The Panelists


Come As You Are: Re-Imagining Art with a Conscience

Henry Cervantes, Youth Peer Organizer at Telpochcalli Community Education Project

Henry Cervantes Torres was born and raised in Chicago’s Mexican immigrant community: La Villita (Little Village).  He works for the Telpochcalli Community Education Project as a Community Organizer. Henry organizes the Annual Little Village Youth Forum bringing together hundreds of youth from the Chicago land area with the purpose to prevent violence and promote peace. He is a racial justice activist and an Aztec dancer in the Conchero Traditions of Mexico. Henry is also a self-taught artist who believes the overall purpose of art is to bring awareness to what is kept unnoticed. Henry wholeheartedly understands that art at its very best illustrates an individuals meaningful message to the overall community. He expresses his love for community, social justice and peace through mindful paintings and drawings. His artwork promotes the philosophy and practice of community and non-violence. Henry is an undergraduate student at Northeastern Illinois University / University Without Walls and serves as the Historian for the Docent Council at the DuSable Museum of African-American History.

Fathom DJ, DJ and music stylist

Coming from the rubble of what some consider a very trying time in the world of music, the universe inserts Fathom DJ. “My mission To be the conveyor of the feeling of good music regardless to genre.” With this in mind, Fathom’s set features a variety of soulful sounds to satisfy both radio listeners as well as those who delve deeper into the obscure. Roy Ayers, Kindred The Family Soul and Eric Robeson are just a few of the artists she has opened for through alignment with both commercial as well as private event planners and promoters. Fathom has maintained residencies in some of Chicago’s hottest night spots including Funky Buddha Lounge, Cuatro, Sinibar and Tantrum. Steadfast in continuing to build her brand, she is readying herself to enter the world of music production. Through music Fathom Dj is touching a wide audience of listeners and creating a following to secure a space as one of the planets most respected female djs.

Discopoet Khari B., Poet, Arts Educator, Lead Member of The Rockstar Poetry Project

Khari B., also known as Discopoet Khari B. is a spoken word musician and educator having worked nationally as both a performer and instructor in the literary arts.  With a solid reputation for delivering intense performances with full instrumental accompaniment, Khari B.’s energetic nature is inextricably tied to growing up in Chicago’s House music scene and being the son of two educators, one who is also theworld renown woodwindist, Mwata Bowden.  Personally recognized for his talents by the late Gwendolyn Brooks and having performed all over Europe, Khari B.’s start began with a simple class project in 1992 where he stumbled upon an appetite for using his talent for poetry to reach, teach and entertain willing ears. Since then he’s recorded two albums, appeared on numerous others and has taught the art in schools across the country. Presently he is the Artist-In-Residence at the prestigious Purdue University while continuing to teach, create, produce and perform where ever he is called with his philosophy “Make it happen.”

Roell Schmidt, Director, Links Hall

Since July 2009, Roell Schmidt has been the Director of Links Hall, Chicago’s Center for Independent Dance and Performance Arts. She spent six years at Lookingglass Theatre Company in several positions: as the Director of Development, the Director of Marketing, and the Director of Artistic Administration where she helped develop and workshop scriptsPrior to Links Hall she was the Director of Marketing for The Chicago Chamber Musicians.  Concurrent to her administrative work in the arts, she is a multi-media producer, director and playwright.  A 2008 Ragdale Resident Artist, she received three CAAP grants for the development of her cineplay THE ROTOGRAVURE produced by Sad Hat Productions NFP on the Athenaeum Theatre Mainstage in January 2009.  Also in 2009, her full-length play THE WHOLE WORLD IS WATCHING about the 1968 Democratic National Convention was workshopped by 20% Theatre Company and 20% also produced her one-act for three actors and string quartet PIXIE STICKS at Strawdog.  In film, she wrote and directed the short film THE FLOATING CANASTA GAME, the animated feature screenplay THE LAND OF THE ROSES and she worked in the art department on 7 independent features in Chicago including Zeinabu Irene Davis’ COMPENSATION which was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize.

Janice Bond, Artist Representative and Brand Strategist at SAVANT|SAVANT

Janice Bond is the President and primary Artist Representative for SAVANT|SAVANT. She has led projects for a myriad of clients in both mainstream and emerging markets. For nearly a decade Bond has developed, managed, or assisted in the implementation of numerous event/interactive/promotional concepts across the globe, for local, national, and internationally recognized artists. Her proficiency regarding social entrepreneurship, along with her experience in various industries contributes to her knack for matching client, concept, and creator. Since 2002, Janice’s expertise has been utilized to generate fashion editorial and productions, gallery exhibitions, and sales across artistic disciplines. With the official launch of SAVANT|SAVANT in 2009, Janice currently takes part in the business development, branding, and creative cultivation of independent artists globally.

