Speakers

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Featured speakers from top left to bottom right: Favianna Rodriguez, Carlton Turner, Marta Moreno-Vega, Thaxton Waters III, Jina Valentine, Chris Rabb, M. Simone Boyd, Heather Hart, Anasa Troutman, and Aaron Dworkin, Rasheedat Feguta, the Rev. Jennifer Bailey, Audra Almond-Harvey, and Joe “doughjoe” Love III

We are pleased to announce the following keynote speakers for the Visions of REAL In Practice symposium:

AUDRA ALMOND-HARVEY
Ms. Almond-Harvey is the executive director of abrasiveMedia,  a non-profit studio, venue, and home for artists who wish to grow, connect, and produce. The organization works specifically with people, programs, and ideas focused on investing in the arts in Nashville. Along with community collaborators, the team is about to unveil “Project Awake, a theatrical production performed live in local schools which helps students discover their inner superheroes while addressing challenging issues in their lives.

REVEREND JENNIFER BAILEY
Rev. Bailey is an ordained itinerant elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, public theologian, and emerging national leader in multi-faith movement for justice. She is the Founding Executive Director of Nashville’s Faith Matters Network, which equips faith leaders with tools needed to challenge structural inequality in their communities. She has nearly a decade of nonprofit experience combatting intergenerational poverty.

M. SIMONE BOYD
Ms. Boyd quit her job as an energy analyst to research what makes relationships thrive or die. She now spends her time creating experiences that help relationships thrive. She is a story-teller at heart who has written 57 freelance articles, a novel, 2 short films and more during the past 4 years.  Her work seeks solutions to the chaos which surrounds us by cultivating empathy across ethnic, economic and educational backgrounds.

AARON DWORKIN
Dr. Dworkin is MacArthur Fellow, a National Council on the Arts appointee, a tenured professor of arts leadership and entrepreneurship, founder of The Sphinx Organization (the leading national arts organization transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts), and a multi-media performing artist, author, social entrepreneur, and an artist-citizen.  He is a sought-after global thought leader and a passionate advocate for excellence in arts education, entrepreneurship and leadership, as well as inclusion in the performing arts.

RASHEEDAT FETUGA
Ms. Fetuga is the founder and CEO of Gideon’s Army, which is steadfast and firmly rooted in its mission to end the prison pipeline and create a more restorative Nashville.  The group has partnered with other community-based groups in pursuit of better accountability in policing and works to bring resources and innovative justice programs to marginalized communities that address crime and violence from a restorative and public health perspective. Working with more than 60 community members Gideon’s Army released “Driving While Black”a 200-plus-page report on racial profiling in Nashville traffic stops

HEATHER HART
Ms. Hart is an artist interested in creating site-specific liminal spaces for personal reclamation, in questioning dominant narratives and proposing alternatives to them. Along with Jina Valentine, she co-founded The Black Lunch Table (BLT), which aims to produce discursive sites, at literal and metaphorical lunch tables, wherein cultural producers of color engage in critical dialogue on topics directly affecting their communities. In its 10 year existence, the BLT has taken a variety of forms: Oral Archiving, the Wikipedia edit-a-thon, salons, video chats, and meet ups.

JOE “joedough” LOVE III
Mr. Love is an active participant in Norf Art Collective, a team of creative artists working to impact the North Nashville community as well as Metropolitan Nashville through the arts. Through mural projects, art exhibitions, and social events, collective members address social issues and unique and historical aspects of various neighborhoods. doughjoe is an advocate for the North Nashville community and a member of a team that organized the Jefferson Street Community Health Fair and the monthly Jefferson Street Art Crawl.  His recent art focuses on the human figure and addresses topics such as the prevalence of gun culture in America, the elevation of African American cultural heroes from history, and racism in the USA.

