Gail Prensky — Creator, Executive Producer, and 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.
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).
Gail is a recipient of the Mandela Washington Fellowship American Impact Award; an Awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2019); and U.S. State Department Arts Envoy Program Awardee (2019 and 2022). She is also honored to be an ongoing participant in the Mandela Washington Reciprocal Exchange Alumni Ambassadors Initiative.
Mark Haney — Producer and Associate Project Director
Mark brings organizational, financial, and administrative expertise to our project’s team. 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 also an avid craftsman and sailor and amateur musician and filmmaker.
Ane Powers — Outreach Coordinator
Ane draws on her business and governance expertise to assist organizations in strengthening culture, processes, and program integrity. The benefits of rich opportunities — human resource executive, Citizen Development Corps volunteer, talk show host, entrepreneur/business owner, career coach, non-profit board director — and partnerships with smart and motivated visionaries have allowed her to focus her talents and values on creating a more civil and compassionate world.
Joyce Koo — Intern and College Ambassador
Joyce is currently a student at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and is pursuing a BFA in Visual Arts with a Graphic Design concentration. After joining the virtual Kultur Stories program in the spring of 2021, she was inspired by the Project's initiatives to connect and create voices for rising artists and talents from Baltimore, Sweden, and South Sudan, as they speak on their personal experiences and stories. She is passionate about using her creativity and design skills to assist in the efforts of supporting and creating a platform for emerging artists around the world.
K-12 STUDENT AMBASSADORS
Wilson High School
Achouth Deng — Photographer and Filmmaker, BULLETS TO BOOKS and KULTUR STORIES
Achouth is an award-winning documentary photographer and filmmaker with over 10 years experience producing multimedia in South Sudan. In 2019, he won the Best Photographer Award from EU photo contest in Juba, South Sudan and the Oscar of African Creativity Award in Cairo, Egypt.
As a professional photographer, he has produced numerous humanitarian documentary stories (both photo and video) for local and International non-governmental organizations in South Sudan; including IOM, SAFERWORLD, JAM AID INTERNATIONAL, DORCAS AID INTERNATIONAL, SAADO, LORETO RUMBEK, CROWN THE WOMAN, UNHCR, CAFOD & Trócaire and SCIAF among many others.
Achuoth has also served as a Radio Creative Producer for over 5 years with a leading radio - Eye Radio. During his service, Achuoth produced numerous radio dramas, radio programs, feature stories, PSAs, etc. disseminating messages of peace and reconciliation, health and education across South Sudan
Achuoth studied Mass Communications at East Africa School of Media Studies and Film Production at the Mohamed Amin Foundation, in Kenya respectively.
He runs his owned media production company - AD IMAGES SOUTH SUDAN that is focused to renovating the media horizon in his country. Achuoth passion for storytelling is directed at transforming youth lives and addressing community concerns.
James Egan — Producer, ARTIVISTS
Prof. James Egan founded the Immersive Technology and New Media Lab at the Academy Art University where he did extensive research on this exponentially expanding new medium that is changing entertainment, gaming, medicine, education, and museum exhibitions to name just a few of the fields that will be completely disrupted.As Executive Director he produced VR content with Advanced VR makers starting with VR Ideation, to Immersive Visualization, production and post production. As a New Me- dia consultant, Prof. Egan has extensive relationships with VR/AR professionals and experts in this emerging industry as new technological breakthroughs are occurring daily in hardware and software that are redefining the production and post production workflow. He has also produced and sponsored three VR/AR Summits with industry professionals that have helped explore many of the creative challenges that this new medium has presented. Working with the International Documentary Association, he sponsored the first VR conference in LA focused on VR documentary filmmaking. Prof. Egan was chosen as one of the first International Judges for the first global VR Art Competition sponsored by Red Bull where 45 artists were chosen from around the world to compete using Google Quill. As CEO of Wild of Heart Films he has produced award winning documentaries and films that have focused on social issues. He is the producer of the critically acclaimed documentary RAISE HELL: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF MOLLY IVINS (2019).
Dylan Glatthorn — Music Composer and Sound Designer, HANNAH'S DANCE
Dylan is a two-time Alan Menken Award-winning composer and lyricist. His music has been described by the New York Times as “assured” with the “steaminess and drive of Janacek” and the “harmonic allure” of Debussy. He currently resides in Brooklyn.
