To see a list of all panelists we’ve worked with in the past, click here.
Afatasi The Artist is a mixed-media conceptual artist, futurist, and proud native San Franciscan. Her artwork is a continuous exploration of the intersectionality of race, culture, gender, class, and geopolitics. Past injustices have shaped present-day realities, so what does this mean for our futures? The mediums used to navigate this question include textile, metalwork, and mixed-media visual arts.
Keith Battle is a born storyteller. Whether through lyric verse and music, film/video, or at the gaming table in an epic D&D session, Keith’s thirst and enthusiasm for stories is on display. This love of sharing stories informs his passion for teaching. Keith finds deep joy in helping students find their way to “Aha!” moments. Keith also has a knack for putting creative people together. He sees and then seizes upon connections and opportunities for collaboration. Keith’s current dream project is a sci-fi psychedelic martial arts feature film that spans several thousand years… or does it?
Derick Brown is the Senior Director for the Leo T. McCarthy Center at the University of San Francisco. A native San Franciscan, who brings more than 20 years of experience leading neighborhood engagement strategies and addressing complex community issues. A graduate of UC Berkeley, Derick most recently worked with the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) as Senior Community Engagement Advisor since 2018. He was responsible for implementing the department’s community relations strategy, securing and strengthening partnerships with CBOs, private companies and universities, and building relationships with community thought leaders. Prior to the SFPD, Derick was San Francisco’s Director of the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Services where he managed the Mayor’s community relations strategy. As Senior Director of the Leo T. McCarthy Center, Derick is committed to continuing and enhancing the tradition of inspiring USF students to serve others and pursue successful careers in public service.
James Q. Chan is an Emmy-nominated producer and director based in San Francisco. Recent producing credits include PLAGUE AT THE GOLDEN GATE (American Experience, 2022); CHINATOWN RISING (America ReFramed, 2022). Recent directing projects include BLOODLINE (KQED/Truly CA); large-format CIRCLE VISION 360° films for Disney; and launching the doc series CHINATOWN SHORTS. His film FOREVER, CHINATOWN (Emmy® Nominee) received multiple festival awards, screened globally with American Film Showcase where James serves as a filmmaker envoy. James received a Certificate of Honor from the Board of Supervisors for his work highlighting stories from the API community. His sensibilities throughout his projects are shaped by his refugee and working class background, love for nature shows, and memories of his mother’s cooking. He is currently adapting Laurence Yep’s acclaimed CHILD OF THE OWL book into a narrative series. James is a 2021 YBCA100 Honoree and a member of the Directors Guild of America.
Donté Clark, a native of Richmond California, who reigns as one of the most prolific writers and voices out of the Bay Area arts community. Donte Clark is an actor, stage and film director, scriptwriter, lyricist and Public Defense attorney consultant, who’s work as an artist and community member is dedicated to shifting the narrative(s) of black/aborigine peoples history; While challenging educators and courtroom officials to abolish all racist policies.
Mike Evans Jr is a 27 year old Stand Up Comedian and MC from San Francisco California. He’s performs at Cobbs Comedy Club , Punchline Comedy Club and Tommy T’s. He’s known around the Bay Area as the artist/activist comedian as he has been featured on multiple music albums and hosts more concerts and more community fundraisers than most comics at his age . Mike’s personal sense of humor leans more towards crude political and relationship humor , but he has the strong ability to adapt to any situation as he’s also performed for political campaigns, Churches , Retirement Homes, Colleges and High schools. Mike was also involved in the creation of the film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco “ as a creative consultant – the film won the highest awards in its category at Sundance Film Festival in 2019 and continues to be nominated for Independent Film Awards. Mike doesn’t have any recent videos of his comedy , but is currently working on his first comedy special set to come out in 2022.
Citizen Film For the past 20 years, Citizen Film’s community-driven documentary storytelling projects and interdisciplinary events have gathered people together to reflect on shared experiences, celebrate their culture, reflect on challenges, and surface practical solutions that address inequity. By engaging people in civic spaces ranging from PBS to the Western Addition’s Buchanan Mall, we have reached an audience of more than 1 million people in each of the past two years. Our reach is national, but our focus has always been local. Our ties to the residents, organizations, and activists of the Lower Fillmore, where we are based, are deep. We’ve built trust with dozens of partnering organizations and civic leaders, including informal leaders who are under-recognized by mainstream institutions. Our slate of annual Buchanan Mall events—which have drawn more attendees every year since we launched BUCHANAN CHANGE in 2014—supports and enhances the Lower Fillmore community’s resilience.
