Healing, Bridging, Thriving Summit: Participant Biographies
Dr. Elizabeth Alexander, President, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
Elizabeth Alexander is a poet, scholar, and cultural advocate who currently serves as president of the Mellon Foundation, the largest funder of the arts, culture, and humanities in the United States. A nationally recognized thought leader on race, justice, and American society, her most recent book is The Trayvon Generation, and she has twice been a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Dr. Alexander composed and delivered the poem "Praise Song for the Day" for President Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, and among her many honors, she has been recognized as one of TIME's 100 Most Influential People.
Mike Alexander, Chief Operating Officer, Atlanta Regional Commission
Mike Alexander is the Chief Operating Officer of the Atlanta Regional Commission, managing the Community Development, Natural Resources, Research & Analytics, Transportation Planning, Mobility Services, Aging and Independence Services, Workforce Development, and Homeland Security Departments of the ARC.
Mike has over 20 years of Public policy experience focused on regional and local community planning. As the COO, he leads this multidisciplinary, professional staff in the fields of transportation planning, environmental planning, community and workforce development, economics, aging services, and demographic forecasting.
He is a graduate of the ARC Regional Leadership Institute, Leadership DeKalb, and Leadership Atlanta. Originally from South Carolina, Mike attended Auburn University where he received a dual masters degree in Public Administration and Community Planning. He served as a Marine Infantryman in Desert Storm. Mike, his wife Michelle, and their two daughters, live in Decatur.
Christopher Bailey, Arts and Health Lead, World Health Organization
Christopher Bailey is the Arts and Health Lead at the World Health Organization and a co-founder of the Jameel Arts and Health Lab. The lab focuses on the evidence base for the health benefits of the arts by building up a global network of research centers to look at effective practice as well as the foundational science of why the arts may benefit physical, mental and social wellbeing. Educated at Columbia and Oxford Universities as well as the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, after a career as a professional actor and playwright, Bailey joined the Rockefeller Foundation as their Research Manager, and from there was recruited to WHO where he lead the Health Informatics work and later their on-line communications team before starting the Arts and Health program. Bailey has also performed original pieces such as Stage 4: Cancer and the Imagination, and The Vanishing Point: A journey into Blindness and Perception.. The basic message of his work is to amplify the WHO definition of health which states that health is not merely the absence of disease and infirmity, but the attainment of the highest level of physical, mental and social wellbeing. The arts have uniquely evolved to do just that.
Stephen Benjamin, White House Senior Advisor and Director of the Office of Public Engagement
Steve Benjamin is an Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to the President and Director of Public Engagement. Prior to joining the Biden-Harris Administration, Benjamin was the Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina from April 2010 through December 2021. Benjamin has served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors (2018-2019), as President of the African American Mayors Association, Vice Chairman of the Global Parliament of Mayors, Executive Chairman of Municipal Bonds for America, Chairman of the FirstNet Authority, a Member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, and as a member of several corporate and nonprofit boards. He is married to the Honorable DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, a Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The Benjamins are the proud parents of two daughters and are members of the Saint John Baptist Church in Columbia, South Carolina.
Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, STEAM Caucus Co-Chair
As the daughter of a piano teacher, Congresswoman Bonamici grew up understanding the power of the arts to build bridges, deepen understanding, and explore different perspectives. She has long been a champion for greater resources and investment in the arts and arts education, including as a founder of the Congressional STEAM Caucus. She has led legislation to expand access to arts education and help artists and arts organizations to rebuild and recover after the pandemic.
Pam Breaux, President and Chief Executive Officer, National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
Pam joined the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) in 2015. As President and CEO, she leads the association’s board of directors and staff to advance NASAA’s policy and programmatic mission to strengthen America’s state and jurisdictional arts agencies. A native of Lafayette, Louisiana, Pam has held leadership positions at the local, state and national levels. While in Louisiana state government, she was secretary of the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism (CRT), assistant secretary of CRT (overseeing its cultural development portfolio), and executive director of its state arts agency (the Louisiana Division of the Arts). During her time at CRT, Pam developed and led Louisiana’s cultural economy initiative and spearheaded the successful UNESCO inscription of Poverty Point State Historic Site (an ancient Indian site) as a World Heritage site. Before working in state government, Pam was executive director of the Arts and Humanities Council of Southwest Louisiana and managed southwest Louisiana’s Decentralized Arts Funding Program. She has served on the boards of the U.S. Travel Association, NASAA, South Arts, the Louisiana Board of International Commerce and the Junior League of Lake Charles. Pam is currently a member of the board of Grantmakers in the Arts. She graduated from McNeese State University in 1987 with a B.A. in English and earned an M.A. in English and folklore from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1995.