Dylan has written music for dozens of critically-acclaimed and award-winning films, as well as for brands like Nickelodeon, Oakley, Red Bull, Alessi, and PBS. For his work in film, he has been awarded the Clive Davis Award for Excellence in Music in Film as well as Best Original Score at the First Run Film Festival. He has composed numerous original musical scores for Orange Grove Dance including REMNANTS (Premiere: The Terrace Theater @ The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.) and Leaning Toward the Sky (commissioned by the United States Botanic Garden in Washington, D.C.). Other commissions include those from the International Double Reed Society, PUBLIQuartet, the Quintet of the Americas, and Cadillac Moon Ensemble. Other awards and honors include the 2019 New Hampshire Theatre Award for Best Sound Design, 2018 Mainstage Residency & 2017 Greenhouse Residency at Andy’s Summer Playhouse, the 2013 Metlife Creative Connections Grant, and the 2011 & 2007 Alan Menken Awards. He was also the winner of the 2011 Skirball Film Scoring Competition.
His original musicals include: Edison, Republic (both O’Neill National Music Theater Conference finalists), Bittersweet Lullaby and The Way It Goes. He is the co-composer for all songs on Diana DeGarmo‘s GEMINI.
Additional projects include music direction and orchestrations for numerous cabaret productions including “A Shining Hour” starring Alexa Green (released on Broadway Records as So Good, named “Best New Solo Recording of 2016” by Broadwayworld.com), “LIT: A Modern Broad” starring Janine DiVita, “Once In Love” starring Amy Toporek, “Introducing Victoria Cook” (all at Feinstein’s/54 Below), “A Brass Act” starring Michelle Dowdy (Feinstein’s/54 Below, Metropolitan Room), and the “Canteen” series (Laurie Beechman Theatre). Dylan is a proud member of both ASCAP and The Dramatists Guild of America, Inc.
Lupai Samuel Kenyi — Co-Executive Producer, BULLETS TO BOOKS Theme Song and Music Video
Lupai is the founder and executive director of I AM PEACE Initiative, a youth led Non-Government Organization which operates in South Sudan and the refugee areas of Uganda with a focus on creating a peaceful environment by empowering young people to be agents of positive social change through media, arts and community outreach programs including trainings on peace building.
Lupai has worked for over 7 years as a radio broadcaster in various radio stations in South Sudan and Uganda where he focuses on youth empowerment programs (especially those in the entertainment industry) and peace building. He has worked at Radio Amani (Adjumani, Uganda), City FM, Capital FM, Classic FM, Eye Radio and Voice of the People (all in Juba, South Sudan).
To connect with as many people and share his experiences as wide as possible, Lupai was selected as a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow under the flagship of the Young African Leaders Initiative where he completed civic leadership training at Kansas State University, Kansas and an internship at the United States Institute of Peace in Washington DC.
Lupai is also a 2018 Generation Change Fellow with the United States Institute of Peace where he met the Dalai Lama in India and learned about how refugees can still create positive social change among themselves and in their host communities. Through his media experience and the numerous Peace building and media trainings, Lupai is a public speaker, a trainer, a moderator and an event’s host (MC).
Sean MacLaughlin — Co-producer, Director of Photography, and Editor, BULLETS TO BOOKS and Director, Co-producer, Director of Photography, and Editor COVID-19; THE OPPRESSOR
Sean is an award-winning filmmaker and actor based out of New York. As a performer, Sean has had the honor to work with legendary Composers such as Andrew Lloyd Webber, Stephen Sondheim, Stephen Schwartz, Charles Strouse and many more. Broadway and National tour credits include THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA (Raoul); EVITA (Peron); THE WOMAN IN WHITE; LESTAT; BOMBAY DREAMS; and SOUTH PACIFIC: LIVE AT CARNEGY HALL. He has been seen on film in BLUE BLOODS (CBS), FOR LIFE (ABC), SOMETHING THE LORD MADE (HBO), and more. Sean has over 50 projects he has edited produced and co-produced, but as Director of Photography he is known for THE SPECTRUM; THE KING; WISCO QUEENS; THE LIGHT WATCHER; SCRATCH THIS; and recently, with The Jüdische Kulturbund Project, Bullets To Books (which won the prestigious Ron Kovic award). Out of all his credits, Sean’s greatest accomplishment is being the proud father of two beautiful sons, Quinn and Jack.
