Adja Gildersleve is a videographer and educator based in Minneapolis. 3 years ago, Adja co-founded Black Lives Matter Minneapolis and now she is the Co-director of Free Truth-- a media company using art as a tool for liberation. Adja is a ride or die when it comes to fighting oppression in any form and empowering youth and adults to access tools to build and maintain agency and power. Her dream is to work with Issa Rae and Ava Duvernay on a sci-fi film where two Black women travel back in time to save the world from the zombie apocalypse aka colonization. Adja believes that media is a powerful tool to imagine, internalize, and empower.
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.
Conscious is a multi-disciplinary artist, entrepreneur and modern day philosopher. Lending voice to an unbridled New York morning show as co-host of "TK in The AM" and curator of its music. One of the founders of independent radio station Bondfire Radio, part of a career of nearly two decades devoted to creating spaces for artists, public speakers and motivated thinkers as well as building progressive communities that enrich their many members. "Love, Peace & Equanimity." are three words he lives by that are apparent in all of the work that he's involved with.
Corinne Shor (Actor / Playwright) - is a Twin Cities native now living and creating in Los Angeles, California. Her one-woman play I am Sophiejust closed after an acclaimed run at The Pico Playhouse in LA. The production was fully funded through a crowdfunding campaign hosted on Seed & Spark, a crowdfunding & streaming platform focused on diverse storytelling. Corinne also acts in Films, Television, Commercials and Voice Over. Favorite credits include her recurring role as the mysterious Matron on The Event (NBC) playing opposite Hal Holbrook & Jason Ritter and narrating several YA audiobooks: Scars of Youth and The Fairy King. Her training includes: The Theatre School Jacques Lecoq in Paris, The Gaiety School of Acting in Dublin, and improvisation with LA's Upright Citizens Brigade. As a writer, Corinne uses a great deal of improvisation in the early part of her process to allow her characters to find their own way in story. | www.corinneshor.com | AEA, SAG-AFTRA
Daniel Gilbert Bwette
Bwette (Gilbert) Daniel is a youth community leader in the team of Bavubuka Foundation. He is journalist, photojournalist, community activist and social entrepreneur whose work has been done all over local youth communities & celebrated internationally in youth communities.
His photography and journalism work has been exhibited internationally at MoCADA Museum, New York, International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), Youth Journalism International, International Youth council, Bayimba publications, DoaDoa, Young African Visionaries magazine among other great platforms. Currently, he is working on the HipHop photography book of the Ugandan HipHop community as they commemorate the 10th anniversary this year.
Dario is the owner of Youth Lens 360, a company that provides superior visual communication and product marketing and branding services through the lens of youth ages 14-24. The overall goal of the company is to provide businesses, schools, governmental agencies, policy makers and secondary institutions with marketing, branding, storyboarding, product promotion, product focus groups through the lens and creative genius of today’s youth.
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.
Erica is a six time Emmy-award winning Creative "Preditor" (Producer/Shooter/Director/Writer/Editor), speaker, and video coach. After spending 9 years in the creative department at WCCO-TV, she was brought on board at BringMeTheNews.com at the Director of Digital where she helped quadruple website traffic in just 10 months with a re-vamped social strategy. Now...her company, Puke Rainbows (www.pukerainbows.com) specializes in video content, strategy, consulting, and also in leading workshops for businesses looking to improve their video game. She also is a video coach, and helps people get over their fears of being on camera, and all things associated with video. Erica has had the chance to work with folks like Ellen DeGeneres, Lizz Winstead (Creator of the Daily Show) and Prince, loves karaoke, sarcasm, and is an expert at losing her keys. In her spare time she concentrates efforts on raising funds for the non-profit @charitywater through social media. To date, she has raised $30,000 for water wells in Africa. Erica is also the 2014, 2015, 2016 Top Twitter Personality in Minneapolis. Puke Rainbows clients include anyone from startups to Fortune 500 companies. On her roster are companies such as: Target, Mayo Clinic, Science Museum of Minnesota, Sherwin Williams, Media Junction, Fox, as well as many Grammy and Emmy winning Musicians.
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 friends, family, and 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.