Jim Canales, President & Trustee, Barr Foundation
Jim Canales is president and a trustee of the Barr Foundation, which focuses on elevating the arts, advancing solutions for climate change, and helping all young people thrive in high school and beyond. In 2024, Barr’s grantmaking is projected to be $130 million. Prior to joining Barr in 2014, Jim spent over two decades at The James Irvine Foundation, including service as president and CEO from 2003 through 2014. Before working in philanthropy, Jim was a high school English teacher, after earning a bachelor’s in English and a master’s in education from Stanford University. In his community engagements, Jim currently serves as vice chair of the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) and a trustee of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Boston Public Library, and Eastern Bank Foundation. Jim’s prior board involvement includes a ten-year term as a Stanford University trustee. He has also served as chair of the boards of the College Futures Foundation, KQED Public Broadcasting, the Stanford Alumni Association, and Larkin Street Youth Services, and as vice chair of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
Bruce Cohen, producer, Oscar Winner, and Co-Chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Bruce Cohen is an Oscar and Tony-winning, Emmy-nominated producer of film, theater, television, and live events. He won an Academy Award for Best Picture for "American Beauty" and earned additional Best Picture nominations for "Milk" and "Silver Linings Playbook." He produced both the feature film and Broadway musical versions of "Big Fish," won the Tony for Best Play in 2020 for co-producing Matthew Lopez’ "The Inheritance," and was Tony nominated the same year for co-producing Jeremy O. Harris’ "Slave Play." In television, he was Emmy nominated for producing the "83rd Annual Academy Awards" and executive produced "Pushing Daisies" and "Broadway at the White House."
During the Obama-Biden Administration, Cohen served as the entertainment industry liaison for Joining Forces, First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden’s initiative supporting service men and women and veterans. His new feature film from Netflix, is RUSTIN, directed by George C. Wolfe and starring Oscar-nominated Colman Domingo as Bayard Rustin. Bruce is producing with Higher Ground’s Tonia Davis and George, and Barack and Michelle Obama are executive producing. He is a graduate of Yale University and started his film career as the DGA Trainee on Steven Spielberg’s "The Color Purple." He lives in New York City with his husband and daughter.
Malik Stewart aka “Malik DOPE” is a Washington, DC native from the uptown area. He started playing drums around the age of five years old, with inspiration sparked from African drum and dance. He later began playing DC’s Go-Go music in neighborhood bands and generating notoriety for his style of playing. He went to Northwestern High School, and by pursuing marching band in high school, he fiercely progressed. After completing high school, Malik secured the opportunity to be a part of Howard University's marching band, once again exposing him to a more advanced layer of percussion. In 2013, he created “D.O.P.E, Definition of Percussion Entertainment " to provide entertainment, education, inspiration, motivation, innovation, artistic awareness, and production through the live nature of percussion. He has performed his unique style of drum and dance called “WAE-Work”, which is the act of simultaneously using rudimental drumming techniques with stick trick acrobatics accompanied by freestyle dance and fixed choreography, in numerous events and live street performances all around the DC area and in other major cities and states, as well as internationally.
Jennifer Dorning, President, Department for Professional Employees, AFL-CIO
Jennifer Dorning was first elected to serve as president of DPE beginning September 1, 2018. She was re-elected to a four-year term in June 2021. Jennifer joined DPE in August 2010 previously serving as Assistant to the President and Research Director. Jennifer is the first woman to serve as an AFL-CIO trade department president. At DPE, Jennifer’s leadership has focused on strengthening the DPE coalition and helping it grow. Under Jennifer’s leadership, there has been an increased focus on organizing professionals, leading DPE to partner with affiliates to develop campaigns to generate organizing leads, surveying the attitudes of nonunion professionals toward unions, and creating resources to engage and organize professionals. Prior to joining DPE, Jennifer served in a number of advocacy-related positions, including as a criminal defense attorney, legislative assistant in the Oregon state legislature, and working on political campaigns for progressive candidates and causes. Jennifer graduated cum laude from Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane, Washington and earned her bachelor’s degree in political science from Portland State University in Portland, Oregon. Jennifer is a member of the AFL-CIO General Board and serves on the Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy.
Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes, Chief Executive & Equity Officer, Ashé Cultural Arts Center
Asali DeVan Ecclesiastes is a mother, daughter, educator, organizer, author, event producer, performance artist, and community servant. Ms. Ecclesiastes excitedly brings her deep roots in New Orleans’ indigenous culture to her work as Chief Executive & Equity Officer of Efforts of Grace and Ashé Cultural Arts Center. Prior to joining Ashé, Ms. Ecclesiastes served as Director of Strategic Neighborhood Development for the New Orleans Business Alliance, where she designed equitable development strategies for high impact neighborhoods—empowering resident leaders and making bold commitments to address entrenched disparities.
Douglas Emhoff, Second Gentleman of the United States
As Second Gentleman, Mr. Emhoff is working to share the priorities of the Biden-Harris Administration with people across the country and around the world.
Mr. Emhoff has traveled to 37 states, two native nations, and fourteen countries. During his travels, he has met with health care professionals, parents, teachers, caregivers, community leaders, legal aid providers, small-business owners in urban and rural areas, communities of color, and Tribal communities to hear their stories and to share how the Administration is working to help their families.
As the first Second Gentleman, married to the first woman vice president, Mr. Emhoff knows the power and importance of having women in leadership positions. He has seen what it has meant to young girls and boys to look up to Vice President Kamala Harris and is a champion for gender equality. Mr. Emhoff has met with gender ministers in both Japan and France and has hosted roundtable discussions with women and young girls around the world to discuss the importance of equity in the workplace, equal pay, and protecting reproductive rights and health care.
As the first Jewish spouse of an American president or vice president, Mr. Emhoff has been honored to share his Jewish heritage and culture—from celebrating Passover in the White House to affixing Mezuzahs on the doorposts of the Vice President’s Residence. Mr. Emhoff has been a leading voice on combating antisemitism and hatred wherever it exists. He convened Jewish leaders at the White House for the first of its kind roundtable to bring attention to the rise in antisemitism. He has also worked with Jewish student leaders on campus and with the House Bipartisan Task Force for Combatting Antisemitism to promote a whole-of-society approach to countering antisemitism. He regularly engages with individuals from the Jewish community as well as other faith-based groups to discuss the Administration’s priorities to strengthen religious tolerance and protect religious freedom.
As a lawyer for over 30 years, Mr. Emhoff cares deeply about justice and equality in our legal system. He is an advocate for access to legal aid and removing barriers – legal, social, and financial – to ensure that every person can get the help they need to arrive at justice. In January 2020, Mr. Emhoff began teaching law courses at the Georgetown University Law Center and is enjoying the opportunity to mentor the next generation of lawyers.
Mr. Emhoff made it a top priority to encourage people to protect themselves and their communities by getting vaccinated against COVID-19. He has visited vaccine clinics in churches, community health centers, schools, stadiums, and even barbershops to raise awareness around the importance of getting vaccinated.
Mr. Emhoff was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Matawan, New Jersey, by his parents, Mike and Barbara, with his siblings, Jamie and Andy. His family moved to the Los Angeles area during his teen years. Mr. Emhoff earned a B.A. from California State University, Northridge and a J.D. from University of Southern California Gould School of Law. He and the Vice President have been married for eight years and are the proud parents of Cole and Ella Emhoff.
Renée Fleming, Kennedy Center Artistic Advisor and World Health Organization Goodwill Ambassador for Arts and Health
Renée Fleming is one of the most highly acclaimed singers of our time, performing on the stages of the world’s great opera houses and concert halls. Honored with five Grammy® awards, the US National Medal of Arts, and the 2023 Kennedy Center Honor, she has sung for momentous occasions from the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony to the Super Bowl. Renée is a leading advocate for research at the intersection of arts and health, partnering with leading organizations and presenting with scientists and practitioners around the world. As Artistic Advisor to the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, she helped launched the ongoing Sound Health collaboration with the NIH and the National Endowment for the Arts. Renée is Co-Chair of the Johns Hopkins/Aspen Institute NeuroArts Blueprint and Founding Advisor for the Sound Health Network at UCSF, and she has been named a Goodwill Ambassador for Arts and Health by the World Health Organization. The Renée Fleming Foundation has supported projects including the NIH Music-Based Intervention Toolkit and the Renée Fleming NeuroArts Investigator Awards. Renée's advocacy work has earned her Research!America’s Rosenfeld Award for Impact on Public Opinion and the World Economic Forum’s Crystal Award. Her new anthology, Music and Mind: Harnessing the Arts for Health and Wellness, will be published by Viking Penguin in Spring 2024.
