Amy Quale (she/her) is a co-founder of Wise Ink Creative Publishing. She began her career in book publishing in editing and production more than a decade ago. She is the coauthor of Social Media Secrets for Authors and is currently working on a children's book about conservation and forest foraging. Amy has a master’s degree in English, for which she wrote her thesis on Fifty Shades of Grey and the paradox of female sexual empowerment with female oppression as it lives in the romance genre and in life in general (side note: her life only mirrors Anastasia Steele's in that she's a real-life English major who runs her own publishing house). She lives in the Twin Cities with her family. Learn more about Amy and Wise Ink at wiseink.com.
Bianca "BLovely" Rhodes
Bianca A. Rhodes is an Emmy-Award winning Media Professional. Currently, Rhodes is the Production & Sponsorship Coordinator for the Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN) and Associate Producer for WCCO's Emmy-Nominated, urban-affairs show, Urban Perspectives. She is also the proud owner of BLovely Productions and LeMae Photography. The mission of BLovely Productions and LeMae Photography is to create efficient and effective videos and pictures of high quality for all walksoflife. In her spare time, she works with Youth who are interested in creating documentaries and music videos. Rhodes’ motivation, confidence, and expertise has led her to new heights and she believes that her creativity will motivate others to change the world!
Butch Roy loves improv. It all started 21 years ago at a show at the legendary Brave New Workshop, which turned into studying improv at the Brave New Institute, which later led to becoming the Technical Director at the Brave New Workshop, a position he proudly held for eight years. Somewhere in there he also earned his B.F.A. from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, got married, had some kids.
In 2002, Butch founded Improv A Go-Go, a weekly, all improvised showcase of some of the best local and national improvisers. Now in its sixteenth year, this Sunday night show still manages to sell out on a regular basis. In 2006, Butch started the Twin Cities Improv Festival (TCIF), a five-day event featuring shows and workshops. Held each June, TCIF has grown every year, attracting some of the most well-respected and talented improvisors on the continent.
Davis Senseman founded Davis Law Office in 2010 after nearly a decade of practicing in the corporate department of a larger law firm. Armed with this experience and knowledge of legal solutions used by large entities, Davis set out to bring the same level of service to smaller organizations and individuals, with a three-fold mission: provide top-notch legal work, charge fair prices for it, and never stop evolving to meet the changing needs of clients. Over eight years and more than 1,000 clients later, Davis proudly serves large and small companies, and continually expands services for individuals and families. Davis graduated cum laude from Bucknell University with degrees in Sociology and English, and magna cum laude from Mitchell | Hamline School of Law. Davis has been selected as a Minnesota Rising Star lawyer three years and teaches the Business Law Clinic at Mitchell | Hamline School of Law. When not handling legal matters for clients & students, Davis can be found spending time with family, testifying regarding taxation & small business matters in St. Paul and Washington, D.C. and hustling on the campaign trail for progressive candidates and organizations like Out Front around the state.
Greg Mann, Fox Tax
Greg is an accountant for the world-famous Fox Tax team. He's been preparing taxes since 2010 and is a self-proclaimed tax nerd that enjoys working closely with his artist friends, family, and creative community to ensure they get the most tax benefits possible. Greg has volunteered with Prepare & Prosper, working with low income families and individuals, and sat on the board for the Art Shanty Projects, helping to enrich artist driven community in unregulated public spaces. Greg lives in Minneapolis, where he was born and raised, and will probably talk about biking and beers for longer than appropriate, if allowed to do so.
Houston White Jr. is the owner of H. White Men’s Room in North Minneapolis, and the creator of the Black Excellence Movement and the HWMR lifestyle brand.
Houston’s entrepreneurial career started at the age of 12 when he received his first pair of clippers. He attended Moler Barber College and has been a professional barber for over 20 years. Houston was one of the co-founders of the MassAppeal Barbershop. Always the innovator, in 2004, Houston laid the foundation for the successful “H. White Custom Homes”, remodeling over 25 homes and building 20 new homes in Minnesota.