Dominic Dau Deng Mathiang (DD Dawoody) — Project Coordinator in South Sudan for BULLETS TO BOOKS and KULTUR STORIES
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 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.
Stephanie Mercedes — Artist, BULLETS TO BOOKS
Mercedes is a DC-based artist who melts down weapons to cast musical installations, instruments and public works of art. She also excavates invisible missing histories. Her work fluctuates between sculpture, installation art and large scale performances. Mercedes has been funded by George Soros, Light Works, NALAC, The Foundation for Contemporary Art, DC Commission for the Arts and WPA. She has exhibited and performed at the Bronx Museum, the Queens Museum, the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center. She has been a fellow at Halcyon Art Labs, VisArts, Montgomery College and Christopher University. In August 2020, Mercedes started a 3-year fellowship at University of Maryland, College of Arts & Humanities in College Park, MD.
Examples of Mercedes's art are presented on www.stephaniemercedes.com.
Jared Mezzochhi — Multimedia Playwright, Projection Designer, and Director, HANNAH'S DANCE
Jared is a multimedia playwright, director, and designer for theater. Jared is one of five American Theatre Wing’s 2017 Henry Hewes Design Awards recipients for his work on VIETGONE, produced at Manhattan Theatre Club in NYC. Jared was also awarded an Obie Award and the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Project Design, also for his work on VIETGONE. During the summer of 2017, Jared was granted the prestigious Macdowell Colony residency fellowship for a 4-week residency to work on his multimedia script for The Jüdische Kulturbund Project. He has received a Princess Grace Award in 2013 for his multimedia work at the HERE Arts Center’s YOU ARE DEAD. YOU ARE HERE. His multimedia script POPPA GOD BLESS was workshopped in the Process Series at UNC Chapel Hill. It is premiering at 3-Legged Dog in NYC in 2015. For the last nine summers he has directed original work at Andy’s Summer Playhouse, an innovative children’s theater in Wilton, NH, creating original work with award winning artists from across the United Stated, performed by children ages 8-18 and intended for audiences of all ages. In 2011, Jared won Best Original Playwright at the New Hampshire Theater Awards his adaptation of THE LOST WORLD. It was produced in February 2015 University of Maryland’s Clarice Center for the Future of the Arts. In 2015, Jared became the Producing Artistic Director and continues to be every summer.
Jared has designed productions in New York City with 3-Legged Dog DOWN LOOP, SPYGARBO), Baryshnikov Arts Center (Robert Wilson’s ON THE BEACH), HERE Arts Center’s (YOU ARE DEAD. YOU ARE HERE., TRADE PRACTICES), Builders Association (JET LAG 2011), Rob Roth (SCREEN TEST) and has toured nationally and internationally with Big Art Group (SOS, SLEEP, THE PEOPLE). He has designed for Center Stage in Baltimore (STONES IN HIS POCKETS), Cleveland Playhouse (BREATH AND IMAGINATION), Milwaukee Rep (HISTORY OF INVULNERABILITY, THE MOUNTAINTOP), The Wilma Theater (BODY OF AN AMERICAN) and CompanyONE (ASTROBOY and THE GOD OF COMICS). In DC, he’s designed for Woolly Mammoth (TOTALITARIANS, ELABORATE ENTRANCE OF CHAD DEITY), Synetic Theater (A TRIP TO THE MOON), Theater J (INTELLIGENT HOMOSEXUAL’S GUIDE TO CAPITALISM AND SOCIALISM WITH A KEY TO THE SCRIPTURES, YELLOWFACE), and Studio (ASTROBYOY AND GOD OF COMICS).
Currently, Jared is building a Projection Design MFA and BA program within the University of Maryland’s Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies Program in College Park, MD.
