plenary speakers

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Cleo Barnett, Amplifier

Cleo Barnett is Pākehā and White American curator, creative strategist, and experience designer. Currently based in Seattle, Washington, her practice explores the relationship between public art, storytelling, and collective liberation grounded in sustainability. Since the age of 18, Cleo’s work at the intersections of art and cultural organizing has taken her around the world, curating and producing exhibitions, festivals, and placemaking activations across the United States, New Zealand, Europe, Australia, and Asia.

Since 2016 Cleo has been a core part of the Amplifier team. As the Deputy Director, Cleo co-produces and co-curates the organization’s media experiments including the iconic We The People Campaign, Women’s March on Washington, and We The Future campaigns. The result has been millions of iconic posters distributed and downloaded across the country and building the non-profit into a globally recognized art and social justice organization.

Cleo holds an M.A. in Art and Public Policy from New York University, and a double B.A. in Political Science and International Business from the University of Auckland. Alongside her curatorial practice, she is an active working artist. You can see some of Cleo’s art here.

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Ciera Jevae Gordon, RYSE Center

As the Media, Arts, & Culture (MAC) Program Manager, CiCi mentors and supports her team as they collectively elevate all art forms within RYSE. CiCi is passionate about creating spaces where youth are comfortable so they can challenge themselves and their peers in their art while building community. Cici recently published her second book of poetry entitled Unto Ivy’s Rib. She has taught poetry at the Santa Cruz County jail, received the Dean's Award for her chapbook Incarcerated Words, All Campus Honors Awards, and was placed fifth in the nation as part of the Root Slam Team in 2018. She holds a BA in Sociology, and an MFA in Writing and has been on four national slam teams. She currently serves as one of Richmond's Poets Laureate.

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Lois Hetland, MASSART

Lois Hetland, (Harvard Graduate School of Education, 2000), has been a Professor in the Art Education Department at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design since 2005.

Professor Hetland's scholarship is in artistic cognition and development. Trained in music and visual arts, she taught in K-8 classrooms for 17 years. In 2013, she made her first trip to India and returned for her sixth visit in February 2017. She has initiated an institutional partnership between MassArt and the Srishti Institute of Art, Design, and Technology in Bangalore and has brought art students annually from MassArt to India on study tours since 2015.

In 2017, she is co-authoring Studio Thinking in the Elementary School, to be published by Teachers’ College Press in 2018; reviewed arts and education proposals for IES; co-authored a chapter on a participatory evaluation of Art21 Educators (conducted 2010-2012); and is working with Abt Associates to evaluate nine partnerships among community arts organizations, universities, and schools in Wisconsin and Alaska, funded by the Margaret A. Cargill Foundation.

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Jahiem Geovanni Jones, RYSE Center

Jahiem Geovanni Jones is a RYOT (Richmond Youth Organizing Team) Fellow at the RYSE Youth Center in Richmond, California. His organizing efforts are centered on social justice issues in the community and how they positively or negatively impact youth emotionally, mentally, or physically. He has faced obstacles around race, gender, sexuality, and appearance. He achieved a lot being a youth organizer at the RYSE Youth Center from being more vulnerable, having more patience, and showing leadership in a way that leads with love and pushes for safety in the community.

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Steve Locke, MASSART

Steve Locke, is a Boston-based artist, raised in Detroit, Michigan. He received an M.F.A. in 2001 from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and holds Bachelors Degrees from Boston University and MassArt. He attended the Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture in 2002. He has been artist-in-residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston (2016) and for the City of Boston (2018). He has received grants from The Pollock-Krasner Foundation, The Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and The Art Matters Foundation. Solo exhibitions include, there is no one left to blame, curated by Helen Molesworth for the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, The School of Love with Samsøñ (Boston, MA), Family Pictures with Gallery Kayafas (Boston, MA and most recently #Killers at YOURS MINE & OURS in New York. He has had solo projects with the Boston Public Library, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Mendes Wood in Sao Paulo, Brazil, at VOLTA 5 in Basel, Switzerland, and P.S. Satellites-A Project of Prospect IV in New Orleans. His work has been reviewed in ARTFORUM, Art in America, Art New England, JUXTAPOZ, The Boston Globe, and The New Yorker.