In 2008, Houston opened H. White Men’s Room and created his own line of HWMR grooming products. The product line has been expanded to include the HWMR lifestyle brand, whose mantra is Excellence, more specifically, Black Excellence.
With mass media shedding a negative light on black men, Houston felt compelled to show a true representation of black men in our community. From there, the Black Excellence movement was born. The idea is to spark a renaissance uniting the artist and the entrepreneurs and take control of the economics, politics, and the media within our own community.
Houston White has expanded his title into social entrepreneurship and is using the platform of Black Excellence to engage the community. He mentors young men giving them an up close look at the day-to-day interactions amongst gentlemen and the behind the scenes grind that goes into running a business.
Houston’s model for success is “Dream, plan, execute”.
J. Anthony Allen
J. Anthony Allen is a creator of things. Sometimes they’re related to music, but not always. He uses his background as a composer to inform whatever he sets his mind to creating, whether it’s music for an orchestra, a business, an app, a new electronic instrument, or ideas for his next composition (ask him about sailing the Arctic in nonstop sunlight).
He founded Slam Academy in Minneapolis because he wanted to make electronic music education accessible and affordable. To a similar end, he wrote a book called Music Theory for Electronic Music Producers. Allen is all about connecting the dots, and using one area of his expertise to inform another.
Which is why he’s a: composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, sound designer, DJ, remix artist, multimedia artist, performer, inventor, Ableton Live Certified Trainer, and entrepreneur. If he’s not working solo to create something, he’s collaborating.
He is Assistant Professor of Music, Media, and Management at Augsburg University.
Jay Smooth is a veteran hip-hop DJ, cultural commentator and videoblogger at illdoctrine.com. Jay started his career at WBAI radio, where in 1991 he founded New York’s longest running hip-hop radio show, the Underground Railroad. The Railroad helped break artists including the Wu Tang Clan, Naughty by Nature, Jean Grae and Natural Elements, and was recently cited by Chuck D as home of “the best hip-hop conversations.” Jay founded his website hiphopmusic.com in 1997 and was pivotal in launching the hip-hop blog scene. Since 2007, Jay is best known for his social commentary in the Illdoctrine.com video series. Jay’s mix of humor and incisive analysis has garnered millions of views and been featured by NPR, CNN and MSNBC, where Rachel Maddow hailed him as a “genius.” Ill Doctrine videos including “How to Tell Someone They Sound Racist” have become part of the curriculum in many schools and universities, and Jay’s TEDx talk, “How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Talking About Race” among the most widely viewed on the TEDx website. He has also hosted a lecture series on media literacy on the YouTube Crash Course channel.
Jill Bernard (she/her) has been performing with ComedySportz-Twin Cities since 1993, and is a founding member of HUGE Theater in Minneapolis. Her one-woman improv piece, Drum Machine, has been featured in over forty improv festivals. She has taught and performed improv in Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and in over forty of the United States; and also on an episode of MTV “Made.”
Photo credit: Adam Iverson
Joe Horton is an emcee, vocalist, media artist, and cofounder of FIX music and arts collective. He is a 2019 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow and an artist in residence at Mia.
Keisha TK Dutes
Keisha "TK" Dutes is an independent audio producer and co-host of TK in The AM, live streaming morning show on Bondfire Radio. With experience spanning terrestrial radio, online, podcast and audio drama, her life is in audio is all encompassing. Currently, TK produces Buzzfeed's "Thirst Aid Kit"; "Cocktails & Confidence" the official podcast of The Curvy Con; and Brooklyn Deep's "Third Rail" podcast. She also spreads the gospel of radio and podcasting through workshops and mentorship, and was recently listed on Current.org's Black Talents in Public Media You Should Know.
