2017 Workshop Speakers

2017 Building Bridges Conference


Highlighted Workshop: Naomi Natale

Artist and photographer Naomi Natale is the founding artist behind One Million Bones—a large-scale social arts practice that fuses education and hands-on artmaking to raise awareness of genocide—and the Artistic Director of The Art of Revolution, which uses art to transform public opinion and inspire social change. A TED Senior Fellow, Natale speaks on art and activism, and what one can do for the other.

Naomi Natale wants to bring people closer to the atrocities occurring near and far. As the founder and director of The Cradle Project, her first large-scale installation, Natale called attention and raised funds for the 48 million children orphaned in sub-Saharan Africa. Over 550 cradles were created and donated by artists from around the world who were drawn to Natale’s vision. With One Million Bones, Natale and her team collected 1,000,000 handmade bones created by individuals all over the world. In 2013, they installed them on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. to bring attention to the victims of genocide. The short film about the project, also titled One Million Bones, can be found online.

Now the Artistic Director of The Art of Revolution, Natale is working to engage and educate the public, nurture artists and activists, and strengthen social justice movements through art. Her Rhetoric & Revolution program combines film and digital design, creating an arts-based, intermodal social practice that allows participants to understand critical social issues through the lens of famous, historical speeches. Her project, En La Luz, seeks to create a physical and virtual constellation of Chilean memory to address lingering pain and disconnection over the coup d’état of 1973 and the ensuing 17 years of dictatorship. It is described as a social art practice that uses education, storytelling, and public installation to release silence, spark a public dialogue, and share the experience of 1973 in a new light.

Natale has received numerous awards, including the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s Artist as Activist Fellow for 2015 for her project in Chile, the prestigious TED Global Fellowship (2009), and the Professional Achievement Award from the School of Arts and Humanities at Richard Stockton College of New Jersey (2009). Naomi has served as an artist-in-residence at Columbia College of Chicago in 2008, 2010, and 2011. She is currently a TED Senior Fellow and was a 2010 Carl Wilkens Fellow.  


Writing Slam for Social Change (Offered at Sessions 1 & 3)

Porsha O is a poet, lover hip-hop, feminist, womanist friend, performance artist and Dean of Enrichment at Codman Academy. Currently, Porsha is nationally recognized Poetry Slam Artist and a MassLEAP spoken-word teaching artist, and she founded Codman's award-winning Slam Poetry team, including two Louder than a Bomb Championships.  Porsha earned her B.A. in African American Studies & Gender & Women Studies from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana. This workshop will feature Porsha performing her original work, coupled with an educational session on how to write slam for social change.

Theatre in the “Real World”: Improv Tools for Activists (Session 1 & 2 Combined workshop)

Theater of Public Policy is a Twin Cities based theater troupe founded by Gustavus alums Tane Danger and Brandon Boat. They are have led workshops with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, and the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Their interactive workshops use improv theater games to train listening, collaboration, empathy, and creativity muscles–the same muscles critical to anyone who wants to affect broad-based community or social change.

How Love Wins: MN Marriage Equality Campaign (Offered at Sessions 1 & 3)

Richard Carlbom has more than a decade of experience being a political and community organizer, fundraiser and trusted advisor to political leaders at all levels of government. Most recently he served as the Campaign Manager of Minnesotans United for All Families, the official 'Vote No' campaign that helped Minnesota become the first state in the nation to defeat a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Bringing strong experience from a successful campaign, Richard offers expertise on effective community organizing and campaign management.

Education as Empowerment: The Creation of  GirlPOWR (Offered at Session 1 & 2)

Julie Reager is the Founder and Executive Director for GIRLPowR, an organization working to educate and empower girls around the globe.   Julie is a returned Peace Corps Volunteer (Nicaragua 2001-2003) and has lived, worked and studied in Kenya and Egypt prior to her service. Julie earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and her Masters in Organizational Leadership from College of Saint Mary. In her workshop, Julie will share her personal experiences starting and managing a nonprofit centered around improving the lives of girls worldwide.

Land of the Free? Refugee Resettlement and Building Community (Offered at Sessions 2 &3)

Emily Hipps works at the International Institute of Minnesota as the Development and Communications Coordinator. This non-profit organization is a refugee-resettlement agency based in St. Paul. Emily offers extensive knowledge on United States refugee policies and resettlement practices, as well as effective ways you can build a welcoming community for refugees.

Implicit Bias Workshop (Offered at Sessions 1, 2, & 3)

Herchran Singh is a Senior Biology major at Gustavus Adolphus College with a minor in Classics. She will be leading a session about implicit bias in order to train individuals on identifying unconscious biases as well as how to actively counter them. Her commitment to activism and social justice is evident through her involvement in the Gustavus community as the Student Senate Co-President, a student representative on the Strategic Action and Implementation Teams, a Gustie Greeter, and a Student Supervisor in the Diversity Center. Singh has been recognized for her efforts as a recipient of the Paul Magnuson Student Leadership and Service Award, the Bruce A. Gray Diversity Honors Award, and as a member of the Guild of St. Lucia.

NARAL Clinic Escort Training (Offered at Sessions 2 & 3)

Dan Buck is the Grassroots Organizer of NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota. Dan works to educate and organize the public around demanding pro-choice policies. He will be leading a clinic-escorting training for participants interested in supporting women’s access to healthcare. Upon completion, participants will be certified to escort at clinics in the Twin Cities and be tapped into new opportunities for activism with NARAL.