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 are coming soon...

Keep checking back to see who else we've added to the line-up... check out our 2013 speakers below for an idea of the mix of people you'll hear from at Giant Steps 2014.

Butch Roy

“Butch Roy is first and foremost, an Improv technician. What I mean by that is that his skill-set is founded on solving problems instantly. Whether you need a thunder clap to help justify a moment in a scene that you haven’t yet realized you need, or to make the lights work in the next 5 minutes, he’s your guy. I often think back to when I was his understudy on a show for the Brave New Workshop and he would explain the cues for a scene which might involve simultaneously resetting the light board for the next transition, cueing up the next sound cue on the minidisc, and making the current sound cue into a live microphone with your mouth while holding down the guitar pedal in front of you that he rigged up as an effects processor. He always explained it as if this was what all tech people did. I still think he assumes he’s normal and that all technicians can do this. He’s not and they can’t. Butch Roy is perhaps the most versatile and phlegmatic technician I have ever known. And I have known many. Like I said before, he’s your guy.” – George Grubb

As the Executive Director of HUGE, Butch brings vision, technical expertise and passion to every HUGE production.


Semhar Araia

Semhar Araia is the founder and executive director of the Diaspora African Women’s Network (DAWN) and an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota. A lawyer by training, Semhar previously worked for the US Congress, Oxfam, The Elders, and the Eritrea-Ethiopia peace process and specializes in international development, civic engagement, diaspora engagement, and US-Africa relations. As a social entrepreneur and community organizer, Semhar has extensive grassroots and leadership experience working with local communities in East Africa and in the diaspora. She is a White House Champion of Change and African Union Diaspora Awardee of the Year, recognized for her outstanding contributions in the Africa diaspora community. Semhar has traveled and worked in 24 countries and currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Carrie Shanahan

Carrie Shanahan began her creative editing career 15 years ago in her native Chicago, before hitting New York and landing in Minneapolis, cutting national television commercials for high-profile brands like Subaru, Citi, Macy’s and MTV. Her campaign for the Bush Foundation recently won an Upper-Midwest Emmy, a Hendricks spot she edited last year brought home a Telly, and her features, shorts and music videos have garnered copious awards. She shares her industry insights with the next generation, teaching Video Storytelling at Miami Ad School for nine years running, serving as a mentor editor for IFP’s Fresh Filmmakers, and acting as an edit advisor on a host of current projects. Following years of representation at some of the nation's top post production houses, she's just this July gone independent with PopUpPost.org in order to provide her clients with top-notch editorial where, when and how they need it by operating out of her office, their edit suite, or at a post facility of their choosing. She splits her time between Minneapolis and a cottage on Lake Pepin with her husband, Kirk McCall, their young son, and their new freckled friend Moondog Eloise McCartney McCall.


James Faghmous

James obtained his Ph.D. in computer science from the University of Minnesota -Twin Cities. While in graduate school, he co-founded two startups with his wife Zahra: a nonprofit, MuslimBuddy, which focuses on creating more community- and impact-centric nonprofits; and a web start-up, Mode-sty, an e-boutique for fashionable and modest women. James graduated in 2006 with a B.Sc. in computer science from the City of College of New York where he was a Rhodes and a Gates Scholar nominee.


Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay

Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao American poet, playwright, and artivist. Her literary, theater, and advocacy work is made possible through generous support from organizations such as the Jerome Foundation, Mu Performing Arts, MN State Arts Boards, Lao Assistance Center of Minnesota, Loft Literary Center, Joyce Foundation/Alliance of Artist Communities (IL), Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (DC), Asian Economic Development Association, and the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum (DC). She currently serves on the Board for Intermedia Arts, Saint Paul Almanac, Saint Paul Foundation's Asian Pacific Endowment, Dispute Resolution Center, and the Asian Economic Development Association's Arts Advisory. She's lent her experience in literary arts and community engagement to the work and programming of organizations such as the Smithsonian Institute, the Immigrant Legal Resource Center (DC), Legacies of War (DC), the MN Historical Society, and the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre in Luang Prabang, Laos. Vongsay holds an English degree from the University of Minnesota and pursuing a Master of Liberal Studies focusing on public policy and arts and cultural leadership at the University of Minnesota. She's the Lead Chair for the National Lao American Writers Summit and Co-Chair of the Twin Cities World Refugee Day Celebration Committee.


K. Davis

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.


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.