Mawa Moses — Architect, BULLETS TO BOOKS
Architect Mawa Moses was born on October 10, 1987 in Yei, what was then southern Sudan. He grew up in Uganda where his family took refuge at the peak of the political insurgency of the early 90’s. For 14 years, Moses lived in the Ugandan refugee camps for over 14 years where he only saw grass thatched houses and architecture of the time, which was seen as evidence of poverty and temporarily. He dreamed of becoming a doctor, influenced by his late dad who was a medical assistant. He also dreamed of becoming an engineer as he used to draw things about houses, trees, and people, especially soldiers. His friends and he also built sand houses and houses using bricks made by old match boxes, molded furniture, and radios from termite mount clay. Moses thinks that was the foundation for his interest in architecture. He never knew anything in regard to architectural design until he started applying to university.
Moses completed high school in Uganda and returned to his South Sudan in 2008 where he attended the University of Juba, graduating with a bachelors with honors degree in architecture. After graduating, he attended a two-years design fellowship program at the African Design Centre in Kigali, Rwanda. The fellowship program trains young graduates to understand design-related issues within the continent and beyond. While studying design and living in a war torn country, Moses is challenged to think of an equitable and inclusive approach for designs in health, education, and housing while incorporating creativity/fabrication. His focus is on environment responsive and impactful research-driven design. He practices both social and commercial architecture that is purely made locally by locals but inspiring globally. While currently working with the Urban South Group Ltd., Moses teaches at the University of Juba in the department of architecture. As a teacher, he aims to achieve balance between the existing curriculum needs and transformation of societies.
Olivia Sebesky — Animator, BULLETS TO BOOKS
Olivia Sebesky is a New York City based projection designer, art director, and motion graphics designer. Olivia creates art for theater, dance, TV, concerts and special events. She brings a background in fine art and music to her bespoke digital media work in the entertainment industry.
She has designed projections for James Taylor, Aerosmith, Hootie & The Blowfish, Nike, Jordan, Soho House, Alice and Olivia, Bloomberg, The New Group, Bebe & Cece Winans, Spiegelworld, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, French Horn Rebellion, Adrian Daniel, The Nasser bin Hamad Awards, FakeOff on TruTV and more...
Recent projects include BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE, directed by John Rando, book and lyrics by Nell Benjamin, and music by Duncan Sheik, as well as Aerosmith’s Las Vegas Residency, DEUCES ARE WILD.
Olivia is a classically trained painter and illustrator. In addition to her work in live production, she creates concept sketches and designs custom interior murals and artwork for private clients. Her work can be seen internationally. Olivia received the 2013 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Design (Chad Deity). She was nominated for the 2016 Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Projection Design (My Paris). She is nominated for a 2018 Helen Hayes Award for Projection and Set Design (ME...JANE).
Evelyn Summer — Educator and Daughter of Hannah Kroner, HANNAH'S DANCE
Evelyn Summer is the daughter of Hannah Kroner Segal. As a graduate student of the Hannah Kroner School of Dance that her mother founded in 1947, she saw the expansion of this school from a basement in Astoria, Queens, through the years to its present home 72 years later in Albertson, Long Island.
She listened to the stories her mother told about her experiences growing up in Germany during the Holocaust, her career in America as a dancer, and saw how as a dance teacher, she impacted thousands. When Hannah passed away at the age of 95, Evelyn decided to tell those stories. She collected many of them for a book she published, “No Matter What, we Keep Dancing: Hannah Kroner’s Legacy.”
Through the education she received from her mother, Evelyn began her own career as a dance teacher in this growing school during the 1960s; created new programs for children with special needs, gave students opportunities to assist and become teachers themselves, began the first classes for pregnant women, taught ballroom, and exercise classes for adults from 20 to 90 years.
In addition to her work in the dancing school, she taught children in public elementary schools on Long Island for over 25 years, conducted workshops at Teachers College at Columbia University, and created language arts curriculums in several school districts as a staff developer.
Evelyn graduated from New York University and earned her Master of Arts from Hofstra University.
Graham Townsley — Screenwriter, SINGER
Over the last 15 years, Graham has established himself in Washington DC as one of the country’s foremost makers of high-end documentaries. His films have been shown on PBS, National Geographic TV, the BBC, Channel 4, ARTE and the Discovery Channel. He has also written screenplays for a number of historical dramas. He is twice Emmy-nominated.
