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App Designer: Ryan Alexiev was born in Los Angeles and raised in Alaska. He studied History at University of California at Berkeley and earned an MFA from the California College of the Arts. As a designer and art director, Ryan worked and lectured at various institutions nationwide. As an artist, Ryan has exhibited at the Orchidea Gallery of the Sofia Cultural Center, Bulgaria (his parent’s native country), as well as the The Moore Space in Miami, Wadsworth Atheneum, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Armory Show in New York, Sundance Film Festival, and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg. Ryan co-founded the ©ause Collective, which was commissioned to create the video installation Along the Way for the Oakland International Airport and The Truth is I Am You for University of California, San Francisco. Ryan’s artwork explores the ramifications and effects of consumerism, globalization, and the ethos of technological progress upon traditional social-cultural values and symbols. Under this context, he is particularly interested in examining the emerging complexities of identity formation in an increasingly optional and globalized world.
Associate Producer: Raquel DeAnda is from Laredo, TX, Raquel received her BFA from Middlebury College, and worked for seven years as Associate Curator at Galeria de la Raza. Raquel’s focus is influenced by both social and public practice, creatively incorporating the strengths of diverse groups into the discourse of various artistic and pedagogic arenas. Raquel developed C O R O; a project that seeks to recognize the power of cultural production and engage people through programs that push for novel ways of experiencing and actively guiding a communities potential. C O R O seeks to establish creative platforms that respond to specific cultural landscapes, animating the experience of art and proactively working with organizations and the individuals they represent. Recent events include Roots and Re-visions, at Prospect.1 Biennial, Strategies for the Shift, at Galería de la Raza, ChicaChic, at California Institute for Integral Studies, and The Persistence of ‘Home’, at Roots Fest 2011. Raquel has also juried several panels for organizations including The San Francisco Arts Commission and The National Performance Network.
Associate Producer Natasha L. Logan is committed to creating opportunities and engaging with cultural producers and early emerging artists through consulting, production, and curatorial projects. Much of her work is concerned with helping artists clarify their vision and voice, and create strategies to meet their goals. Natasha worked at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, as Assistant Director of Career Development, as well as the Career Development Center at the Stern School of Business. She also co-curated The Black Portrait at Rush Arts Gallery in 2011. She is currently a Producer and Strategy Consultant for Songha and Company, LLC. She earned a B.A. from University of Virginia in Modern Studies: English Literature, and African and Afro-American Studies.
Community Engagement Coordinator: Omolara Williams McCallister is a nomadic textile artist, creator and facilitator of social justice programs, teacher and student. She is currently pursuing studies in the Religion Department of Columbia University, investigating aesthetic cultures of resistance in and around religious communities of color, particularly as relates to clothing items. Omolara has worked in program creation at the local and national level for the United Church of Christ, The Brooklyn Museum, and various student groups at high school and college level. As an artist, Omolara also works in scenic and costume design, as well as textile design and production. Her designs generally speak to the human conventions of language, gender, race, class, and other societal “norms”. She also serves on several National Boards of the United Church of Christ and is currently developing an A Capella choir based in Washington D.C.
Education Coordinator: LaShaune Fitch earned a BA in African-American Studies: Social Sciences from the University of California at Berkeley; a BFA in Jewelry/Metal Arts, and a MA in Visual and Critical Studies, both from the California College of the Arts (CCA). Her thesis investigated the empowering role textile production plays in West Africa. She conducted field research for this project, traveling to Bamako, Mali, where she focused on the intersection of fashion, craft production and economic development among female textile workers. LaShaune’s background in media includes serving as an associate producer for several documentary public television series, among them: Rights and Wrongs: Human Rights TV and With God on Our Side: The Rise of the Religious Right. She recently completed a community and art outreach project for Laney College in Oakland, California titled ArtSpectrum@Laney, which celebrated the college’s 40th anniversary. LaShaune maintains an art practice that includes designing and making leather handbags, and fabricating metal sculpture and jewelry. She continues her research of contemporary African textiles, experimenting with the application of African fabrics to Western designs.
Education Coordinator: Samara Gaev is a New York based activist, educator, performer, and doula. She has been working as a teaching artist and educational consultant in the schools, shelters, transitional programs and community centers for over ten years. In this capacity, she has worked with Brooklyn Academy of Music, The Media Spot, Esalen’s International Arts Festival, Omega Institute’s National Women and Power Conference and international organizations. She is a board member of Project Rhythm, Curriculum Writer for Hurricane Season, and co-director of In Transition Hip Hop Theatre Company. Samara has initiated young women’s groups, support networks for pregnant and parenting teens, interactive educational theatre residencies, and performance poetry and hip-hop intensives for formerly incarcerated youth. She received the 2009 Next Generation of Leadership Fellowship from the Center for Whole Communities. Samara completed advanced training in Augusto Boal’s Theatre of the Oppressed from the Paul A. Kaplan Center for Educational Drama. She received a B.A. from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study and an M.A. in Performance Studies from NYU’s Tisch School o the Arts with a thesis that explored trauma, advocacy, and witnessing.
Education Consultant: Jinan N. O’Connor started in education as an elementary special education teacher after graduating from Spelman College. She was a Program Director for Teach For America, where she worked to support 100 + teachers in the Greater New Orleans area. In this capacity, Ms. Sumler worked directly with superintendents, principals, university faculty and the business community. Ms. Sumler received a Masters in Education from Harvard and began working as a school improvement consultant for the Southern Regional Education Board in Atlanta. She coordinated a Successful Transitions Initiative between middle schools and high schools in the southeast region of the country. Originally from New York, Jinan returned in 2005 to work for AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) as the Northeast States Director. In this position, she works to support schools in seven states through face-to-face and e-learning professional development and coaching. Ms. Sumler markets AVID to new schools, districts and community organizations, manages AVID implementation at the school and district level and co-writes curriculum on Culturally Relevant Teaching.
Graphic Designer: Christine Wong Yap is an interdisciplinary artist working in installations, sculptures, multiples, and works on paper to explore optimism and pessimism. Born in California, Yap holds a BFA and MFA from the California College of the Arts. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as in New York the U.K.
Advisory Board: Rachelle V. Browne (Associate General Counsel, Smithsonian Institution); Manthia Diawara (Independent Filmmaker & Black Studies Scholar); Amina Dickerson (Dickerson Global Advisors); Howard Dodson, Jr. (Former Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture); Radiah Harper (Education and Public Programming Director, Brooklyn Museum); Thomas Allen Harris (Independent Filmmaker); Caran Hartsfield (Independent Filmmaker); Seith Mann (Independent Filmmaker); Khalil Gibran Muhammad, Ph.D. (Director of the Schomburg Center For Research in Black Culture); Ron Platt (Birmingham Museum of Art, Curator); Kathe Sandler (Independent Filmmaker);
Scholarship Steering Committee: M.K. Asante, Jr., Ph.D. (Morgan State University); Lonnie Bunch, Ph.D (Director, Smithsonian Institution, National African American Museum of History and Culture); Joy DeGruy, Ph.D (Portland State University); Manthia Diawara, Ph.D (New York University); Howard Dodson Jr. (Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture); Robeson Frazier, Ph.D. (University of Southern California); Professor Robert Hill (University of California, Los Angeles); Robin Kelley, Ph.D. (University of Southern California); Leslie King Hammond, Ph.D. (Maryland Institute College of Art); Jabari Mahiri, PH.D (University of California, Berkeley); Guthrie Ramsey, Ph.D. (University of Pennsylvania); Christopher Robbins, Ph.D. (Eastern Michigan University); Paul C. Taylor, Ph.D. (Pennsylvania State University)