Sherri Bailey is a community development activist/organizer. In this role, she develops community partnerships and engages leaders with resources that promote neighborhood priorities including economic development, capacity building, leadership development, youth initiatives, urban farming and policy. Sherri has 10 years of public policy from federal to local levels of government and has extensive experience working in urban communities, especially The Promise Zone. Sherri is a CAT representing the West End branding project; UMSL’s Neighborhood Leadership Fellow, and has partnered with neighborhoods through the City. Sherry recently collaborated and authored “Cabanne Place” – The History of the West End / Academy-Sherman Park Neighborhoods and is working on a documentary on the West End’s Visitation and Academy-Sherman Park’s residents from the early 1950’s and the redlining struggles they faced. Sherri currently serves on the board of Creating Whole Communities, SLACO, Chair of Delmar’s Maker Space Development Committee and is a Producer of the historic Ivory Perry Park Concert Series in Visitation Park. She currently at the St. Louis Public Schools.
Jessica Baran is a poet, curator, critic and Director of Curatorial and Program Development at Barrett Barrera Projects. The author of three poetry collections, she is the former art writer for the Riverfront Times (2008-2012), Assistant Director of White Flag Projects (2008-2011), and Director of fort gondo compound for the arts (2012-2016). She is also an educator who has instructed and advised graduate students in the MFA program at the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Art (2012-2017); taught writing and literature courses to inmates through St. Louis University’s Prison Arts & Education program (2013-2017); and overseen numerous public workshops and panels in a broad range of contexts. Originally from Northwest Indiana, she holds a B.A. in visual art from Columbia University, NY and an MFA in poetry from Washington University in St. Louis. She is also an alum of the ICI Curatorial Intensive (NYC, 2013) as well as the Community Arts Training (CAT) Institute (Cherokee Street, 2014). In 2014 the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis awarded her an Artist Fellowship in Literature for her poetry writing. She lives in St. Louis with her husband, poet Nathaniel Farrell, and their dog Benny.
Kathryn Bentley is a community artist and an Associate Professor of Theater at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville (SIUE) as well as the Director of the Black Studies program. She has been the Artistic Director of SIUE’s Black Theatre Workshop since 2006. She has performed and directed with numerous theater companies regionally and nationally, most recently directing the 2019 Shakespeare in the Streets production Love at the River’s Edge with Shakespeare Festival St. Louis. In 2018, she joined Bread & Roses Missouri as Artistic Director for the Workers’ Theater Project and directed the company’s first full-length production Jailbird in 2019. Kathryn is a proud 2002 Regional Arts Commission Community Arts Training Program Fellow as well as a member of the CAT faculty. She was one of the inaugural recipients of the RAC Artist Fellowships in 2014. In 2000, she was instrumental in developing the CHIPS In Motion program at CHIPS Health and Wellness Center in North St. Louis. This program continues to utilize performance to teach the community about pertinent health and wellness issues. In 2020, she was granted the St. Louis Visionary Outstanding Working Artist award. Kathryn commits herself to community-engaged arts collaborations, striving to create compassionate artistic experiences, using theater to lift social consciousness.
Dail Chambers is a visual artist and creative consultant. Her visual art practice is a multimedia exploration in genealogy, women’s narratives and social art. She has received numerous awards and fellowships throughout the United States. As a homeschooling, teaching artist she has traveled internationally, implementing lesson plans to enhance and motivate inter-generational learning environments. The artist, as a civil conduit, works as a guide for society. Chambers’ public practice embodies this role by providing motivational support, organizing work and sustainable living assistance to historically impoverished urban spaces in the Upper South and Mid-South of America. The art studio practice responds to genealogy, womanist history, and folklore in an ekphrastic attempt to continue the lineage of spirituality and mythology in art. There are iterations of genealogical quests in the American Black Migration that also address ecological and social justice issues. In the mythology of Itshanapa, a published account of expressive inspiration flows through short poems, art and writing. The book is a bio-mythological manual of basic healing.
Con Christeson, is a community/public/mixed media artist. Not really a muralist but her latest, ‘Bureau of Enquiry’, is up on Cherokee Street. Her largest, ‘Vehicle/Destination/ Imagination’, at the Forest Park Metro Link Station. Not a trained photographer but regularly uses its ease of accessibility to help others see themselves and the world such as the 2013 photographic survey/exhibit of the Cherokee area funded by the Kresge Foundation. Not scared of performance and regularly works with others to write scripts, imagine movement, and appear in front of audiences interested in the voices of homelessness. In 2017, there was The Phoenix Project, funded by the NEA with national/international artists who produced a spoken-word script, an original sound score, giant puppets, and a portable stage and slide show with the stories of people who are homeless. As a serial collaborator she rarely works alone, works WITH artists and non-artists, in congregate, neighborhood, or educational communities. She supports/displays the work of others at Red Chair Studios. She goes out nationally and globally, always returns to the local, looks forward to a new website, online workshops, and a second book on practice-based research and arts-based-community development.
