Chicago-born poet and emcee Michael (Mic) Crenshaw fell in love with music at a young age while living in Minneapolis. His teenage years were challenging as he actively confronted white supremacist gangs that were a growing part of the hard-core music scene. He eventually chose to escape the violence and moved to Portland, where he quickly became one of the most respected artists in the Northwest, and his community efforts have had both local and international impact.
In addition to his highly-acclaimed work in spoken work and hip hop, Mic founded GlobalFam, a non-profit project to create and maintain a computer center for disadvantaged youth in Burundi, Central Africa. Over 400 people have received free training, and it is now expanding, generating revenue and creating jobs. Mic also partnered with Education Without Borders (EWOB), which supports education, music and art initiatives in Portland and beyond and serves as an umbrella for the local Books For Prisoners chapter and GlobalFam itself. GlobalFam has blossomed into a music label, production, promotion, artist management, and education company providing mainstream entertainment that supports Social Justice Activism.
Rita is the author of over 70 children’s books and two adult books. Her memoir, Tales of a Female Nomad, Living at Large in the World, was published in 2001 and is still wildly popular. Nearly 27 years ago, Rita sold all her possessions and became a citizen of the world. To this day she has not returned to a settled life. Through her experiences as a “modern day nomad”, she discovered a new passion: introducing the concept of a “gap year” to teens in the U.S.
Through the American Gap Association, Rita encourages and assists recent high school graduates to defer college or the job world for a year while they immerse themselves in other cultures and discover the common humanity of mankind.
Dann considers himself a digital craftsman. It’s hard to argue with that description when you learn about his rich background in software engineering—most notably in web/mobile applications and data systems.
Driven by his desire to find new ways to pull meaningful information out of our everyday online environments and his passion for artificial intelligence, systems automation, mathematical modeling, and security analysis, Dann strives to design and build sustainable, scalable software systems for companies around the world. In fact, he first tapped into that world as a teenager, when he built a few dozen usable computers from spare parts for a roofing materials factory at age 15.
Dann’s most recent endeavor is Flux, a “radically inclusive” hackerspace/makerspace in Portland. He regularly organizes, attends and presents at unconferences, participates in local hackathons, and works on graduate-level research in computational linguistics and artificial intelligence.
Tyler grew up living a conventional, relatively low-risk life. He went to college, got a useful degree and then a good job. However, he always felt like there was something more. He started to make a priority of stepping outside his comfort zone and trying new things to see where they’d lead. It was there, outside of his comfort zone, where he found that most big risks in life are only risky because you don’t understand them.
Today, Tyler writes about smart risk-taking at his blog Advanced Riskology, where he inspires people to embrace uncertainty, take more risks, and live remarkably. Tyler is also a key part of the rapidly growing World Domination Summit held in Portland each year. He recently launched (and later sold his share in) a small coffee business Brew Pony, which delivers Portland’s finest coffee to households all over the United States.
Jolie is an artist, a teacher, a storyteller. Daily rituals and frequent collaboration with others energize her and fuel her creativity. Back in 2010, she set a goal to paint 100 paintings in 100 days. Instead she kept the project going for three and a half years, sharing stories along with the paintings. In January 2014, Jolie created her 1000th painting, Soulwork, ending this project—but not the ritual of daily creativity. You’ll find her these days with a daily photo on Instagram.
Jolie’s book, Beauty Everywhere: A Portable Gallery, published in 2012, features 100
of her favorite paintings and their stories. In 2013, her good friend, fellow artist Jen
Lee, featured her in the film, Indie Kindred, exploring the possibility and potential of creative collaboration.
Composer and electric cellist Gideon Freudmann enjoys an international reputation for his innovative compositions and unique style of playing. He is a founding member and composer for The Portland Cello Project. His art is inspired by the best of classical, modern, jazz, eastern European and blues traditions, and his music is both immediately accessible and richly detailed in its nuance and complexity. His compositions are heard
on numerous award-winning film and TV soundtracks. Gideon has released 17 CDs to date—eleven solo and six collaborations.
Michael Curry is the owner and President of Michael Curry Design Inc. in Scapoose,
Oregon. He designs and creates live-performance oriented dimensional characters and productions. Audiences worldwide have seen his work in the 1996 and 2002 Olympics opening and closing ceremonies, the 2000 Super Bowl, and New York City’s epoch 2000 Millenium event.