Sarah Von Bargen

Sarah Von Bargen is a writer, blogger, and internet awesome-i-fier.  For the last five years she's been posting six days a week to a readership of 11,000+ daily readers and helping small businesses make a name for themselves on the internet.  She's been featured on Lifehacker, Forbes.com, Glamour, and was named one of Problogger's 15 Bloggers To Watch in 2013.  When she's not on the internet she's traveling, planning and attending parties, and eating entirely too much cheese. You can find her at Yesandyes.org or sarahvonbargen.com.


Laura Holway

Laura Holway is a dance maker, idea lover, and co-owner of McGinley Motion, a creative video and content company that works with artists and micro-businesses. Her performance work has been supported by The Jerome Foundation (as part of the Red Eye Theater’s Works In Progress and Isolated Acts programs), and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC).  Laura is a contributing writer for Minnesota Playlist, and writes about creative process and art-as-a-business at lauraholway.com. Her passion project is a living room performance series hosted at her house, which she would love for you to perform at.

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.


Beth Franklin

Beth Franklin is an accountant that works for Fox Tax in Minneapolis - a company that provides professional tax and financial services to the creative community in the Twin Cities and beyond.  Beth is a CPA and also holds a Master's of Business Taxation from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota.  Ask anyone, and they'll tell you that Beth actually enjoys doing taxes.  She says it's the community of individuals and small businesses she gets to work with that make the tax work fun and interesting.  When Beth can tear herself away from preparing tax returns, she can be found volunteering as the Treasurer of the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition, at TwinTown Crossfit, riding her bike or discovering new restaurants.


Sally McGraw

Sally McGraw is a Minneapolis-based freelance writer, blogger, teacher, and communications professional. She has contributed writing to local newspapers, magazines, and websites throughout her entire professional life, and is an ongoing style features contributor to The Huffington Post and  Minneapolis Star Tribune. In addition to writing her popular daily style and body image blog Already Pretty, she has published a style guide titled Already Pretty: Learning to Love Your Body by Learning to Dress it Well which is available via Amazon. Sally offers personal shopping and style consultation services, both in person for clients living in the Twin Cities and via e-mail for clients worldwide. She firmly believes that style is a tool for self-love that should be accessible to everyone. Including you.

Brendan Kelley


Brendan Kelly (known in music circles as BK-One) is a DJ, music producer, and aspiring community organizer. He started his career as a touring jazz musician, then co-founded the Twin Cities’ first underground hip hop radio show, The Beatbox, in 1996.  BK met many friends and future collaborators through the show, but none more significant to his career than Brother Ali.  The two spent ten years working together and touring heavily, sharing stages across the world with De La Soul, Ghostface Killah, Rakim, Justin Timberlake, Ice-T, The GZA, Lupe Fiasco, El-P, Mos Def, Biz Markie, The RZA, Jurrasic 5, and many, many more...

In October of 2009, BK released his first solo album, "Rádio do Canibal", a collaboration with producer Benzilla. With music constructed entirely from records he collected on a trip to Brazil, BK's years of experience across different music traditions shine through on the album. In 2010, after co-producing an album for French singer Marianne Dissard and releasing a new EP, Brendan announced he would be retiring from the road. With a baby daughter on the way, he was excited to stay home, focus on his family, and shift his attention from DJing to producing. In 2012, Brendan began working for Twin Cities Community Radio, a coalition of non-profit organizations dedicated to launching community-run low-power FM radio stations in the Twin Cities’ two most diverse and densely populated neighborhoods, Phillips and Frogtown. By the end of the year, he was named head of the programming committee and a member of the governance committee. Around that same time, he and his wife were excited to welcome a baby boy into the family. With recent announcements that he will be lecturing and performing in McNally Smith Music College’s Sound Bite Concert Series on March 27th and releasing two albums shortly after (a new collaboration with Benzilla and the debut record by his band Bones & Beeker), it’s become increasingly clear that BK-One has no plans to take the word “retire” too seriously.

Andy Sturdevant

Andy Sturdevant is an artist, writer and arts administrator living in South Minneapolis. He has written about art, history and culture for a variety of Twin Cities-based publications and websites, including mnartists.org, Rain Taxi, Art Review and Preview!, Mpls. St. Paul, and heavytable.com. His essays have also appeared in publications of the Walker Art Center and the Jerome Foundation. Andy writes a weekly column on arts and visual culture in Minneapolis-St. Paul for MinnPost. His first book, Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow, will be published by Coffee House Press in 2013.

