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Carlton Turner

"Time Bending through Cultural Transformation: What future did you shape today?"

Carlton Turner works across the country as a performing artist, arts advocate, policy shaper, lecturer, consultant, and facilitator. Carlton is the Executive Director of Alternate ROOTS, a regional arts organization based in the South supporting artists working at the intersection of arts and social justice. Carlton currently serves on the board of First People’s Fund, Imagining America, and Project South for the Elimination of Poverty and Genocide. Carlton is also the founder of the Mississippi Center for Cultural Production, an arts and agriculture venture to support rural community, cultural, and economic development in his hometown of Utica, Mississippi.

Fleurette S. Fernando

"Fundraising in the Arts"

Fleurette S. Fernando is the founding Director of the MA Program in Arts Leadership at UH. Fleurette is a graduate of Claude Watson School for the Arts, the National Theatre School of Canada's Directing Program and holds an MFA degree in Theatre from York University. Fleurette served as Artistic Director of Montreal's Black Theatre Workshop and was the recipient of the Canada Council for the Arts' first John Hirsch Prize for Young Directors as well as a Fellowship of the Americas from the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. She has worked as a director, choreographer, educator and arts administrator in arts organizations across Canada and the US including Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and The Brooklyn Academy of Music. She is the former Executive Director of Katy Visual and Performing Arts Center where she also served as Performing Arts Director and Development Director. Fleurette served as an Adjunct Professor of Theatre Studies at University of Houston, Downtown and as was the Director of Grants for Houston Arts Alliance.

Donna L. Pattison and Rebecca Valls

"Dancing Your Science- Integrating Dance as a Strategy to Teach Scientific Concepts"

Dr. Pattison serves as an Instructional Professor and Assistant Chair for Undergraduate Affairs in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston. She coordinates a program funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute which seeks to improve student success in freshmen level lecture courses in physics, biology, and calculus. She coordinates a Faculty Development Workshop series in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and provides training for undergraduate peer facilitators.

Rebecca Valls, Associate Professor of Dance at UH, is developing and researching the integration of science and dance teaching strategies at the UH Charter School. She is a choreographer that produces and performs evening-length performances and solos throughout the U. S. She collaborates with UH engineer Dr. Pepe Contreras-Vidal in research, Your Brain on Dance, and performs solos in wearable brain imaging technology to investigate effects of art on the brain.

Eloise Brice

The Impact of Philanthropy in Higher Education

Appointed in 2012 by President Khator, Eloise Brice serves the dual roles of Vice Chancellor for Advancement for University of Houston System and Vice President for Advancement at University of Houston. She oversees all fundraising endeavors at the University of Houston, including the $1 billion “Here, We Go” Campaign. She serves on various boards at UH and in the community.

Carrie Schneider

Art and Social Justice


Carrie Schneider is an artist interested in the capacity of people reimagine their space. Her work has been presented at Diverseworks, Elsewhere, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, the Design Studio for Social Intervention, Open Engagement, EFA Project Space New York, the Menil Collection and many places outside of arts institutions. She organizes public dialogues including The Art of Equity at The Rothko Chapel and Charge, a convening advocating for equitable compensation of artists and considering our work in the larger economy. Her works and writings are published in and in Cite Magazine, Temporary Art Review, and Gulf Coast. She matchmakes artists and activists and dances queer tango.

Sixto Wagan

Art and Social Justice


Sixto Wagan is the inaugural director for the Center for Art and Social Engagement (CASE) and previously led DiverseWorks Artspace as Artistic Director, Co-Executive Director, and Performing Arts Curator. At DiverseWorks, he nurtured artists, communities and emerging arts organizations through commissions and place-based initiatives. Wagan is known for collaborating with artists whose work tackles prescient cultural, social, and political issues. He works with national organizations and foundations on cultural equity and leadership development in the arts through grantmaking, facilitation, and pilot initiatives. He is the president of the board for MAP Fund and serves on the boards of Dance/USA, Dance Source Houston, and MATCH – Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston.

