Eventbrite - Giant Steps 2014

Event Date

October 10, 2014
Minneapolis Convention Center
1301 2nd Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55403


Media Sponsors

Giant Steps 2014


2014 Speakers

Some of the amazing people you'll hear at Giant Steps this year. 

To celebrate our 5th anniversary, we've included some speakers from the past four Giant Steps in this year's roster.

Please keep checking back, as more speakers will be added!


Ananya Chatterjea

A choreographer who envisions her work in the field of dance as a "call to action" with a particular focus on women artists of color, Ananya Chatterjea is the Artistic Director of Ananya Dance Theatre. She is the proud recipient of a 2012 Mcknight Choreography Fellowship and a 2011 Guggenheim Choreography Fellowship. Previously, she was featured as an “Artist of the Year” in City Pages (2001), named a “Changemaker” by the Minnesota Women’s Press (2005), and voted "Best Choreographer" by City Pages (2007). Recent engagements include performances at performances and master classes at the Harare International Festival for the Arts, Zimbabwe; dance talks at University of Rome and Kunsthistoriches Institut, Florence; and a performance at the Indian Council of Cultural Relations, Kolkata, India (2013); Festivale Danca Indiana de America de Sul in Campinas, Brazil; Indigenous Contemporary Dance Festival at National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque; and Norwegian Theater Academy, Oslo (2012); and an artist residency and perforamnces at New Waves Institute in Trinidad (2011). Her most recent work, Moreechika was remarked upon as  “all powerful…Chatterjea's choreography also leaves room for brutal beauty and vulnerability” (Star Tribune, 9/9/12).  Ananya’s book, Butting out! Reading cultural politics in the work of Chandralekha and Jawole Willa Jo Zollar, was published by Wesleyan University Press in 2004. Other essays have been published in the anthologies Worlding Dance (2009), Critical Transnational Feminist Praxis (2010), andCelebrating India: Dance and Performance, (2010). Ananya is also Professor in the Department of Theater Arts and Dance at the University of Minnesota, and Director of the Dance Program there.

Ben Morrison

Ben Morrison is CEO and Co-Founder of Handsome Cycles. The Minnesota native spent his youth working in bike shops and most of his twenties working in advertising. He is in charge of all product development and marketing for the Minneapolis based bicycle company. Under Morrison’s direction Handsome has won numerous awards for their marketing materials, operated its own award winning retail store and steadily grown its product offerings and dealer base.

D.A. Bullock

D.A. Bullock has been an award winning and leading cinematographer, writer and director for over 15 years.
In 2003, his diligence and commitment to excellence was rewarded with the opportunity to write and direct his feature film debut - "dark ". This film was the inaugural project of the State of Illinois' - "Lights, Camera, Illinois" program. The film was a selection of The Toronto International Film Festival, The Chicago International Film Festival, The American Black Film Festival, Winner/Best Film 2003 Urbanworld Film Festival and The Houston International Film Festival where it won Best First Feature.

Utilizing an extensive repertoire of creative and visual styles, D.A Bullock has continued to impact the media
landscape as a voice to be reckoned with. Bullock’s stories represent the voiceless, those surviving on the margins of society.

In 2011 Bullock founded BULLY CREATIVE SHOP in Minneapolis, MN. 

Currently, his cinematographer's eye is on display in the critically-acclaimed, "VANISHING PEARLS"; the story of the black oysterman of Point a la Hache, Louisiana, and their trials and tribulations after the BP oil disaster. Bullock was also named a 2014 McKnight Foundation / IFP Minnesota Media Arts Fellow.

Damen Johnson

Damen A. Johnson is a Co-Founder and Master barber at Grooming House barbershop in saint paul MN. He is currently working on the groomed for greatness project. It is a program designed to educate young men on the importance of personal grooming and appearance and the impact it has on the way you are perceived as well as how it can positively or negatively effect your opportunities in life. He is also the Co-founder and chief creative officer of Peerparazzi a mobil application that turns other users of the application into your own personal photographer.

Jason Noer

J-Sun is a teacher and community leader in the Twin Cities; a competitor and an academic, recipient of the 2013 Sage Award for Outstanding Performance and consultant for The Annual Groundbreaker Battle. His Bachelors of Arts degree,The B-Boy Movement within Hip Hop Culture, focused on the types of knowledge produced by the dance and what the productions meant to the rest of the world. J-Sun's current graduate work examines the way race, class, age, etc., engage with issues of power on the dancing body. He instructs traditional movement with historical moments as a veteran practitioner of breaking and toprocking.

Kenneth Kunkle

Through his work as an attorney, Ken helps creative professionals pursue their professional and creative goals, by assisting them in managing, acquiring, and commercializing their intellectual property rights.  Ken’s practice includes drafting and reviewing contracts, copyright and trademark opinions and registrations, employment issues, and all other general business matters.  Over the years, he has represented a wide variety of creative professionals, including writers, musicians, designers, Internet content providers, graphic artists, commercial photographers, software programmers, and many others who use their creativity as a part of their business plan.  Originally from Wichita Kansas, Ken lives in St. Paul with his wife, daughter, dog, and cat.  He can be reached at 612-414-3113, his website – www.KunkleLaw.com, or on Twitter - @Kunkle_Law.

Davis Senseman

Davis, the founder of Davis Law Office, has practiced exclusively in the areas of business and intellectual property law for over 9 years, consulting with clients on a wide variety of entity formation, general business, succession planning, trademark and copyright issues. When forming Davis Law Office, it was Davis' goal to banish the phrase "that's the way it's always been" from her vocabulary. With a dedication to innovation and creativity, Davis has implemented transparent pricing, flat fee options, and flexible packages so clients can budget for their legal expenses. In addition to these pricing innovations, Davis also favors a collaborative approach, perhaps most obvious in her choice to office from the CoCo co-working floor of the Minneapolis Grain Exchange.