Radhika Fox, Assistant Administrator, Office of Water, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Radhika Fox is the Assistant Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Water. The Office of Water works to ensure that drinking water is safe, wastewater is properly returned to the environment, and surface waters are well managed and protected. Prior to joining EPA, Radhika served as Chief Executive Officer for the U.S. Water Alliance, Director for policy and government affairs for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, and the Federal Policy Director at PolicyLink. She is using her 20+ years of experience to address the most salient water issues at Office of Water by implementing the historic Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, launching the most robust technical assistance program from Office of Water and meeting the commitments of the PFAS Strategic Roadmap. Radhika holds a B.A. from Columbia University and a Master’s in City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley where she was a HUD Community Development Fellow.
Julie Garreau, Chief Executive Officer, Cheyenne River Youth Project
An enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Julie Garreau (Lakota name Wičhaȟpi Epatȟaŋ Wiŋ / Touches the Stars Woman) is chief executive officer of the nonprofit Cheyenne River Youth Project in Eagle Butte, South Dakota. Since 1988, she has overseen CRYP’s evolution from a small youth center to a 5-acre campus that includes youth and teen centers, arts and culture institute, art park, garden, and social enterprises. In addition to completing several high-profile fellowships over the years, Julie has been recognized with such prestigious awards as the Bush Prize for Innovation, Spirit of Dakota Award, Presidential Points of Light Award, and Americans for the Arts’ Arts Education Award and Selena Roberts Ottum Award for Arts Leadership. She is currently serving on the Arts South Dakota Board of Directors and the University of South Dakota Fine Arts Advisory Board.
Alex Gibson, Executive Director, Appalshop
Alex Gibson is the Executive Director of Appalshop. Before joining Appalshop, Alex practiced law within the Torts, Insurance, and Business Litigation practice groups at Stites & Harbison, PLLC in Louisville, KY and in the Business Litigation group at Ballard, Spahr, Andrews, and Ingersol in Philadelphia, PA. Before entering private practice, he served as a federal law clerk for the Hon. Thomas W. Phillips, U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee, where he assisted in the resolution of multi-million dollar lawsuits, federal criminal trials, and critical questions of constitutional law, particularly those issues that implicate the First Amendment.
Alaysia Black Hackett, Chief Diversity and Equity Officer, Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor
Alaysia Black Hackett is the Chief Diversity and Equity Officer in the Office of the Secretary at the United States Department of Labor. Appointed in the summer of 2022, she leads and provides strategic insight for the Department’s internal and external initiatives for interagency diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) programs. She serves as the principal advisor and subject matter expert on promoting DEIA into systems that guide the labor market, diversifying the workforce, dismantling historically exclusive systems that perpetuate discrimination in the workplace and embedding equity in the labor field so that all people may feel seen, heard and included.
Hackett earned a Bachelor of Science in Sociology with a concentration in Race, Ethnicity, and Gender Relations and has a master’s degree in Public Affairs with a concentration in Organizational Development from Western Carolina University. She received her Juris Doctor from Concord Law School.
Mayor Lisa Hicks-Gilbert, City of Elaine, Arkansas, and Artists at Work
A social justice activist, writer and poet in her native Elaine, Arkansas, Lisa founded the Descendants of the Elaine Massacre of 1919 (DOEM1919) in 2020 to honor and preserve the stories of the victims, survivors, and descendants of the Elaine Massacre. She also serves as Volunteer Program Manager at Lee Street Community Center (LSCC) overseeing programs aimed at addressing the many disparities and injustices including housing, health, food insecurity and education.
In 2022, Lisa ran for Mayor with a focus on enhancing the quality of life for all residents by creating an inclusive, safe, and equitable community and was elected to a four-year term, becoming the first black Mayor and first elected female Mayor of Elaine Arkansas.
