have been featured at venues across the United States including: Arena Stage, CenterStage Baltimore, Arts Emerson, La Jolla Playhouse, Center Theater Group, A.C.T. San Francisco, Indiana Repertory Theatre, New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Apollo Theater, and BAM Harvey. Her work has been profiled in the New York Times, The Creators Project, Lighting and Sound America, and TimeOut NY. She is a proud member of United Scenic Artists Local USA 829, Wingspace Theatrical Design, First Nations Theater Guild and All My Relations Collective.
Audrey Gámez brings 13 years of education experience to her role as Education Manager for C4 Atlanta. She was previously a facilitator for the Ignite class and has served as Education Coordinator for MASS Collective. In 2018, Audrey was a member of the Points of Light American Express Leadership Academy Atlanta cohort. She is regularly asked to contribute to her arts community as a speaker and panelist on issues of arts entrepreneurship,
professional development and advocacy. An active volunteer, Audrey has worked with several community and arts organizations around Atlanta. In addition to her responsibilities with C4 Atlanta, Audrey continues to work as a professional singer and music educator, maintaining a private voice studio. She holds a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of North Texas and a Master of Music degree from Louisiana State University.
Patricia Garcia is a poet and educator from the Twin Cities, Minnesota. With a background in critical race studies and multicultural education, Patricia has coached and taught performance poetry to students in the U.S. and South Korea. She currently resides in Houston, Texas where she organizes youth writing programs for Writers in the Schools. Patricia is the founder of Paper Canopy, a forthcoming online platform for AAPI writers and artists in the south.
kristine haruna lee
Kristine Haruna Lee is a Brooklyn-based theater maker whose work navigates playwriting, performance, and promoting arts activism and emergent strategies through ethical and process-based collaborations. Her original work has been hailed by the New York Times as “Vivid, haunted, heart-stingingly tender and explicitly personal.” Recent plays include SUICIDE FOREST (NYT Critic’s Pick, Bushwick Starr), PLURAL (LOVE) (Soho Rep Writer/Director Lab), and MEMORY RETROGRADE (The Public’s Under the Radar Festival). As a performer, she’s worked with Minor Theater, The Drunkard’s Wife, Ralph Lee, Taylor Mac, David Lang & Rachel Chavkin, Kate Benson & Lee Sunday Evans, and Antony and the Johnsons- among others. Lee is a recipient of the Lotos Foundation Prize for Directing and the New Dramatists Van Lier Fellowship, and has received grants from the Map Fund, Mental Insight Foundation, FCA, NYSCA, NEA, and the Indie Theater Fund. She has held residencies with The Public’s Devised Theater Working Group, Ars Nova’s Makers Lab, BAX Artist in Residency, and Dixon Place Residency & Commission. She has been a member of Interstate 73 and is an affiliated artist with New Georges. Her play Suicide Forest is published by 53rd State Press. She teaches playwriting and performance at NYU ETW. harunalee.com
linette s. hwu
Linette S. Hwu (she/her/hers) is the Board President at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company in Washington, DC, where she has been on the board since 2005. As Board President, she has overseen the company’s most recent strategic planning process, as well as its historic transition from Co-Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus Howard Shalwitz to new Artistic Director Maria Manuela Goyanes. Ms. Hwu graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Yale University with a Bachelor of Arts in History and German Studies, and received her Juris Doctor with honors from The University of Chicago Law School. She has attended Boston University School of Management’s Pocket MBA for Lawyers program and London Business School’s Accelerated Development Programme, and she is a member of Class 30 of Women in Cable Telecommunications’s Betsy Magness Leadership Institute. She is admitted to the State Bar of California and the District of Columbia Bar. Ms. Hwu is a RYT 200-certified Yoga teacher and is part of the teaching team at BicycleSPACE in Washington, DC. In February 2013, she summited Mount Kilimanjaro. She is hoping that her current break from corporate America is permanent.
anthony a. jackson
Anthony A. Jackson is a director, deviser, educator and arts administrator. He currently serves as the Program Manager for Training and Community Programs at Berkeley Rep where he oversees the Teen Council and Fellowship Programs, among other projects. Previously he was at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. There he taught in all of the Community Engagement department’s programming as the Training Programs Manager and previously as the Partnership Manager. Anthony has traveled to India and Croatia as a guest artist with the U.S. Department of State, devising original plays with Arena Stage’s Voices of Now program. As an actor he has toured the U.S. and has performed with the Shakespeare Theatre Company, Olney
Theatre, Arena Stage, and other regional theatres.
