Gwendolyn VanSant is an experienced organizational change consultant and coach who works at the intersection of diversity leadership, equity and inclusion, and strategic planning. She is the CEO and Founding Director of BRIDGE and the Equity and Inclusion Team Lead at Changemaker Strategies. A skilled community organizer, Gwendolyn is also a well-recognized thought leader on racial justice and reparations.
Gwendolyn currently serves as the Vice Chair of the Town of Great Barrington W. E. B. Du Bois Legacy Committee. She is on the Advisory Board of Greylock Federal Credit Union’s Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) program, and she is a board member of the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts, UU Mass Action Network, Shakespeare & Company, and Women’s Fund Of Western Massachusetts. A longtime activist, Gwendolyn has founded several initiatives based on the principles of equity and justice, the inherent dignity and worth of individuals, and our interconnected web of humanity.
Aseante Renee, LMSW, is a therapist and communications strategist with over 13 years experience in social-cause marketing, facilitation, and culturally inclusive community engagement work across the nation. Much of her work engages the intersections of social justice, healing, wellness, therapy, and entrepreneurship. Currently Aseante is the Director of Communications for Common Justice, a nonprofit developing and advancing solutions to violence that transform the lives of those harmed and foster racial equity without relying on incarceration. Prior to joining Common Justice, Aseante was a policy advisor with the National Initiative for Building Community Trust and Justice where she led the operationalizing of reconciliation work between communities of color and local law enforcement in six pilot cities.
Amber’s mission is to inspire, support and encourage people to live from a place of fearless imagination and courageous love, especially as we face the potent challenges of our world today.
She has been recognized as a visionary voice for our times through her work today as a creative entrepreneur, visionary life coach, entrusted guide on international retreats , gifted storyteller with her one-woman show and inspirational author.
Amber has founded several visionary social enterprises over the past 30 years - companies with a committment to the triple bottom line, their success being measured by their impact on profit, people and the planet. She has worked with artisan entrepreneurs in many vulnerarble parts of the world including Afghanistan, Iraq, Rwanda, Bolivia and Palestine.
Her global work has been recognised by a variety of media, including Oprah Magazine, Marie Claire, CNN, New York Times and others.
To learn more: amberchand.com
Join Amber on her weekly half hour series, Tea with Amber: Stories, Reflections and Inspirations During Uncertain Times. Tuesdays at 4:00 pm on Facebook Live. All episodes are on her Tea with Amber YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoO6WCawCsWKtS8RjW1Vxdw
Setsuko Winchester, creator of the Freedom from Fear/Yellow Bowl Project is a writer,
ceramicist and conceptual artist. Prior to moving to Western Massachusetts in 2006 to pursue
a life-long interest in ceramics and the visual arts, she worked as a journalist, editor and
producer at NPR’s Morning Edition and Talk of the Nation.
In 2010, she helped start her local newspaper, The Sandisfield Times and contributed as
managing editor and staff photographer. In 2015 those interests of art, history and journalism
converged in an online project called the Freedom from Fear/Yellow Bowl Project. Using her
ceramics and photography, her work explores what it means to be an "American" and
questions what freedom could mean to different groups at different times in American history
through the lens of the mass incarceration of people of Japanese ethnicity in the United States
during WWII. The project included traveling across the US twice to some of the most remote
parts of the country covering over 16,000 miles to get to all ten US concentration camps as
they were called by the FDR administration.
In 2016, the artist was invited to create a site-specific image at the FDR Library and Museum in
Hyde Park, NY. The following year her contemporary images from the former camps were
included as part of a yearlong photography exhibition in commemoration of the 75 th
Anniversary of FDR’s signing of Executive Order 9066. Her latest project is called "The
Dissent Collars" which looks at the history of American Whiteness laws. It is part of a trilogy
along with a future work in the idea phase called "Buried History: The Plate Project" which
looks at the history of America through the lens of America's long history of race laws.
Learn more about her project at: www.yellowbowlproject.com/blog
Josie is a Director of the Josephine and Louise Crane Foundation, a fourth-generation private family foundation established in 1956 which supports nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts. Josie's background in the mental health field informs her philanthropic work, and she has a particular interest in the impact of systems and trauma on communities. Prior to becoming involved with the foundation, Josie was the Assistant Director of Counseling at Mount Ida College in Newton. Among her interests is understanding the structural barriers impacting historically excluded communities and grant making supporting racial equity and systems change. Josie received her B.A. In Psychology from American University, in Washington, D.C., and a Master's degree in Counseling Psychology from Lesley College in Cambridge, MA. She lives in Newton, with her husband Glenn and has two young adult children.
