Cyrus Brown is fascinated by the unending potential and passion of humans. He studied physics and mathematics, coached collegiate rowing, and then earned his Masters in Teaching from University of Puget Sound. For the past two years he was part of a school turnaround under a federal grant at a local Tacoma middle school. He is now the Mathematics Department Head at Tacoma School of the Arts and is a member of the Tacoma District Mathematics Instructional Leadership Team. He loves trail running and mountaineering in the Olympic and Cascade Mountains. Cyrus draws inspiration for teaching from reading about ultramarathon runners and mountaineers. He lives in Tacoma, WA with his wife, son, and dog.
Lyle Quasim arrived in the Pacific Northwest in 1966 from Chicago. He made Puyallup, Washington, his home in 1979 where he lives with Shelagh Taylor. They were married in Vancouver, Canada, in 1972. He received his undergraduate degree from University of Puget Sound and Master’s Degree from Pacific Lutheran University. Lyle has served the state of Washington as Director of Mental Health and Secretary of the Department of Social and Health Services. He has been a cabinet officer for two governors. He retired from state service in 2000 after a thirty-four year career. Over the past thirteen years he has served Pierce County Washington as the Chief of Staff for the County Executive, the President of Bates Technical College and advisor to the Chancellor of the University of Washington Tacoma.
Lyle Quasim had dedicated his life to the struggle for social, economic and racial justice. His motto for life is "Dare to struggle, dare to win". He in the Co-Chairperson of the Tacoma Pierce County Black Collective, Chairperson of the Black Education Strategies Roundtable, a member of the Executive Committee of the NAACP and a Trustee of the University of Puget Sound University. He has received local, state and national honors.
As a speaker and trainer Melannie Cunningham has presented on topics surrounding diversity and inclusion, customer service, and intercultural communications for companies such as State Farm Insurance, Key Bank, Washington State Department of Social and Health Services, and more. Cunningham holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Washington State University, a certification in Broadcast Production Technologies from Bates Technical College, and recently received a Masters of Business Administration from Pacific Lutheran University. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. where she serves as Co-chair of the local Social Action Committee and member of the regional International Awareness and Involvement Committee. Further she serves as an advisory board member to ClearChannel Radio Seattle and also Women of Vision, an NGO focused on improving the lives of women and children globally.
Lisa Hallett is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Wear Blue: Run to Remember. On August 25, 2009 Lisa’s husband, CPT John Hallett, was killed when his Stryker was attacked with an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan. Surviving the loss of her husband, best friend, and father of her three young children, Lisa turned to running. Working with fellow military spouse and runner, Erin O'Connor, Lisa and Erin formed Wear Blue: Run to Remember, a running community which honors the Service and Sacrifice of the American military. Lisa has an MEdT from the University of Hawaii and a BA in English Literature from University of California, Santa Barbara.
Fr. Steve Lantry, S.J., is originally from Spokane, the second of five children. He served in the US Army from 1966-1069, with overseas tours in Asmara, Eritrea and Bien Hoa, Vietnam. He has worked at various jobs including as a regional truck driver. He is member of the Society of Jesus---aka, the Jesuits, the same religious order as the current Pope, Francis. He entered the Jesuits in 1972 and was ordained a priest in Seattle in 1981. He did his college degree in English literature at Gonzaga University, completed an MDiv degree at the Jesuit School in Berkeley in 1985, and an MFT degree at Seattle Pacific University in 1996. As a Jesuit, he has worked as a high school English teacher, a university student counselor, and as the assistant novice director at the former Jesuit Novitiate in Portland, OR. His favorite exercise is bicycle riding with other Tacoma Wheelmen Bicycle Club members. His favorite pastimes include listening to jazz and reading poetry, particularly the great mystical poets of East & West. He has been the Pastor at St. Leo Parish in the Hilltop Neighborhood since 2003.
Jesse Smith is a Washington-born chef that has worked in many of Seattle's favorite restaurants. He brings a northwest flare to this quirky and entertaining cooking show Deep Prep, where he cooks classic and also innovative food. Never taking himself too seriously, his show will be sure to keep you captivated while learning step-by-step instructions on how to cook dishes that will inspire you in the kitchen and keep your dinner guests satisfied!
Rainbow Fletcher is the Choreographer and a founding member of the Can Can Castaways. She is also the co-artistic director of The Offshore Project. After earning her BFA in Dance from Cornish College of the Arts, Fletcher danced for Donald Byrd in Spectrum Dance Theater. She also studied Taekwondo and received her Black Belt Certification prior to attending college. Her choreography for The Offshore Project, “Karyotype 46/XY” and “The Buffoon,” were both presented in Northwest New Works Festival at On The Boards. “The Buffoon” was a finalist in The A.W.A.R.D. Show! 2011. Fletcher was mentioned on the Theater Shortlist for the Stranger's Genius Awards. She has performed with the Castaways across the northwest including Bumbershoot, headliner in the Seattle International Cabaret Festival, annual performances at The Triple Door, and as the opening act for Amy O/tinyrage in “The Lowdown” at The Moore Theater in 2011. Also in 2011, she was invited to choreograph “Refined Slang” for dance department students in Cornish Dance Theater. She also is a dancer with Vockah Redu & Cru. Fletcher has directed, choreographed, and performed in over a dozen shows with the Castaways, including their newest work, “Tune In Tokyo,” and performs in an average of five shows a week at the Can Can.
Ingrid Walker is Associate Professor of Arts, Media, and Culture at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Her research and teaching focus on the politics of contemporary US popular culture. She is writing a book about the use and perception of drugs in the United States.
