Convergence Presenters

Keynote

Marc Bamuthi Joseph is an inaugural recipient of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship, the winner of the 2011 Alpert Award in Theater, and an inaugural recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. He is the founding Program Director of the exemplary non-profit Youth Speaks, and is a co-founder of Life is Living, a national series of one day festivals designed to activate under-resourced parks through hip hop arts and focused environmental action. Mr. Joseph recently premiered the Creative Time commission “Black Joy in the Hour of Chaos” in New York’s Central Park, and is currently completing a new work with Bill T. Jones for the Philadelphia Opera while serving as Chief of Program and Pedagogy at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco. His evening length piece “/peh-LO-tah/” has been commissioned by the Kennedy Center and will premiere at YBCA in the Fall of 2016.

Presenters

Evelyn Blumenberg is a Professor of Urban Planning and Chair of the Department of Urban Planning in the UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs.  Her research examines the relationship between the urban structure of metropolitan areas—the spatial location of residents, employment, and services—and outcomes for low-wage workers.  Her recent projects include analyses of the residential location and travel behavior of young adults, the relationship between automobile ownership and employment outcomes among the poor, and the transportation expenditure burden.  Professor Blumenberg holds a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master's degree and Ph.D. in urban planning from the University of California, Los Angeles.

 

Amanda Daflos serves as the Director of the Innovation Team in the Mayor's Office of Budget and Innovation in the City of Los Angeles. Her team works on key mayoral priorities and collaborates across the City to define pathways to improvement. Previously she worked as a Senior Manager at Deloitte Consulting, where her work focused on business process and organizational innovation and redesign, cost savings, change management and IT transformation. Daflos presently serves as a Deputy to the Los Angeles Honorary Consulate General to Nepal, an advisory role she accepted in the wake of the 2015 earthquake.  Daflos holds a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Colorado and a BA from Hamilton College. She is a 2014 graduate of the Leadership Tomorrow program in Seattle and lives in Los Angeles. 

 

Juan Devis is a creative leader in public media. Devis is currently the Vice President, Arts and Culture Programming, for the largest independent television network in the United States, KCETLink. In this capacity, Devis has had to develop strategic partnerships with funders, organizations and independent production houses to ensure a new slate of content for two stations – KCET + LINK TV - securing funds and maintaining an editorial vision and cohesiveness for the company’s new mission. Devis has also charted the stations’ new Arts and Culture initiative and is the Executive Producer of the Emmy Winner Artbound, consisting of a television series, an online networked cultural hub and the creation of programmatic partnerships with cultural institutions. In addition, Devis has developed and is the Executive Producer of a slate of new productions series that are either in development, production and pre-production. Some of these include the Emmy nominated Live @ the Ford, Studio A, Border Blaster, Departures, City Walk, Studio A, Ocean Stories, Re-Plan it and others. He is a founding member and is currently a board member of the LF Charter School for the Arts, an innovative arts-integrated charter public school serving the population of North East Los Angeles. In the press, Juan Devis was presented as a major “influencer” in Los Angeles by the LA Weekly, and his transmedia series, Departures, was celebrated by the New York Times as a new twist on public media. Devis has won numerous awards, including: Emmy, Webby, LA Press Awards, National Arts Journalism awards, the Japan Prize, and others.

 

Rudy Espinoza is the Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), a community development organization designing innovations to responsibly revitalize low-income, urban areas. There, Rudy manages initiatives that include a micro-lending program for healthy food entrepreneurs and a purchasing cooperative that offers procurement and distribution services for small grocers in low-income neighborhoods. Before LURN, Rudy worked in South LA providing micro-loans to street vendors. He serves on LA’s Board of Transportation Commissioners, the Board of Directors for the LA Kitchen, Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, and the LA Food Policy Council. Rudy holds degrees in Business and Urban Planning.



Ron Finley
 is a creative phenomenon: a gangsta horticulturalist, with a strong vision for community gardening and the eventual creation of "a school of nourishment and change".  Nicknamed the “Gangsta Gardener” and the “Renegade Gardener”, Ron Finley planted organic vegetables in the parkway in front of his South Los Angeles home and a revolution was started. Ron’s belief that gardens build communities has blossomed into a quest to change how we eat. A man of many interests, Ron’s career started in his family garage where he built a clothing company, DROPDEAD Collexion. The line was a top seller with high-end retailers such as Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Sacks Fifth Avenue.  Ron’s passion for the arts is also reflected through his expansive collection of Black entertainment memorabilia, an exhibit titled Ron Finley’s Travels Through Blackness. Based in LA, Ron’s vision is one of transformation through art. Today Ron’s mission is changing the composition of the soil in communities around the world. When he is not spreading the word, you can find him in the garden. 