Greg Watson is Director of Policy and Systems Design at the Schumacher Center for a New Economics. His work currently focuses on community food systems and an initiative to improve global systems literacy.
Greg has spent over 40 years learning to understand systems thinking as inspired by Buckminster Fuller and to apply that understanding to achieve a just and sustainable world.
In 1978 he organized a network of urban farmers’ markets in the Greater Boston Metropolitan Area. He served as the 19th Commissioner of Agriculture in Massachusetts under Governors Michael Dukakis and William Weld from 1990 to 1993 and under Governor Deval Patrick from 2012 to 2014. During the Patrick administration he launched a statewide urban agriculture grants program and chaired the Commonwealth’s Public Market Commission, which oversaw the planning and construction of the Boston Public Market.
From 1984 to 1990 Watson served as Assistant Secretary in the Massachusetts Executive Office of Economic Affairs, where he established and chaired the Massachusetts Office of Science and Technology. In 1988 he presented a paper entitled “Preparing Policymakers To Address the Problem of Climate Change” at the Second North American Conference on Preparing for Climate Change in Washington, D.C. Greg was featured in Leonardo DiCaprio’s 2007 documentary The 11th Hour.
Greg gained hands-on experience in organic farming, aquaculture, wind-energy technology, and passive solar design at the New Alchemy Institute on Cape Cod, first as Education Director and later as Executive Director. There he led the effort to create the Cape & Islands Self Reliance energy cooperative. He served four years as Executive Director of the Dudley Street Neighborhood Initiative, a multicultural grassroots organizing and planning organization in Roxbury, MA where he initiated one of the nation’s first urban agriculture programs (anchored by a 10,000 square foot commercial greenhouse).
Watson was the first Executive Director of the Massachusetts Renewable Energy Trust (now the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center). In 2005 he coordinated the drafting of “A Framework for Offshore Wind Energy Development in the United States” and the following year founded the U.S. Offshore Wind Collaborative. Watson initiated the effort that brought the National Wind Technology Testing Center. He served on President-elect Barack Obama’s U.S. Department of Energy transition team in 2008. In 2006 he was one of “11 Bostonians Changing the World” cited by the Boston Globe.
In 2015 he founded the Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network (CUSAN) following a trip to Cuba to learn about its agroecology system. CUSAN links small farmers and sustainable farm organizations in both countries to share information and provide mutual support.
In 2018 Watson, working with Elizabeth Thompson (former executive director of the Buckminster Fuller Institute) acquired the intellectual property and trademark rights to Fuller’s World Game Workshop. The Workshop is a global simulation tool designed to help players discover the options for creating a world that works for 100% of humanity without compromising Earth’s ecological integrity.
Maurice Parent is an actor, singer, dancer, educator, and mentor originally from the Washington, D.C., area. He has performed Off-Broadway, across the nation and in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. As an actor Maurice has been nominated for four Elliot Norton Awards by The Boston Theater Critics Association, winning two, been nominated for 8 Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) awards winning three, and won a 2017 an ArtsImpulse Award. As an educator Maurice has taught courses at Northeastern University, Boston University, Reed Academy, and the Boston Public Schools. He has led workshops at The Boston Conservatory, Wellesley College and several Boston theatre companies. He was named the 2018 Monan Professor for Theatre Arts at Boston College and a 2019 Neubauer Fellow Faculty Fellow for Tufts University where he currently is a Professor of the Practice. He is a resident company member of the Actors' Shakespeare Project and co-founder / Executive Director of the Front Porch Arts Collective, a theatre company which "examines the interactions between race, economics, culture, gender and sexuality from a Black perspective.
Dawn Simmons is the Executive Director of Stage Source, an arts service organization focusing on work force development and sector improvement in theatre across New England. Dawn is originally from Buffalo, NY, where she received a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Buffalo. She went on to study playwrighting at Boston University. She has since gone on to direct for regional theatres such as The Front Porch Arts Collective, WAM Theatre, The Nora Theatre, Greater Boston Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Bad Habit Productions, Fresh Ink Theatre and Lyric Stage Company. She is the co-founder and artistic director of the Front Porch Arts Collective, a black theater company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theatre. She also founded New Exhibition Room in 2008 to produce provocative, political, and affordable theater events. Before taking on the role of Executive Director of Stage Source, Dawn served on the Board of Directors and as the Director of Programs for nine years. More recently, she served as the Director of Performing Arts at the Boston Center for the Arts.