In 2016, his multiple award-winning feature documentary, LANDFILL HARMONIC, about kids from a slum in Paraguay who made an orchestra out of trash, was released in theaters across the USA. Also in 2016, his PBS film about famed biologist E.O Wilson, “Of Ants and Men”, garnered awards and critical acclaim at festivals across the country.
His 2015 film for National Geographic and NOVA PBS, DAWN OF HUMANITY, about the discovery of new fossil human ancestors in South Africa, was named by the New York Times as one of the ten best documentaries of 2015 and nominated for an Emmy award.
With a Ph.D in Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, Graham started his career working on ethnographic films for the BBC. Films like THE SHAMAN AND HIS APPRENTICE based on his own fieldwork with a tribe of the Peruvian Amazon and FROM THE HEART OF THE WORLD, about the Kogi Indians of the Sierra Nevada, Colombia, established him in the documentary world. He went on to make films both about other living indigenous peoples and ancient cultures such as the Inca, Maya, Aztecs, and ancient Rome.
In the early 2000’s he was series producer of THE GLORY THAT WAS ROME for the Discovery Channel and “Treasure Seekers”, a 13-part series about explorers of the ancient world, for National Geographic.
Graham has produced, written, and directed films such as BECOMING HUMAN, a 3-part series on human evolution for NOVA PBS, DAWN OF THE MAYA for National Geographic TV, THE GREAT INCA REBELLION, KING SOLOMON'S MINES, MAGIC MOUNTAIN, MAYA APOCALYPSE, and many more. In 2008, he established his own company, SHINING RED PRODUCTIONS.
Graham speaks four languages and has made a number of Spanish-language films. He is currently developing a number of drama series: one about the Easter Uprising in Ireland and another about the Mexican Revolution.
Andy Truschinski — Co-Executive Producer and Director, BULLETS TO BOOKS short documentary film
Andy Truschinski is a New York City based artist. He started his career as an actor on stage (Ex: WAR HORSE National tour and THE HEIDI CHRONICLES starring Elisabeth Moss on Broadway) and has transitioned into developing scripts for film, television, and on stage. Writing projects include: THE GREEN BOAT (finalist for Space on Ryder Farm development series), ONE WHITE FACE (commissioned pilot of the book One White Face by Hilary Corna), EXPLORING MUSIC (a documentary music series), SOUNDS DELICIOUS (a cooking talk show with music), and THE ROOT OF HAPPINESS (now in the film festival circuit.)
Andy is a recipient of the Mandela Washington Fellowship American Impact Award; an Awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2019); and U.S. State Department Arts Envoy Program Awardee (2019).
Harry Winer — Executive Producer, SINGER
Harry is a director, producer,and writer with over 30 years of experience in film and television. He directed the motion pictures SPACECAMP, RIOT and DAMAGED CARE. In addition he has directed, produced, and/or written over 25 films, miniseries and television pilots and created over 60 hours of series television. He has worked with some of the leading talents in motion picture industry such as Kevin Spacey, Jennifer Garner, Joaquin Phoenix, Jamie Lee Curtis, Patrick Dempsey, Michelle Williams, Jim Carrey, and Laura Dern.
One of Harry’s goals as a producer is to help groom emerging talent. In 2013 he signed on to head the Masters of Fine Arts Directing Program at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco where he mentored directing candidates for the MFA program in motion pictures and television. He designed a directing program for their online Motion Picture and Television department that became the template for their onsite curriculum.
In addition, Harry created a scholarship fund to honor his parents at his alma mater, the University of Michigan Screen Arts and Culture Department, to provide opportunities for aspiring filmmakers.
In the Fall of 2015 Harry came to New York University as an Arts Professor in the Undergraduate Film and Television Department where he intended to continue his goal of paying it forward —sharing his experience with the next generation of storytellers and filmmakers.