Ryan N. Dennis

Project Row Houses


Ryan N. Dennis is the Curator & Programs Director at Project Row Houses in Houston, Texas. Her work focuses on African-American contemporary art with a particular focus on socially engaged practices, site-specific projects, and public interventions. Since joining Project Row Houses in 2012, she has organized and co-organized eight Rounds (PRH exhibitions) including, but not limited to, Round 46: Black Women Artists for Black Lives Matter at Project Row Houses (2017); Round 44: Shattering the Concrete: Artists, Activists, and Instigators (2016); Round 43: Small Business/ Big Change: Economic Perspectives from Artists and Artrepreneurs (2015); Round 41: Process and Action: An Exploration of Labor (2015); Round 40: Monuments: Right Beyond the Site (2014); and Round 39: Looking Back, Moving Forward (2013).

Her writings have appeared in online/print catalogs and journals, including Prospect.3 Notes for Now, Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts, and The Studio Museum in Harlem’s Studio magazine. She has been a visiting lecturer and critic at a number of art schools and art institutions throughout the country and taught courses on community based practices and contemporary art at the University of Houston.

Abinadi Meza

Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts


Abinadi Meza is an educator, visual artist, filmmaker and sound artist. He is a graduate of SCI-Arc (the Southern California Institute of Architecture) and holds degrees in art, architecture and critical theory. At the University of Houston Meza was the founding faculty of the Interdisciplinary Practices and Emerging Forms (IPEF) MFA program, and Co-founder of the Desert Unit for Speculative Territories (DUST) program, an international research studio working at the intersections of spatial practice, critical theory and contemporary art. Meza has exhibited and performed in North America, South America and Europe at venues including the Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow; Helicotrema Festival, Venice; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Museum of Contemporary Art, Santa Barbara; Anthology Film Archives, New York; Hipersonica Festival, Sao Paulo; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Sonorities Festival, Belfast; Deep Wireless Festival, Toronto; New Zealand Film Archives, Wellington; Museo MAXXI, Rome; and the Lisbon Architecture Triennale. In 2014 he was awarded a Rome Prize in Visual Art by the American Academy in Rome.

Richard Graber

Houston Arts Alliance

Richard Graber hails from Cleveland, Ohio and serves as Director of Grants, Programs + Services at Houston Arts Alliance. A performing artist in his own right, Graber is a graduate of the Ohio State University Department of Dance and has garnered recognition in critically acclaimed productions. He is well versed in organizational development, having founded the Csárdás Dance Company in 1994 and serving as Vice President of the Board for the Medina Country Performing Arts Foundation. Upon moving to Houston, Graber was Grants Specialist and later Communications & Events Coordinator for AIDS Foundation Houston.

In January 2008, Graber joined HAA as Senior Project Manager on the Grants & Services staff. He oversaw numerous programs and projects and served as the Houston liaison for the National Arts Marketing Project conference, a program of Americans for the Arts. Graber was promoted to his current position in March 2009, spearheading the formation of the Programs + Services Department. Richard oversees the execution of all current program activity including grants to over 220 arts organizations and individual artists; the Arts & Business Council of Greater Houston; Arts Database Management Program (ADMP); Capacity Building Initiative grants and programs; Arts Management Consulting Workshops; crowdfunding platform; PatronManager CRM ticketing software system; the creation of an arts loan fund; and numerous other endeavors.

Carolyn J. Hays

Fundraising for the Arts

Carolyn J. Hays joined Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) in early 2013 where she created the first Houston-area Arts & Business Council (A&BC), serving the 10-county region. At HAA, Carolyn pursues strategies and directs partnerships with local businesses and chamber groups, and spearheads all comprehensive marketing and key messaging plans to promote the A&BC within both the private and public sectors. Prior to joining HAA, Carolyn worked for almost a decade in Washington D.C. doing program development and evaluation, fundraising and strategic planning for nationally known nonprofits such as Washington Performing Arts, Washington National Opera and the Smithsonian Institution’s National Zoo. As a consequence of her passion for the role of creativity in leadership development, Carolyn has committed herself to connecting businesses with arts groups and equipping private sector executives for leadership on the boards of arts organizations. She is Houston’s only Certified Governance Trainer through BoardSource® and serves on the Planning Committees for the American Leadership Forum’s Nonprofit Leadership Collaborative and Rice University’s Best Boards Conference. A proud native of Wyoming, Carolyn received her Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Wyoming and a Master of Arts Degree in Nonprofit Business and Arts Administration from Florida State University. All of which have served as a strong foundation for her current work at HAA, advancing Houston’s arts community and championing the arts as a crucial element of the city’s identity as a cultural destination. She currently serves as Annual Giving Specialist, Catholic Health Initiatives St. Luke's Health.