Simone Xavier

Brazilian native, Dr. Simone Oliveira began her career with a focus in Veterinary Medicine. In 1996 she received a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine from Federal University of Minas Gerais (UFMG) in Brazil and just two years later she completed a Masters in Pathology. After deciding to pursue a PhD in Infectious Diseases Dr. Oliveira came to the U.S. to study at the University of Minnesota. After receiving her PhD she joined the University of Minnesota faculty to teach Molecular Epidemiology and Infectious Diseases. During her six years at the University of Minnesota, Dr. Oliveira was awarded three patents in the fields of vaccine and diagnostic test development. A researcher and scientist at heart, Dr. Oliveira always had a passionate drive and innovative spirit and in 2008 she put that spirit to the test. Sigma Beauty was started by both Dr. Oliveira and husband Rene Xavier Filho, a Civil Engineer with a Master’s in Business Administration. Since its conception in 2008, Sigma Beauty has grown exponentially as both an international presence and a major competitor in the beauty industry. Today it sells to over 100 countries, has over 11,000 affiliates and over 500,000 followers in social media. Sigma Beauty is a leading player in the beauty industry by providing its customers with the highest quality makeup and brushes. In 2012 Sigma Beauty opened its first store at Mall of America in Bloomington, MN. Using research, data analysis and engineering, Dr. Oliveira and her husband have grown a successful online business, opened a brick and mortar store in the biggest mall in the country and have currently filed two patents for brush care devices that are exclusive to Sigma Beauty. Dr. Oliveira currently works as the Creative Director and uses her experiences every day. Her background and entrepreneurial spirit brought together two unlikely industries but Dr. Simone Oliveira has mastered the science of beauty.

Sam Seidel

Sam dreams of a world where there are no prisons; where all young people have the right to learn in environments that honor their brilliance; where arts are valued as an integral component of healthy communities.  As a writer, speaker, consultant, and board member, he works to be part of creating such a world.

Sam is the author of Hip Hop Genius: Remixing High School Education.  He consults and speaks internationally about hip-hop education, project-based learning, youth arts, and innovative solutions to challenges faced in schools, community organizations, and prisons.  Currently a Hip-Hop Education Center Scholar-in-Residence at Columbia University, Sam has taught in a variety of settings from first grade to community college, and directed programs for young people affected by incarceration.  As a consultant, Sam has worked for a number of national education organizations, including the Black Alliance for Educational Options, Big Picture Learning, and Jobs for the Future, as well as a spectrum of other clients on a diverse set of projects, ranging from redesigning a statewide juvenile justice system to working with the Rockefeller family to repeal the Rockefeller Drug Laws.  Sam was the Director of Partnerships for the Alternative High School Initiative, a national network of school developers funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  He now serves on the boards of AS220, the Criminal Justice Initiative, and Resource Generation.  Sam holds a degree in Education from Brown University.  He's a lifelong hip-hop head and a recovering sneaker addict. Websites: hiphopgenius.org & husslingtonpost.com & Twitter: @husslington

Kevin Beacham

Kevin Beacham has spent the last 30+ years exploring the diversity of Hip Hop Culture as a MC, Breakdancer, Producer, Artist Manager, Indie Promoter, DJ, Radio Show Host, Freelance Writer, Lecturer, Teacher, Scribble Jam Organizer/Host and a few other things in-between. He’s spent the last 11 years working with Rhymesayers Entertainment in a variety of positions, including now acting as the General Store Manager for the label’s retail outlet, Fifth Element. He’s also the teacher and organizer for the Rhymesayers College class at The Institute Of Production and Recording, where he teaches students the history of Hip Hop, as well as helps them understand how to maximize their musical skill sets and utilize the supporting tools needed to transform their dreams into a career. Though a wealth of work has been done and many accolades have been attained there are still many goals yet to be achieved, including working on the completion of his first book, Microphone Mathematics, which traces the roots of various lyric writing styles, techniques and topics in Hip Hop song-writing. Follow his progress: @KevinBeacham

Bao Phi

A two-time Minnesota Grand Slam champion and a National Poetry Slam finalist, Bao Phi has appeared on HBO Presents Russell Simmons Def Poetry, and a poem of his appeared in the 2006 Best American Poetry anthology. His poems and essays are widely published in numerous publications including Screaming Monkeys and Spoken Word Revolution Redux. He has also released several CDs of his poetry, such as the recently sold-out Refugeography to his newest CD, The Nguyens EP.

He has performed in venues and schools across the country, from the Nuyorican Poets Café to the University of California, Berkeley. He was featured in the award-winning documentary feature film The Listening Project as an American listener who traveled the world to talk to every day people about global issues and politics. He also returned to acting in 2008 with a feature role in Theatre Mu’s production of Q & A.