John Gebretatose rose from the ranks of a HUGE Improv Theater student, to a HUGE Improv instructor and now also the Director of Diversity and Inclusion. He trained and worked at Brave New Workshop and has been performing stand-up comedy in the Twin Cities for over nine years. John is a founding member of one of Blackout. He is the co-creator of the Black and Funny Improv Festival. John travels all over the world performing improv and teaching improv workshops.
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.
Krysta "K.Raydio" Rayford
Krysta "K.Raydio" Rayford is a musician, producer and educator based in Minneapolis, MN. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Krysta is an accomplished singer/songwriter who incorporates themes surrounding social justice into her art and her workshops. Her music has been featured on BBC Radio 1 and Okayplayer. Krysta was a featured performing artist at Soundset Music Festival in 2014. She has taught and led workshops in Minneapolis Public Schools, Kulture Club Collaborative, Twin Cities Mobile Jazz, Avanti Center for Girls, and many other Twin Cities-based schools and organizations. Krysta is currently one of the co-teachers for an Intro to Ableton Series Class with Beats By Girlz, an organization that empowers women in sound production. The class is one of the only Ableton courses geared towards women and non-binary adults in the United States. She is also preparing to release her new album ...And The World Weeps with producer Shrimpnose in late 2018.
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.
Luis Patiño is a 32-year-old Colombian immigrant who considers himself fully Midwestern. Patiño opened a food truck called Café Racer in 2012 serving food inspired by his Colombian roots. Café Racer Kitchen was opened in 2015 in the Seward Neighborhood. He’s Minnesotan to the core, but the cafe allows him to channel his heritage by way of Colombian comfort foods: arepas, plantains, hot dogs, pulled meats. Luis credits his mother, grandmothers, and aunts for the inspiration behind his dishes. Many of those popular flavors and staples wind up on the plate at his monthly free lunch. Luis strives to create a culture of acceptance and a safe space for his employees, patrons, and all who come to Café Racer Kitchen.
Michelle Yee is an award-winning Canadian artist, photographer, writer, and public speaker. She is a co-founding member of SOFIA (sofiasofia.org), an all-women’s art photography collective that exhibits the work of women photographers as well as runs a mentorship program for emerging women photographers. Michelle is currently working on her first book and she lives in both San Francisco and New York City. She’s online at michelleyee.com and on Instagram as @_michelleyee.
Safy-Hallan Farah is a writer and editor from Minnesota. Her work can be read in the New York Times, Elle and Vice, among other publications.
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay
Saymoukda Duangphouxay Vongsay is a Lao American poet and playwright. She was born in a refugee camp in Nongkhai, Thailand and immigrated to Minnesota in 1984. Because of her unique background, her work is focused on creating tools and spaces for the amplification of refugee voices through poetry, theater, and experimental cultural production. Her plays have been presented by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, Theater Mu, Consortium of Asian American Theater Artists, and Theater Unbound. She's an Aspen Ideas Bush Foundation scholar, a Playwrights Center Many Voices fellow in playwriting, a Loft Literary Center Spoken Word Immersion fellow, a Theater Mu New Performance fellow, a Twin Cities Media Alliance fellow, among others. She's received creative grants from the Jerome Foundation, Bush Foundation, Joyce Foundation, Knight Foundation, Forecast Public Art, Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, and the MN State Arts Board. She holds a Master in Liberal Studies degree. Her picture book, When Everything is Everything (Full Circle Publishing, $18.95) is a love note to the Lao Diaspora. @REFUGENIUS
Being known for not only her professionalism, also how to read any crowd. Shannon Blowtorch has been creating musical experiences for the better part of the last decade. From being in GRRRL PRTY, to spinning for Salt n Pepa; she has toured the world creating sounds! For now she's settled in the Twin Cities; giving Minnesotans a reason to jam in their car every Saturday night, listening to the Current. And can be seen multiple times a week; from the hottest clubs to private events.
Sherwood Herndon is an entrepreneur and early stage investor/ executive board member of an Illinois software company, book publisher, music recording label and NFL sports agency.
His business endeavors caught the attention of Wu Tang Clan’s founder, The RZA, that led to him becoming a partner in the management company, in addition to the formation of Wu-Tang Records, Razor Sharp Records and Protect-Ya- Neck Productions.