MARTA MORENO-VEGA
Dr. Moreno Vega is an advocate for cultural equity cultural studies and education. In 1976, she established the Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, inspired by a vision to create an international organization to promote and link communities of African descent. As the second director of El Museo del Barrio, one of the founders of the Association of Hispanic Arts, Network of Centers of Color and the Roundtable of Institutions of Color she has contributed to assuring that the contributions of African and African descendants are integral to the lives of civil society in the Americas.  Dr. Moreno Vega is presently working for sustainable environmental recovery with community based organizations in Loiza, Puerto Rico and is organizing meetings at which  testimonies from Puerto Ricans displaced by hurricanes Irma and Maria are being collected and documented.

CHRIS RABB
Mr. Rabb is a consultant, writer and speaker focusing on the confluence of race/identity, media/technology, civic engagement and entrepreneurship.   He coined the term “invisible capital” to represent unseen forces which dramatically impact business viability when hard work, a great idea and a good attitude simply aren’t enough. His book, Invisible Capital: How Unseen Forces Shape Entrepreneurial Opportunity, shows effective ways entrepreneurs and their advocates can build and grow sustainable enterprises amid these unseen forces created by society’s uneven playing field, illuminating the promise of commonwealth entrepreneurship.

ANASA TROUTMAN
Ms. Troutman is a writer, producer, and entrepreneur who has dedicated her work to the importance of culture and the power of love.  As CEO of Culture Shift Creative, she provides strategic and creative support to cultural, political and social justice spaces, designed and facilitated national learning exchanges, trained leadership teams to integrate cultural strategy as a community organizing tactic, curated artistic programming, shepherded artists and creative thinkers through the process of manifesting their own creative vision and was invited twice to the Obama administration to advise on cultural policy.

CARLTON TURNER
Mr. Turner is the executive director of Alternate ROOTS, a regional arts service organization which supports artists working at the intersection of art and social justice.  He is also the founder of the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, an organization working at the intersection of new media production and agriculture to support cultural, social, and economic development in rural Utica, Mississippi. Along with his brother, Maurice Turner, he co-founded M.U.G.A.B.E.E. (Men Under Guidance Acting Before Early Extinction), a Mississippi-based performance group blending jazz, hip-hop, spoken word poetry, and soul music with non-traditional storytelling.  He is a nationally recognized performing artist, organizer, policy shaper, lecturer, consultant, and facilitator.

FAVIANNA RODRIGUEZ
Ms. Rodriguez is a transnational interdisciplinary artist and cultural organizer. Her art and collaborative projects deal with migration, global politics, economic injustice, patriarchy, and interdependence.  She lectures globally on the power of art, cultural organizing and technology to inspire social change and is on a mission to create profound and lasting social change in the world.  Ms. Rodriguez partners with social movement groups around the world to create art that’s visionary, inspirational, radical and, most importantly, transformational.  She also directs CultureStrike, a national arts organization that engages artists, writers and performers in migrant rights. and is the co-founder of Presente.org, a national online organizing network dedicated to the political empowerment of Latino communities.

JINA VALENTINE
Jina Valentine is an artist whose interdisciplinary practice is informed by the intuitive strategies of American folk artists and traditional craft techniques while interweaving histories latent within found texts, objects, narratives, and spaces. Along with Heather Hart, she co-founded The Black Lunch Table (BLT), an ongoing collaboration which intends to fill holes in the documentation of contemporary art history. They aim to produce discursive sites, at literal and metaphorical lunch tables, wherein cultural producers of color engage in critical dialogue on topics directly affecting our communities. Together, they endeavor to create spaces, online and off, mirroring the activity and creativity present in sites where Blackness and Art are performed.

THAXTON WATERS III
Mr. Waters is a Tennessee native working and living in the South whose work focuses on the rise, decline, and reinvestment of historic communities surrounding Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU). Channeling his love for history and art historical reference, Waters works primarily with a collage of emblematic connections, chronological moments and narrative ‘’stills’ to capture a part of the human experience that allows the viewer to participate in the ‘understanding’ of the communities in their own backyard. He is is founder and creative director of Art History Class Lifestyle Lounge & Gallery which exhibits emerging student artist from the nearby HBCU’s whiles creating educational programming for under-served communities in the Nashville area.