Laura Zabel the Executive Director for Springboard for the Arts, an economic and community development agency based in Minnesota. Springboard provides programs that help artists make a living and a life; and programs that help communities tap into the resource that artists provide. Laura is a frequent speaker on arts and community development at convenings such as the Aspen Ideas Festival, Urban Land Institute and Americans for the Arts. She was a 2014 Bush Foundation Fellow, was named one of the 50 most influential people in the U.S. Nonprofit Arts, and received the 2012 Visionary Leader award from the MN Council of Nonprofits.
Leslie Barlow’s paintings share stories through portraiture that explore the politics of representation, identity, otherness, and racial constructs. Barlow is currently a 2019 McKnight Visual Artist fellow and a 2019 20/20 Springboard Artist fellow. Her work has been exhibited both locally and nationally, and been featured in Vice, Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, and Shades of Noir (UK). She has received two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants, and has been commissioned for several large site-specific projects including work for the Hennepin County Medical Center and the TCO Performance Center Vikings facility. Barlow teaches at the University of Minnesota, Juxtaposition Arts, and collaborates with Public Functionary to lead the new emerging artist project Studio 400. Barlow is also an active member on the leadership team of MidWest Mixed, an organization that works to expand our understanding of race and identity through educational outreach, arts engagement, and a biennial conference.
Levi Weinhagen is a writer, producer, performer, podcaster, trainer and educator. He co-founded the all-ages theater company Comedy Suitcase and has created multiple original shows that were in the top 10 of ticket sales at the Minnesota Fringe Festival. In 2012, Levi was named an Artist of the Year by City Pages. He was the first ever Artist in Residence for the Walker Art Center’s Education and Family programs department in 2014-2015. He is a teaching artist with COMPAS. Levi produces and hosts a podcast called ‘Not About You’ that is a serious yet entertaining look at social justice issues in America. He is a graduate of HOPE Community’s Sustainable Progress Through Engaging Active Citizens (SPEAC) organizer training program. Levi is a qualified administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). He completed the 2017 Center for Performance and Civic Practice Summer Institute.
Maurice Blanks is Co-Founder and COO of Blu Dot, the Minneapolis-based modern home furnishings company. When Maurice and his partners started Blu Dot in 1997, they vowed to design the company itself as carefully as they designed their products. They applied the spirit and the concepts that informed their product design process -- simplicity, efficiency, humility, collaboration -- to all parts of the business, from the brand to the supply chain to the company culture.
Prior to Blu Dot, Maurice practiced architecture in Chicago, most recently in his own firm, Maurice Blanks Architects. He has an MArch from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a BA from Williams College. Maurice serves on the Board of Trustees of the Minneapolis Institute of Art, on the Board of Arc Minnesota and on the Advisory Board of The College of Design at the University of Minnesota.
May Lee-Yang is a writer, performance artist, and teacher. Her theater-based works include The Korean Drama Addict’s Guide to Losing Your Virginity, Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman, Ten Reasons Why I’d Be a Bad Porn Star, and others. She is a former Playwright Center McKnight Fellow, and her work has been supported by the Jerome Foundation, the National Performance Network, the Bush Leadership Fellowship, the MN State Arts Board, the Loft Literary Center, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. In 2016, she received an Ordway Sally Award for Arts Access. She is a founding member of F.A.W.K. (Funny Asian Women Kollective), a group that uses comedy to combat the invisibility and dehumanization of Asian women’s stories.
Nancy Lyons is a CEO, entrepreneur, and all around good human who speaks about the intersection of leadership, entrepreneurialism, technology, and people. Through her candid writing and speaking, she explores the many facets of life at work and champions human-centered approaches to business. Seeing work and the culture of work as the next economic frontier, she pushes the progressive boundaries of how we think about professional and personal lives.
Nancy has been locally and nationally recognized for her role as owner and CEO of Clockwork. She is co-author of “Interactive Project Management: Pixels, People, and Process” (New Riders, 2012) and author of the upcoming book, “How to Win at Business by Being Nice to Humans.”