Teresa Escrig is the founder and CEO of Cognitive Robots. A PhD in Computer Science, Dr. Escrig has been a professor at the University Jaume I, in Castellon, Spain, for 19 years, and the Head of the research group “Cognition for Robotics Research” for over 10 years. She was a visiting professor at the University of Washington in 2009-2010 and is currently an associate visiting professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma. She is the author of 3 technical books, more than 90 research articles, and numerous awards, including a National Prize on Science and Technology, 2004.
When she finished her PhD in the field of Artificial Intelligence, in 1997, Dr. Escrig had the vision that the cognitive theoretical models, that she had developed for her PhD thesis, was a much better option for bringing intelligence to robots. From vision to product, she has led the development of the product “Cognitive Brain for Service Robotics ®”, that allows any vehicle to be transformed into an autonomous robot. Dr. Escrig is a renaissance researcher, visionary, out of the box thinker, and a passionate and effective leader. She is a natural seeker of different paths to solutions that defy the status quo.
Chris Britt was named Cartoonist of the Year in 1994 by the National Press Foundation in Washington, D.C. In 2009, he was honored with the Sigma Delta Chi award, one of journalism's most prestigious awards. Chris has also won press club awards in Texas, California, Washington State and Illinois. In 2000, he was the only U.S. cartoonist to be recognized by the United Nations for his cartoons dealing with the Mid East Peace issue. Chris’s cartoons are syndicated by Creators News Service,and are distributed to over 200 newspaper clients nationally and internationally. Chris’s cartoons have been published in Newsweek, Newsweek Japan, Time Magazine, U.S. News and World Report, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. They have also been aired on CNN’s Inside Politics, MSNBC, Fox News, and ABC’s Good Morning America.
Dr. Dennis Nichols is a graduate of Pacific Lutheran University and was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Karlsruhe in Germany. He received his medical degree from Uniformed Services University in Bethesda, Maryland. His training includes a general surgery internship and residency at Tripler Army Medical Center in Honolulu, as well as a residency in cardiothoracic surgery from the University of Tennessee, Memphis. Prior to joining the Multicare staff at Tacoma General Medical Center in Tacoma, Washington, Dr. Nichols was a faculty member at the University of Washington.
Maureen Whiting is a choreographer, dancer, and mathematician based in Seattle. Since 1997, she and her company have created new choreographic works at On the Boards, ACT Theatre (premiering “the myth series” at ACT in 2009), Seattle University (3-year residency), Annex Theatre, Seattle Dance Project, Cornish, and Velocity. Her work has been performed in Seattle, New York, Philadelphia and Europe. Maureen created film and video projects which were shown at Lincoln Center Library in New York (Dance on Camera), Seattle’s Northwest Film Forum, Velocity’s NextFest NW, and most recently released on Seattle Women in Film in 2008. Maureen grew up a ballet dancer and graduated with a degree in Mathematics in 1989 from Smith College and she currently teaches mathematics. Maureen’s choreographic work combines original choreography with her global studies of dance, visual art studies of color and form, mathematics, and theatrical expression to create with an expansive sensibility. She actively pursues collaborations with visual artists, composers, and performers to expand the boundaries of live performance. Inspired by the rawness and beauty of life Maureen Whiting Dance seeks to deepen audience experience of performing arts and aims to create a rich visual, kinesthetic world that describes and amplifies human experience.
Dr. David Curry has served as the Chief Executive Officer of The Rescue Mission since 2005. David is a world-renown expert on the subject of ethical leadership and life transformation. He has addressed such diverse groups as the Congress of Peru, Fortune 500 Companies Cingular Wireless and AT&T, to the homeless, drug-recovery programs and religious and social workers in the Amazon Jungle. Curry is author of four books, including his newest First Aid for Enablers. He is the founder and former President of the Foundation for Grace an organization that provides leadership and management training to non-profits in South America. In 2011 David received an honorary doctorate of Humane Letters from Faith Evangelical Seminary.
Amy E. Ryken
Amy E. Ryken is an Associate Professor in the School of Education at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington. She teaches in a Master of Arts in Teaching program where she and her students grapple with the tension of teaching the mandated school curriculum while also responding to the authentic questions students pose. She received a PhD and MPH from the University of California, Berkeley and a BA from Mills College.
Charlene Strong is a nationally respected advocate for social justice and civil rights issues including marriage equality and non-discrimination policies. She is a widely published writer and sought after speaker, presenting to universities, companies, public forums, nonprofits and government agencies across the country including the CIA, the Washington State legislature and the World Affairs Council. Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire appointed Charlene to the prestigious Washington State Human Rights Commission; she is currently serving a new five year term. Charlene is the subject of the award-winning documentary, “for my wife…” which tells the story of how she became an advocate for equality following the loss of her wife, Kate Fleming (a renowned audio book narrator), in a flash flood in Seattle in 2006. At the hospital Charlene was initially denied access to be with Kate in the moments before she passed away. This discrimination led Charlene to help champion legislation that later became Washington State’s Domestic Partnership Law. Charlene’s advocacy for equality has led her to The White House where she was invited to have a private meeting with President Obama and other dignitaries to discuss marriage equality. Charlene has taken her personal tragedy and created a life mission to advocate for equality and social justice issues.
After ten years in higher education, Richardson stumbled upon a contract position at the Northwest Leadership Foundation (NLF). Her work with NLF immediately sparked her passion to work with young people and aspiring leaders to find their voice and to contribute to positive transformation in the city. Richardson has taken on various roles at NLF from Training Coordinator for Act Six to Special Assistant to the President to the Director of the Urban Leaders in Training program. She remains on the executive team at NLF and continues to support innovative and dynamic leadership development initiatives, as well as teaching coursework at PLU. In 2012 Kellie embarked on another journey when she launched her blog, Brown Betty.