"Leaders of great companies start by getting the right people on the bus..."
~ jim collins
Let our Creative Force team be your guides and support you in your creation process. This is the heart of what we do. We can help you clarify your vision, map a course forward, identify the necessary and available resources in your life, and stay on the course until your idea has become a reality.
Lydia D. Avila
Lydia D. Avila is from a working-class suburb of Los Angeles County, a first generation Mexican-American, and an organizer first and foremost. Lydia has spent most of her career immersed in the US climate movement and most recently served as
the Executive Director of the Power Shift Network- a national network of youth-led social and environmental justice organizations working together to build the youth clean energy and climate movement. Lydia attended UCLA as an undergraduate where she was involved with student-initiated, student-run social justice service organizations and was a student activist. After college, she was a community organizer for the Sierra Club in Texas where she led two major Beyond Coal campaigns. In 2015 Lydia earned a Master of Public Administration degree at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, specializing in nonprofit management. When she’s not organizing, Lydia is spending time with her nieces and nephew, binge-watching something on Netflix or catching up with her massive ‘to read’ list.
Kathleen Baldwin, MSW, is a trainer, educator, advocate, writer, and a certified life and relationship coach. She is also certified as a sexuality educator and as a child and youth care practitioner. At the core of her interest in doing her life’s work is a passion for social justice and human rights. Her experience spans nearly three decades of training teachers, health care professionals, social workers, activists, and youth workers.
Her work in the corporate world has focused on on-boarding new staff, and in creating safe, friendly, and productive workspaces. She also has extensive experience assisting organizations do fidelity management, strategic planning and engaging in critical conversations. She has written and published countless curricula, training tools, and thought pieces for publications and international organizations. She is a passionate teacher of how to take an integrated, celebrated, mindful approach to sexuality, compelling those who will listen to become more sexually liberated and creative. More information about Kathleen’s background and coaching practice can be found at .
Quenna Lené Barrett
Quenna Lené Barrett serves as Education Programs Manager for the University of Chicago’s Arts + Public Life, where she founded two participatory, theater-based programs, blending Theatre of the Oppressed (TO) techniques with acting skills to
amplify teens’ voice and hold space to rehearse, tell, and change the stories of their lives. Quenna received her BFA from NYU Tisch in Drama, her MA in Applied Theatre from the University of Southern California, and is currently pursuing a doctorate of education in Educational Theatre for Colleges and Communities at NYU Steinhardt. She is an actress, director, teaching artist, cultural fieldworker, TO practitioner, and organizer with the Black Youth Project 100 and the #LetUsBreathe Collective. As a member of the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health’s For Youth Inquiry performance company, she directs and performs participatory plays supporting the sexual health and rights of young people. Continuing to build the world she wants to see/live in, she is now developing personal practices of poetic and participatory performance and is currently re-writing the Declaration of Independence. Sort of.
Through her professional experiences, Chardae has worked with adjudicated youth, pregnant and parenting teens, as well as young women exiting the commercial sex industry. She has created curricula and facilitated various life-skills groups. She has developed multiple social integration activities to help
improve the lives of teenagers that are considered at risk. As a core staff member for the Great Lakes Institute for Community Health Educators (GLICHE) regional conference, she facilitated workshops to train other professionals in the field and was awarded “The Doc Award” by Children’s Aid Society for her exemplary work and commitment to youth. Currently, Chardae works at Henry Ford Health System as the Program Coordinator for the Health Education and Health Services Program in the School-Based and Community Health Department. There, she facilities the Michigan Model, a healthy relationships and teen pregnancy/STI prevention curriculum, to over 200 high schools students throughout the Metro Detroit area.
Erin Leigh Crites
Erin Leigh Crites is an international theatre artist, educator, and maven of make-believe. Erin has traveled extensively to explore the global community and to create bonds through theatrical play and ensemble dynamics work. She is a full-time faculty member at Idyllwild Arts Academy, an ensemble member of LA based Fiasco! Physical Theatre, and an
Alexander Technique teacher in training. She originated a role in Nobel Prize Winner, Dario Fo's last, unpublished play, La Storia di Qu for the International Milan Expo, has performed in Haiti, Kenya, Nicaragua and Colombia as an ensemble member of Clowns Without Borders, and danced in Bourbon Baroque’s Dido and Aeneas at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Before moving to Los Angeles, Erin was the Director of Graduate Studies and Head of Movement for the Master of Fine Arts program in Acting at the University of Louisville, Kentucky. She holds an MFA in physically based ensemble theatre from the Dell’ Arte International School of Physical Theatre.
With over 14 years of experience in the education sector, Adria Husband has centered her efforts around optimizing the equitable distribution and use of resources across Chicago’s school communities that have historically been most underserved. Adria has orchestrated efforts to implement systemic social
emotional learning and equity initiatives across 20 large urban school districts nationally. Adria also played a key role in the development and approach to whole child learning and grantmaking with an equity lens at an influential philanthropic start up. She earned her Bachelors in Business Administration from Loyola University Chicago and a Masters in Educational Administration from Norwich University. Adria is the mother of a 15 year old daughter, a boisterous lhasa apso puppy, and a mentor to many middle school and high school girls across Chicago through the D.I.V.A.s Mentoring Program which she founded in 2014.