Rocky Jones is a writer, musician, video artist, and proud native of Washington, DC. Currently, he is the Communications Manager at Minnesota Opera where he serves as the chair of their Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council.
Nathaniel (Natty) Justiniano is an actor, deviser, director, movement designer, and educator. He is the founding Artistic Director of Naked Empire Bouffon Company, through which he has toured North America with original works that use outrageous satire to interrogate our social and political climate. He is currently an Assistant Professor in Emerson College's Performing and Comedic Arts programs where he teaches physical comedy, acting, directing, and devising. He also serves on Emerson's Performing Arts Equity Committee.
Stephen Kaliski is a director, playwright, and educator, currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of Theatre at Davidson College. He was recently the Resident Director of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Broadway. He is a co-founder of Adjusted Realists, where credits include the A.R.T./New York production of Eliza Bent's The Beyoncé (director) and the 59E59 productions of Gluten! (writer/director) and The Briefly Dead (writer). He has worked with such directors as Austin Pendleton (Three Sisters, Assistant Director) and Michael Grandage (Evita on Broadway, SDC Traube Fellow) as well as with The Royal Shakespeare Company, Classic Stage Company, and LAByrinth Theater Company. Stephen received his M.F.A. in directing from Brooklyn College and has taught acting, directing, public speaking, and master classes on leadership and joy at Brooklyn College, LIU Post, NYU, Fordham, Yale, The Professional Performing Arts School, Talent Unlimited High School, and BMCC.
Meena Malik, Program Manager of Theater at the New England Foundation for the Arts (NEFA) and recognized vocalist, is known as a mover and shaker who is re-defining what community engagement and conversations around equity in the arts look like. Meena organized and led “Beyond Orientalism: The Forum” in October 2017 and is one of the founders of Boston’s first API (Asian Pacific Islander) Arts Network. As an artist, Meena has performed with Opera Providence, MetroWest Opera, Boston Opera Collaborative, New England Orchestra among others. She currently performs with Voci Angelica Trio, an international band that fuses world folk music with classical elegance. Meena holds a Masters in Vocal Performance from New England Conservatory and a Masters in Arts Administration from Boston University.
Emalie Mayo is Senior Administrative Assistant 2 for the chair of Theater Management, Assistant Dean of Yale School of Drama/General Manager of Yale Repertory Theatre, and Deputy Dean of Yale School of Drama/Managing Director of Yale Repertory Theatre. Additionally, Emalie has been Project Coordinator of Dwight/Edgewood Project – an after school playwriting program for New Haven middle school children - since 2014. She has been with YSD since 2009, but has previously worked for Yale Divinity School and Yale Office of Development in various roles. Emalie received her teaching certification in English/Language Arts (5-12th grade), and earned her BS in Psychology with a minor in English from Southern Connecticut State University. Emalie has been an active member of the school's EDI Working Group since its inception in 2016, focusing on the school’s goal to hold space for discussions related to equity, diversity, and inclusion, as well as a YSD Yale-United Way Campaign Champion, raising funds for the many worthy community organizations in Greater New Haven.
Gena Mimozo is an arts advocate, warrior for cultural equity, and community organizer. They started working with Staten Island Arts, Richmond County’s arts council, in 2010 as their Arts Education Program Officer eventually moving to Grants Administration in 2012. Most recently they have been promoted to Deputy Director of the organization. Under their management, the SI Arts Regrant program has grown to distribute more than $260,000 in funding for artists – the largest in the organization’s history. Through the arts council, Gena participates in many citywide community engagement opportunities such as the Art Advisory Committee for NYC Department of Transportation and the Percent for Art Committee for NYC Department of Cultural Affairs. When not working with the arts council, she is an aspiring filmmaker and poet. They also currently sit on the organizing committee for the Staten Island branch of the NYC Democratic Socialists and they were recently selected by the board of the Pride Center of Staten Island to be grand marshal of their 2019 SI Pridefest event for their dedication and service to the LGBTQIA community on Staten Island.