He is a Professor at Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston.

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REACH Ashland Youth Center: Arts & Creativity Program

REACH Ashland Youth Center: Arts & Creativity programming provides opportunities for creative self-expression through classes, projects, and activities that are designed with themes that are relevant to youth and that develop life skills such as group collaboration, problem-solving and positive decision making. Through the creative practice, youth build their self-confidence and build skills to prepare for more difficult projects, while the themes addressed in programming contribute to youth development.

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RYSE Center

RYSE creates safe spaces grounded in social justice for young people to love, learn, educate, heal and transform lives and communities. We center the lived experiences of youth of color, and we lead with love and sacred rage to cultivate healing and build movement. RYSE offers free programming and services for youth ages 13-21 through our Community Health, Education & Justice, Media, Arts, & Culture, and Youth Organizing departments. In everything we do, we work to ensure RYSE remains a consistent sanctuary of safety, compassion, and justice for all youth.

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Isabella Sisneros, Amplifier

Last born into a large hispanic family in intercity Denver, Isabella developed a sense of independence and survivalism at a tender age that has shaped the dynamic being she is today. Devoted to liberation and reconstructing a reality for all, she aims to be a facilitator and ground worker for social change using her intellect and passion for the arts, land stewardship and community building.

Since the launch of the historic We The People campaign in 2017, Isabella has helped co-produce multiple national public art campaigns and co-organized the mass distribution of hundreds of thousands of printed artwork in the U.S and beyond with the organization. She manages both the day-to-day and long-term operations, print production, and merchandising.

Isabella holds a B.S. degree from Colorado State University.

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Leeah Thomas, RYSE Center

Leeah Thomas, a Richmond native, currently attends Making Waves Academy. She started writing at the age of 9, and eventually joined R.A.W Talent (Richmond Artists With Talent), a poetry organization based in Richmond, CA. Her work focuses on her personal trauma, struggles with mental health, and the meaning and the essence of being an African American woman. During her early high school years she started performing around the Bay Area and did her first teen poetry slam in 2017. Leeah uses her artistry as a tool to help out others as she continues to heal and understand herself. She will be attending SF State in the Fall pursuing Creative Writing.

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Tassiana Willis

Tassiana Willis is a poet, singer, and actor from San Francisco. Tassiana has been writing and performing since she can remember and performed at her first Youth Speaks open mic at age 12. Since then Tassiana has performed at venues ranging from the Herbst Theater to the Warriors halftime show at Oakland Coliseum. Willis is a Youth Speaks’ Emerging Arts Fellow, and has continued to stretch herself, working as a facilitator in Anna Deveare Smith’s Notes from the Field at Berkeley Repertory Theater, a teaching artist, and overseeing the youth leadership council in Alameda County. Currently Tassiana is organizing a Youth Leadership Team that has committed to provide input into the ongoing planning and progress of the Alliance for ALL Community Plan. Together with fellow youth leaders, she facilitates an ongoing Listening Practice to keep youth experience at the forefront, and sits on the Lead Action Team and Leadership Roundtable.

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Jah-Yee Woo, Oakland Technical High

Jah-Yee Woo is currently an English and U.S. History teacher at Oakland Technical High. Raised by immigrant parents, she navigated the languages and cultures between home and school while growing up. Armed with a B.A. in History and M.A. in Education, she entered the teaching profession working with middle school students in Oakland. Through working with the brilliant young people of Oakland, she has come to understand the power of reflective practice in order to sustain herself and to be effective in her community. She recently was honored as the Teacher of the Year for Oakland Unified School District and Alameda County in 2018.