Maria Rosario Jackson, Chair, National Endowemnt for the Arts
Maria Rosario Jackson is the 13th chair of the National Endowment for the Arts and the first African American and Mexican American woman serve in that role. Dr. Jackson’s career has focused on understanding and elevating arts, culture, and design as crucial elements of healthy and equitable communities.
A planner, researcher, and academic, Dr. Jackson is a tenured professor on leave from Arizona State University, where she led the Studio for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communities. For almost ten years, she served as a senior advisor on arts and culture and strategic learning, research, and evaluation at the Kresge Foundation and has advised other foundations. For 18 years, Dr. Jackson worked at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC, where she was the founding director of the Culture, Creativity and Communities Program.
Marc Bamuthi Joseph, spoken word artist, writer and librettist, and Vice President of Social Impact at the Kennedy Center
Bamuthi is a 2017 TED Global Fellow; an inaugural recipient of the Guggenheim Social Practice initiative; an honoree of the United States Artists Rockefeller Fellowship; winner of the Herb Alpert Award in Theatre; and an inaugural recipient of the Doris Duke Performing Artist Award. In the Spring of 2022, he was elected into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He was most recently welcomed into the 2023-24 Emerson Collective Dial Fellowship. An internationally renowned cultural strategist, Bamuthi is the co-creator of the paradigm-shifting allyship training HEALING FORWARD™. He has lectured in 25 different countries and his TED talk “You Have The Rite” has been viewed more than five million times. Bamuthi is represented by SOZO. bamuthi.com
Katy Kale, Deputy Administrator, U.S. General Services Administration
Deputy Administrator Katy Kale leads operations for the US General Services Administration whose focus is to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition, and technology services to the government and American people. As part of their mission, GSA has commissioned public art at federal facilities nationwide for over 50 years through its Art in Architecture program. Previously, Deputy Administrator Kale served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Elevate, a Grant-writing firm. She also served as Assistant to the President for Management and Administration and Director of White House Operations in the Obama Administration. Deputy Administrator Kale is a graduate of George Mason University.
Troy Kotsur, Oscar Winner, and member of the President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Troy Kotsur earned the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Frank, the fisherman father of a hearing daughter who wants to be a singer in director Sian Heder’s CODA (2021). The film also won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay. Kotsur is the first Deaf male actor and only the second Deaf actor overall to win the Oscar, after his CODA co-star Marlee Matlin for her role in Children of a Lesser God (1986). Kotsur also earned BAFTA, Critics’ Choice, Gotham, Independent Spirit and Screen Actors Guild awards, and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for his CODA role. A native of Mesa, Arizona, Kotsur began acting in grade school. He studied theater, film and television at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and following graduation, toured with the National Theatre of the Deaf. He began working with the Deaf West Theatre in Los Angeles in 1994 where he directed and acted in several stage productions including Spring Awakening. In 2012, he was nominated for an Ovation Award for his role in the Deaf West Theatre production of Cyrano. Kotsur’s film credits include The Number 23 (2007), Universal Signs (2008), No Ordinary Hero: The SuperDeafy Movie (2013), which he also directed, and Wild Prairie Rose (2016). On TV, he has had roles on Strong Medicine, Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye, Doc, CSI: NY, Scrubs, Criminal Minds and the Disney+ series The Mandalorian. For the latter, he created the Tusken sign language, which has also been used in the show’s spinoff series The Book of Boba Fett.
Admiral Rachel Levine, Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Admiral Rachel L. Levine serves as the 17th Assistant Secretary for Health for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the head of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps. She fights every day to improve the health and well-being of all Americans. She’s working to help our nation overcome the COVID-19 pandemic and build a stronger foundation for a healthier future - one in which every American can attain their full health potential. ADM Levine’s storied career, first, as a physician in academic medicine focused on the intersection between mental and physical health, treating children, adolescents, and young adults. Then as Pennsylvania’s Physician General and later as Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Health, she addressed COVID-19, the opioid crisis, behavioral health and other public health challenges.
