Ananya Dance Theatre
Ananya Dance Theatre is a pioneering force in Contemporary Indian Dance and enjoys a growing profile throughout Minnesota, the United States, and the world. Led by Artistic Director Ananya Chatterjea, the ensemble of primarily women artists of color creates original dance theater – people powered dances of transformation drawing on social justice themes inspired by the lives and stories of women around the globe.
Blythe Baird is a 21-year-old spoken word poet, author, and college student. In 2016, she was a finalist for the Global Young Achiever Award. Her viral work has been featured by Mic, The Huffington Post, EverydayFeminism, Ashton Kutcher, Bustle, Write Bloody, Button Poetry, and more. Her first book GIVE ME A GOD I CAN RELATE TO is out and available now.
ENCORE! is the acapella auditioned performance group derived of Twin Cities Women’s Choir singers. The Twin Cities Women’s & Girls’ Choirs are performing, non-auditioned choirs dedicated to elevating and affirming the voices of women and girls through quality music education, choral performance, and community outreach.
Founder & Executive Director, Isuroon
Fartun is the founder and Executive Director of Isuroon, a nonprofit with a mission to help Somali women build self-sufficiency and maintain healthy lives. Isuroon is committed to improving the health and upward mobility of Somali women in Minnesota, US and Somalia and promotes health and empowerment for Somali women through health education, communication, and advocacy to create policy change. Fartun has two decades of experience in the medical field (including 10 years as a health and technology specialist for Park Nicollet Clinics). Ms. Weli has gained international prominence for challenging the Somali taboo against speaking openly about reproductive and mental-health issues and is recognized as an indispensable liaison between the Somali and mainstream communities
Director, Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota | Professor
Jessica Hellmann is the director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, an internationally recognized organization working to solve grand environmental challenges. Her research led an important paradigm shift in ecology and natural resource management by showing that living with climate change is just as crucial to the future of humanity and Earth’s ecosystems as slowing and stopping greenhouse gas emissions. Hellmann regularly counsels with a variety of government and corporate organizations, is a frequent contributor to leading scientific journals, and is routinely called upon by leading media outlets like CNN, NPR, Fox News, The Telegraph and the Chicago Tribune to provide expert input on topics related to global change.
Singer, Songwriter, Actress, Rapper, Activist, and International Recording Artist
Maria Isa is a singer, songwriter, actress, rapper, activist and international recording artist born in Minnesota to NuyoRican (Puerto Ricans from New York) parents. Maria has been nominated for and received multiple awards and recognitions from Univision to the governor of Minnesota and has shared stages with a “who’s who” list of international musicians (The Roots, Plena Libre, Tego Calderon, Los Pleneros de la 21, and Semisonic to name a few)
Writer & Podcast Host
Nora McInerny has her hands in many pots, especially in the world of writing. She is a contributing editor for Elle.com, a freelance writer for publications like Time.com, Self.com, and Cosmopolitan.com, and is the author of “It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying is Cool, Too).” Additionally, she hosts a podcast through American Media called “Terrible, Thanks for Asking,” and is the founder of non-profit Still Kickin.
Founder & Executive Director, TruArtSpeaks | Poet
Tish Jones is a poet, performer, educator and organizer from Saint Paul, Minnesota. She has performed at CBGB, 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. Currently a fellow in the inaugural Intercultural Leadership Institute, Jones has always had a passion for bridging arts & culture, civic engagement and youth development. Her work explores the ways in which art can function as a tool for social transformation, liberation and education.