Terri Johnson, Vice President of Public Policy & Advocacy, Jane Addams HUll House Association

Terri A. Johnson’s career is dedicated to advocating for social, economic and racial justice and systemic change. Ms. Johnson is a graduate of Northwestern University. She is the Vice President for Public Policy & Advocacy for the Jane Addams Hull House Association. Ms. Johnson works with organizations to develop anti-racist programming, professional training initiatives and projects; designs public education series on critical social issues; facilitates the Joint Center Cook County Place Matters team ; and manages research projects including  Minding the Gap: An Assessment of Racial Disparity in Metropolitan Chicago and  Keeping a Roof Over Their Heads: Low Income Working Women and Affordable Housing.

Lisa Biggs, Performer, playwright and director researching theatre programs for incarcerated women

Lisa Biggs is a Chicago native currently working on her doctorate in Performance Studies at Northwestern University.  She is a former member of the DC-based Living Stage Theatre, where she co-facilitated hundreds of theatre for social change workshops with students aged 3-103.  Her own original theatre/dance performance work has toured to venues from New York to San Francisco, including productions at the NY Hip Hop Theatre Festival, DC Arts Center, Baltimore Theatre Project, Links Hall and Cultural Odyssey.  Her research focuses on the performance of corrections discipline in US prisons and jails for women, with a specific focus on the impact of arts programs for women prisoners.

Evin Marie, playwright and owner of The Maekeen Room

Playwright, poet, artistic director and curator of The Maekeen Room, Evin Marie, has had an affinity for the arts for as long as she can remember. Having over ten years of professional experience as a teaching artist and arts program administrator through a variety of organizations, she has facilitated opportunities for life changing creative encounters for children and adults alike.  Her theater production, Shades of My Skin: A Celebration of the Black Experience  had its Chicago debut in October 2009 at the Bruce K. Hayden Theater (Malcolm X College) selling out its first run.  Currently Evin Marie is thriving in her curatorial role of The Maekeen Room, a shared loft space for creative pioneers seeking to launch their socially relevant endeavors.  She also gearing up for her summer production of Blotch.




Quit Bullshittin’: Recognizing Division & Building Solidarity in the Arts

Meg Duguid is currently a Cultural Grants Coordinator for the Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture.  Over the last 12 years Duguid has worked in the arts.  She has been the Assistant Director of the Contemporary Art Workshop, and the Director of Gallery 2 in Chicago.  She worked as the Studio Assistant for Mierle Laderman Ukeles the Artist in Residence at the New York City Department of Sanitation and as the Public Art Coordinator for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation.  When not at the day job she believes that documentation is paramount to her art making and is invested in the ways documentation and art can be integrated in a single practice.  She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA in from Bard College.  She has performed and exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, Macy’s on State Street in Chicago, the DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn, and 667 Shotwell in San Francisco.  Duguid has screened work at Synthetic Zero in New York, Spiderbug in Chicago, and at the Last Supper Festival in Brooklyn.  Duguid lives and works in Chicago, IL where she runs Clutch Gallery, a 25 square-inch white cube located in the heart of her purse.

As current Programs Manager for The Institute for Arts Entrepreneurship Jessica Kaswiner manages four professional development programs, working at a grassroots level to support young and emerging artists across disciplines. This work has equipped her with a deep understanding of how to help support artists. Jessica’s previous work as Programs and Research Coordinator at the Arts Alliance Illinois enabled her to gain a deepened understanding and involvement in arts and educational policy. She is also an active member of Chicago’s arts education community, assisting with curriculum development for Chicago Danztheater Ensemble, serving as Secretary for the Urban Gateway’s Junior Board, as a member of Chicago’s Emerging Leaders Network, and most recently joining the Grassroots Curriculum Taskforce as the team’s arts specialist. Jessica received a Masters in Arts Education at the School of the Art Institute, and earned her Bachelors from Connecticut College in Art History, with a Certification in Museum Studies.

Alice Kim is a cultural organizer, writer and activist. She is the director of The Public Square, a program of the Illinois Humanities Council that creates spaces for public conversations. She blogs about adventures in activism, culture, and every day life on her site, Dancing the Dialectic. She has worked closely with prisoners and their family members to abolish capital punishment and to end torture with impunity in Illinois and nationwide. She also teaches as an adjunct for the Gender and Women’s Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Chicago and serves on the editorial board of In These Times and the advisory board of the Children and Family Justice Center.