 

Talia Gibas is Professional Development Programs Manager at the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, where she creates and oversees an array of support services learning opportunities for seasoned and emerging arts administrators and individual artists. Prior to moving into her current position at the Arts Commission, she spent six years developing and managing a range of grant and professional development programs for the Commission's regional arts education initiative, Arts for All. Talia completed the Createquity Writing Fellowship in 2012 and served on the editorial board from July 2013 to September 2015. She is a former member of Americans for the Arts' Arts Education Council and earned her A.B. in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities from the University of Chicago, and Ed.M in Arts in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

 

Mynor Godoy is an Education Program Officer with the United Way of Greater Los Angeles. His primary responsibilities involve acting as project manager for United Way’s education grants portfolio where they provide general operating support under two areas - after-school/extended learning and policy/advocacy. In addition, Mynor also supports United Way’s community engagement initiatives around the Local Control Funding Formula. As a first-generation college student himself, Mynor is an advocate for equity and access for low-income youth and students of color. Mynor has worked in education since he became a college outreach coordinator for the Early Academic Outreach program while an undergraduate at the University of California, Irvine (Zot! Zot!). Outside of his full-time role as an Education Program officer, Mynor has also served as Chair of the Planning and Land Use Committee (PLUC) of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council for the past two years. He holds a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia University in New York and a BA in Political Science and International Studies from UC Irvine.

 

Ping Ho, MA, MPH is Founding Director of UCLArts and Healing, which transforms lives through creative expression for self-discovery, connection and empowerment.  We facilitate transformation by integrating the innate benefits of the arts with mental health practices. UCLArts and Healing is an organizational member of the UCLA Collaborative Centers for Integrative Medicine, of which Ping is a steering committee member and was founding administrator. She was also founding administrator for the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI), which led to the privilege of writing for Norman Cousins and co-writing the professional autobiography of George Solomon, M.D., founder of PNI.  In addition to an extensive background as a health educator and performing artist, Ping has a BA in psychology with honors from Stanford ‒ where she was appointed to spearhead the still-thriving Health Improvement Program for faculty and staff, an MA in counseling psychology with specialization in exercise physiology from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an MPH in Community Health Sciences from UCLA School of Public Health. Ping is a member of the Council of Advisers for the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care, a national network of educational organizations and agencies in complementary and alternative medicine.

 

Leticia Fernandez Ivins is a Creative Services Manager with Los Angeles Metro. She collaborates with artists, designers, planners, engineers and community stakeholders to produce resonant and transformative artwork that elevates the place in public spaces. She is particularly drawn to new platforms for artistic practice at the intersection of art, health, civic engagement, policy and urbanism. Ivins has worked in the nonprofit arts sector for over 15 years at the Getty Foundation, Ryman Arts and the Los Angeles County Arts Commission. She is board secretary with the Pilipino Workers Center, co-chair of the Dahlia Heights Elementary School Arts Committee and an Advisory Board Member of the Emerging Arts Leaders Los Angeles. In her free time, Ivins plays futbol and rears two young girls.

 

Charlie Jensen is the managing editor at the Colburn School, a leading performing arts school in Los Angeles. He serves on the Emerging Leader Council of Americans for the Arts and recently completed his term as Leadership Co-Chair of Emerging Arts Leaders/LA. He teachers in the University of Denver’s Creative Writing MA program and is developing courses for their Arts Development and Program Management program

 

Kahlil Joseph is an LA based filmmaker who has worked with some of the most influential artists in music. His beautifully shot, evocative short film, “Until the Quiet Comes”, received widespread critical acclaim and won the Grand Jury Prize for Short Films at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. The following year, the film was included in Kara Walker’s celebrated exhibit, Ruffneck Constructivists, at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Josephs m.A.A.d, a lush portrait of contemporary Compton, California, and collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, evolved from a short film into a two-screen video installation that was originally exhibited during The Underground Museum’s 2014 group show, The Oracle. Thereafter, The Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles acquired m.A.A.d. during their 2015 season, for Josephs first solo major museum show entitled, Double Conscience. Joseph’s first feature-length project, The Reflektor Tapes, is an unorthodox music film that follows the Grammy-winning band, Arcade Fire, to six different countries, alongside a narrative thread exploring the rhythms, sounds and vibrant culture of Haiti. The film premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival.