Shelly Lowe (Navajo), Chair, National Endowment for the Humanities
Shelly C. Lowe (Navajo) is Chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Lowe is a citizen of the Navajo Nation and grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Arizona. From 2015 to 2021 she served as a member of the National Council on the Humanities, the 26-member advisory body to NEH, an appointment she received from President Obama. Lowe’s career in higher education has included roles as Executive Director of the Harvard University Native American Program, Assistant Dean in the Yale College Dean’s Office, and Director of the Native American Cultural Center at Yale University. Prior to these positions, she spent six years as the Graduate Education Program Facilitator for the American Indian Studies Programs at the University of Arizona. Lowe has served in a variety of leadership roles nationally, most recently as a member of the University of Arizona Alumni Association Governing Board and of the Challenge Leadership Group for the MIT Solve Indigenous Communities Fellowship. She has served on the board of the National Indian Education Association and as a trustee on the board for the National Museum of the American Indian. Lowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Master of Arts in American Indian Studies, and has completed doctoral coursework in Higher Education from the University of Arizona.
Christopher Kaui Morgan, Christopher K. Morgan & Artists, Malashock Dance, and member of the National Council on the Arts
Christopher K. Morgan is a choreographer, educator, facilitator, curator, and arts administrator. Known as a thoughtful advocate for cultural integrity, inclusivity, and diverse representation in the studio and on stage, his Native Hawaiian ancestry and wide-ranging international performance career influence all aspects of his work. As executive artistic director of Dance Place in Washington, DC, Morgan stewarded the organization through the triple pandemics of 2020, maintaining the entire staff with no layoffs or furloughs while continuing to pay artists and teachers.
Since 2006, Morgan has directed Art Omi: Dance, an annual collaborative residency for international choreographers in New York, where he created an utterly unique international cultural exchange program. Frequently sought as a speaker and grants reviewer, he has been at the forefront of national discussions on equity in the arts. He currently serves on the board of the National Performance Network, is a member of the Association of Performing Arts Professionals’ Equitable Partnership Working Group, and on the Association of Performing Arts Professionals 2022 Conference Planning Committee. Born in Orange County, California, he resides in Takoma Park, Maryland, with his husband, opera director Kyle Lang.
U.S. Surgeon General Vice Admiral Vivek Murthy
Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy, MD, MBA, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2021 to serve as the 21st Surgeon General of the United States. As the nation’s top doctor, Dr. Vivek Murthy helps to advance the health and well-being of all Americans and has worked to address critical public health issues. He has issued Surgeon General Advisories on the youth mental health crisis and social media’s impact on youth mental health, the epidemic of loneliness and isolation, and on burnout in the health worker community. Dr. Murthy also issued a Surgeon General’s Framework on mental health in the workplace and he is the first Surgeon General to host a podcast, House Calls with Dr. Vivek Murthy, where he invites guests and listeners to explore how we can all build more connected and meaningful lives.
As Vice Admiral of the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, Dr. Murthy oversees more than 6,000 dedicated public health officers serving underserved and vulnerable populations.
Dr. Murthy previously served as the 19th Surgeon General under President Obama. Raised in Miami, Dr. Murthy received his bachelor’s degree from Harvard, his medical degree from the Yale School of Medicine, and his Masters in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management.
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya, multidisciplinary artist, educator, and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya is a multidisciplinary artist, educator, and activist based in Brooklyn, New York. The daughter of Thai and Indonesian immigrants, her practice spans sculpture, large-scale murals, installation, and public art campaigns. Through defiant storytelling, her work brings forth colors, patterns, textures, histories, and rituals to amplify marginalized voices. Amanda has investigated how to create liminal spaces that can serve as conduits for healing and transformation. She is a 2023 Jerome Hill Artist Fellow in Visual Arts and Civic Practice Artist in Residence with Poster House and the San Francisco Asian Art Museum. In 2023, she was appointed to the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities where she advises the President on how art can foster community well-being.
Rep. Chellie Pingree, Congressional Arts Caucus Co-Chair
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree moved to Maine in 1970s, and after graduating from College of the Atlantic she started a small farm on the island of North Haven. A knitting business she started in the early 80s soon grew to ten year round employees producing knitting kits and books that were sold in hundreds of stores across the country. She was elected to the Maine Senate in 1992 and after serving four terms—two as Senate Majority Leader—went on to become the national President of Common Cause. In 2008 Chellie Pingree was elected to Congress to serve Maine’s 1st District, the first woman ever to be elected to represent the District. Congresswoman Pingree is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and has gained national recognition for her leadership on a number of issues, including as Co-Chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus since 2018.
