Eventbrite - Giant Steps 2015

Event Date

October 9, 2015
Minneapolis Convention Center
1301 2nd Ave South
Minneapolis, MN 55403

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Giant Steps 2015


2015 Speakers

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

Check back for updates regularly!


Giant Steps 2015 Keynote Conversation Speaker: Reggie Ossé

(Combat Jack)


Reggie Ossé, known as Combat Jack first rose to prominence in the recording industry as founding partner of the small NYC law firm Ossé and Woods where his clients included such legends as Jay-Z, Damon Dash, DMX, Sean "Diddy" Combs' Hitmen production team, along with producers, songwriters and artists who shaped the "golden era" sound of the 1990s. During his time as an attorney, Ossé managed to build relationships and develop a keen appreciation for the behind the scenes players who were instrumental in shaping what is now a part of today’s mainstream pop culture. In addition, Ossé developed an intimate relationship with many who are considered movers and shakers of today’s music industry.

After closing his practice, Ossé worked briefly as an executive at MTV, after which time he decided to change career paths and began blogging under the name “Combat Jack”. Quickly developing a following attracted to his authenticity and riveting tales from the golden age of hip-hop, Ossé was named the managing editor of The Source Magazine, where he served for a year before dedicating himself full time to The Combat Jack Show podcast and The Loudspeakers Podcast Network.

Ossé is also the author of ‘Bling: A History Hip-Hop Jewelry’ and his writing has appeared in The Source, Complex, XXL and Red Bull Music Academy's ‘The Daily Note’. As an active participant in social media, Billboard Magazine has named Ossé one of the "140 Music Writers To Follow On Twitter". Complex Magazine has named him "Top 25 Writers To Follow On Twitter". Ossé is also the on-air host of Complex TV's ‘The Combat Jack TV Show’ in which he interviews artists in a television talk show format and has been called, by Complex the "Dick Cavett"of rap because of his unique interview skills.

J. Cole, Russell Simmons, Chuck D, Lil Boosie, Common and a slew of influencers and players in today’s culture all agree that Ossé’s interviews are the absolute best in today’s media. Whether the comparison is to Charlie Rose, Howard Stern or Dick Cavett, Combat Jack has made a great impact and will only continue to make his presence felt on all platforms.

Brother Ali

Brother Ali is a highly respected Hip Hop artist, speaker and activist from Minneapolis, MN. His decade long resume includes six critically acclaimed albums, mentorships with Iconic Hip Hop legends Chuck D and Rakim and performances on late night talk shows with Conan O Brien and Jimmy Fallon. He’s been the subject of Al-Jazeera and NPR pieces and was a keynote speaker at this year’s Nobel Peace Prize Forum. He’s landed coveted press features such as Rolling Stone’s 40th anniversary “Artist to Watch” and Source Magazine’s “Hip Hop Quotables”.

Ali has won the hearts and minds of Hip Hop fans world wide with his intimate song writing, captivating live performances and outspoken stance on issues of Justice and Human Dignity. In 2007, Ali was flagged by The US Department of Homeland Security for his controversial critique of America’s human rights violations in his song/video “Uncle Sam Goddamn”. In the summer of 2012, Ali was arrested in an act of civil disobedience as an organizer of Minnesota’s Occupy Homes movement to defend Twin Cities homeowners from unjust foreclosures.

Brother Ali’s latest album, Mourning in America and Dreaming in Color is his manifesto on the political, socioeconomic and cultural suffering in modern American life, as well as a declaration of hope and possibility for a brighter future. The album is introduced by Dr. Cornel West.

Dara M. Beevas

Dara M. Beevas is a writer, editor, blogger, speaker, and author. She mentors other indie authors as Chief Strategic Officer and Co-Owner of Wise Ink Creative Publishing. Dara’s passion for helping authors become change agents led her to launch Wise Ink in 2012. Wise Ink is a boutique indie publisher providing custom book production, marketing, and distribution services as well as educational tools to help authors publish smartly. Dara has a background in acquisitions, developmental editing, marketing strategy, and writing. She is a board member of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and is also one of the voices behind the Wise Ink blog for indie authors (www.wiseinkblog.com). She is the co-author of Social Media Secrets for Authors: A Beginner's Guide to Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads and The Indie Author Revolution. Originally from the Washington, D.C. area, Beevas moved to Minneapolis in 2007. In her spare time she writes poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction. 