Eli Nixon builds portals and gives guided tours to places that don’t yet exist, or already exist but call for imaginative intervention or translation. They are a settler-descended genderqueer clown, a cardboard constructionist, and a maker of plays, puppets, parades, pageants, suitcase theaters, and low-tech spectaculah- on their own, and in collaboration with artists, activists, animals and other more-than-human life forms. Their performances and installations occur on street corners and stages and in partnerships with schools, senior centers, and addiction recovery and mental health programs. Eli’s current creative efforts include identifying opportunities to dismantle Manifest Destiny, foster intra and interspecies kinship, and co-parent a 10 year old human. Eli is a Rhode Islander living on Pequot, Nipmuc, Niantic, Narragansett, and Wampanoag land. They also live and work in NYC (Lenape land) as a member of the New George’s Jam Theater- Maker’s group and as an Audrey Resident. Eli co-facilitates the Anti- Racism Working Group for White Parents at The Gordon School and serves on the Gender Safe Schools Task Force. Eli’s work has been supported by the Coastal Institute, The Leeway Foundation, SPACE on Ryder Farm, RI State Council on the Arts, HewnOaks, and a host of other organizations and organisms.
Rebecca Novick is a theater-maker based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is a director specializing in new plays and community-engaged projects and a seasoned arts leader with management experience at theaters of different sizes. An innovator and a founder she has a proven track record launching new companies and initiatives. She was the founding artistic director of Crowded Fire and led the company for ten years. She also served as associate artistic director at California Shakespeare Theater where she built a new community engagement department, catalyzing a shift in programming for the theater and diversifying its artists, partnerships, and audience. Recent directing projects include Electra for Ten Thousand Things in Minneapolis, Ghost Town, a world premiere by Juliette Carrillo, for Cornerstone Theater in Los Angeles, and Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. by Alice Birch at Crowded Fire in San Francisco. She is currently developing Storybank, a set of projects using first- person stories to influence political decision-makers and is enrolled in the MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts at Goddard College
Ernesto Ortiz is a stand-up comedian and storyteller from the West Phoenix neighborhood of Maryvale. He describes his comedy as a celebration of the complex, but very normal life of a bilingual, US-born, Latinx, LGBTQ person of color who is obsessed with cats. He is the co-host of the ¡Uy, Cucuy! Podcast and the co-producer of the House of Fabulous at Rick Bronson’s House of Comedy. Outside of comedy, he has a passion for theatre and is an ensemble member with Phoenix’s Teatro Bravo. Off stage he is a specialist in nonprofit management and fundraising with more than 20 years of experience in social services, healthcare and arts and culture. He is the former Executive Director of 1 Voice LGBT Community Center and a founding member of PFLAG Phoenix’s Familias del Arco Iris. In 2017 he followed his love for theatre and joined Childsplay Theatre Company’s development department where he serves as the co-chair for Childsplay’s EDI committee.
Allegra Padilla, a lifelong Los Angeles resident, has over 15 years of experience collaborating with non-profit organizations focused on community organizing, youth development, arts and culture. She received her education in the communities where she has worked—Pasadena City College and UC Santa Cruz—earning a BA in Community Studies and Art History. Continually inspired by the arts and humanity, she welcomes the opportunity to continue developing equitable community engagement strategies at the Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles in MacArthur Park.
Her past experience includes working with: Occidental College, Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre, Jewish Vocational Service, 24th Street Theatre, Homies Unidos and Inner City Law Center. She was an ACTIVATE fellow with Arts for LA focused on Cultural Policy in 2016-17 and a mentee of the Women of Color in the Arts Leadership Through Mentorship Program in 2018. Allegra has also served as a grants panelist with the LA City Department of Cultural Affairs, Long Beach Arts Council, LA County Arts Commission, the MAP Fund and the CA Arts Council. All of her work demonstrates her commitment to being a strategic community builder who is passionate about social justice and creating equitable access to the arts.
Gina Pisasale is in her seventh season as the Resident Dramaturg at People’s Light, where she has worked on over forty productions and several new play development workshops. She has also worked with companies such as the Arden, Harrisburg Shakespeare Festival, A&E Biographies, GoKash Productions, PlayPenn, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, where she was granted a Dramaturgy Fellowship in 2006 and a Dramaturgy Residency in 2010. Her training includes graduate work in the University of Maryland’s Department of Theatre, Performance Studies, and Dance, where her areas of research include contemporary Asian American performance and American dramaturgy. She has presented at numerous conferences including IFTR in Seoul, South Korea, ASTR, AAA, PTRS, and CAATA and has taught at the University of the Arts, Villanova University, UMD, and OSF. Gina is also a proud Board Member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas (lmda.org), a wife, and the mother of 2 young children.