Ken Fisher is an Emmy nominated social justice documentary filmmaker. He is the founder and chief creative at Truth Be Told Creative. His most recent film, “The BIG Experience” premiered at BIG Sky documentary festival and was used by presidential candidate Andrew Yang to build the grassroots movement for a Universal Basic Income.
Paloma Flores is an advocate for American Indian voice and representation in the arts, curricular development through a racial equity lens, and is passionate about cultural education. She is an activist and voice for her people. Paloma is an artist, a poet, a Peace & Dignity Journeys intercontinental prayer runner, and a dancer. She has been writing since she was 14 and understands the power of voice, tone, and delivery. Poetry in motion in its truest form. To know your audience is to know yourself. She speaks for the ones who did not have the luxury to speak their truth. Having gone by many stage names such as the Lady Dove, P. Flo and Lucky. You may call her Paloma. She believes, “when the People come together for the People, magic happens.”
Nix Guirre is a Bay Area-based filmmaker focusing on short-form documentaries highlighting stories of BIPOC artists and activists, Filipinos in the diaspora, and trans experience. At age 18, she immigrated from the Philippines to the United States. She later received her BA degree in Film and TV Production at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. The events of the 2016 elections inspired her to work as a documentarian and labor organizer for Unite Here Local 2, San Francisco’s hotel and restaurant labor union. She made short documentaries on workers’ rights, which helped influence politicians and stakeholders, and contributed to winning a 61-day strike against the Marriott Corporation. Now she is an independent documentarian working primarily with grassroots organizations in the Bay Area. She is also the Program and Communications Coordinator for the SOMA Pilipinas Filipino Heritage Cultural District.
Beatrice Hati Gitundu is an urbanist (Kenyan National) who is zestfully devoted to a transformative urban development, resilience and sustainability practice. She has background in urban and regional planning, an MSc in urban development and management with specialty in urban sustainability and climate change, and is currently a PhD student at the Erasmus University, Netherlands. She is an active global citizen supporting the transformative SDG 2030 awareness, and sits in the UNAccc Governing Council as the Secretary General for Kenya. Beatrice specializes in development practice and research, and in over 5 years’ has worked in various urban disciplines including resilient development, slum upgrading, Collaborative Applied Research, frugal innovations, sustainable transportation planning, policy analysis, and inclusive development. In her capacities, she works to promote pro-poor development, with an aim of addressing acute vulnerability, inequality, marginalization, resource scarcity, and powerlessness facing a large share of urban (informal) dwellers in the Global South.
Killa Heredia, also known as Kiki by her close family and friends, is a 21-year old full-time college student, though she sometimes is a part-time poet. For high school, Heredia attended Ruth Asawa School of the Arts, where she majored in Creative Writing and Spoken Word Poetry in the class of 2019. Heredia is of Quechua and Coahuiltecan descent. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area and is fortunate enough to have grown up immersed in her cultural heritage and traditions. She is currently studying at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, where she is majoring in Psychology. With her degree, she hopes to go on to graduate school and one day be a family therapist in Native and Latinx communities, working with women and children.
Niema Jordan is a journalist and filmmaker from Oakland, Calif. Her passion for storytelling led her to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. Jordan’s early career was spent in New York at ESSENCE magazine. She returned to the Bay Area for graduate school and received her Master of Public Health and Master of Journalism from Cal. In recent years, Jordan has continued to write for national publications including Shondaland, The Crisis and Glamour, while working in documentary film. Her production credits include The Chosen Life (associate producer), Fatherless (associate producer), Bobby Kennedy for President (researcher), The Me You Can’t See (story producer), and Eyes On The Prize: Hallowed Ground (story producer). She is currently a producer at Trilogy Films and an adjunct professor at Santa Clara University. Jordan serves on the Board of Directors of Oakland Kids First and is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Landa Lakes is a Chickasaw writer, musician, activist and artist. Landa has represented their tribe in various forms from dances, stickball games and demonstrations from High School until attending the University of Oklahoma. Relocated to San Francisco in 1992 from the rural community of Oklahoma within her tribal boundaries after her time in the US Navy serving during Desert Storm. Landa founded in 2005 two drag performance groups that have contributed to San Francisco’s art and cultural scene: the Two-Spirit Native American drag troupe, Brush Arbor Gurlz (BAGz), and the creative and campy House of Glitter (HoGz). Landa uses art to combine contemporary ideas with Native history and traditional stories to convey the shared experiences and understanding of human nature outside the colonial Christian perspective. Some of her notable honors are: the New York Fresh Fruit Festival Performance Award, KQED LGBT Local Hero Award, being publicly elected as Grand Duchess 36 of the Grand Ducal Council of San Francisco, and leading as chapter Mother of the Westcoast Ballroom Scene’s Legendary House of Lauren, Intl. Landa co-founded Bay Area American Indian Two-Spirits (BAAITS) Powwow, the first and still the largest public Two-Spirit Powwow, as well as de-gendering the dance categories towards a policy of no gender policing—rooted firmly in an extensive knowledge of Native histories, her own cultural background, and with proper powwow protocol followed at every step. Thomas served as Co-Chair to the BAAITS and is currently on the Board of the BAAITS Powwow. Co-curator and co-producer on the Weaving Spirits Festival and leading the curatorial process with her co-producer. She presents, writes, directs and performs her own work as part of the festival.