 

Born in La Paz, Mexico to a Mexican Father and Turkish Mother, Maya Jupiter grew up in Sydney, Australia. It was in Sydney’s Western Suburbs where she first fell in love with Hip Hop. Maya’s love of writing rhymes helped her express her fear, pain, joy and hope as a teenager and later on she realized the power music held in using it as a tool to make a positive difference in her community. It is with this ideal that she co-founded Artivist Entertainment, an entertainment company committed to creating and supporting art and music that inspires positive social change alongside Quetzal Flores, Veronica Gonzales, Alberto Lopez and Aloe Blacc. Maya has release two solo albums, the latest created with Quetzal Flores and Martha Gonzalez of Grammy Award winning, EastLos rock band Quetzal and her husband, singer/songwriter Aloe Blacc. The album is inspired by Son Jarocho and stays true to Maya's love of hip hop, dancehall and soul, made up almost entirely of live instrumentation, including Mexican harp, tarima and jarana. Her lyrics are powerful, vibrant, and uplifting. Maya’s first album ‘Today’ debuted in 2003 on Mother Tongues, the first label dedicated solely to women in hip-hop. She later performed with Latin Jazz band Son Veneno, formed a group called Foreign Heights, presented and produced several hip-hop radio shows including the national ‘triple j’s hip hop show’ and her own ‘Black Beans, Brown Rice’ Radio show on www.radiosombra.org and was a VJ for Channel [V] Australia.

 

Diane Luby Lane is the founder and executive director of Get Lit - Words Ignite, an arts education organization that stems dropout rates and increases teen literacy by teaching classic iconic poetry to youth and fostering them to write their own spoken word response poems. Lane’s LIT KIT, a standards-based in-school curriculum, has been adopted by schools throughout the world. She is a recognized leader in the field of arts education and oversees operations of Get Lit, the Get Lit Players, and the Classic Slam, which is the largest classic teen poetry slam in the nation. Under her guidance, Get Lit has expanded to reach over 20,000 youth each year. The Get Lit Players have become global ambassadors for poetry, called "The Teen Spoken Word Poets That Enchanted The Internet" by GOOD Magazine and performing at the Library of Congress, Lincoln Center, the Hollywood Bowl, and more, alongside luminaries like Gloria Steinem, John Legend, and Questlove. Lane is author to two plays published by Samuel French, Born Feet First and Words For Women. She is a graduate of the Annenberg Alchemy and Alchemy Plus Programs, a Southern California Leadership Network and California Connections Fellow, and a recipient of the Presidential Lifetime Volunteer Service Award. She lives with her husband, two children, and dog, Rocko. For bookings or more information, visit www.dianelubylane.com. 
 

 

Julia Meltzer is a filmmaker and director of Clockshop, a multifaceted arts organization that works at the intersection of politics, urban space, and cultural production to explore the forces that shape our lived environment.  Her films have been broadcast nationally on PBS and exhibited at the Whitney Biennial, the Sharjah Biennial, The Toronto International Film Festival, and the Rotterdam International Film Festival. Julia is a recipient of the John Simon Memorial Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a Rockefeller Fellowship and a Fulbright Fellowship in Damascus, Syria. She has taught at Hampshire College, UC Irvine and Cal Arts.