Allison Bross-White

Allison Bross-White is a small business owner, an activist and a community mama. After spending many years in the retail corporate world, Allison decided to open b. resale, a used clothing store focusing on streetwear & locally made goods. Backed by a degree in Retail Merchandising & Business Administration, Allison was able to turn her love of fashion, hip hop, and the environment into a thriving business.  Now in its sixth year, the shop has cemented itself as a staple in the Minneapolis fashion scene by uniting the ideas of conscious shopping habits with style and community mindedness.  Allison has no regrets about leaving the corporate world to pursue her lifelong dream. She says the best thing about being self-employed is creating the work environment she has always wanted, and being able to connect with the community on a daily basis.

Amber "ACE" Cleveland

Amber ACE Cleveland is a Hip Hop impresario.   For over a decade, through her company ACEntertainment MGMT, ACE has created and cultivated a number of shows, mentored countless artists and promoters and has created and curated the free, annual Hip Hop festival, For the Love, A Community Celebration.  In addition to
her varied accomplishments within the music industry ACE is the co-owner of the catering bakery service, Remixin’ Vixens.  She has developed and taught after school programs promoting social justice through a Hip Hop lens.

She is the former C.F.O. of the urban clothing brand, Brims and Tongues.  ACE is also an accomplished writer, and was recently named the Cypher Circuit’s News Section Contributor (www.CypherCircuit.com) as well as being classically trained musician (piano, oboe, saxophone).  She has been conferred with a Bachelor of Individualized Studies and Masters of Liberal Studies from the University of Minnesota, and is currently pursing her Doctorate of Education from Hamline University.

Tricia Khutoretsky

Tricia Khutoretsky is a curator, arts organizer and educator living in Minneapolis. Valuing art as a means through which to make positive changes in the world, she works as a change agent in support of iconoclastic individuals and ideas. She is a co-founder and the curator of Public Functionary, a non-profit exhibition and social space dedicated to openness as a means of fostering varying contexts of diversity and a hybrid space for a hybrid audience.

Previous career experiences immersed her in various creative communities and born in Thailand, she spent formidable years in Hawaii, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt. As a mixed-race American, the sum of a hybrid identity draws her to relate to diverse people and situations and a belief that by accepting our own complexity, we find depth and common ground with others.

She holds a B.A from Macalester College and an M.A. in Arts and Cultural Management at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. She serves on the board of the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. In 2015 was recognized for her community work with a Minneapolis St. Paul Business Journal “40 under 40” award. She teaches arts leaders in a graduate program at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota and frequently speaks at mentorship and professional development conferences in support of artists and creative entrepreneurs.

Knero Lapaé

Known by his stage name Knero Lapaé or simply kNERO (pronounced knee ro), is a Liberian-born hip hop recording artist, record producer, songwriter, model and author. kNERO was born in Monrovia, Liberia and raised in Brooklyn, New York. kNERO released "Not Drunk Enuff" featuring Norwegian singer Adele Erichsen, a former contestant on The Voice – Norges beste stemme. The single was released under CCAP records. Due to his political ties, he celebrated the Liberian Declaration of Independence by performing his single "A.F.R.I.C.A" at the Liberian Embassy in Washington, D.C. He performed at the Hip Hop of Pioneers event held at the Newark Symphony Hall; the event featured additional performances from MC Lyte, Kool and the Gang, Dana Dane and Slick Rick. In 2014, kNERO closed a deal to release his next single "King" under Universal Music Group.

In 1995, kNERO fell in love with the art of barbering. To avoid street violence and other criminal activities, he learned to master his craft over the years. He then traveled from state to state gaining connections in the hair industry, which helped his music career. His experiences including working with celebrities such as Raekwon from the Wu-Tang Clan, Comedian Kyle Grooms, Fashion Designer Toure Designs, Humanitarian/Motivational speaker George Green, Celebrity Hairstylist Keith Campbell, Middleweight Boxer Peter Quillin, and more. In addition to music and barbering, kNERO has also worked as an actor, model and is about to release his memoir, Homeless With A Record Deal: The Moments Of Luxury (Fall 2015)

Jenn Schaal

Jenn’s jokes and stories are hilariously derived from her “Oh My God, I can’t believe that happened to you” real life experiences and have been described as “genuine, honest, and tell it like it is”. She’s a 30-something single gal still recovering from her mother making her take her high school senior pictures with her cat. Most recently, Jenn was named City Pages Reader's Choice Best Local Comic 2015, a Minnesota Comic to Watch by Growler Magaizine, and selected to perform in the Boston Women In Comedy Festival, Limestone Comedy Festival (Bloomington, IN) and She-Devil Comedy Festival (NY, NY). She has been featured in Huffington Post, City Pages, Pioneer Press, MPR, and on FOX.

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.