Alba Roland Mejia is a writer, producer, and director based in Oakland, California. Her work focuses on the African diaspora and strives to capture the true essence of storytelling by pulling from real-life experiences.
John Moody is a creative director and urban designer focused on strengthening connections between people and place, particularly through processes that put people’s lived experiences and collective storytelling at the heart of any sort of change. From community storytelling for downtown revitalization in Las Vegas to adaptation strategies for climate resiliency in South Florida, he has played a pivotal role in helping designers, organizations, and cities to find hidden power in their work and to catalyze progressive transformations in the built environment. He is co-founder and creative director of Invisible Cities Studio, a collaborative design practice that helps people create inclusive cities and urban spaces using artistic media. He has won an ASLA Honor Award and directed the award-winning films Redemption Square and the cerebral city. He currently lives in Los Angeles.
Isa Nakazawa is an Oakland-based writer, educator, and radio host. After graduating from Wesleyan University in 2008 with a dual degree in Sociology and American Studies, Isa jumped coasts to join Youth Speaks, one of the country’s leading spoken word and literary arts organizations, as a teaching artist and poet mentor. She is currently the Director of Marketing and Communications at the Bay Area Video Coalition, a community media hub and resource for media makers in the Bay Area, serving over 7,500 filmmakers, activists, and artists every year.
No matter the medium, Isa leads with her curiosity, attention, and fundamental belief in the interconnected nature of the liberation of all people. Shake the syntax, shake the world.
Parangal Dance Company is an organization based in San Francisco, California, USA that aspires to inspire.We are comprised of cultural artists, practitioners, and workers serving as a bridge to the Philippines indigenous culture bearers and their communities through dialogue, attire, music, and dance.Parangal’s mission is to give tribute to Philippine heritage by preserving and promoting ethnic attire, music, and dance through research, workshops, and performances. We aim to serve as a bridge, inspiring and connecting Filipinos globally to their roots to give them a sense of pride and identity, while educating diverse communities to foster awareness and appreciation of Philippine culture.
Celia C. Peters is a filmmaker creating daring futurist stories about intriguing, authentic characters. She’s currently developing her afrofuturist feature film GODSPEED in partnership with WarnerMedia150. In 2022, she will launch her afrofuturist audio drama DOMESTICATED. She curated Afropunk, New York Comic Con and L.A.’s California African American Museum. Peters has an honors B.A. in French and Political Science from University Michigan and an M.A. in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, with graduate studies in clinical psychology at NYU.
Shantré Pinkney – inspired by hip-hop, jazz and New Wave cinema, Shantre began her creative venture in New York and studied film-making in Atlanta, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. As a lover of non-traditional and inquisitive stories, she seeks to raise dialogue between art and audience. She creates in the mediums of photography, film, spoken word, commercials, and web tv.
Yesica Prado is a multimedia journalist and a first-generation Mexican immigrant from Nezahualcoyótl, Mexico. She grew up undocumented in a southeast neighborhood in Chicago, Archer Heights. With limited choices for a job without social security, she ventured into photography to learn a skill –– a trade. She hoped to earn a living as an independent contractor and attended the University of Illinois at Chicago, earning a BFA in Photography. But unexpectedly before turning 21, she was granted a humanitarian visa (U-Visa). Yesica took advantage of this new opportunity, expanding her borders to seek a master’s in journalism from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism.