In addition to his creative work, he was nominated for a Facing Race Ambassador award in recognition for his community work, and has published essays in topics from Asians in hip hop to Asian representation in video games. He maintains a popular blog for theStar Tribune’s website, which he uses to bring issues and alternative perspectives on Asian American community to light. Currently he continues to perform across the country, remains active as an Asian American community organizer, and works at the Loft, where he creates and operates programs for artists and audiences of color. He was the Coordinating Chair of the National APIA Spoken Word Poetry Summit, 2011.

His series, Equilibrium, recently won the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits Anti-Racism Initiative Award.

His first collection of poetry, Sông I Sing, is published by Coffee House Press. In 2012, the Star Tribune’s inaugural Best of Minnesota issue named Bao Phi as Best Spoken Word Artist.

Karoline Wells

Karoline Wells is a scientist, herbalist, and founder of The Elixery Cosmetic House. An honors graduate of St. Catherine University, Karoline earned an Abigail Quigley McCarthy award in Collaborative Leadership for her work in social justice. She teaches basic chemistry to makeup artists as well as speaking to STEM students about careers in formulation.

Karoline's beliefs in social justice carry through to the mission of her company, and The Elixery is a frequent collaborator with charities and celebrities, including Dessa, CARE, United Way WINGS, and the Minnesota Rollergirls. The brand has been honored with Best of the Cities from Minnesota Monthly Magazine (2011) and Cosmetic Innovator of the Year for Grassroots Marketing (2013) from the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors association. Some of the long term goals of The Elixery are to create manufacturing jobs, promote all-gender equity, and to make the world a sparklier place.

Collin Sekajugo


Born in Masaka, Uganda, Collin Sekajugo, following artistic study tours to over 15 countries around the world, returned to Rwanda in early 2007 with a mission to “USE ART TO CHANGE LIVES.”

Over the last 5 years, these words have become more than a credo for the self-taught artist, who dedicated himself to founding and directing Ivuka Arts. An ambitious arts organization, Ivuka is committed to building community through the arts by providing promising young artists the skills, platform, and exposure through which they may blossom as Rwanda’s next generation of cultural entrepreneurs and ambassadors.

Toni Blackman


Toni Blackman is the first Hip Hop artist selected to work as a Cultural Ambassador with the US Department of State.  Her experiences as a diplomatic worker enables her to move through various communities (the arts, political circles, international gatherings, youth groups, academia, music industry, etc). An alumni of the Echoing Green Fellowships program, Soros Foundation’s OSI fellowship, creator of Freestyle Union Cipher Workshop and Rhyme Like A Girl, Toni is both highly respected as an artist and social entrepreneur.  This influence led Toni to a featured slot in DOVE soap’s 2012 Real Woman campaign promoting self-esteem for girls. Toni has performed, led workshops and spoken in 34 different countries including ASPEN Institute’s World Summit on Creativity in Oman, the World Social Forum in Barcelona and will speak at the African Hip Hop Conference in South Africa in November. She has shared stages with the likes of Erykah Badu, Mos Def, KRS One, Vernon Reid, Meshell, Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, GBS & Youssou Ndour. Toni’s next book, “Travels of a Lyrical Ambassdor”, will be released early 2014 along with new music.

Toni is available for speaking engagements, workshops and masterclasses. She also provides online communication and performance coaching via her TrueYou program.


Rebecca McDonald

Rebecca McDonald is a Transmedia Producer and the founder of a socially driven production company B FRESH Photography and Media. Focused on integrating photography, film, TV production, journalism and interactive media at the intersection of storytelling and digital technologies, her work aims to re-think, re-imagine and refresh the future of media. She is excited to be a cultural catalyst, activating unlikely collaborations and participating in immersive global dialogues.

Rebecca McDonald has seized the opportunity, coast-to-coast, to collaborate on cutting edge, experimental media projects with award-winning teams such as Rock the Vote and Village Voice Media. Her approach has always been to keep her ear to the streets, and identify and engage underrepresented voices. Sleepless nights of refining her technical vision have paved a path for countless aesthetically rich narratives and boundless creative foresight. In fact, she has built a nationally recognized media brand on the strength of her insanely astute superpower to synthesize tons of content into robust narratives.

