educator + artist
Abraham is a proud Providence native who has dedicated his professional career to being an educator for high risk youth and adults in and out of prison system as well as being a committed community activist. Abraham received a Bachelor's Degree in the Philosophy of Urban Education and a Masters of Fine Arts in Teaching from UMAss Amherst and Smith College respectively. Currently Abraham is a Dean at the UCAP School as well as an Aspiring Principal in the Principal Residency Network program (class of 2018-19). Abraham is also an established artist; painter, poet and playwright. His most fulfilling and proudest work however, is being a father to his son.
Hologram Enthusiast + Maker
In 2014, Alex and his friend Shawn Frayne started a company called Looking Glass Factory to pursue a lifelong fascination with holograms. They’ve grown their company to thirty people across Rhode Island, New York and Hong Kong, and pride themselves on releasing a wonderful new holographic device into the world every year. Alex runs an R&D lab for the company in Pawtucket and spends a lot of his time thinking about how we can capture digital holograms of our natural world and illustrating a future where holograms are all around us.
RI Army National Guard + Women in Politics
Alexandra Curtis served as Miss Rhode Island 2015 where she traveled the country promoting her platform "Leading Ladies: Equipping Young Women with the Skills to Lead," with the goal of bringing more young women into politics and arenas where they have been historically underrepresented. For her work with "Leading Ladies" she was named on the 2016 Rare Under 40 list and was named a 2018 Leading Woman of Distinction by Girl Scouts of Southeastern New England. She holds a B.A. from Syracuse University, MPA from Brown University, and M.S. from Salve Regina University. She currently serves as a public affairs specialist in the Rhode Island Army National Guard.
Rabbi + Entrepreneur
Elan Babchuck is a fifth generation rabbi and third generation entrepreneur, and he’s spent much of his life exploring how those two traditions might inform and challenge one another. Elan is committed to leaving behind a world that is more compassionate, connected, and just than the one he found, and - in pursuit of that commitment – he is the Founding Director of Glean, an incubator and network for entrepreneurs who are building new models of faith in action, and Director of Innovation at Clal, a think-tank focused on the future of faith in America.
Student + Poet
Halima Ibrahim was called to leadership when, due to a chronic illness, she needed to attend the Women’s March in a wheelchair. She perceived “ableist” undercurrents in the activism community and spoke up. Halima is most known for the poem “Wake Up” she performed at the March for Our Lives Rally at the state house in March 2018. She hopes to inspire other young people to step into difficult conversations and make their voices heard. Her TEDxProvidence talk will take place 3 days after her 16th birthday.
clinical director + social worker
Kira Manser, MEd, LICSW serves as Clinical Director at the Center for Sexual Pleasure and Health (TheCSPH). As a licensed clinical social worker with a masters in education in human sexuality, she has developed expertise in gender and sexual diversity, sexual pleasure, and restorative justice. Energetic and friendly, Kira strives to create spaces that challenge and support individuals to explore themselves in their full and complex identities by using active methods and affirmative and feminist-informed therapeutic modalities.
innovator + economic developer
Mark Huang is the Co-Founder & Managing Director of SeaAhead, a Benefit Corporation with the mission of supporting new venture development at the intersection of innovation + sustainability + the oceans. Mark was recently Providence, RI’s Economic Development Director. Previously Mark led the formation of Novus Energy Partners, a US-Norwegian cleantech VC fund, which was later followed by Tolero Ventures. Prior to that, Mark was with GE for 10 years as a Senior Vice President of GE Energy Financial Services. Mark has worked in shipbuilding and as a naval architect. Mark served for 13 years as an officer in the US Army Reserves. He was mobilized in 2003 to Baghdad where he focused on nation-building. He is currently a US director of Alfanar, and of Tern. Mark holds an MBA and Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University & a BS in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering from Webb Institute.