 

Elena Muslar is the Program Assistant at the Skirball Cultural Center where she supports and facilitates the production of film, lecture, music, and performing arts public programming. She also co-manages the Skirball Senior Outreach Program. In her spare time, she works as a Production Assistant for Grand Park and The Music Center. Elena achieved her BA in Theatre with minors in Dance, African-American Studies, and an emphasis in Education from Loyola Maymount University and her MFA in Theatre Management specializing in Producing from CalArts. She serves on the Leadership Council of Emerging Arts Leaders/Los Angeles as Programming Co-Chair, the Program Advisory Committee for Arts for LA, and the Next Generation Arts Leadership Report Advisory Committee for the Hewlett Foundation. She is a member of WOCA (Women of Color in the Arts), the Next Gen National Arts Network, and was in the first cohort of the California Presenters Next-Gen Leadership Diversity Program. Some of her previous work experiences include placements at Inner-City Arts, the LA County Arts Commission, Center Theatre Group, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She also embarked on a two-month Communication and Sales Production internship in Florence, Italy at Teatro Verdi. Elena has also published articles through HowlRound and Americans For The Arts focusing on unpacking diversity in arts administration and outreach to diverse audiences. www.elenamuslar.com.

 

Aaron Paley is President and Co-founder of Community Arts Resources (CARS) and the Executive Producer and Co-founder of CicLAvia. Paley, and business partner Katie Bergin, have propelled CARS over the past quarter century to become a leading innovator in the activation of public space through content-driven programming and new models for design.  He is also the founder of Yiddishkayt, the largest organization west of the Hudson dedicated to Jewish Eastern European culture. With more than 35 years of experience, Paley’s work has garnered him a significant reputation in the fields of urban planning, cultural programming and event production. Among other achievements, Paley launched the public performance series which became Grand Performances at California Plaza; developed the initial programming concept for the 16‐acre $56 million redevelopment of Grand Park; co-wrote the first plan for the reuse of the historic Broadway Movie Palaces; created and directed the seminal 1987 Los Angeles Fringe Festival and in 1984 helped launch the National Performance Network under the direction of David R. White. He received the Durfee Foundation’s Stanton Fellowship in 2008, which led to the development of CicLAvia – now the largest car-free, open streets event in the United States, temporarily turning city streets into places for Angelenos to walk, bike, socialize and celebrate their city.

 

Jose Ramirez is an artist, teacher and parent of three daughters. He received a BFA (1990) and an MFA (1993) from UC-Berkeley. In 1995, he received a California Teaching Credential from CSULA. In 2001 he received the California Community Foundation Visual Artist Fellowship. He has taught in LAUSD for over 20 years and is currently teaching 3rd grade at Esperanza Elementary in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. He has illustrated six children’s books and exhibited his work in museums, universities, galleries and community centers in New York, Washington DC, San Francisco, San Diego, Texas, Japan and Mexico.  He has painted over 10 murals in Los Angeles and in Mexico.

 

Heather Rigby is a Los Angeles native and General Manager of Productions for the L.A. County Arts Commission at the Ford Theatres, a historic outdoor amphitheater in Hollywood. She leads the programming and administrative team at the Ford Theatres where she puts her deep interest in community engagement, cultural equity and direct arts participation to good use. She is committed to learning about what it means to present, curate and create performing arts in our incredibly pluralistic society.  As part of her work at the Arts Commission, she also serves as Associate Producer for the L.A. County Holiday Celebration, a live televised program featuring local choirs, dance companies and music ensembles on December 24 each year. She also oversees the County’s Free Concerts program which supports over 80 free music events in the region. Heather serves on the board of California Presenters and Western Arts Alliance, and is a participant in the inaugural cohort of the APAP Leadership Fellows program. She came to the arts via the world of social dance and still makes time to cut the occasional rug.

 

Kaile Shilling, MTS, is the Director of the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, an umbrella organization of over 150 members,  including government agencies, nonprofits, and individuals, all committed to ending the epidemic of violence in Los Angeles County.  The Violence Prevention Coalition provides education, resources, and advocacy to emphasize prevention strategies, and is known for facilitating and convening cross-sector and multi-agency gatherings.  The VPC’s core work includes supporting collaboration and holistic framing when addressing violence prevention.  Areas of focus include gang violence prevention and intervention, reentry from incarceration, restorative justice practices, policy advocacy, arts programming as an intervention strategy, gun violence prevention, and domestic violence prevention, all with a complexity frame that focuses on the intersections of violence. Prior to the VPC, Kaile worked at Homeboy Industries, one of the leading gang intervention agencies in the nation.  She holds a Bachelor of Science in Social Anthropology from Harvard University, and a Master of Theological Studies from Loyola Marymount University.  For two years she served on the board of the Silverlake Independent Jewish Community Center.  She is also the wife of journalist Vince Beiser and the mom of two amazing kids.

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