Sanjit Sethi, President, Minneapolis College of Art and Design
Born in Rochester, New York, Sanjit Sethi received a BFA in 1994 from the New York State College of Ceramics at Alfred University, an MFA in 1998 from the University of Georgia, and an MS in advanced visual studies in 2002 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Sanjit has lectured widely on issues related to culture, creativity, and equity, and has taught at several institutions around the world including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Memphis College of Art; the Shristi School of Art, Design and Technology; and the California College of the Arts.
As an artist and curator, Sethi’s work has spanned different media and geographies. Past works include the Kuni Wada Bakery Remembrance; Richmond Voting Stories; and the Gypsy Bridge project. Recent curatorial projects have included Spiked: The Unpublished Political Cartoons of Rob Rogers and the upcoming exhibition, 6.13.89 The Cancelling of the Mapplethorpe Exhibition. Additionally, Sethi is currently working on the Portland Hospice Potters Network and a body of paintings and drawings—the Delta Series.
After completing a Fulbright fellowship in Bangalore, India, working on the Building Nomads project, he continued his strong focus on interdisciplinary collaboration as director of the MFA program at the Memphis College of Art. Sanjit has also served as Director of the Center for Art and Public Life and Barclay Simpson Professor and Chair of Community Arts at the California College of the Arts and Executive Director of the Santa Fe Art Institute (SFAI). In 2015, Sanjit was appointed faculty and inaugural Director of the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design at The George Washington University.
Anna Deavere Smith, actress, playwright, and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities
Anna Deavere Smith is an actress, playwright, teacher, and author. She is credited with having created a new form of theater. Smith’s work combines the journalistic technique of interviewing her subjects with the art of interpreting their words through performance. President Obama awarded Smith the National Humanities Medal in 2013. Additional honors include the prestigious MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellowship, The Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize for achievement in the arts, the George Polk Career Award in Journalism, two Tony nominations, and several honorary degrees. She has appeared as an actress in such popular culture media as "The West Wing", "Philadelphia", "The American President", "Nurse Jackiee" and "Inventing Anna". She is a professor at New York University's Tisch School of ther Arts.
Neera Tanden, Domestic Policy Advisor to President Biden and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council
Neera Tanden currently serves as Domestic Policy Advisor to President Biden. Previously, she was Senior Advisor and Staff Secretary in the White House. She has served in both the Obama and Clinton administrations, as well as presidential campaigns and think tanks. Prior to her roles in the Biden-Harris Administration, Neera was the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress and the Center for American Progress Action Fund, one of the largest think tanks in the country, with teams across all components of domestic policy including crime, education, immigration, health care, civil rights, and more. As President of CAP, Neera drove ideas that became part of the Biden-Harris agenda: proposals on clean energy subsidies, a new child care program, and closing the “boyfriend loophole” on guns.
Neera previously served as senior advisor for health reform at the Department of Health and Human Services, working on President Barack Obama’s health reform team in the White House. Prior to that, she was the director of domestic policy for the Obama-Biden presidential campaign, where she managed all domestic policy proposals. Neera also served as policy director for the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, where she directed all policy work, ranging from domestic policy to the economy to foreign affairs, and managed day-to-day policy announcements. She received her bachelor’s degree from UCLA and her JD from Yale Law School.
Clyde Valentin, Co-Artistic Director, One Nation/One Project
Clyde Valentin is a Creative Producer, Cultural Entrepreneur and Strategist with over twenty years of executive experience managing start-up environments, multidisciplinary projects and live events. Most recently, Valentin co-founded One Nation/One Project - a national arts and health inspired by the WPA's Federal Theater Project, when 18 cities and towns premiered projects on the same day in 1937. ONOP is attempting to replicate this effort with a creative prompt "No Place Like Home" tied to a broader campaign to promote the impacts of the arts on health called "Arts for EveryBody.”
Mayor Michelle Wu, City of Boston
Michelle Wu is the first woman and first person of color to be elected Mayor of Boston. The daughter of immigrants, a Boston Public Schools mom, and an MBTA rider, she is also the first Mayor to move a piano into her office at City Hall. Mayor Wu first began playing piano at the age of four. In 2023, she joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra to perform as the soloist in Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21. Her deep connection to the arts has led to Boston’s largest-ever arts investment in the form of $20 million in ARPA funding for Boston artists, arts organizations, and free public programs; a first-of-its-kind arts and culture series on Boston City Hall Plaza; expanded access to cultural institutions for Boston Public School students and families; and Boston’s first-ever Public Art Triennial, happening next year.