Writer + Filmmaker + Professor
Dr. Michele Meek is a Providence-based writer, filmmaker, and Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Bridgewater State University. Her recent scholarly publications focus on “consent puzzles,” or ethically and aesthetically ambiguous depictions of sexual consent, and she recently published an edited compilation "Independent Female Filmmakers: A Chronicle through Interviews, Profiles, and Manifestos" with Routledge. She has written and directed several award-winning short films, and she is the founder of NewEnglandFilm.com.
facilitator + mediator
Mike Ritz, Executive Director of Leadership Rhode Island, leverages his lifelong interests in human behavior and communication to contribute to vulnerability, transparency, and adaptive capacity as a cross-sector leader and entrepreneur. A highly experienced facilitator of public dialogue and deliberation, he is often called upon by elected officials, community associations, businesses and the media to moderate tough conversations. An Army veteran himself, he was recently awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service.
Doctor - Emergency Medicine
Dr. Neha Raukar is an Adjunct Professor in Emergency Medicine and the immediate past Director of the Division of Sports Medicine at Brown University and is now a Senior Associate Consultant in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Mayo Clinic. As a result of her training in both Emergency Medicine and Sports Medicine, she is uniquely trained to research life-threatening illness and mitigating risk of death in athletes. Her research interests and educational focus spans the spectrum of acute injuries related to athletes and the management of orthopedic injuries in the emergency department as well as the myriad of chronic overuse syndromes in youth athletes that are presenting in record numbers at emergency departments and outpatient clinics throughout the country. Her goal is to educate parents and athletes to reduce the negative effects of overuse injuries in America's youth.
Raquel Rodriguez is a soul singer born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. She attended USC’s prestigious Thornton School of Music. Her brand new release, The 310, Pt. 2 has gained popularity on Spotify and Apple Music, and she’s just recently from London playing to sold out audiences and having opened for PJ Morton at the Jazz Cafe.
researcher + biostatistician + professor
Rebecca Lebeau is a researcher, biostatistician and professor dedicated to challenging the views on substance abuse culture through education and information. Throughout Rhode Island, she has conducted substance abuse research, implemented data and planning, advised scientific articles for publication and led project teams at multiple institutions and agencies. She is the Chief Health Program Evaluator for Executive Office of Health and Human Services of RI and serves on the Opioid Data Council, contributing to numerous opiate related data and program groups across the state. Rebecca holds an MPH in Epidemiology and Biostatistics and a PhD in Psychology and currently teaches substance abuse at the University of Rhode Island.
The Reciprocity Collaborative is a non-profit network of creative professionals committed to working together through research, performance, and community engagement. Supported by community partners at MIT and Harvard, our research group investigates and refines creative approaches to physical interaction through the use of wearable technology designed for training and performance. More information about our network, projects, and upcoming events can be found online at www.reciprocitycollaborative.com.
Shey Rivera Ríos is a multi-genre artist and the Artistic Director at AS220, an internationally renowned arts center in Providence, RI. Rivera uses the mediums of performance, video, installation, and narrative to produce works exploring gender, magic, family history, and colonization in Puerto Rico. Rivera truly believes art and culture are catalysts for social change and enacts various civic roles within the realms of art/culture and community development. They identify as a gender non-conforming, queer Latinx artist and uses they/them pronouns.
educator + nonprofit leader
Dr. Taino Palermo has worked as an education and nonprofit leader for over a decade focusing on community and economic development, urban education and neighborhood revitalization. He has a history, personally and professionally, of advocating for underrepresented communities and urban youth. Dr. Palermo is currently the Program Director for both the Community Development and Healthy Communities degree programs at Roger Williams University in Providence, Rhode Island.
Dancer & Actor
Tsiambwom Akuchu is a hip-hop and theatre artist based in Atlanta, Ga. His work lives at the intersection of dance, physical theatre, and acting. He choreographs and creates deeply personal work that is rooted in his culture as a Cameroonian immigrant as well as his experiences in the United States.