Lab Session Presenters

Ashley Woodson


lex hunter

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“Memes as digital graffiti and political cartoons”

Ashley N. Woodson is a mother, sister, daughter and counterstoryteller. Inspired by principles of critical race theory, she researches the possibilities of Black kids’ civic imaginations. She is an Assistant Professor of Education at the University of Missouri - Columbia, and Faculty Fellow for Community Engagement in the Office of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.

Lex Hunter is a English Language Arts pre-service teacher and junior at the University of Missouri - Columbia. She is a member of the National Alliance of Black School Educators, an MizzouEd Ambassador and Carolyn A. Dorsey Scholar. 

Jeff Hopkins

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“How might we find hope in the gift of student work?”

Jeff Hopkins is a storyteller, educator, and illustrator. He has performed his "Pictures Come to Life" programs at arts institutions all over the country and has illustrated nearly two-dozen early reader books for children. For 20 years, Hopkins has been a teaching artist for arts organizations including the Guggenheim Museum, American Ballet Theatre, The Jewish Museum, ArtsConnection, MoMA, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. He currently teaches art education at The City College of New York. He holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and a Masters in Education from Harvard University. Jeff's website is:

Jori Ketten

Ashley Frith


“How can arts educators support students in developing agency over their own stories?”

Jori Ketten is the Director of the MusicWorks Network at Community MusicWorks and Associate Director of Academic Engagement at the Swearer Center for Public Service at Brown University. Jori has worked with youth arts organizations for over 20 years and in addition to her work with CMW and Brown is a curator and coordinator of arts events at large, a parent, and bass drummer in the What Cheer? Brigade, a 20+ member brass/punk band.

Ashley Frith is the current MusicWorks Network Fellow and a former Community MusicWorks Fellow. Ashley studied viola with Lila Brown at The Boston Conservatory and has served as a resident musician and as teaching artist with the Greater Miami Youth Symphony, Newport String Project, and with El Sistema Somerville and Revolution of Hope in Boston. Her current work focuses on healing practices grounded in an ethic of love and care.

Jody Drezner Alperin

X. Alexander Durden

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Joy Arcolano


“All American Boys - PRESENT.”

Jody Drezner Alperin is the Artistic Director of Off The Page an arts education and theatre company in New York City.

X. Alexander Durden is a Boston based classical tenor and actor, trained at Morehouse College and The Boston Conservatory, he has also performed in grand halls and intimate black boxes from Lincoln Center to Bermuda, Canada, Atlanta, and Puerto Rico. MDW.

Joy Lamberton Arcolano is a Voice Catalyst and Theatre Teaching Artist working in public and private spheres to start and continue the conversation. Joy is emeritus founding chair of Continuing the Conversation (AIE Ed.M.04) and is on faculty at the Boston Conservatory at Berklee while continuing to gig as a professional actor, director, and producer. Additional Artist Activists and Teaching Artists affiliated with Boston Arts Academy and/or The Boston Conservatory at Berklee to be announced - students, educators, humans.

Kojiro Umezaki


susan wolfe

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“‘Art Makes Me Feel Like. Human Being’ Shay American Horse, Lame Deer Junior High School student”

Japanese-Danish performer and composer Kojiro Umezaki, originally from Tokyo, is renowned as a virtuoso of the shakuhachi, but his work also encompasses traditional and technology-based music mediated by various forms of electronics. His recent commissioned works and producer credits include those for Brooklyn Rider, Joseph Gramley, Huun Huur Tu, and Silkroad. Umezaki is currently associate professor of music at the University of California, Irvine, where he is a core faculty member of the Integrated Composition, Improvisation, and Technology (ICIT) group.

Susan Wolfe earned a BFA in Graphic Design at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. As a Senior Art Director for Carmichael Lynch Advertising in Minneapolis she designed and produced ad campaigns for such clients as Jostens, McDonalds, WCCO TV and Harley-Davidson before moving to Montana. In 2009 Susan entered the teaching certification program at Montana State University. Shortly thereafter she began teaching Visual Art at Lame Deer Jr/Sr High School on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, a failing school which had been designated as a “School of Promise” by the Montana Office of Public Instruction. At the end of her first year Lame Deer Jr High became one of eight schools in the nation selected to participate in a pilot program, the TurnAround Arts Initiative which was spearheaded by The President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities in collaboration with the US Department of Education, corporate sponsors and professional artists from a variety of disciplines. From this program grew an extraordinary eight year partnership with Silkroad. Susan is also a Montana Teacher Leader in the Arts and serves as a local tour coordinator in her community for Montana Shakespeare In The Parks.