Rebecca’s multimedia direction and production has been featured on national outlets such as PBS’ Independent Lens, MTV, CurrentTV, Free Speech TV, Pacifica Radio, and her reporting has appeared in the pages of ColorLines Magazine, The Nation, The SOURCE, VIBE Magazine, and locally-based City Pages. Rebecca graduated summa cum laude from St. Catherine University with a BA in Communications, Women’s Studies and Critical Studies of Race and Ethnicity.

Scott Legere

Over the past 15 years, Scott LeGere has played key roles in the ownership and operation of audio recording facilities, independent record labels, media schools, and commercial music production companies. During this time, he has engineered Grammy nominated albums, produced critically acclaimed independent projects, taught courses in economics and business ethics, and foolishly hauled both Yamaha CP-70s and Hammond B3s (concurrently) to gigs. In 2010 he co-founded NoWare Media and has helped produce Clio, Emmy, and Cannes Lion award winning commercial spots for Target, General Mills, PepsiCo, Bauer Hockey, BluDot, and others. Inspired to return to education, Scott currently teaches at Augsburg College and lectures on media trends and "the music business" (although he's not sure what that really means anymore).

Julia Nekessa Opoti

Julia Nekessa Opoti is the producer and host of Reflections of New Minnesotans aired on AM950. Her passion in media lies in telling the oft untold stories of communities of color. Her radio show, and writing, offer fresh perspectives that are many times lacking in mainstream media. She believes that media is a powerful tool in addressing social injustices. She started her media career as a writer then editor for Mshale, the African newspaper. She has also reported for the Twin Cities Daily Planet. Over the years, Opoti has developed an extensive network in most of Minnesota's immigrant communities.

She co-founded KenyaImagine, a collaborative online platform on progressive issues on Kenya and the greater East Africa. 

Opoti is also a research and writing consultant. She most recently worked with the Minneapolis Foundation on RESET, a public awareness campaign on closing Minnesota's opportunity gap in education.

Danielle Mkali

Danielle Mkali recently joined Nexus Community Partners as a Program Officer for South Minneapolis. She comes to Nexus from Main Street Project where she directed the media justice and community building efforts. She brings more than twelve years of community building, communications strategy, training and organizing experience to Nexus.

Prior to joining Main Street Project, Danielle worked as an Organizer with the Center for Democracy and Citizenship, where she helped lead youth organizing efforts, public school reform and was co-founding facilitator of S.P.E.A.C. an eight-month community organizing training with Hope Community. A proud resident of south Minneapolis, Danielle currently serves on the Headwaters Social Change Fund Committee, the Minneapolis Community Development Advisory and the KFAI Radio Program Committee. Danielle is an African American and African Studies scholar and remains constantly curious. When she is not at Nexus, she is with her husband, chasing, eating, gardening, playing or reading with their five children in South Minneapolis.

Mankwe Ndosi

Mankwe Ndosi has been working in Chicago and Minnesota for more than a decade as a musicmaker, organizer and culture weaver focused on expanding the vocabulary of singing. Her career spans and weaves a variety of musical and performance genres including creative music, acapella rhythm and harmonies, hip-hop, afro soul, dance, theatre, performance art, and sung prayer/ritual. Her studio and live work have included national and international dates with Sharon Bridgforth, Nicole Mitchell, Atmosphere, Brother Ali, Medium Zach, Laurie Carlos, Ananya Dance Theater the Give Get Sistet, and Douglas R. Ewart. She has received foundation support from the American Composer's Forum/McKnight, 3Arts Foundation, Jerome Foundation, and the Minnesota State Arts Board. Ms. Ndosi received her B.S. in Social Studies from Harvard/Radcliffe, and uses her social science background to inform her art. She seeks to infuse creative practice back into the worlds of healing, sustainable economic development, education, and new village community building.

(Photo Coming Soon)

Vickie Remoe


I am the poster child of the Sierra Leone returnee movement although I am no longer living there, I was one of the first amongst my peers to move back home. I am a blogger, photographer, a journalist, a videographer, a TV talk show host, a producer and most recently publisher of GoWoman Magazine. My two recent proudest moments are the day I held the first print issue of GoWoman Magazine, and being asked to speak on a panel on doing business in Africa at the 2012 Harvard Africa Business Conference.  I own and run Vickie Remoe and Company a market research and corporate communications firm with clients in Ghana and in Sierra Leone. I am passionate about telling stories about Africa that are a fair representation of the way people live. Its not about showing that things are good or bad, rather, I try to highlight the shadows to show our humanity. I hold a BA in Political Science from Haverford College in Pennsylvania and a Masters of Science in Journalism from Columbia Journalism School.