Annette Rizzo is an organizational development professional who enjoys solving operational puzzles and coaching staff and volunteers to find their organizational calling. Annette has over two decades of experience leading strategic planning, facilitating convenings, and
designing and coaching staff and volunteer training, programs and campaigns. Diversity, equity, inclusion and justice values provide the foundation for her professional practice. She has worked to advance and advocate for educational, environmental and women’s issues from building up local volunteer leaders in Ohio to designing integrated study tours in Madagascar and Ecuador to lobbying in Washington, D.C. Annette’s scientific and educational foundation stems from her undergraduate study in Chemistry and Education alongside a Masters Degree in Environmental Science. Annette enjoys landscape photography, reading for hours by a fire or by water, and putting her chemistry and her art to work in the kitchen.
Márquez Rhyne is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Inventive Interventions, LLC where they offer organizational and leadership development through creative means to promote justice, equity, wellness, and transformation. Working primarily with community and
labor organizing, arts and culture, and culturally specific and geographically-isolated entities, Rhyne coaches leaders and collaboratively conducts organizational assessments and action planning. Rhyne has co-devised curricula and co-published research on storytelling and narrative as tools for community leadership and engagement. Rhyne has stewarded global portfolios focused on racial, economic, and health equity; advanced research on adolescent health through participatory media-making and story circle methodologies; and supported labor campaigns through the strategic use of art and culture. Rhyne is a writer, director, and co-producer of several short documentary films. Underpinning Rhyne’s efforts has been their deeply-rooted life practice of cultural organizing that owes much of its roots to the likes of Zilphia Horton, Urban Bushwomen, and Tufara Waller Muhammad.
For more than twenty years, Jonny Stax has worked with boards of directors, executive leadership, faculty, and staff from local, regional, and national public health and performing arts organizations, as well as academic institutions and social,
economic, and environmental justice groups. He earned his Master of Social Work degree in 1998 from University of Washington where he subsequently served on faculty. His work has taken him to Chicago, New York City, Washington, DC, Seattle, and across California, Illinois, and Iowa. He has been published in popular and academic journals and invited to facilitate and keynote for companies and convenings across the country. Mr. Stax is building an art farm in Iowa, a state he can finally call home after begging his Iowa native husband, Scott Bradley, for nearly two decades to move back home. Apparently, they needed to produce large queer rock spectacles in Chicago before settling into the rural life.
Ashley is a fundraiser by profession, specializing in major giving. In addition to fundraising, She has dedicated her life to disseminating JEDI principles in progressive nonprofit spaces. In her role at Sierra Club, she worked with
representatives from all program departments and partnered with the executive teams to determine how best to break down the oppressive structures of white supremacy and paternalism. In addition, she co-wrote the equity plan for the Advancement department that specifically focused on how to align Sierra Club’s equity, justice, and inclusion with their fundraising practices.
Alex Thompson is a Chicago-based, Kentucky-born director and producer. His short film in 2012, Irene & Marie starred Academy Award-winner Olympia Dukakis and Academy Award-nominee Burt Young.
The film screened at festivals across the country, including New York’s Greek Film Festival and the Newport Beach Film Festival. He went on to direct Calumet in Chicago starring Austin Pendleton, which premiered at the Rome International Film Festival and won its Special Jury Prize. His first feature, Brother Sister, won Best Feature Film at the Mexico International Film Festival. Alex founded Runaway Train with Zoe Lubeck to offer a collective home for independent collaborators interested in low-to-mid budget film and serial production. Since its creation, it has produced feature films, series pilots, short films and commercials. His work has premiered in St. Louis, Chicago, New York and San Francisco, at the New York Television Festival, as well as The Huffington Post. He holds an MFA in directing from DePaul University. For more information and to watch footage of his work, you can visit www.runawaytrainchicago.com.
Nik Zaleski uses art to bring people into complex and pleasure-centered dialogue with each other and with themselves. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Gender Studies and Performance Studies from Northwestern University as well as a Master
of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies from DePaul University, where she combined Public Health and Theater Directing coursework in the MFA directing program. She has worked for the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, as a consultant on arts-based strategy for various health-focused organizations, and directed Sisters Empowering Sisters, a reproductive justice and leadership group for young women. Nik was the Founding Artistic Director of For Youth Inquiry, which designs participatory theater experiences about sexual health and sexual violence. Nik has worked in public schools as a teaching artist with numerous organizations and has directed and conceived performance for FYI, Redmoon Theater, Northwestern University, Arizona State University, Erasing the Distance, and Sojourn Theatre. Because her plays tour to schools, community centers, museums, homes, and theaters, they have been seen by more than 25,000 people.