Melissa Alexis

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“Alchemy: When Hope Turns to Certainty”

Melissa Alexis is, a dance artist/educator, certified yoga teacher, facilitator, writer and entrepreneur with no separation among these roles. The threads that hold them all together are the urge to create, the need to serve, and the desire to envision and support a world full of people who do good for the common good. She founded Cultural Fabric in 2016 to help individuals, businesses, and communities tap into their inner power to elevate internal consciousness and transform external environments. Melissa leads the core program, The Healing Arts Institute, guiding participants to conduct movement research as critical race inquiry for self and collective healing. In addition, her work takes the form of leadership coaching, public speaking, workshops, performances, and customized consulting solutions. She has facilitated customized workshops and solutions for: March for Our Lives Boston, Historic Newton, Tufts University, Wellesley College, South End Community Health Center, Boston Public Library, and more. Melissa is passionate about sharing movement’s utility both in and beyond the studio and stage. She has served as faculty at Bates Dance Festival 2019, Sarah Lawrence College, Boston University’s REACH Program, Amherst College, Smith College, and Bard High School Early College Newark. A first generation Trinidadian-American, Melissa’s movement research is rooted in exploring the intersection between African, Eastern, and Western perspectives, as well as psychology, social justice, sustainability, and mindfulness studies. She most recently choreographed Marcus Gardley’s acclaimed play, black odyssey boston, produced by The Front Porch, Underground Railway Theater, and Central Square Theater. Prior to this, her dance works have been presented as part of Brooklyn-based The Creators Collective, and at the Boston Center for the Arts, Sarah Lawrence College, Tufts University, The Dance Complex, Green Street Studios, Smith College Department of Theatre, Wheelock College Center for Race Amity, and as a ritual healing practice, at many public and historic spaces, among them, Arlington Street Church with Black Lives Matter Boston, Myrtle Baptist Church, and the Museum of Fine Arts. Melissa earned her 200-hour yoga teacher certification from JP Centre Yoga, and continues her yoga/meditation education through the Isha Foundation, Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, and more. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Dance from Sarah Lawrence College and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Spanish from Amherst College but is most proud to be a mother, daughter, sister, friend, and community member. FB & IG: @culturalfab

Natalia Torres

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Lisa Green

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Ellen Hagan

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“How can we use our personal geographies to transform classrooms into spaces of radical love?”

Natalia Torres earned her BA in Art and Ethnicity, Race, & Migration from Yale. She worked as a middle school counselor supporting students of color in independent schools before attending the Harvard Graduate School of Education, focusing on racial justice and educational equity, and earned a master’s in education. She joined DreamYard in 2016 as a School Programs Coordinator, and is currently Department Director of Visual Art & Maker, supporting Teaching Artists with professional development and coaching.

Lisa Green is the Department Director of Dance and Music at DreamYard. As a community artist and cultural worker she has over 15 years experience in the public school system and community based programs. She has worked closely with schools and organizations collaborating to integrate arts into curriculum and leads arts engagement events. Lisa has had extensive experience as a citywide training facilitator, conducting several workshops that focus on, youth/community development, arts integration, self- care practices and social justice through the arts.

Ellen Hagan is a writer, performer, and educator. She is the author of two poetry collections: Crowned and Hemisphere, and Watch Us Rise, a YA collaboration with Renée Watson from Bloomsbury. Ellen's poems and essays can be found on ESPNW, in the pages of Creative Nonfiction, Underwired Magazine, She Walks in Beauty (edited by Caroline Kennedy), Huizache, Small Batch, and Southern Sin. She is the recipient of a NoMAA Creative Arts Grant and has received grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Kentucky Governor's School for the Arts. National arts residencies include The Hopscotch House and Louisiana Arts Works. Ellen is the Director of the Poetry & Theatre Departments at the DreamYard Project and directs their International Poetry Exchange Program with Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. She co-leads the Alice Hoffman Young Writer's Retreat at Adelphi University.

Rachel Watts

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Nancy Kleaver

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“What can we learn from the collaborative art-making process in pursuit of racial equity and institutional change?”

Rachel Watts is a multidisciplinary arts educator who designs programs and facilitates professional development workshops that promote organizational equity and support participant growth as learners, artists, critical thinkers, innovators and designers of their own professional pathways. She is currently the Director of Teen Programs and DEI initiatives at ArtsConnection in NYC. She serves on the board of the NYC Arts in Education Roundtable and just began her Ph.D. in Urban Education at CUNY.

Nancy Kleaver is a consultant who advises clients on a range of nonprofit management issues from strategic alliances to talent recruitment to program assessment. She has held leadership positions at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, Young Audiences New York, and DreamYard and serves as Arts In Education Network Leader for the National Guild for Community Arts Education. When not consulting, Nancy is busy working on called PARADE, which collaborates with artists and the people of Queens, NY to launch large scale public art that sparks civic engagement. Learn more at