John Cruz works as a data-driven urban planner for Rise Community Development. John uses geospatial and census data to tell a visual story of what is happening with land use in the St. Louis region while also tracking neighborhood change indicators. As an intermediary between data sources and human consumption, John aides the public in data literacy initiatives and assists community partner organizations to interpret and properly utilize data as a way that can positively impact their service areas. A Detroit-area native, John moved to St. Louis from Montreal in 2015, having spent most of his earlier career in private-sector software development. He is an executive board member of the American Planning Association Missouri St. Louis metro section, an elected member of the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership Executive Committee and has taught in the Washington University Brown School of Social Work.
Sukanya Mani is an interdisciplinary artist with a passion in science, philosophy, and exploring issues of gender and femininity. She takes complex ideas from those fields, building stories around them, and presents them in a visual art form. While her brain enjoys reading and gathering information about various subjects, her heart weaves them into visual stories which she then presents to the viewer. Her studio practice involves the art of cutting and sculpting paper. Creating these pieces is a meditative experience for her. Mani has worked as a teaching artist and arts administrator with various arts organizations including the St. Louis Art Museum, COCA, Contemporary Art Museum and Missouri History museum. Mani also creates large scale sculptures as part of her interactive public art. Her artwork is part of numerous collections like the City of Poplar Bluff, City of Ballwin, Brentwood Parks and Manchester, Missouri. Mani’s is the recipient of multiple grants from the Regional Arts Commission. Born in India, Mani lives and works in St. Louis.
Vynetta A. Morrow is an educator, poet, storyteller, and social justice strategist who spends time reading, writing, and imagining a liberated world. Vynetta holds spaces to Shift the Center of the Narrative and find what fortifies the roots of the Tree of Social Injustice. Vynetta completed Urban Bush Women Summer Leadership Institute in 2014 with a RAC Artist Support Grant as well as a fellowship with the Intercultural Leadership Institute in 2019. Vynetta is currently shopping a memoir in essay and verse, Vy’s Legacy.
Jenny Murphy is an artist and social entrepreneur whose broad practice encompasses community arts, interactive installations, teaching, sculpture, and design. Through her work, Jenny proposes sustainable, educational, and thought-provoking solutions to the negative effects of mass consumption on our environment and our communities.
Linda M. Nance is a Co-Founder; Performer; Vocalist; Reader; and sometimes Stage manager/Financial Officer; for A Call to Conscience Interactive Theatre for Social Change. She has been a reader and provided vocals for “The Mountaintop Speech”; “Out of the Shadows” – honoring Bayard Rustin; “Timeline: Unethical Medical Experimentation on Humans” – a prologue to the film Hole in the Head: A Life Revealed; and for the introduction to the screening of the film Fruitvale Station. Linda is a published author and has had newspaper articles in the St. Louis Post Dispatch, poems in the Harvest Moon Anthology, magazine articles in the Missouri Historical Society’s quarterly publication, and book reviews in the Sister’s Ninety Literary Journal. A longtime advocate for children, she is the former Director of the Resource Development for the Annie Malone Children & Family Service Center and has served as the President of the Webster Groves School Board. She serves as Historian for the St. Louis chapter of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs and is the Founding President of the Annie Malone Historical Society. Linda holds bachelor degrees, in sociology and psychology from Maryville University. She is a 2010 graduate of the Community Arts Training and 2012 Tiger Fellow – both programs sponsored by the Regional Arts Commission of St. Louis working to link collaborative skills among artists and social service practitioners. Linda is a St. Louis native, enjoying life as the mother of four sons and seven grandchildren.
Kaveh Razani is an arts advocate and organizer residing in St. Louis. He is the co-founder and co-owner of Blank Space, a multidisciplinary community arts space on Cherokee Street. A CAT and TIGER alum, Kaveh has been involved in arts-based community development since 2006. He is currently the Project Coordinator for the St. Louis Art Place Initiative, a non-profit seeking to build equity for low-to-moderate income artists by developing and subsidizing sales of affordable housing units.
Tonnie Smith is a lead Neighborhood Advocate for the West End in St. Louis, Missouri, where she has resided with her family since 2007. With the encouragement and support of family and neighbors Tonnie set out to learn how to make their neighborhood sustainable. On this journey, she discovered one way to make a neighborhood sustainable would be to create a Community Improvement District. While working on the formation of a CID, she started to really think about housing and how vacancy affects the neighborhood and its residents. Looking beyond the boundaries of the CID and to the whole neighborhood Tonnie, along with three other residents applied for and received the InvestSTL capacity building grant. With the funding and technical support, Cornerstone CDC will not only be able to build their capacity as a neighborhood organization, but also develop a comprehensive neighborhood plan that will be adopted by the city of St. Louis. During her leadership training in the Neighborhood Leadership Fellows program she developed the concept of the Can We Just Talk About Housing podcast?, hoping to inform and inspire residents to actively invest in reducing vacancy and home instability.
Jayvn Solomon believes in the power of design to create community change. As a CAT fellow and Vice President of AIGA St. Louis, the professional association for communication design, Jayvn is passionate about intersecting art & design with diverse sectors and creating positive change in St. Louis and abroad.
Honna Veerkamp is a community-oriented artist, documentarian, and educator and a 2018 CAT alum. Her specialties include radio, sound art, experimental video, painting, and installation. Honna’s work explores natural and human-made environments and celebrates creative resistance—from tiny interventions to grassroots social justice movements, and the stories in between.