Santa Clara County Youth Poet Laureate, 2022-23
Anna Yang is a 17 year old Chinese-American poet, artist, and social justice advocate. In the words of Audre Lorde, “Poetry is not a luxury. It is a vital necessity of our existence.” Thus, she writes poetry because it gives a voice to those who go unheard, spinning thoughts into stanzas and bridging divisions with the unveiling of common humanity. She is the current Santa Clara County Youth Poet Laureate and has been recognized by the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, New York Times, Hollywood Foreign Press Association, National Council of Teachers of English, among others. She is also the Co-founder and President of the Journals of Justice, a nonprofit organization with a mission to empower youth to investigate social justice through art, poetry, and journalism.
Director of FANWAR
Teaching and game design have long been a major part of Christopher’s life. He has been running his business FANWAR, a Live Action Role Playing group, for over twenty years in the bay area and has written numerous rulebooks and design elements for both formal teaching settings and play based educational formats. He draws a great deal of his inspiration in his work from Montessori education. He has two BA degrees, one in English and one in Theater Arts from Sonoma State University. He and his wife Molly Tichenor live in Sebastopol CA.
ComedySportz High School League® empowers students to create their own theatre and nourishes their communication skills through improvisational theatre workshops and performances. It encourages their individuality and provides the forum to succeed or fail in a safe environment that combines showmanship and sportsmanship. The League provides an extracurricular activity that goes beyond stage work into everyday situations. And the students just think they're having fun!
Co-founder and CEO at Eko
Connor is the co-founder and CEO of Eko and a graduate of UC Berkeley. He founded Eko while studying Bioengineering at Cal, with the goal of improving cardiovascular and pulmonary disease care through acoustics – using machine learning to analyze our heart and lung sounds. Eko has received 5 FDA clearances and its products are used by hundreds of thousands of healthcare providers representing more than 2,000 hospitals and clinics around the world. He was listed in Forbes 30 under 30 and is a member of the Fast Company Executive Board.
Award Winning Photographer
Janet Boyko is an award-winning Bay Area photographer, artist, and educator. Her images celebrate the quirkiness, beauty and honesty of ordinary, every day people, places and objects. She works with family clients to capture unscripted, genuine moments and interactions, and is also a consultant and educator with Documentary Family Photographers Worldwide.
She is currently studying through the low-residency Hartford Photo MFA program. Her art exploration centers around the idea of place and the human environments we create.
Josiah Kusnadi is a homeschool high school graduate. In his free time he enjoys playing baseball, the piano, and hanging out with friends. Born with a cleft lip and palate, he has learned to overcome his physical challenges and excels at doing the things he loves. He has placed well at piano competitions and his baseball team has been the top team in Northern California. In addition, he has won multiple events in his speech and debate league. He currently works with youth, coaching them in public speaking, piano, and baseball.
Senior Director of Product Management
From a small farm town in a province of Philippines to the heart of Silicon Valley, Marissa has shown resilience through many aspects of her life. When told that she was too small or too dark or didn't belong here or there, she continued to persevere throughout high school, to an engineering college, and now to the position of Senior Director of Product Management in the Silicon Valley. She has traveled to 35 countries and presented at public speaking sessions in 25 of these countries while holding Engineering and Engineering management roles. She has a BS degree in Computer Engineering and a Master in Engineering Management. She is also on the Advisory Board at Cal Poly's Computer Engineering Department.
CEO - NFT Infrastructure, blockchain and game theory
Nate has been working full time in the decentralized crypto space since mid 2020. During these 2+ years, he's worked with a dozen projects and one of the largest DeFi investment funds specializing in Product, Tokenomics and blockchain gaming. He's an early investor at Bored Ape Yacht Club, CryptoPunks, World of Women, many other NFTs, and a prominent 1/1 art collector in the NFT space. He now is the founder and CEO of an NFT infrastructure company empowering artists and users.
Actress, Model and Author
Rosalie Chiang is a 17 year old homeschooler from the Bay Area. She voiced the lead character Meilin Lee in Disney/Pixar’s acclaimed film, Turning Red. First cast as a temporary voice for Turning Red during development, after two years she eventually booked the lead role. This honor led to premieres in London, Los Angeles, and Toronto, and interviews by hundreds of media outlets. She has been featured by Forbes, the San Francisco Chronicle, People, Teen Vogue, Seventeen, and Timid Magazine. Besides a love for acting, she has a variety of interests. She has authored and illustrated two children’s poetry books: “A is for Albatross: Birds A to Z,” and “A is for Arowana: Freshwater Fish A to Z.” The first won the 2017 Skipping Stones Book Honor Award.
Writing Coach & Founder, Beyond the Box Learning
Writing Coach Royd Hatta or "Mr. Royd" is a teacher, writer, and artist based in Mountain View, CA. As a child, he grew to have a deep connection to the environment and later helped to organize a campaign to protect an organic garden and Tongva/Gabrielino sacred site, known as Puvungna, from a proposed university development. That experience along with his autobiographical performances in Los Angeles established how transformative writing and performing could be. For Royd, the question of “Why Story?” has always been at the heart of his work as an artist and serves as the portal for continually uncovering the truth about ourselves, connecting with our communities, and creating a path for developing, clarifying, and employing ways to create a positive change in our world. He and his wife teach workshops and run two thriving writers clubs with over 680 families: Bay Area Young Writers and Bay Area Teen Writers. They have published eight anthologies of their students’ fiction.
An audition-based big band and combo providing pre-professional training in jazz theory and performance. The group performs in professional venues all over the region including the San Jose Jazz Summer and Winter Fests, Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival, Joint Venture Silicon Valley “State of the Valley” and the “Season of Hope” Series at St. Joseph’s Cathedral.
Co-founder and CEO at Foundations of Communication
Win is a speech and communications author and professional. During her 40+ years of teaching and consulting, she has trained national speech champions, politicians, CEOs, and nationally recognized figures. Her focus and passion, however, has always been for youth. Win has conducted scores of workshops across the country coaching thousands of teens, tweens, and their parents in competitive speech, public speaking, and social skills. In recent years, as the master teacher at Foundations of Communication, Mrs. Heggem has expanded her instruction to include essential everyday communication skills and habits, in additional to communication performance. Her efforts have earned her a Top 100 Education Resources Award.
Advocate for the Food Allergy Community
Zidaan Kapoor is a fifteen-year-old activist, entrepreneur, and writer from Redwood City, CA. As an advocate for the food allergy community, Zidaan has been featured in national outlets and was named Young Innovator of the Year by FARE, the largest food allergy advocacy
organization in the world. He is also a member of the inaugural class of 16 Under 16 STEM Achievers. Zidaan is the founder of Fight Fears, a social impact business inspired by his personal health challenges. Fight Fears helps children overcome mental health issues around life-threatening food allergies through an app that provides customers with individualized challenges to help them combat their food anxiety.