Michael has worked widely in technical development with renowned entertainment companies such as Cirque du Soleil, the Metropolitan Opera, London’s Royal National Theatre, Walt Disney Theatrical, Los Angeles Opera and Universal Studios. He has received coveted awards for his puppet and costume work on The Lion King on Broadway and in Olympic ceremonies, and has been recognized internationally for his pioneering work and creations in the fields of visual effects and puppetry design.
Though Portland native Catherine J. H. Miller‘s art is diverse in medium and topic, one theme emerges frequently. Miller is visually impaired and believes that her disability is part of what allows her to see that “what is often outside is just what an artist should spend their life hoping to speak about.” In her art, she seeks to discuss what she feels is marginalized in art and society.
Miller’s paintings are often like her sculptures in that they are highly textural. One could say that the viewer’s eye feels the surface of her paintings. Her most recent artistic endeavors explore disability and art, working mainly in sculpture and watercolor.
Ryan Saari is pastor of The Oregon Community, a hip, young Portland church. He is also Director of the Oregon Public House—the world’s first non-profit neighborhood pub, where your $5 porter helps feed a hungry family, provide mentorship for a fatherless child or plant trees in and around Portland.
The Oregon Public House began as a conversation among friends looking for a way to do good in their community in an inviting and inclusive way. The group acknowledged that Portland has more nonprofits and brewpubs per capita than any other city in the United States, so rather than creating another nonprofit organization to serve one cause, the idea developed into the first of its kind—a volunteer-operated, socially-responsible business that helps to fund many Portland organizations.
Michelle is a self-taught software developer who seeks a deeper understanding of the world and the chance to change it for the better. She aspires to empower women to excel in their lives through technology, which she believes anyone can learn in a welcoming community with strong peer mentorship. With that vision, she founded and is the Executive Director of the nonprofit organization Code Scouts.
As a 2012 graduate of the Portland Incubator Experiment (Pie PDX), Michelle is now a mentor lending support to exciting Portland startups. A member of the Python Software Foundation and organizer of the Portland Python User Group, she also speaks and writes about the importance of diversity in tech and tech literacy for everyone. Her essay, “Hack the Planet!” on why tech literacy is critical, was published in American Dreamers, an inspiring anthology of future-thinking works by contemporary visionaries. In 2013 she was listed among Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People in Business, and Entrepreneur Magazine named her one of the 7 Most Powerful Women to Watch in 2014.
Thom Hartmann is a progressive syndicated talk show host heard in over a half-billion homes worldwide. He’s a New York Times best-selling, 4-time Project Censored Award-winning author of 24 books. One of his books sparked a national debate on ADD/ADHD and neurological differences ranging from giftedness to autism. Another book so inspired a U.S. Senator that he delivered copies of the book to his 99 colleagues in the Senate and read from it extensively on the floor of the Senate.
Thom has spent much of his life working with and for the relief organization, Salem International. He and his wife Louise also founded a community for abused children in New Hampshire, as well as a school for learning disabled and ADHD kids. A Michigan native with strong ties to the Midwest—but currently living on a boat in Washington D.C.—Hartmann is an inveterate traveler and occasional risk-taker and has often found himself in the world’s hot spots during pivotal moments in history.
Portland native Saeeda “MaMa Sae” Wright has been singing since she was a child, and is today one of the Pacific Northwest premier vocalists and songwriters. Saeeda has worked with some of the best talent in Portland, and she continues to gain recognition for her preeminent vocal gifts. In addition to her current work with Liv Warfield, she has shared the stage with the likes of Raphael Saadiq, Mint Condition, members of Stevie Wonder's band, and Lalah Hathaway. Saeeda has also performed with Gospel powerhouses Cece Winans, Crystal Akin, JJ Harrison, and Yvette Williams of the Kurt Carr Singers.
Ryan is co-founder and CEO of Marmoset, a boutique music house based in Portland that crafts original music for story-driven mediums such as film, advertising and television and curates a hand picked roster of indie artists for music licensing opportunities. An Oregon native, Ryan first tapped into his passion for music as a college radio DJ while studying at Southern Oregon University. Since then, he has produced and supervised music for a wide range of projects, including short films, Super Bowl commercials, global ad campaigns and video games. In addition with his work with Marmoset, he manages Timber Carnival Recordings, a Portland based independent record label.
A fiery advocate for artists, Ryan has given talks about the intersection of music and branding at CMJ Music Festival in New York City, SXSW in Austin, and IdeaMensch, and led a panel at the 2013 TechFest NW in Portland, part of MusicFest NW. He was recently named to Portland Business Journal’s 2014 40 Under 40.