Harry is President of SMASH MEDIA, INC., which produces motion pictures and films for television. In 2013 Harry’s company produced the international co-production THE EXPATRIATE (aka ERASED), starring Aaron Eckhart and Olga Kurylenko. In 2015 Harry produced through Smash Media the television film, PERFECT MATCH for Hallmark. In 2017 Winer is producing the motion picture THE DOORMAN to be directed by renowned Japanese director Ryuhei Kitamura as well as a movie for television based on the novel A BRAMBLE HOUSE CHRISTMAS. In addition to several theatrical and television films in development, Harry is directing and producing THE RECKONING — a feature length documentary on climate change and climate justice.
Harry’s work has garnered Emmy Awards, Golden Globes and a Christopher Award. His films have premiered at the Telluride Film Festival and Shanghai International Film Festival. He is affiliated with DGA and WGA, was a national delegate to DGA conventions and served on the DGA Creative Rights committee. He is on the Executive Board of the Student Voice Project, the Liberty Hill Foundation, Justice Action Mobilization Network, and NOJO (New Orleans Jazz Orchestra).
Harry received his MFA at the University of Southern California School of Cinema and an AFI Director’s Internship Scholarship. He is married to Shelley Hack. Their daughter, Devon Rose Winer, is a recent graduate of Columbia University in the field of sustainable development. She works for the Clinton Global Initiative.
Noa Zimmerman, Co-Director, ARTIVISTS
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.
Asya Zlatina — Dancer and Choreographer, HANNAH'S DANCE
Asya Zlatina was born in Moscow and grew up in the DC/Baltimore area. She trained in ballet and jazz at the Kirov Academy, Dance Explosion and the Washington Ballet School. She received her BA in dance and psychology from Goucher College, where she also trained in modern dance. She joined Philadelphia's Koresh Dance Company in 2008, extensively touring, per
forming, teaching and running outreach. She received her MS in Non-Profits Administration from Drexel University in 2013 and works as a Logistics/Program Coordinator for a local non-profit. Additionally, she served as dance adjunct at Stockton University, and produces her own dance shows. Her 2016 Fringe Festival Show, "BARRY: Mamaloshen in Dance!", recently won BEST DANCE PERFORMANCE from the World Heritage Cultural Center, and has toured to the Kennedy Center's Millennium, Battery Park Dance Festival, Booking Dance at Jazz at Lincoln Center and European Festivals.
EDUCATION AND MUSIC PROGRAMS
Wendy Frosh — Education Coordinator and Facilitator, KULTUR STORIES
Founder of the consulting firm, Healthcare Management Strategies, Wendy has consulted on policy and equity in the health care sector. Wendy has expertise in the facilitation of strategic planning and initiatives to address social justice and access to health care for underserved populations.
Wendy has served on numerous nonprofit boards, including Strawbery Banke Chamber Music Festival, MobileMed, Planned Parenthood, and US National Oral Health Alliance. She also was a Fellow at the FrameWorks Institute inWashington, DC. She holds a Master’s Degree from Harvard University and a Bachelor’s Degree from Wesleyan University.
Ken Hoffman — Education Collaborator
Ken is the grandson of Halina Neuman, who survived the holocaust with his mother, Jola, because of music.
After the war, Jola and Halina emigrated to England and then to the United States. Jola married Eli Hoffman. Over their lifetimes, both were socially very active in the civil rights movement, marched for peace; working for desegregation and equal rights. Ken and his three brothers, Marc, David, and Edward, inherited their values and mission to achieve social justice.
Ken has a BA from Cornell University, MD from Eastern Virginia Medical School, and an MPH from Harvard University. He surprised everyone by choosing to practice medicine in the US army where he served for 23 years on active duty. He completed both a psychiatric and preventive medicine residency and was involved in the first mental health evaluations of soldiers who had been identified as infected with HIV. He also developed high interest and skill in addiction medicine, establishing a Center in Addiction Medicine at the Uniformed Services University, and serving as the Army’s alcohol and drug consultant. Ken continued working in the federal government as a senior medical officer involved in developing guidelines for the identification and treatment of opioid addiction and other substance use disorders.
Ken maintains a consulting private practice and volunteers on the Board of Trustees for Montgomery College and on the Board of Directors for Oxford House. Married to Ann since 1983, they have one son, Jay, and two daughters, Leah, and Phoebe. A diversified family appreciating the impact music has in the fight for equality and social justice.
Johan Fält — Education Collaborator, KULTUR STORIES
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.