Nick Muhammad

Nick “Master Mind” Muhammad is a single father, self-proclaimed community steward, Hip Hop artist, and community visionary. Born in Indianola, Mississippi he moved to St. Paul, MN in 1986 as a child of a single mother. He grew up in the middle of the crack epidemic in the Rondo and Frog -Town communities of St. Paul. It was also here that he was introduced to the art form that would make a lasting impact on him as a child and an adult Hip-Hop. It was the culture of Hip Hop that helps to explain the conditions that surrounded him as a youth and also lead him to be more of an activist with his music. It has become his calling card as an activist and artist as founder and CEO of Titan Administration Records and Founder & Executive Director of Torch Light Minnesota. With a release of “The Cabinet” and the establishment of the “African American Economic Solutions Summit” he has brought a very unique blend of organizing, activism and art to the Twin City political and social landscape.

Abdirahman Kahin

Abdirahman Issa Kahin,
Owner and operator the Afro Deli and Catering 2011
Completed 2 degree in Media Production and Photography
Completed 3 Mini Masters program from Saint Thomas University.

Michael Anschel

Metro magazine named Michael Anschel “Reason #26” in their top 100 reasons to love the Twin cities. MN Business called him “One of the nation’s most outspoken green building advocates”. As Principal of Otogawa-Anschel Design+Build, he has led the firm to nearly 100 regional and national awards. As CEO of Verified Green, Inc. he writes, trains, and speaks for various publications around the nation on Green Building. As Co-Founder of WinterCAMP, he helps other entrepreneurs and market leaders find  balance in their lives while careening down snow covered mountains.

Born in MN, he attended Capital Normal University (Beijing), and the U of M. Studying Chinese and Ceramic Sculpture.  He successfully merged a passion for art, science, and business into three profitable enterprises. He straddles the building, design, and green worlds by engineering beauty and profitability into sustainability.

Sameh Wadi

At the young age of thirty, Sameh Wadi is already one of the most talked about chefs in the Twin Cities. The cuisine at Saffron Restaurant & Lounge earned him critical acclaim and national recognition. The son of Palestinian immigrants, Wadi began his culinary journey at a young age; his passion for cooking was prevalent from the start.  Wadi shadowed his mother in their home kitchen, that’s where he developed his palate and learned the fundamentals of cuisine.  To hone his skills, Wadi attended The Art Institute International Minnesota, where he graduated with an Associate of Applied Science Degree in Culinary Arts. Saffron opened in February 2007, and quickly became a destination known for its innovative, compelling cuisine. Featuring a menu of skillfully balanced flavors from around the Mediterranean with strong influences from North Africa and the Middle East, later that year it was named “Restaurant of The Year” by several local publications. In late 2009, Wadi launched his own line of gourmet spices; Spice Trail by Chef Sameh Wadi; which are handcrafted in small batches at his kitchen at Saffron. Wadi brought his distinct style of cuisine to the streets in 2010 with the debut of the insanely popular World Street Kitchen, a mobile food truck that features redefined global street food.  In late 2012, Wadi expanded his brand by opening World Street Kitchen as a brick and mortar restaurant in Minneapolis.

Ashanti Abdullah

Sales & Marketing Manager
Rhymesayers Entertainment

Valentina Parenti


Valentina Parenti is an Italian PR professional and journalist, active in the field since the early ‘90s. Born in Italy, she has been an AFS exchange student and graduated in 1991 from Grand Rapids High School in Minnesota. After getting her Italian diploma, she got her BA in Modern Foreign Languages in Torino and spent over a year in Germany where she attended University in Essen (Ruhr) and Frankfurt, while working as a translator. She then spent several months in South America where she refined her knowledge of the Spanish language. In 1998 she became a partner of Valentina Communication, a Torino based communication Agency, founded by her mother Giuliana Bertin in 1981. Here she takes charge of the international activities and works as head of secretariat of IAFEI, the International Association of Financial Executives Institutes, active in 26 countries. She became Valentina Communication’s CEO in 2007 and plays a significant role in developing the Agency’s project GammaDonna® http://www.gammadonna.it, the first National Entrepreneurs’ Forum on the steaming themes of Diversity and women & youngsters’ Empowerment, as a significant opportunity to increase GNP, as well as the quality of life overall, and not only in the workplace. The Forum has just successfully completed its 5th edition and has been granted, for the 3rd time in a row, a medal by the President of the Italian Republic as a recognition to its fine contents and noble objectives. Valentina is married, with two little children: Matilde, 3 years old, and Giacomo, 10 months old.