Sarah Von Bargen
Sarah Von Bargen is a writer and educator who helps people spend their time, money, and energy on purpose.
Over the past 20 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, lectured nationally at conferences and events, and foolishly hauled both Yamaha CP-70s and Hammond B3s (concurrently) to gigs.
Most recently, Scott has concentrated much of his efforts into higher education, teaching at a variety of Minnesota colleges and universities focusing on modern business trends, entrepreneurship, and creative place-making. Now an Assistant Professor of Music Industry at Minnesota State Mankato, Scott tries desperately to translate the above “career” into a model for aspiring musicians and industry professionals. Always an optimist, he believes there are indeed growing career opportunities for young people interested in the arts. However, he cautions that the skills of the future might involve helping write jingle lyrics that rhyme with “broccoli” for a grocery chain.
Susan Shehata, also known as The Space Guru™, is a nationally known Educator, Guide and Performing Artist, who specializes in helping people clear their hidden obstacles. She does that through Space Work, Holistic Wellness Services and through Music & Theatre. Susan has been a professional performer for twenty years and a certified wellness professional, focusing on transformational healing and space work, for over fifteen years.
Susan is also a writer, whose writing has appeared in The Huffington Post and Elephant Journal and whose column, The Space Guru™, has appeared in the Edge Magazine. As a musician and performer, Susan focuses on musical theatre and kirtan (yogic chant music) and released her first kirtan album with her band, Sitara & Kalyani with Pavan-Kumar. She is also the creator of The Fabulous Paper Purge, a free online program that was featured in the Pioneer Press, on Fox News and KARE11, and has supported over 1200 participants.
Susan shares her wisdom, through speaking events and workshops on the topics of Core Beliefs and Conscious Space, online and in various cities, across the country. Her life’s mission is to use her voice as a performer, writer, healer and mentor to reduce conflict and suffering. www.SusanShehata.com
Ta–coumba is a Twin Cities artist, arts administrator, educator and community activist who focuses on public art and collaborative projects. His “rhythm paintings” on paper and canvas are loose and lively. He has participated in the creation of over 300 murals and public art sculptures with themes ranging from local history to the artist's own style of rhythmic pattern and spirit writing. The artist has served on the boards of the Minneapolis Arts Commission, the African American Cultural Arts Center, Forecast Public Arts, and the St. Paul Art Collective and has acted as an advisor on the arts for both the City of St. Paul and the City of Minneapolis. He has been the recipient of awards including a Pollock–Krasner Foundation Fellowship and a Bush Foundation Visual Arts Fellowship. His painting entitled, “Forever Saint Paul” was awarded the Guinness Book World Record for the most Lite-Brite pegs ever used (596,000+) to create a painting. This piece is permanently located in the Saint Paul Union Depot. His works can be found in public and private collections including those of the Walker Art Center, The McKnight Foundation, General Mills, Herbie Hancock, Taj Mahal, and Maya Angelou.
Founder and Executive Director of TruArtSpeaks, Tish Jones is a poet, performer, educator and organizer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. She has performed at CBGB in New York, Kaplan Theater, The Walker Art Center, Intermedia Arts, The Cedar Cultural Center and more. Her work can be found in the Minnesota Humanities Center’s anthology entitled, Blues Vision: African American Writing from Minnesota (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2015), the 2011 and 2013 Saint Paul Almanac, and the Loft Literary Center’s Nation of Immigrants audio CD.
One of Springboard for the Arts’ 20/20 Artist Fellows and graduate fellow of the inaugural Intercultural Leadership Institute, Jones has always had a passion for bridging arts and culture, civic engagement and youth development. Former Director of the Brave New Voices international youth poetry slam festival, her work explores the ways in which art can function as a tool for social transformation, liberation and education. For more on her personal praxis in this arena, see Jones’ TEDxMinneapolis Talk on Spoken Word as a Radical Practice of Freedom.