Kultur Stories 2022

Gail Prensky — Creator, Executive Producer, and Project Director
As creator and director of The Jüdische Kulturbund Project, Gail brings to this project a deep and first-hand understanding of the Kulturbund’s spirit and recognizes that their issues of living under oppression continue with artists around the world today. Her interviews with the Kulturbund survivors and current-day artists form the basis of her passion and vision for this project, which is rooted in the Kulturbund’s strong regard for music and the performing arts.  In 2001 Gail started researching and gathering material about the Kulturbund. Several years later she has brought together select talent, partners, and like-minded supporters to make this project possible and then interviewed artists living under oppression in various countries. Her hope and dream is that the project will serve as a beacon of inspiration to all people.

For the last 25 years, Gail has written, produced, and directed a broad range of media projects in film, multimedia, books, and exhibitions for clients such as the Banner Health's Alzheimer's Registry, the New America Foundation, the Pew Charitable Trust, Discovery Communications, National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, Time-Life Books, and Glaxo-Wellcome.  Through her Meteopa Productions, Gail produces independent projects focusing on advocacy, art, human rights, international, and music themes. She is on the advisory board of the Breaking Barriers Institute to develop films about those who made an impact on civil rights in the United States. Between 2013 and 2016, Gail served on the board of The Welders, the DC-based playwrights’ collective and winner of the Helen Hayes-John Aniello Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre Company (2016).

Mark Haney — Producer and Associate Project Director
Mark brings organizational, financial, and administrative expertise to our project’s team, as well as film production.  He is an international trade economist with over 25 years of experience advising companies, foreign governments, and trade associations on issues relating to international trade and economic and business trends. Among other things, Mark served as senior executive for a number of companies, including as President and CEO of the International Business and Economic Research Corporation (IBERC).

In the course of his work and life, Mark developed a strong interest in global issues focused on human economic rights, art, and music. Among other endeavors, he created a vision for, and served as the executive director of the Cheick Hamala Foundation, which is dedicated to building an institute for performing arts in Mali and strengthening cultural ties between Mali and the Western world through education, interaction, and art. Mark is an Awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2022).

Dominic Dau Deng Mathiang (DD Dawoody) — Education Facilitator
DD is a singer, songwriter, activist, student and entrepreneur.  He was born in Wau Western Bhar El Gazal, Sudan (now South Sudan).  While growing up he was involved in church choir then began creating music, leading a music group in performances of African traditional music and dance.  He incorporates these influences based on his personal experience rather than theoretically approaching the African music. He continues to perform with groups and as a solo artist; performance pieces are a major part of his life's work.  He released his first hit in 2011 called SOUTH SUDAN IS MY HOME and also launched an album in 2012 called INTI WAHIT.  In 2016, he released his third album, I LOVE MY NATION.

Apart from working as a composer, performer, and solo musician, DD Dawoody is also a first member artist whose music videos trended on national TV (SSBC or SSTV) during independence of the Republic of South Sudan and contributed on live performance the same day.

DD Dawoody has been participating in Artist Initiatives for Peace and response to oppression, which includes AnaTaban Art Initiative, I AM PEACE, and The Jüdische Kulturbund Project.

Johan Fält — Education Facilitator
Johan Fält is a director, actor, playwright and musician living in Karlstad, Sweden.

He has studied drama, film, art and art history in Malmö and Karlstad and has a Bachelor of Art in cultural studies from the University of Karlstad.

Through the years Johan has appeared in plays varying from Shakespeare to Ionesco and Pinter as well as directing in several different genres from childrens plays to drama and musicals. He has also composed original music for theatre and film.

Johan is a part of the Kunskapsteatern, a theatre company with an aim to illustrate facts and knowledge through drama and entertainment.