He is currently creating entertainment partnerships that include, but not limited to, production of the CBS franchise series “Caribbean Next Top Model," and a slate of featured film projects currently in development under Hennepin Pictures and Blue Collar Productions.
In addition to entertainment endeavors, he is recognized as the catalyst behind the planned professional sports arena project in Virginia Beach, VA., and developing the five diamond "Port Virginia Hotel & Spa" ( a Curio Collection By Hilton Worldwide).
Spencer Wirth-Davis, aka Big Cats, is a producer, composer, and podcaster from Minneapolis.
As a producer, he has worked with Toki Wright, Kyle "Guante" Tran Myhre, Sage Francis, P.O.S, BJ The Chicago Kid, Mac Miller, Lizzo, Chastity Brown, Eric Mayson, Chance York, and many others. He has also released three solo albums and performed throughout the country.
As a composer, he has written music for Nike, CNN, Johnson & Johnson, Call of Duty, The Golden State Warriors, PBS, The Bush Foundation, and many others.
He is also the co-creator and co-host of The What If? Podcast, which humorously explores unexplained and mysterious topics. They've released more than 100 episodes and the show has been downloaded more than 500,000 times.
"The preeminent beatmaker in the Twin Cities." - The Current
"Big Cats takes the Best Producer crown in a city brimming with talent... expanding his own palette and adapting his signature style with each new full-length work he creates." - City Pages
"Minneapolis is home to a grip of great producers, and Big Cats is quickly rising as the best of them all." - Okayplayer
Tana Hargest is passionate about making art and telling stories that propel society forward. From high-profile museums to community-based artists, Hargest has delivered a wide range of digital, arts, and education programs for creative and learning communities in New York, Boston, and Providence. After years working on the East Coast, Hargest is back in her hometown of Minneapolis, creating art and action through three intersecting ways of working — interdisciplinary art making that focuses on issues of power, race, and class; audience and civic engagement through collective art actions; and work focused on effecting systemic change within the arts ecosystem. Hargest is also a member of the gold medal winning Subversive Sirens, a Minnesota-based synchronized swim team committed to Black liberation, equity in swimming, body positivity in athleticism, and queer visibility.
Tom Loftus wears a lot of hats in the creative e world. In 1999, he founded and continues to run Modern Radio Record Label. 6 years ago he co-founded a mini golf design and consultation business called A Couple of Putts. By day he is on staff at the MN Music Coalition, a statewide network for independent musicians who care about creating and sustaining a vibrant popular music community, and works with Pollen Midwest on managing projects and events. Tom currently is on the organizer team for Creative Mornings MSP and the Minneapolis Arts Commission.
Zeinab Schwen is a Muslim-American born to a Palestinian father and a Lebanese Mother in Egypt where she lived for 22 years before moving to the United States. She is a Pharmacologist and for the past 31 years has successfully owned a Pharmaceutical Consulting Company in Cincinnati. She currently serves on the board of the YWCA and The Women’s Fund of The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Zeinab is also an Initiative Leader at the Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati and a member of the Tours and Talks program at the center. Her community involvement includes founding CAIR-Cincinnati and serving as State Board President of CAIR-OH. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is a civil rights organization for American-Muslims. Zeinab spends countless hours fighting bias through numerous educational programs. She frequently lectures on Islam, Arab Women, and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to schools, colleges, religious institutions, clubs, and businesses. In addition, Zeinab has held many key positions in cultural, religious, political, and peace organizations.- such as Muslim Mothers against Violence, and Bridges of Faith.
In 2012, Zeinab was Awarded the Athena Award for her courage in standing up for human rights and her service to the community. In 2017 Zeinab was chosen together with nine other women in Cincinnati to be Woman of the Year by the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Greater Cincinnati Foundation.
Zeinab’s artisitic history includes composing Palestinian poetry and performing her songs in the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Her songs have been professionally recorded on documentary films, a vinyl 45-record, and several cassettes and CDs in the 70s and 80s. After starting her family she dedicated her time to raising her three children, her professional career, and volunteerism. In the past 6 years, Zeinab started expressing herself through her acrylic paintings.