TUTI B. SCOTT
Tuti B. Scott
President, Changemaker Strategies
Interim CEO, Tides
Tuti B. Scott is a consultant for strategic philanthropy and a coach to high-achieving leaders. Known as the “Chief Inspiration Officer” of the women’s funding movement, Tuti has been a leader in social justice philanthropy, women’s rights, and women’s sports for more than three decades. An energizing author and speaker, “Coach Tuti” inspires people and organizations to up their leadership game to create and fund change. Through her company Changemaker Strategies, Tuti advises leadership teams on strategic planning, succession planning, fundraising, and leadership development, and has assisted many founders and leaders such as Geena Davis, Noreen Farrell, Serene Jones, Jane Sloane, and others in their work. Her clients have included Women Moving Millions, Root Capital, Third Wave Fund, Civil Liberties and Public Policy among others. Tuti has been a featured speaker and workshop producer for the Women’s Funding Network, the Jewish Women’s Funding Network, and several of the member funds of these networks. Tuti and her team at Changemaker Strategies are launching new programs and services around Equity and Inclusion, Values-Based Investing, Embodied Leadership, and Systems Change to further support women leaders in getting in the game of money, influence, and power. Tuti currently serves as a founding Board member of the Women Win Foundation and is proud to call herself an intersectional feminist and philanthropist.
Anna Gilbert-Muhammad currently serves as the Equity Director and Food Access/Webinar Coordinator for NOFA/Mass. Mrs. Muhammad graduated from NOFA/Mass’s Beginner Farmer Program in 2015 and began working with the organization in 2016. The programs that Anna works with in Springfield is the Youth Leader Carbon Farming Program at Home City Housing, The Open Pantry Community Garden Project and smaller projects in the Boston Area. Mrs.Muhammad resides with her Husband Keith Muhammad and they are both market gardeners.
Susan Witt is the Executive Director of the Schumacher Center for a New
Economics , which she co-founded in 1980. The Center’s mission is to
envision a just and sustainable global economy; apply the concepts locally;
then share the results for broad replication. She developed and grew
the Community Land Trust in the Southern Berkshires and its sister
organization the Berkshire Community Land Trust to facilitate affordable
access to land. She created and administered the SHARE micro-credit
program and the BerkShares local currency program, which has
won international media attention as an example for other regions.
Her talks and essays draw on stories from her practical experience with
these model local economic programs.
Maria is a master teacher, facilitator and author. She is devoted to the science
of well-being and the art of crafting a life and a work that embodies health,
passion and success. As a positive psychologist (Psy.D.) and consultant, she
focuses on the resilience of the human spirit particularly when under chronic
stress, during significant transitions, and/or feeling the shock of wholesale
change. Known for her wisdom, authenticity and rampant humor, she brings a
wealth of perspective from decades of study in the mind/body medicine and
resilience disciplines. Maria is the author of two books: A Short Course in
Happiness After Loss (And Other Dark, Difficult Times) and Every Day
Counts. Her home is in the Berkshire Mountains where she attempts on a daily
basis to love her children well enough so that they too find a way to embrace
the world with a grounded optimism and a sense of their own strengths. And
on most days, she remembers to feed the cat. www.mariasirois.com
KRISTEN VAN GINHOVEN
Kristen van Ginhoven is the Producing Artistic Director of WAM Theatre. WAM’s vision
is to create opportunity for women and girls through a mission of theatre as
philanthropy. WAM has donated over $75,000 to organizations taking action in girls
education, women’s leadership, teen pregnancy prevention, sexual trafficking
awareness, midwife training and more. She has an MA from Emerson College, where
she received the Presidential Fellowship. Kristen is a social entrepreneur working at the
intersection of arts and activism, with a focus on intersectional feminism and
i’in Purwanti founded Cinta Hutan Foundation ( www.lovethewoods.org ) in 2019 after
decades of experience in media, social justice movement and grassroots community
organizing. Cinta Hutan is a non-profit organization with mission to create opportunities
for Indonesian and American marginalized young women by using visual media as a
tool for volunteer activism and cultural exchange. It strives to contribute to a vibrant and
inclusive global creative community. She graduated in 2009 from the MFA Program in
Writing/Directing Documentary Film at the City College of New York (the CCNY). In
2010, she co-founded and the Executive Producer of Outpost, www.outpoststudios.tv , a
small production company serving various clients globally from advertising, marketing to
dr. KEELEY w. vERRET
Dr Keeley W. Verrett is a holistic healer and eye doctor who focuses on the unique health needs of people with brown eyes. Her company, Brown-Eyed Girl Wellness Initiative, is a global movement to expand the knowledge and tools to families who want to radically transform their health and wellness. Dr. Verrett studied at Xavier University of New Orleans as well as The University of Houston College of Optometry. Her clinical experience expands over twenty years in urban communities of New Orleans, Miami, North Carolina and Jamaica. Her passion is helping people bring natural healing techniques, kitchen pharmacy, herbal and energy medicine into their homes and into their everyday lives.
