plenary speakers

Alphabet Rockers

Alphabet Rockers is an intergenerational conversation about the world through hip hop music and dance. Partnering with anti-bias thought leaders and expert artists, their GRAMMY-nominated music is the soundtrack for social justice. They produce concerts, music and media to engage young changemakers and their adult allies. It’s time to be WOKE!

Shawn Ginwright

Shawn Ginwright is a leading national expert on African American youth, youth activism, and youth development. He is an Associate Professor of Education in the Africana Studies Department, and Senior Research Associate for the Cesar Chavez Institute for Public Policy at San Francisco State University. In 1989, Dr. Ginwright co-founded Leadership Excellence, Inc. with his friend Daniel Walker. Leadership Excellence is an innovative youth development agency located in Oakland, California that trains African American youth to address pressing social and community problems. In 2002 he also created the Research Collaborative on Youth Activism, a network of scholar activists who study, advocate and support youth organizing efforts around the country. He is the author of Black Youth Rising, Activism and Radical Healing in Urban America, amongst other written works. 

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 AnnaDeveare 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.

Carl Anthony

Carl Anthony is an architect, author and urban / suburban / regional design strategist, is co-founder of the Breakthrough Communities Project. He has served as Acting Director of the Community and Resource Development Unit at the Ford Foundation, responsible for the Foundation’s world wide programs in fields of Environment and Development, and Community Development.  He directed the Foundation’s Sustainable Metropolitan Communities Initiative and the Regional Equity Demonstration in the United States. Carl funded the national Conversation on Regional Equity (CORE), a dialogue of national policy analysts and advocates for new metropolitan racial justice strategies. He was Founder and, for 12 years Executive Director, of the Urban Habitat Program in the San Francisco Bay Area. With his colleague Luke Cole at the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, he founded and published the Race, Poverty and the Environment Journal, the only environmental justice periodical in the United States. He has a professional degree in architecture from Columbia University.  In 1996, he was appointed Fellow at the Institute of Politics, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. 

Mariah Landers

Mariah Landers stepped out of the classroom in 2011 to step into teacher leadership at Alameda County Office of Education, supporting the goals of arts education in schools in the Bay Area. As Director of School Transformation Through the Arts, she is a visionary behind what teaching and learning has the potential to be and how schools can develop systems of practice that encourage narratives of inclusion.  She’s a coach to educators at large to interrupt master narratives in favor of a systems whose outcomes are justice. She invites educators to critique established norms and return to spaces of love, joy and art centered education that responds diligently to the probing questions and needs of today’s young people. Mariah is sought out for her ability to design responsive curriculum centered in creative inquiry. She promotes and invites the educational system to redesign its purposes with the role of the contemporary artists at the forefront of how young people can develop the capacity for imagination, innovation, perception, and critical thought that will bridge and build a society that we all deserve.  Mariah was particularly motivated by the musical “Hamilton, An American Musical” as a doorway to activate the changes in attitudes, assumptions and patterns of knowing that teachers and students should wrestle with. With a team of incredible educators and artists she has developed “Rise Up! An American Curriculum.”  Mariah leads with conviction that if you tend to your heart, tend to the art that motivates you, and lead with love, that our schools can dissolve the oppressive systems they uphold and become the sanctuaries we all need to fully bloom and become.