For the past 15 years he has also worked as a drama teacher at the communal school of art in Karlstad, Sweden.
Cindy Oxberry — Music Education Coordinator
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.
Cindy is an Awardee of the Reciprocal Exchange component of the Mandela Washington Fellowship (2019) and U.S. State Department Arts Envoy Program Awardee (2019).
Wyatt Oroke — Education Collaborator, KULTUR STORIES
Wyatt Oroke is a nationally recognized educator for his work around social justice and literacy. Mr. Oroke graduated from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in History and Johns Hopkins University School of Education in 2015 with a Master of Science in Education. Mr. Oroke currently teaches 7th and 8th grade English and Honors English at City Springs Elementary/Middle School in Baltimore City. For his school Mr. Oroke serves as the middle school team leader, coaches girls’ volleyball and boys’ basketball, and has a host of other leadership positions including a professional development facilitator in race and equity, scholar academic growth, and culturally responsive curriculum. For the district Mr. Oroke serves on the CEO’s Teacher Advisory Council, works as a writing instruction expert for the Literacy Improvement Fellowship, serves as a curriculum writer for the Wholeness Writers Fellowship, and is a professional development facilitator in Courageous Conversations around race and identity. Mr. Oroke has received recognition for his teaching including awards from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore School of Law, the Maryland State Senate, the Baltimore Orioles, and was awarded the “Superhero Award” by Ellen DeGeneres, where he appeared twice on her show. Mr. Oroke was named the 2020 Baltimore City Teacher of the Year and the 2021 Maryland Teacher of the Year.
Patrick O'Donnell — Education and Music Collaborator
Patrick earned his BA from Yale University, his MM in Piano Performance from the University of Maryland, and his DMA in Chamber Music and Vocal Accompaniment with Martin Katz and Eckart Sellheim at the University of Michigan. Concert appearances in the Washington, DC area include the White House, the Kennedy Center's Terrace Theater and Millennium Stage, the Library of Congress, and the Embassies of France, Italy, Monaco, Columbia, and Brazil. As a lecturer on art song, he helped design and teach a course entitled, Arts Songs, a Guided Tour — Lecture and Live Performances sponsored by the Foundation for Advanced Education in the Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. For opera, he has presented pre-concert lectures for the Washington Concert Opera, and has given presentations on opera, music theater, and cabaret for the Smithsonian's Resident Artist Program. He enjoys collaborating on fund-raising concerts for the Washington Concert opera, a highlight of which was a performance in March 2011 with acclaimed mezzo-soprano Frederica von Stade. Patrick has appeared as a master coach and featured guest artist at the Fairbanks (Alaska) Summer Arts Festival, and serves as head vocal coach of the Washington National Opera's Institute for Young Singers, where he also teaches opera history. He is currently on the faculties of both Levine Music and the Peabody Conservatory of the Johns Hopkins University, and also teaches at George Washington University, where he has served as music director for the university's productions of ANYONE CAN WHISTLE, HAIR, SWEEENEY TODD, URINETOWN, A LITTLE NIGHT MUSIC, and THE CRADLE WILL ROCK where he appeared on-stage in the role of the composer, Marc Blitzstein.
Adi Peleg — Education Collaborator
Adi is a dance teacher, choreographer, and educator with a mission to connect people to the place where they belong—their body. Adi has years of experience working with high-school dance, theater, and music students. She has worked as a movement teacher in SPED school by the Eshkol Wachman movement notation. Adi's choreography credits include BONJOUR, ONE WOMAN ORCHESTRA and THINKING OF PERHAPS, which were performed in various festival in Israel. We are honored that Adi is a part of our team. Adi's great grandfather was Kurt Singer, the founding artistic director of Jüdischer Kulturbund.