Jules Retzclaff, otherwise known as Cereal For The Kids, is a born and raised San Francisco community organizer and experimental multimedia-maker. Their work utilizes a mixture of new and found media, photography, and animation, often using non-linear storytelling to reflect on community, temporality, and the fluidity of memory.
William Rhodes I received a BA in Furniture Building and Design from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and a MFA from the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth. My creative works are in the collections of various galleries and museums. Most recently, my work was included in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. I currently dedicate part of my time to art education and directing an Intergenerational art program at Bayview Senior Services. I am a co-founder of a Black art collective in San Francisco. The 3.9 Art Collective was formed in 2011 in response to the declining Black population in San Francisco.
Elisha Rochell Ever since I was a teenager, photography and capturing moments was something that brought me joy. The challenge was to snap the shot at the perfect time to grab unique moments that would probably never resurface again. Each moment is a gift and I continue to position myself in places where I can capture them. From photo shoots and events to flyers and business cards, I perform a wide variety of services. I also produce and create promotional videos as well as other video and media material. I have covered red carpets, conferences, music video shoots, concerts, documentaries, weddings, and celebrity interviews.
Tanu Sankalia is Professor in the Department of Art + Architecture, and coordinates the Urban Studies Concentration within the Environmental Studies Program. He teaches courses in urban planning and design, architectural and urban history, and architectural design. Professor Sankalia’s research and creative work covers a wide range of topics related to architecture and urbanism from the local context of the San Francisco Bay Area to the global perspectives of India and Latin America. His articles and essays have appeared in the Journal of Urban Design, Journal of Urban History, Journal of Planning History, and City, among others. He is co-editor of Urban Reinventions: San Francisco’s Treasure Island (University of Hawaii Press, 2017), and is currently completing a manuscript titled The Urban Unseen: San Francisco’s Interstitial Spaces.
Avni Shah, AIA is an Oakland, CA-based architect and filmmaker. By day, Avni designs low-income housing in the San Francisco Bay Area. By night, she creates documentary films investigating the disconnect between design and policy intent and lived community experience. Her mission is to engage and empower stakeholders across communities, governments, and demographics.
Sosena Solomon is an award winning social documentary film and multimedia visual artist from Ethiopia. Intuitively selecting subjects and stories, she is particularly interested in spaces of transition and change, acting as a cultural preservationist. Her work, whether presented as a film or an immersive 3-dimensional experience, explores cross sections of various subcultures and communities in flux, carefully teasing out cultural nuances and capturing personal narratives via arresting visual storytelling and cinéma vérité stylings. Sosena has worked for many years in the commercial and nonprofit sectors and has worked as a Director and Cinematographer on many short film projects including “dreaming of jesurusuel (2021) which made its debut on Docisover +, “Sole”, a documentary on sneaker culture that premiered on PBS affiliate MINDTV, and “MERKATO”, filmed on location in one of Africa’s largest open-air markets and exhibited internationally as an audio, visual, and sensory installation. Sosena is a freelancer currently lecturing in the Fine Arts Department at University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design.
Kawana Staffney As a 4th generation Conch native, Kawana Staffney-Ashe grew up serving her community. She began as a volunteer at The Bahama Village Music Program many years ago while her son was participating and feel in love with the program and what it means to the community. As the current Executive Director her main goal and drive is to continue to find ways to bridge the gap throughout the generations and bringing cultural awareness to the forefront. Music and the Arts are the perfect vessel to break down the walls, build those bridges, and generate the awareness that brings forth pride. “Bahama Village is in my heart and my life’s work goes toward preserving its beauty.”
Pam Uzzell is a documentary filmmaker and podcaster living in Oakland, CA. She is the host of the podcast Art Heals All Wounds and the director of three independent documentaries, Some Call It Heaven (2007), Unearthing the Dream (2012), and Welcome to the Neighborhood (2018). Welcome to the Neighborhood, the story of how the Bay Area housing crisis has pushed out one of Berkeley’s most prominent artists, has been broadcast as part of KQED’s Truly CA series. Unearthing the Dream was broadcast on Arkansas Educational Television Network as part of its Independent Producer Series. Pam’s latest short film, Shelter in Displacement, (2020) features the work of artist Victor Mavedzenge and was selected as part of the de Young Open. She is currently working on a video installation funded through a Berkeley Art Works Projects grant about a vision of community that crosses the intangible boundary between housed and unhoused residents.