Eric Williams is the owner of The Silver Room boutique, a DJ and event promoter. Through family influences music has profoundly shaped his life from an early age. He is the son of a nightclub owner and nephew of Sun Ra’s bass player Ronnie Boykins. His entrepreneurial spirit was evident at a young age. That led him to Maxwell St. and other locations throughout Chicago, as a tee-shirt vendor to help fund his college career. Eric obtained a degree in finance from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1993. After a brief stint working in Finance he decided to travel the country vending at festivals and street fares. It was this spirit and drive that ultimately led him to open The Silver Room in Wicker Park. The Silver Room consistently pushes the parameters of a traditional retail operation building community through social exchange. In 2001 he launched Square One, a café in Wicker Park. Part restaurant, part performance space and magazine emporium, Square One exposed many to such artists as Ugochi, Theaster Gates, Kevin Coval, Kool Herc and many more. With a health conscience menu, the hottest music and late hours, Square One provided a cool, urban option to the surrounding bar scene. Currently, The Silver Room hosts monthly art openings and a myriad of different events. One event gaining major notoriety is Grown Folks Stories™, a monthly event of storytelling. Serving as a nexus of music, art and fashion, Eric Williams is pioneering a role as a social entrepreneur.

Edward Onaci is a student and a teacher who seeks to lend his talents and resources to holistic liberation. He is currently completing his dissertation on the Republic of New Afrika at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. In addition to his academic endeavors, Edward has participated in several grassroots and not-for-profit organizations, including the Chicago Freedom School and groups concerned with environmental and food justice.  Known as Brotha Onaci by many, he is a member of the People’s DJs Collective and the host of “Liberation Culture,” a mix of the best Afrikan and Caribbean music, past and present.


What Is It Good For? Defining Art’s Purpose Now

Ra Joy, Executive Director, Arts Alliance Illinois

Ra Joy is the executive director of Arts Alliance Illinois, a statewide advocacy organization that promotes the value of arts and arts education. Joy oversees research, capacity building and communication to strengthen the arts community in Illinois. He is a member of the board of directors for Mikva Challenge, an organization that empowers the next generation of civic leaders in Chicago, and serves on many advisory boards including the Americans for the Arts State Arts Action Network. Prior to joining Arts Alliance Illinois in 2007, he served as top aide to Rep. Jan Schakowsky, focusing on securing federal funds for universities, municipalities and nonprofits.

Soyini Madison, Professor of Performance Studies, with appointments in the Department of African American Studies and the Department of Anthropology at Northwestern University

D. Soyini Madison is a professor at Northwestern University in the Department of Performance Studies, the Program in African Studies, and Anthropology. Professor Madison is the author of Critical Ethnography: Methods, Ethics, and Performance; co-editor of The Sage Handbook of Performance Studies; and, Editor of The Woman That I Am: The Literature and Culture of Contemporary Women of Color. Madison lived and worked in Ghana, West Africa as a Senior Fulbright Scholar conducting field research on the interconnections between human rights activism and local performance practices. She received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in Belagio, Italy for her current book, Acts of Activism: Human Rights As Radical Performance (Cambridge UP) based on fieldwork in Ghana. Madison also adapts and directs her ethnographic work for the public stage in such performances as: I Have My Story to Tell, a performance reflecting the oral histories of University of Carolina laborers and service workers; Mandela, the Land, and the People, a performance based on the life and work of Nelson Mandela; Is It a Human Being or A Girl? a performance ethnography on the political economy of traditional religion and women’s rights; and, Water Rites a multi-media performance on the struggle for clean and accessible water as a human right. Professor Madison has won numerous teaching awards, including the Tanner University Award at Chapel Hill for “Outstanding and Inspirational Teaching.”

Joel Valentin-Martinez, Choreographer & Senior Lecturer in the Dance and Theatre Department at Northwestern University

Recently featured on Chicago Artists Resource, Joel Valentín-Martínez assembled Valentín Projects, a collective of three artists—himself, Liz Zastrow (dancer/writer), and Javier Marchán Ramos (dancer)—to develop his work presented in SOMBRAS.  Born in Guadalajara, Mexico and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Mr. Valentín-Martínez initiated his theater and dance training at American Conservatory Theater, Alonzo King’s LINES Ballet, Rosa Montoya’s Bailes Flamencos, Oakland’s Dimensions Dance Theatre, and San Francisco State University. He was a member of Garth Fagan Dance (Tony Award Winner) from 1990-2003 and toured with the troupe throughout the United States, Canada, the Middle East, Europe, Australia, South America, and the Caribbean. Since 2003, Mr. Valentín-Martínez has devoted his time to teaching at the university level and developing his own choreography projects. On a shared-bill program, his work Tlatelolco Revisited (2008) was recognized by the Chicago Tribune and hailed “the most galvanic debut of the evening” by the Chicago Sun-Times. Both this and his Misplaced Flowers (2010) with Fulcrum Point New Music Project were commissioned by Luna Negra Dance Theater and premiered at the Harris Theater in Chicago. Valentín-Martínez recently choreographed the musical adaptation of Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street (2009) at the Steppenwolf Theatre, and has developed choreography for the Joel Hall Dancers and the multimedia performance Imperial Silence: Una Ópera Muerta/A Mariachi Opera in Four Acts (2008), which was performed at El Museo del Barrio in New York City (2009) and throughout California. Valentín-Martínez is currently a Senior Lecturer in the Theatre Department at Northwestern University. Prior to joining Northwestern, he taught dance at Arizona State University and the University of Rochester.  In May 2011, he will be awarded his Master of Fine Arts in Performing Arts—Dance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Peck School of the Arts.

