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.
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, M.Arch., PhD
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.
Tracey Fletcher is a lawyer with the Friedman Law Group, Ltd., a Chicago-based firm specializing in marketing law. Tracey’s practice focuses on charitable promotions, environmental marketing, and general commercial transactions. She is also the general counsel of the Usher III Initiative, a medical research foundation. Tracey’s past experience includes founding the legal department of a global public relations firm and serving as Senior Assistant General Counsel of the American Hospital Association, where she handled transactional, litigation, and regulatory matters. She has prepared testimony for congressional hearings, represented clients before state and federal agencies, and drafted appellate briefs for submission to state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. Tracey previously served as adjunct faculty at Loyola University School of Law and was a legal writing instructor at the University of Michigan Law School while a third-year law student. She received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan. Tracey openly admits that she possesses no artistic talent, abilities, or inclinations whatsoever.
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.
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 founding Executive and Creative Director of ART WORKS Projects. She is also an architect, Emmy-award winning art director, and mom. Current projects include directing The Prosecutors, a documentary about the prosecution of rape in war, 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 is a founding principal with LARC Inc., a national architectural practice, and of WORKSHOP/CoOp, a global artisan design studio. She is a graduate of Columbia University and the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. 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 committed to the use of art and design for public good and proudly sits on the board of Congo Kids Initiative.