Levi Weinhagen

Levi Weinhagen is a comedy writer, performer, theater producer, podcast creator, editor, arts journalist and social media obsessive. He’s co-founder of Comedy Suitcase, which produces original live shows, such as Harty Boys and the Limping Platypus, Smothers Brothers Grimm and The Gentlemen’s Pratfall Club. Levi co-created the improvised Saturday Morning Submarine Adventure show, that invites people as young as 3 years old to try their hand at stand-up comedy. The Pratfalls of Parenting, Levi’s podcast which features interviews with artists who are also parents, was named “Best of the Twin Cities” by Minnesota Monthly. Levi was named a 2012 City Pages Artist of the Year.

Levi has written educational theater for the Science Museum of Minnesota and articles for online publications such as Minnesota Playlist and Pollen. In 2013-2014, he worked on the start-up of Twin Cities Public Television’s ReWire initiative—helping to design engagement strategies for new, more diverse audiences in the world of public media. He’s been volunteering as an artist teaching playwriting and theater making to young people as part of the Chicago Avenue Project since 2010.

He is currently the Artist in Residence for the Walker Art Center’s Education and Community Programs department. He tweets as @ThatLevi

Nancy Lyons

Nancy works at the intersection of technology, community, and people. Nancy supports clients and teams by fostering a collaborative, idea-driven culture that nurtures creativity and brainpower. She has been locally and nationally recognized for her role as owner and CEO of Clockwork. She's co-author of Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People, and Process (New Riders, 2012), serves as the Vice Chair on the National Board of Directors at The Family Equality Council, is on the Board of Trustees at Minnesota Public Radio, and is a Project Skyway Captain and mentor at Project Skyway. Under Nancy’s leadership, Clockwork has received more than 14 “Best Workplace" awards. Clockwork has also won the Psychologically Healthy Workplace, Best Women Owned Business, and Bicycle Friendly Business awards. Independently, Nancy received the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Diversity in Business award and was a finalist for Minnesota Business Magazine’s Community Impact award.

Sarah White

Sarah White is an eclectic singer, emcee and musician and has played both nationally and internationally, best known in Minneapolis for her previous involvement with Black Blondie and Traditional Methods. While her passion to grow and break molds keeps her sound ever-changing, her love of art keeps it classic. Sarah has independently released 2 solo albums, her voice is featured on record label releases from the Midwest to Tokyo and she won Scion’s Best Electronic Vocalist Competition in 2009.White currently fronts her new band, Shiro Dame, known for its "neon soul" sound. Debuting in 2013, their sound is ever-changing, undefined, electric medicine to music heads seeking new aural experiences.

 Shiro Dame is comprised of Sarah White on vocals, Rico Simon Mendez on guitar, synths, & beats, Blayr Alexander on drums, Dameun Strange on keytar and Ry Dill on bass.

Sarah is also a mother, a photographer and a creative with a Minneapolis-based event production company.

Shanan Custer

Shanan Custer is an actor, writer, director, improviser, and educator based in the Twin Cities and has joked that sometimes she does all of these things at the same time.  A veteran of the Brave New Workshop in Minneapolis, Shanan has more recently directed at Theatre in the Round (Love, Loss and What I Wore and The Underpants) and appeared at the 2014 Minnesota Fringe Festival (in American Assassins; or You Can’t Handle the Booth and From Here to Maternity, which she also co-wrote).  Other original works include Mick Sterling’s At Christmas, which will play for its 5th year during this holiday season and 2 Sugars, Room for Cream, which was honored in 2013 with an Ivey Award for Ensemble Acting.  When she’s not onstage, Shanan is a Teaching Artist at the Guthrie Theatre and History Theatre and is an adjunct at the University of St. Thomas.  Shanan also improvises with the Theater of Public Policy at HUGE Theater or wherever else they will let her perform.

Teresa Fox

Teresa Fox is one half of the duo that is Glam Doll Donuts. Before entering the donut business she spent the majority of her career and education in restaurants and music business. After being inspired by donuts she and best friend, Arwyn Birch, decided to combine their personal passions for vintage fashion, music, art and food. The idea for Glam Doll Donuts was born and have since been working to become a mainstay in the Twin Cities scene.

Vikas Narula

Vikas is a "stumble-upon-trepreneur".  He spent 15 years working for two local start-ups and along the way "stumbled upon" his own business idea while completing his MBA.  He nurtured the idea as a "hobby" for a few years before quitting his job in 2009 to pursue it full time.

His hobby-turned-business-venture is called Keyhubs (www.keyhubs.com) - a Minneapolis-based management software and consulting firm, which specializes in helping organizations realize their potential by uncovering and tapping the hidden organization - the informal network of relationships that exist between employees.  Some of Keyhubs' clients include Accenture, Medtronic, Thrivent Financial, Boston Scientific and Bremer Bank.  Their work has been featured in Forbes, Upstart and Twin Cities Business magazine.
Vikas earned his MBA from Duke University and holds a degree in computer science from Maharishi University of Management.  He was listed among 100 leaders to "help you thrive" by Twin Cities Business magazine.  He is also Founder of Neighborhood Forest - a social venture dedicated to giving free trees to school children every Earth Day.

You can learn more about his journey and work at www.keyhubs.com/blog.