Jok Abraham Thon — Education Collaborator
Jok is the founder and director of Promised Land Secondary School and the Youth for Peace Through Education initiative. He is also the deputy chairman of Jonglei Youth Peace League, a group that works on reconciliation and youth empowerment. His school educates 673 students who are internally displaced within South Sudan. The school has received recognition from the government. His Youth for Peace Through Education initiative currently provides support for 67 girls who were victims of early marriage and 83 orphans. In addition, he promotes peace and education through radio and television shows and articles in newspapers. Jok was educated in Uganda when he was a refugee but returned to South Sudan for higher education. He studied Social and Economic Studies at the University of Juba and holds a diploma from the N2N Christian University of the USA in Juba. Jok is committed to changing the mindset of youth, encouraging them to become self-reliant and productive citizens who will contribute to national building, not tribal conflict. The Jüdische Kulturbund Project's BULLETS TO BOOKS initiative is based on and inspired by Jok's life and mission for "changing minds from bullets to books."
CULTURAL AND EDUCATIONAL EXCHANGE
Ibero and South America
Daniel E. Arias — Program Director
Daniel is Argentine and resides in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires. He is the General Director of Daniel Arias Producciones, specializing in music, theater, graphics, and television productions. Daniel also manages national and international musicians, touring with them around the world. He is a member of the Civil Association of Managers of Argentine Musicians.
Trained in health sciences, Daniel obtained a degree in medical sciences from the National University of Rosario. Working on health issues, he specialized in the promotion and prevention of different pathologies through public health programs with funding from international organizations. He participated for more than a decade as a public relations leader linked to professional football and its institutions.
Carlos Uriona —Artistic Advisor
Carlos is lead actor, creator and puppeteer and grassroots organizer originally from Argentina. He is a bridge builder who has, since 1996, co-created and appeared in all of Double Edge Theatre’s performances, including as Alejandro in Leonora & Alejandro: La Maga y el Maestro, which premiered in March 2018 at Peak Performances at Montclair State University.
Carlos also co-created ONCE IN A BLUE MOOM (CADA LUNA AZUL), based on Latin American story, music and dance, as well as Uriona’s history of resistance during the Argentine military dictatorship. This performance was originally created as a Farm Spectacle, and then proceeded to tour to urban centers, and include parades and youth performers in Boston and Springfield. Carlos was also a co-creator of THE GRAND PARADE, a kaleidoscopic spectacle of history which premiered at Arena Stage (Washington, DC) in February 2013, and played in the US, Moscow, and Norway. He co-created and was a lead actor in all four performances of the GARDEN CYCLE, including Maarten Soetendrop in the DISAPPEARANCE and DON QUIXOTE in the UnPOSSESSED. In 2002, Carlos and Artistic Director Stacy Klein conceived Double Edge's annual summer series of Indoor/Outdoor Traveling Spectacle performances. Closely connected to this work is Carlos's role as the leader of Double Edge's grassroots campaigns and audience development initiatives. For this he has drawn from his previous work in Argentina, particularly the PLAZA performance project, which brought together thousands of young participants and spectators in squares throughout Buenos Aires. He received an Arts International Inroads Grant, a Lila Wallace APAP award, and was a recipient of the Doris Duke/Andrew Mellon/TCG New Generations Mentorship Award.
Before coming to Double Edge, Carlos founded the award-winning puppet theatre DIABLOMUNDO, named one of the “Top Ten Most Important Argentine Theatres of the 20th Century” by the Association of Argentinean Critics. He co-created and performed in more than 15 performances with DIABLOMUNDO, both original works and adaptations, which toured internationally. In 1992, DIABLOMUNDO was invited to the First International Puppet Festival produced by the Henson Foundation, as one of the 16 international participant companies. In addition to his work with DIABLOMUNDO, Carlos organized groups of self-managed actors and artist cooperatives as part of the national cultural resistance during the Argentine fight for freedom against the military dictatorship that lasted from 1976 to 1982 and beyond. These groups included the Agrupacion para el Teatro Rioplatense (1978), Teatro del Ateneo (1978), and Nucleo de Artistas del Sur (1982). In 1985, he was one of the the founding members of the Movimiento de Teatro Popular (MOTEPO) a movement of theatres that worked to decentralize and collaborate with high quality art forms in nonconventional theatre places such as streets, factories, neighborhoods.
Leif Persson — Program Director
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.
In recent years he has been actively contributing to stage artists with other ethnicities, to make it possible for them to work in theatres in Sweden , and at the same time bring different experiences to Swedish audiences. SITARAHA and WHO LIT THE STARS, written and performed by Moniraha Hashemi, are such performances.