Kaitlyn Haney — Education Facilitator
Kaitlyn is passionate about creating community and fostering connection through art and education. She believes anyone can be an artist. She spent six years working with elementary and middle school students in extracurricular programming, where she combined her love of the arts with a background in mental health to encourage self-expression and creative exploration. She has practiced photography since childhood and worked as a freelance photographer in the Delaware-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area throughout her adult life. Kaitlyn serves as an arts ambassador for The Pad Project which works to end period poverty and menstrual stigma. She is an awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2022).

Saum Idd —Education Facilitator
Saum Idd lives in Kenya where she is a journalist, writer and social innovator who believes stories have the power to change the world. For over six years, she has worked with brands and clients including the Danish Refugee Council, Sabis International School and KARI to translate their visions through communication, strategy and development; production management; and digital content development.  Saum is passionate about using storytelling as a tool for advocacy, working with the youth in the low-resourced communities, including Kibera, Nandi County and high schools where she runs film club programs. She is an Ashoka 2020 fellow, a 2021 Mandela Washington Fellow for Young African Leaders as well as an alumnus of the  Akili Dada Fellowship and its Young Changemakers Program. Saum  also volunteers as a mentor for Reaching Out with Compassion in Kibera (ROCK).

Saum is an alumnus of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2021).

Cindy Oxberry — Education Coordinator and Facilitator; Intern Manager
Cindy went to Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and began her post as a resident assistant director for Marta Domingo and her production of LA RONDINE and for David Edwards’ production of FEDORA starring Mirella Freni and Placido Domingo. For 20 years she has returned to work on such productions as DON CARLO, MAGIC FLUTE, RIGOLETTO, IL TROVATORE, IL BARBIERE DI SIVIGLIA, TURANDOT, THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, UN BALLO IN MASCHERA, HANSEL & GRETEL, PIQUE DAME (starring Placido Domingo), LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR, VANESSA, MANON LESCAUT, AIDA, NORMA, SAMSON & DELILAH, L’ITALIANA D’ALGERI, LA CENERENTOLA, A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, MADAMA BUTTERFLY, JENUFA, LA BOHEME, A VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE, PEARL FISHERS, PETER GRIMES, DON PASQUALE and LE NOZZE DI FIGARO. She has also worked for Los Angeles Opera as an assistant director on LA RONDINE, LA TRAVIATA, THE TALES OF HOFFMANN, LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR and LUISA FERNANDA, starring Placido Domingo.

In the summer of 2000, Cindy was invited to serve as the stage director for OPERA INSTITUTE where she still is only now as the Program Director in addition to her classroom teaching. She has also served as the stage director for CAMP FOR KIDS – both programs offered by the Education Department of Washington National Opera.

Cindy’s directorial career has also flourished. She has directed several productions of THE MERRY WIDOW, around the country. Her MIKADO has been remounted in several American cities as well as several wonderful musicals, THE MUSIC MAN, CAROUSEL, CAMELOT and CANDIDE. She is honored to also be a director as major universities and colleges in the US as well. She has recently begun working in the genre of cabaret and loves it!

She was most proud to be invited by Mr. Domingo to Mexico City to celebrate his 40th anniversary as an international artist. She had the honor of working with Mr. Domingo on the production of FEDORA for the International Opera Company of Mexico at the Palacio de Bellas Artes.

Leif Persson — Program Co-Director and Education Facilitator
Leif Persson is a director, actor and regional coordinator of theatre at the national touring theatre Riksteatern in Sweden.  Leif has a long experience of theatre and has been active in a large variety of Sweden’s independent theatres and institutions. Until the late 1990s he was the chairperson of the Center for Independent Theatres in Sweden.

Noa Zimmerman — Education Facilitator
Noa Zimmerman’s career has reflected her belief in the responsibility of artists to push society forward by using their platforms to raise awareness about injustices, and inspire others to take action to create positive change. As a musician and filmmaker, she strives to present herself and her art as authentically as possible  and create human to human connections. In May of 2021 she graduated with a double degree from University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, studying Popular Music Performance with an emphasis on Songwriting, and Music Production. Upon admittance to USC, Noa was awarded a full-tuition Stamps Scholarship for her leadership, academic achievement, and community engagement. In March 2020, Noa co-founded and became Executive Director of the Artivist Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to amplifying the voices of activist artists, and connecting them with local and global communities to advance social, racial, environmental, and economic justice. Noa is an Awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2022).

