Lukaza Branfman-Verissimo is an artist, activist, educator, storyteller & curator who lives and works in Oakland, CA. Branfman-Verissimo’s work has been included in exhibitions and performances at STNDRD, San Francisco State University Gallery, Signal Center for Contemporary Art, September Gallery, Southern Exposure, SFMOMA, Kala Art Institute, The Berkeley Art Museum, UNTITLED and San Francisco Arts Commission, amongst others. She is the lead curator at Nook Gallery and a member of the CTRL+SHFT Collective.
Photograph by Andrea Lo, 2018
Moderator: Heta Fell - Broadcast Journalist & Co-Founder of Award-Winning Stance Podcast + Cultural Partnerships Director
Passionate about driving new conversations in arts and culture, Heta has worked with brands and organizations including adidas, Fendi, YBCA and TATE to create meaningful cultural partnerships through podcasts, events, and community programs. She co-founded award-winning podcast, Stance, with a view to stretch the debates we traditionally hear around arts, culture and current affairs, and give more voices a chance to have their say. It is an independent magazine style show, which has featured Janet Mock, Armina Mussa, Riz Ahmed, Yaa Gyasi, Ibeyi, Fatimah Asghar, Four Tet, Kaytranada, NAO, and more.
Elisha Greenwell - Brand Strategy Director + Founder/CEO @ Black Joy Parade
Elisha Greenwell is a Northern California native and 14-year advertising vet. She is a graduate of UC Santa Barbara with a B.A. in Business Economics and Creative Writing, and the Academy of Art University with an M.F.A in Advertising Strategy. Throughout her career she has developed award-winning brand strategy for companies such as Intel, Nike, Target, Starbucks and Facebook. She is also a board member of the JD Sheth Foundation, and the founder of Black Joy Parade, a celebration of the Black experience and its influence on cultures past, present and future. The 2nd annual Black Joy Parade takes place on 2.24.19 in Oakland, Ca.
An artist of many disciplines and mediums, Meryl focuses on the relationship between her own hands and material. Informing her material selection is a meditation on the elements of the periodic table from noble gases to metals and organics. She is aware of the history of her elements from their origins in the universe to their applications in culture and myth. The artist derives deeper meanings from these histories to add layers to her concepts. Both a personal and process driven narrative drive the work further forward.
Claudia Mata is the co-founder of Vertly, a plant-based, clean beauty skincare line that focuses on the natural wellness properties of CBD. After relocating from New York City to the San Francisco Bay area in 2016, Mata immersed herself into a formal herbalism education, which she then merged with her husband’s background in cannabis to create what is now Vertly. Prior to this, Mata worked in fashion editorial in NYC for 12 years, most recently as the Accessories and Jewelry Director at W Magazine. She still continues her role as the Contributing Jewelry Editor at Elle Décor with a monthly column. Mata is based in Northern California, where she lives with her husband and their two children.
Rian Worm - Director of Marketing @ AEG (Oracle Arena & Oakland Coliseum)
Rian Worm is the Director of Marketing at AEG Facilities in Oakland. AEG, one the world’s leading sports and entertainment companies, manages over 120 venues including Oracle Arena. At AEG, Rian develops business growth initiatives and leads venue marketing strategy for music’s top names. Since her start at AEG Rian has played an integral part in pitching and marketing top tier events including Prince’s last arena show, ‘A Moderated Conversation with Michelle Obama’ and Rolling Loud Festival.
Sara Haider - Director, Product Management @ Twitter
Sara is a Director of Product Management at Twitter where she leads conversations and helps build features that let people discuss what's happening. Previously, she served as an engineering director where she led engineering teams for the company’s video products, including live video, video on demand, 360 video and Periscope. Sara has also led engineering teams within Twitter for Android and Vine. She founded Twitter's Women in Engineering group and is an advisor to Girls Who Code, a non-profit organization focused on inspiring young girls to pursue and stay in engineering fields. Sara also advises and angel invests in startups in San Francisco, New York City, and Toronto. Sara holds a degree in Software Engineering and Cognitive Science from the University of Waterloo.
Lynzie Riebling is VP of Audience Insights & Strategy at REVOLT, the Hip Hop media company founded by Sean P. “Diddy” Combs, and headquartered in sunny, star-studded Los Angeles. She prides herself on keeping her finger on the pulse of culture, using her diverse background in insights, strategy, and emerging trends to keep brands ahead of the curve.
Vida is a jewelry designer and visual artist based in Oakland. Her practice explores themes of femininity, spirituality and joy, and she views adornment as a mode of identifying oneself and an act of self-empowerment. Her painting practice, which is both figurative and abstract, informs her jewelry practice and vice versa, in playful exploration of color palettes and silhouettes. Her affinity for all things tropical is apparent in her bold colors and organic shapes.
Her images are a full access pass into feminine power. She collaborates with female sex workers from all walks of life and she is in constant dialogue with them. They’re not just subjects of my photography — they’re her community. Their strength through vulnerability is her passion. They grow and change together through established trust, and that’s what she wants for all women everywhere.
When she first started shooting clubs in San Francisco, she had no idea it would unfold like it has. For many, sex work is tied to all sorts of perceptual challenges, and she had to confront hers right away. This dynamically shifted the way she looks at herself and her own body, not just the women she celebrates on camera. Together they are rewriting a story about strength and grace. They’re not an invisible revolution, they’re forming a powerful new visual language that demolishes shame.
Over the last decade, Jamica has curated music for the likes of Macy’s, Cadillac, Almay, Google, and Radio One. In her five years at Apple, she worked with designers and engineers to ship mobile devices, wearables, and software. Whether she’s designing for dance floors, pixels, or products, her process remains the same: research, observe, quickly prototype, collaborate, and test.
When she’s not spinning, prototyping, or collaborating, Jamica loves talking about black cultural production, spending time with her new family and cooking global comfort food. Sometimes even at the same time.
Moderator: Fredia - Stand-Up Comedian & Co-Host of the It's A Look Podcast
Fredia is a stand-up comedian and co-host of the It's A Look podcast. Using comedic storytelling as her framework, Fredia works to illustrate the nuances of what it means to be a young millennial woman of color. Fredia’s expertise lies in laughter and she uses her jokes as the platter to serve the heavier topics we're all afraid to taste.