Ms. Gray is the Founder and Managing Partner of The 22 Fund (The 22), an impact, growth equity and advisory firm with a mission of creating the quality jobs of the future by increasing the global competitiveness of manufacturing companies, intentionally targeting women- and minority-owned businesses. She is a Board of Director of Applife Digital Solutions, Inc (OTC: ADLS), a publicly traded, fully reporting start-up incubator and venture studio, and of the California State University, Dominguez Hills Philanthropic Foundation endowment, where she serves as Treasurer/Secretary on the Investment Committee.
She is also an Executive in Residence at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI) and chairs LACI’s Diversity in Entrepreneurship Advisory Council. Ms. Gray is the first Social Impact Fellow at the UC Berkeley Haas Business School’s Center for Equity, Gender and Leadership.
In 2015, Ms. Gray gave a TEDx Talk entitled “Why It's Time for Women to Be Sexist with Investment Capital.” Due to the response from her TEDx Talk, Ms. Gray founded the non-profit We Are Enough (WAE). WAE’s only mission is to educate ALL women on how and why to invest in women-owned, for-profit businesses or with a “gender lens.” WAE recently released the study Creating LAIA:The Feasibility of a Women-Focused Incubator and Accelerator in Los Angeles and chosen by Variety magazine as a global 50 most "impactful" non-profits.
Ms. Gray was named one of the 50 Women of Influence in business in Los Angeles and is featured in the recently released book “200 Hundred Women: Who Will Change the Way You See the World” and Robb Report article "Tracy Gray Invests in Women." In 2019, Ms. Gray received the Bad Ass Woman in Green award from the California League of Conservation Voters and the Women of Courage award from Youth Mentoring Connection.
Ms. Gray was formerly senior advisor for international business to the LA Mayor, an investment professional at a venture capital fund and a systems engineer on the Space Shuttle program. Ms. Gray holds a B.S. in Mathematical Science with an aeronautics emphasis from the UC Santa Barbara and dual MBAs from Columbia University and UC, Berkeley.
Lara Setti, MD, MPH
Lara Setti, MD, MPH is a family physician at Community Health Programs in Great Barrington, Mass. where she has practiced community and public health for the past 12 years. Prior to that, she was on faculty for a rural family medicine residency and worked at a migrant health center in western North Carolina. She has a passion for quality, holistic health care for all, and improving the health care opportunities for immigrants and other marginalized communities. She believes strongly in social justice as a necessity for a truly healthy community. Locally, Dr. Setti has served on the board of BRIDGE for the past 3 years. She also serves on the medical advisory team for the Berkshire Waldorf School and is a clinical instructor of medicine for Boston University. Dr. Setti attended Earlham College for her undergraduate degree. She attended medical school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and obtained her master’s in public health from Harvard University. She lives in Great Barrington with her husband and two children where she enjoys finding inspiration and balance in her home, garden, whole food, exercise, and the natural world around her.
Gloria Escobar is the Community Development Specialist at Greylock Federal Credit Union. She is active in the Spanish speaking community, advocating for more inclusion and education for immigrant community members. Thanks to her bilingual skills, Gloria conducts financial wellness classes in Spanish as well as English and provides one-on-one financial coaching. Gloria has been involved in the annual Latino Festival, assisted in the 100 Backpack Challenge, volunteered at the Gather-In Durant Park, Festival of Hope and Gladys Allen Brigham Center’s Thanksgiving Celebration, and is on the Board of Directors at the Community Health Program. At Greylock Federal Credit Union, she has directly supported Greylock and BRIDGE’s collaborative equity and inclusion work. She is proud to work in partnership with the BRIDGE team.