Interns

Tawa Abiwa Graphic Design Intern
Tawa is an undergrad student and Linehan scholar currently pursuing her BFA in graphic design at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. She loves to fawn over shapes and drawing surreal compositions featuring strange characters in calm scenes. In her work, she aims to explore and introduce a sense of play at the intersection of fun and functional. When not designing or looking for her tablet’s pen, Tawa enjoys roller skating, running, crocheting, and keeping up with current design trends. Tawa aspires to expand her practice into multimedia design and collaborate with a diverse range of clients & varied industries, all while peppering in her love of illustration and bold color combinations.

Andrea Bamfo — Teaching Intern
Andrea earned her Bachelor’s degree in Hearing and Speech Sciences from the University of Maryland, College Park. She loves volunteering and spending time working with students. She was a volunteer for both America Reads*America Counts and the Maryland Mentor Corps, mentoring students and helping them increase their skills in reading, writing, and math. Andrea currently works as a Speech Language Pathologist Assistant, a job in which she aids licensed Speech Language Pathologists with providing therapeutic intervention to clients in order to enhance communication skills. 

Elena Cutescu — Teaching Intern
Elena is a student at Montgomery College in Rockville, Maryland, USA. She is from the Ukraine and has a bachelor’s degree in finance from The State Agrarian University of Republic of Moldova. She was living and working in Chisinau, Republic of Moldova, before she immigrated to the United States six years ago. During her studies at Montgomery College, she was a part of the Digital Storytelling Internship where she created and presented her personal digital story based on social injustice in the Republic of Moldova. Outside of her professional endeavors, she enjoys traveling and discovering the beauty of nature. She likes camping, fishing, and reading. Currently, she is a part of the intern team of the Jüdische Kulturbund Project. Her goal is to get a degree in the United States and remain here with her family and secure a job.

Jadyn Hackley — Teaching Intern
Jadyn is from Prince George’s County, is a student at the University of Maryland Baltimore County, majoring in music education. Jadyn’s love of music began as early as age five when she had an interest in the saxophone that led her to the piano and voice. While music has always been a big passion of hers, the idea that this passion could be used to help better her community is most important to her. Jadyn has been a part of the Metropolitan Youth Praise and Worship Team, President of the Metropolitan Elevate Council and a teacher at the Pee Wee Piano School of the Arts. Jadyn aspires to continue to better her community using the power of music and the impact that it has on the lives around the Baltimore area.

Anjelica Marzan — Zoom stage manager and assistant to Program Coordinator
Anjelica is currently a business major at Montgomery College, Rockville, Maryland campus, although her home base is in Quezon City, Philippines. Anjelica first became involved in Digital Storytelling in the Fall of 2021 when she joined the school’s Digital Storytelling Internship.  Honing her video editing skills and her storytelling abilities, Anjelica found real joy in sharing her life experiences, especially about her heritage.  She grew up accompanying her mom to numerous Filipino events held in the DMV area, as she was a journalist for a local Filipino-American newspaper.  Being involved in the community and growing up in a Filipino household has made her a proud first-generation Filipino-American, and even more so after she moved to the Philippines. Anjelica also loves learning about different cultures besides her own. Through Kultur Stories, she has been able to connect to people from all over the world who are just as passionate about sharing their own stories as she is.

Noah Nies — Graphic Design and Web Page Producer Intern
Noah is an artist, animator, and photographer using historic processes, mixed-media animation, and experimental techniques to explore found family, introspection, and the self. He graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a degree in Animation and Photography, and has exhibited work at MICA, the Spark Gallery, and UMBC's Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement. As a freelance artist, he has made work ranging from youtube explainer-style animation, to projection for live performance, to music scores for dance performance.