Sonya Anderson has worked domestically and internationally to increase educational opportunity for underserved populations. She has designed and led programs to advance girls’ education in Africa; led federal policy and advocacy efforts to support early childhood education for at-risk youth in the United States; and worked throughout the nonprofit and philanthropic sectors to provide funding and other resources to support strong schools, families, and communities. Sonya’s professional experiences include serving as the Senior Vice President for Programs at Crown Family Philanthropies, the Vice-President for National Affairs at the Ounce of Prevention Fund, and as the Education Program Director at the Oprah Winfrey Foundations. Sonya holds an undergraduate degree from Yale University, a master’s degree from the University of Ghana, and a doctorate from Harvard University.
Sherwin Bryant is Associate Professor of African American Studies and History at Northwestern University and serves as the Director of the Center for African American History. He teaches courses on the histories of colonial Latin America, the Early Modern African Diaspora, comparative slavery, and the politics of Afro-Latin America since 1800. As an historian of colonial Afro-Latin America and the Atlantic/Pacific Worlds, Bryant works at the intersections of cultural, legal, social history and political economy, with an emphasis upon Black life in the Kingdoms of New Granada and Quito (what is now modern Colombia and Ecuador). Dr. Bryant’s book, Rivers of Gold, Lives of Bondage: Governing through Slavery in Colonial Quito offers the first serious treatment in English of slavery and slave life in colonial Quito and challenges the narrower conceptualization of slavery as primarily an economic demand. Bryant holds an undergraduate degree
from North Carolina Central University and a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.
Howard Conant is an architect and real estate developer. He is chairman and co-founder of Urban Innovations, a Chicago-based real estate developer that pioneered development of Chicago’s River North neighborhood. Urban Innovations also focuses on redevelopment of Section 8 affordable housing, providing units to organizations serving homeless women, families, and men. Howard presently serves on nonprofit Boards including Archeworks, Gilda’s Club, Homestead Development, WBEZ/Chicago Public Media, and the Chicago Council of Human Rights Watch. Howard attended Harvard College and the University of California at Berkeley.
Roberta M. Feldman
Roberta Feldman is an architectural activist, researcher and educator committed to democratic design. Feldman has been engaged in public interest design and research for more than 30 years. She has worked individually as well as coordinated multi-disciplinary teams of students, faculty and professionals in the fields of architecture, urban planning, graphic and industrial design, and history and culture of cities to support communities underserved by the design professions. Embracing participatory design and action research practices, Feldman has sustained working relationships with leaders in over fifty community organizations and development corporations in Chicago’s low income neighborhoods to address their visions for shaping, revitalizing and preserving their designed environments. Feldman has initiated numerous advocacy projects as well — forums, summits, exhibits, and websites – and written numerous publications to raise the professions’ and public’s awareness of design’s potential to serve the public’s interests. Feldman is Professor Emerita, UIC School of Architecture, Director Emerita, UIC City Design Center, and affiliated faculty, IIT PhD Program in Architecture.
Martine Granby is an experienced documentarian, producer, video journalist, and social justice activist whose work is rooted in a desire for radical healing through art. An alumna of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, she currently serves as a Producer at BRICTV, working on the Emmy-winning #BHeard series including the #BHeard Town Halls. Topics covered in these groundbreaking, community-focused events have included mental health as a civil right, the problematic war on drugs, and the rise of the #MeToo movement. Martine also collaborates with BRIC Arts Media and produced a series on the connections between acts of healing and how they support survival in the face of institutionalized violence and injustice. In addition to her work with BRIC, Martine worked as an educator with Global Girls Media in Chicago, empowering young women with the tools for visual journalism to tell their own stories and as a lead reporter in the newsroom of City Bureau. Currently, Martine is in active production on her feature length documentary The Mask that Grins and Lies, which had its initial incubation through Kartemquin Films’ Diverse Voices in Docs program. The film is a meditative exploration of the invisibility of black women’s’ mental illness and the stigma that silences the community.
Alexandra von Hoffman
Alexandra von Hoffman has worked as a medical writer and a lab instructor and has designed and renovated several houses while raising three children–with all the associated projects and crises. She sits on the boards of St. Andrews Sewanee School, Linden Waldorf School, the Nashville Shakespeare Festival, and the Arcana Foundation in Washington D.C. She has lived in West Africa, Germany, France, and UK, and traveled in East Africa, India, and Iran. She speaks German, French, and a smattering of Spanish. She has a B.S. in entomology from Cornell University, an M.S. in human physiology from Georgetown University, and an M.Arch from Columbia University.\
Chad Sawyer graduated from Ringling School of Art and Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design & Interactive Communications in 2004. Upon graduation, Chad co-founded The Compound Advertising and Design, where he worked as the Creative Director for seven years. He parted ways with the company to start his own independent firm SAWYER Agency in 2012. Chad has more than 12 years of professional design and creative direction experience and has had the opportunity to work and develop relationships with organizations that value their craft as much as he values his, including: The GRAMMY Museum, The Recording Academy, UCLA, The Ray Charles Foundation, NRDC, Hyland’s Baby, Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation, and the Woody Guthrie Center, among others.
Leslie Thomas is the co-founder of MIRA and LARC Architecture and Design, the founder of ART WORKS Projects, an Emmy-award winning art director, and mom. Recent film projects include The Prosecutors and Thursday’s Child, co-editing a book of photography on the impact of war on children, and designing a variety of buildings in the Midwest and California. Leslie’s multi-media human rights focused work has toured across five continents and been the recipient of grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, the MacArthur Foundation, the Open Society Foundations, and many other major philanthropic institutions. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and is committed to the use of art and design for public good. Leslie proudly sits on the board of Congo Kids Initiative.