Samuel Lewis, Co-founder/Director, Elastic Arts Foundation

Sam has lived in Chicago since 1995, and was a founding member of Elastic Revolution Productions, which became Elastic Arts Foundation. During that time he’s worked to help enrich the tremendous Chicago arts scene. Some of his recent work has included: AFTRA voice-work, organizing the Hip-Hop series at Elastic, helping to organize the Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival, performing in a “Futurist Dinner party” at Moto restaurant, performing with his marionette, “Jus hambone” in several Vision puppet festivals, participating in workshops for students in the CPS and being a founding member of the Logan Square Chamber of Arts which is opening a Community Arts Center in the Summer of 2011.

Susan Fox, Community outreach & Grants coordinator, Elastic Arts Foundation

Susan Fox joined the Elastic team in April 2008 to serve as its Development and Outreach Specialist.  She has helped Elastic to connect to organizations such as the Arts and Business Council of Chicago and the Arts Engagement Exchange funded by the Wallace Foundation and services provided by them.  Susan works to bring grant income to Elastic, as well as information about marketing, strategic planning and board development issues. Susan moved to Chicago in September 2007 from Madison, WI where she was co-founder and project manager of the Madison Center for Creative and Cultural Arts, a multi-arts space that served the Madison area.  She worked with Chicago musician Hanah Jon Taylor founder and executive director of the MCCCA. She has a master of science degree in Urban and Regional Planning, and a master of arts degree in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin—Madison. Susan worked at the Jazz Institute of Chicago making valuable contacts with musicians and JIC staff, before she began her work with Elastic.  She had extensive experience writing grant proposals and providing outreach services to schools and community centers while at the MCCCA.  Taylor and Fox purchased a traveling stage they dubbed the “Culture Coach” and visited neighborhood parks with music, theatre, dance and a community drum circle.  She is particularly interested in working with the Logan Square neighborhood and its organizations, businesses and individuals. She has been fortunate to expand her horizons while in Chicago and is now working with Ra Joy and Scarlett Swerdlow at the Arts Alliance Illinois in addition to her work in Logan Square with Elastic Arts and the soon-to-open Logan Square Arts Center.

Dawn Marie Galtieri, Executive/Artistic Director, Voice of the City

Ms. Galtieri founded the Voice of the City (f.k.a. Arts Alliance, aurorARTSalliance) in 1999, combining years of artistic work in various disciplines, her background in and commitment to education, and her passion for local community work. As the Executive/Artistic Director she runs the day-to-day operations of the organization, develops and coordinates programming, and builds relationship with existing and future funders.  She recruits and trains artist/teachers, establishes partnerships with local community organizations, and (with the Executive Producer) fosters collaborations between artists of various disciplines. Ms. Gatieri earned her MFA in Music Theatre from Roosevelt University (4.0/4,0) in 1997, and directed her thesis, Lady in the Dark, by Moss Hart and Kurt Weill.  She completed a Bachelor of Arts from Wheaton College in Literature with an emphasis in vocal music education in 1984, and an Illinois High School certification in 1985.  Since 1985 she taught English and Music for three years, and then built a performance, stage managing and directing resume from 1990 to present (available upon request).  She served on Swift School’s Local School Council in 1991-93 as a community representative and as a representative to the district, and on the board of Logan Square Neighborhood Association (as the Arts Council). From 2004 to present, Ms. Gatieri worked on the New Communities Program Task force, helped draft the arts initiatives of the Quality of Life Plan for Logan Square (funded by LISC/Chicago) and to helped launch the Logan Square Chamber of Arts, soon to have its home in the new Arts Center, 2910 N Milwaukee Avenue in the Hairpin Lofts flatiron building.


2 responses to “The Panelists

  1. Pingback: To Art & Profit Opens This Weekend! | To Art and Profit

  2. Pingback: To Art & Profit Festival Opens! | Honey Pot Performance

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