Laura S. Washington is a Chicago Sun-Times columnist and political analyst for ABC 7, Chicago’s ABC-owned station. She served as a 2015 Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Institute of Politics, and from 2003 to 2009 was the Ida B. Wells-Barnett University Professor at DePaul University. Laura was the former editor and publisher of The Chicago Reporter and she served as deputy press secretary to Mayor Harold Washington. Her work has been honored with dozens of local and national awards, including two Emmys, the Peter Lisagor Award, the Studs Terkel Award and the Racial Justice Award from the YWCA. Among other civic activities, she serves as a Field Museum Trustee.
Richard Lariviere has been the President and CEO of The Field Museum since 2012. His academic career has included appointments at the universities of Pennsylvania, Iowa, Texas, Collège de France, Kansas, and Oregon where he was president. He was founding principal in the business development firm, Sinha & Lariviere. A Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society of Great Britain, a Life Member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Fellow of the American Oriental Society, in Chicago he is a member of Economic Club, Commercial Club, Arts Club, and Chicago Club. He holds a B.A. (Phi Beta Kappa) from the University of Iowa and a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
Julia Stasch is President of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the nation’s largest philanthropies with offices in Chicago, Mexico City, New Delhi, and Abuja, Nigeria. With a broad background of leadership in the business, governmental, and philanthropic sectors, she has served as the Foundation’s President since March 2015. Julia joined the Foundation in 2001 as Vice President for US Programs, responsible for major work in the United States, including strategies related to justice, housing, education, community and economic development, and social and economic policy.
Mustafa Santiago Ali, Hip Hop Caucus
Mustafa Santiago Ali is a renowned national speaker, policy maker, community liaison, trainer, and facilitator. Mustafa specializes in social and environmental justice issues and focuses on a holistic approach to revitalizing vulnerable communities. He joined the Hip Hop Caucus, after working 24 years at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), where he served most recently as Senior Advisor for Environmental Justice and Community Revitalization. Throughout his career he has worked with more than 500 domestic and international communities to improve people’s lives by addressing environmental, health, and economic justice issues. Mustafa became a founding member of the EPA’s Office of Environmental Justice (OEJ). He elevated environmental justice issues and worked across federal agencies to strengthen environmental justice policies, programs, and initiatives.
Dallas Goldtooth is the national Keep It InThe Ground campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network. He has traveled extensively across North America as a public speaker and organizer, addressing the needs and issues that affect Indigenous peoples today. He is a film producer, actor, and a comedian. He co-founded The 1491s, an all-indigenous social media group that uses comedy and satire as means of critical social dialogue. He is also a Dakota language activist, cultural teacher, and dedicated father.
Anthena Gore is the Project Coordinator of Public Sector Programs at Elevate Energy, a nonprofit dedicated to designing and implementing clean energy and efficiency programs that lower costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure that the benefits of energy efficiency reach those who need them the most. Anthena supports energy, sustainability and climate planning projects for local, state and regional units of government. Anthena also serves as strategy and operations advisor for Environmentalists of Color, a 600+ member network promoting equity, community, and professional mobility for people of color working in the sector. Anthena’s passion led her to work with a dynamic team of planners, architects, and crafters to create Common Ground, a board game fashioned as a didactic tool for traversing the Chicago housing voucher program, currently on display as part of the National Public Housing Museum exhibit for the Chicago Architecture Biennale. Anthena believes that success in sustainability must always start with an honest, inclusive and equitable conversation.
Dr. Abigail Derby Lewis is a Senior Conservation Ecologist at The Field Museum of Natural History. Abigail’s work in the museum’s Keller Science Action Center, a division dedicated to translating museum science into lasting results for conservation and cultural understanding, focuses on climate change adaptation for urban nature and landscape conservation planning. Abigail partners with natural resource managers at the federal, state and local level to develop place-based adaptation strategies and co-chairs the Chicago Wilderness Climate Committee.
Alex Poltorak saw firsthand the negative impacts that lack of healthy food options have on children's ability to succeed in many communities, during a 2010 fellowship with Chicago Public Schools. Alex founded The Urban Canopy as an urban farm on the south side of Chicago, with a fundamental vision of helping to create a sustainable and equitable food system. To achieve this vision, The Urban Canopy currently grows food on a 2-acre farm in the Englewood community, distributes produce to Chicagoans at 14 weekly farmers markets and directly to 100+ Community Supported Agriculture members, and collects food waste through Compost Club from more than 600 residences and businesses.
Toni Anderson is a southside Chicago native dedicated to healing and bringing equity to the spaces supporting and threatening climate and culture. Toni is an urban ecologist, spiritualist, and founder of Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab and Mindful Rant, organizations dedicated to healing and supporting the spaces between climate and culture as a way to provide youth with the tools to be agents of mindful social, environmental change and proactive community engagement. Toni is a human emergence practitioner, coach and facilitator of participatory leadership design, transforming planning and practice processes across personal and organizational development. In 2012 she founded Sacred Keepers Sustainability Lab, an organization dedicated to ‘teaching our youth to inherit the Earth’ by providing youth programming in environmental science, global travel/service leadership, space equity, mindful leadership and the arts — intentionally examining the value systems and sacred earth keeping traditions of indigenous cultures and their influence on how people of color relate to space, nature and community.
Kimberly Wasserman-Nieto is the Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO), where she has worked since 1998. Kim joined LVEJO as an organizer and helped to organize community leaders to successfully build a new playground, community gardens, the remodeling of a local school park and forced a local polluter to upgrade their facilities to meet current laws. Her work as Executive Director of LVEJO was working with organizers to reinstate a job access bus line, build on the recent victory of a new 23 acre park to be built in Little Village and continue the 10 plus year campaign that won the closure of the two local coal power plant to fight for remediation and redevelopment of the sites. Mrs. Wasserman is Chair of the Illinois EJ Commission. In 2013, Mrs. Wasserman was the recipient of the Goldman Prize for North America.
Noteworthy Ensemble is a unique ensemble comprised of Chicago Public School music teachers (current and retired). Noteworthy serves as a platform for jazz advocacy in public schools and allows music teachers to “practice what they teach.”
The Kuumba Lynx Performance Ensemble (KLPE) believes in developing healthy hearts, minds, and bodies that will, in turn, create strong, community foundations of love. KLPE presents, promotes, and preserves Hip-Hop influenced narratives as a tool to reimagine and demonstrate a more just world. These emerging and established artists combine their love of Hip-Hop and dedication to social justice with urban narratives that explore culture, spirituality, social responsibility, and cross-cultural understandings. They seek to bring a variety of performers together to discover the complexity of their differences and to state their hope for a liberated future. Their productions explore global politics, cultural influences, spirituality, history, and contemporary issues making every individual and community story important and valuable. These stories presented, be they painful, bittersweet, or comedic, are performed within the context of a unified group of artists and their communities working toward imagining and practicing a more just world.
The Larry Brown, Jr. Quartet has played across the country and abroad in festivals such as the St. Louis Jazz Festival, JVC Jazz Festival New York and South America’s Lima Jazz Festival. He’s also performed with the Better Carter Jazz Ahead Residency in The Kennedy Center, one of the most prestigious venues in Washington D.C. His Quartet