Barbara Roberts, Actor, Writer, Director, Singer and Arts Advocate/Activist. Ms. Roberts is a performer of stage, film and television and holds a MFA in Acting from Cal Arts and a MSW in Community Organization. Ms Roberts is committed to creating work that has a social justice theme and has served as an Executive Director of an arts council, created arts programs for youth, theatre director and playwright. Being a champion of new works she has written 2 full length plays and 4 one-person shows. Her on stage roles range from Hansberry’s Lena Younger to Shakesphere’s Lady Chapult and Beckett’s Hamm. She currently serves on the National Board of the Actors Equity Association as a Principal Councillor.
Matthew Rodriguez is currently the Communications Coordinator and Artistic Assistant for Cara Mía Theatre, a native of Brownsville, Texas; a founding father of the Iota Zeta chapter of the Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity; and is a graduate of the University of North Texas where he studied Theatre with a concentration in Performance. Directing credits include: Romeo and Juliet, Flowers for Algernon, Water by the Spoonful, The Yellow Boat, Taking the Edge Off, A Christmas Carol, and Annie. Rodriguez has worked professionally in several Dallas/Fort Worth area theaters, including Cara Mia Theatre, WaterTower Theater, Kitchen Dog Theater, Sundown Collaborative Theater and the Tony Award-winning Dallas Theater Center. Most recently, he served as the Teaching Assistant and Education Apprentice for the 2018-19 Season at Cleveland Play House. Back home, Matthew served as a Camille Player at The Camille Playhouse for three seasons where he had leading roles in: The Wizard of Oz, Footloose, Shrek: The Musical, The Producers, The Wedding Singer, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.
nicole m. smith
Radical Healing Artist and Organizer, Nicole M Smith, has experience and expertise in using artistic methods to address trauma, difficult experiences and injustice, to unravel dynamics of disempowerment, oppression, and systemic methods of control. Nicole has crafted her aesthetic by fusing Theatre of the Oppressed, Art of Hosting, Mindfulness, Supportive Listening, and the Amplification of Muted Voice(s). She does this through lecture, performance, teachings, and workshop/residency design and partnership. Her work has been experienced at: the International Federation of Settlement Houses in Berlin, GER; Youth Services of America Conference in Houston, TX; Evangelical Lutheran Churches of America Conference in New Orleans, LA, and more. She has spoken at: Augsburg College, Macalester College, Minneapolis College of Art and Design, and more; held residency at: Roosevelt High School, Southside Family Charter School, University Settlement in New York City, and more; she is a Partnered Artist with Minneapolis and St. Paul Public Schools (K-12), a graduate of the Creative Community Leadership Institute and HOPE Community’s SPEAC Program, recognized by Intermedia Arts’ as a Changemaking Artist, and more. She has held positions with: Penumbra Theatre (Administrative Intern), YWCA - St. Paul (Youth Specialist) Children’s Theatre Company (Teen Programs Coordinator), Pillsbury House + Theatre (Artistic Associate/Youth Specialist) and Intermedia Arts (Community Engagement Coordinator). In Fall 2016, she was honored to have been invited to the White House (under Obama’s Administration) for her work in the Bisexual/Queer Community. Having spent four years as a member of Central Touring Theatre’s Black Box Program, she still lovingly deems herself a “Jan Mandell kid.”
JD Stokely is a trickster-in-training who creates and curates lectures, workshops, and performances around Queerness, nostalgia, the Black body, and home. Stokely is the associate producer of HowlRound Theatre Commons and a founding member of UnBound Bodies Collective, a multidisciplinary arts lab that celebrates the work of QTBIPOC creatives in the Greater Boston area. Stokely received an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice from Royal Central School of Speech & Drama in 2014, and a BA from Hampshire College in 2011.
willa j. taylor
Willa J. Taylor is the Walter Director of Education and Engagement for Goodman Theatre. She served as a member of Mayor Lightfoot's transition committee for Arts and Culture, and serves on advisory boards for University of Illinois at Chicago and Northern Illinois University. She is adjunct faculty at DePaul University where she teaches dramaturgy. Taylor is a writer and storyteller who has performed nationally. A former US Navy linguist, Taylor is a contributor to Arts Integration in Education: Teachers and Teaching Artists as Agents of Change, published by Intellect LTD. She holds an MFA in Film from American University, a Med in Curriculum and Adult Learning from Concordia University, and a culinary degree from Kendall College.
Joy Vandervort-Cobb is an actress, director, voice-over artist, and a member of the College of Charleston faculty. Originally from New York, JVC has made her home in Charleston for the past 29 years, 25 of them spent at the College of Charleston. A core ensemble member at PURE Theatre, she is artivist, activist, and dreamer.