Niegel is a theater director and performance artist who sculpts social spaces into unique communal environments where we make new rituals, excavate our pasts and imagine future narratives. His theater work has been produced by Classical Theatre of Harlem, HERE Arts Center, Hip Hop Theatre Festival, Magic Theatre, New York Fringe Festival, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, The Public Theater, Summer Play Festival and Todd Theatre, and his walks have been produced by Abrons Arts Center, American Realness, Dartmouth College, Elastic City, Jack, The New Museum, Prelude Festival, PS 122, the Van Alen Institute and Visual AIDS. He often collaborates with artist Todd Shalom. Together, they conceive and stage interactive performances in public and private environments.
Smith was the associate director of the Tony Award winning musical FELA! – restaging that production in London, Lagos and its world tour, assistant directed the off-broadway production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and both the broadway and off-broadway productions of Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change. He has worked on the artistic staffs of The Public Theater, Trinity Repertory Company and Providence Black Rep. He is a 35th Anniversary Artist-in-Residence at Second Stage Theatre and the Associate Artistic Director of Elastic City.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Smith has received grants and fellowships from Theater Communications Group, Tucker Foundation, and Van Lier Fund. Before surviving high school in Detroit, he grew up in the North Carolina piedmont, fishing with his dad, shopping with his mom and inventing tall-tale fantasies with his two younger brothers.
Having built her 17 year career in business development, sales and marketing strategy, Melissa is currently a Director at Google leading strategy, operations and product go to market for Google’s Global Client and Agency Sales organization. Before this she was managing some of the company’s largest global partnerships with the “Big 6” advertising holding companies. Prior to Google, she received her MBA from INSEAD after having worked on Wall Street for several years as a Vice President at Goldman Sachs in the asset management division. Melissa graduated from Princeton University with a B.A. in Art & Archeology. She is an investor and advisor to tech & retail start ups as well as a passionate mentor to fellow female professionals.
A music lover and frustrated singer/songwriter, Melissa has been a patron of the arts ever since her days acting in musical theater as a student. Melissa is originally from Chicago but is a long-time New Yorker and in addition to being an ardent traveler has called 4 different countries across 3 continents home.
Rick Miramontez is a top Broadway publicist at DKC/O&M PR. He began his career, direct from college, as the press director of the Center Theatre Group / Ahmanson Theatre where he organized the campaigns for more than 25 major productions, including the RSC’s The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby and world premieres of Neil Simon’s Brighton Beach Memoirs and Biloxi Blues, and James Kirkwood’s infamous Legends! He was the press director for the 1987 and 1990 Los Angeles Festival, where he presented Cirque du Soleil to the U.S. media, as well as Peter Brook’s epic The Mahabharata. From 1988-1996, Rick headed his own firm, Rick Miramontez Company, which represented many of the major arts events on the West Coast, including the American Premiere of Sunset Boulevard and Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. In New York, Rick along with his friends and colleagues Richard Kornberg, John Barlow and Michael Hartman, was behind the press campaigns for Hairspray, Sweeney Todd, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and was account executive for Rent, The Producers, and Long Day’s Journey Into Night. At DKC/O&M PR, Rick’s clients include Dear Evan Hansen, A Doll’s House, Part 2 and 1984. O&M Co. orchestrated the publicity campaigns for Kinky Boots, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, and Fun Home– other shows include Beautiful, Hand to God, Bright Star, Eclipsed and School of Rock.
Sarah East Johnson is the founder and Artistic Director of LAVA. Founded in 2000, LAVA’s feminist acrobatic dance has become known for an explosive choreographic language that pushes the accepted boundaries of dance while embodying empowerment and offering visions of gender equality. The OBIE and Bessie award-winning 13-member company works collaboratively to create works that they perform around NYC and the U.S. LAVA offers instruction in their unique movement training to youth and adults in Brooklyn, upstate NY, and around the U.S. Johnson is also a member of Cry The Moon, a 3-person music and dance band based in Callicoon, NY. She is grateful for her time working for many years with Circus Amok and the Church of Stop Shopping Gospel Choir.
Johnson has been awarded both a New York Dance and Performance Award (Bessie) and a Village Voice Off-Broadway Theater Award (Obie) for her choreographic work with the company, and has received residencies and fellowships from The Jerome Foundation, The Heathcote Foundation, The Bossak-Heilbron Charitable Trust, Meet the Composer, Red Cinder (Hawaii), The Djerassi Resident Artist Program, The Puffin Foundation, and the New York State Council on the Arts. In 2004, she opened the LAVA Studio in Prospect Heights (Brooklyn) to house the company’s burgeoning community and outreach programs, which serve over 500 people each year, as well as a school, which served over 5,000 adults and children during its ten-year life span.
Frank Lavadera is the recently retired operational leader for the U.S. Tax Information Reporting and Withholding Services group at KPMG. In this role, he was responsible for leading a group of professionals focused on providing tax advisory and compliance services related to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Compliance Reporting Standard (CRS) and an increasing array of other obligations involving information reporting and/or withholding taxes.
Tony Tramontin is the Chief Scientific Officer at Axcella Health, a Boston biotechnology company focused on metabolic modulation. Tony leads Research and Development activities including Discovery, Preclinical Development, Technical Development, Formulation, Manufacturing, and Strategic Innovation.
Prior to Axcella, Tony was a Partner in McKinsey & Company’s Global Healthcare Practice. Across a 15 year career, he advised biopharma executives on a wide variety of strategic, operational and organizational topics across the value chain. The majority of his work, however, focused specifically on research, drug development and early aspects of commercialization. He co-founded and led McKinsey’s technical service line that helped biopharma executives with R&D project investment decisions, portfolio prioritization, risk management, therapeutic area strategy, and product launch strategy.
Before joining McKinsey, Tony was an experimental neuroscientist conducting stem cell research at The Rockefeller University and at The University of California San Francisco Department of Neurosurgery.
In the spirit of two fisted political singer songwriters such as Nina Simone and Joni Mitchell, Nona Hendryx tackles social issues, love and politics with a smoky vocal tessitura somewhere between funk and the end of the stratosphere. Hendryx’s legendary career spans six decades of sound and style evolution. Fans know her as a founding member of the girl group, Patti LaBelle & the Bluebelles (with Sarah Dash, Cindy Birdsong and Patti LaBelle) known as “the Sweethearts of the Apollo Theatre” and inducted into the R&B Hall of Fame in 1999. In the 70s, the group morphed into the Rock & Funk Glam Diva’s ‘Labelle’ with the #1 record, Lady Marmalade. Nona Hendryx emerged as the chief songwriter of the group’s socially conscious and illuminating message songs. If Labelle fans grieved the end of Labelle, Nona Hendryx fans welcomed a new one as the revolutionary art-rock, new-wave goddess embarked upon her own impressive Solo career, which spanned eight studio albums and engaged her with an impressive lineup of collaborators (Prince, Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Laurie Anderson, Bono and Cameo), resulting in top ten hits and a Grammy nomination (Rock This Houses with The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards on guitar).
Fast forwarding into the 20th and 21st century’s without losing a note (or gaining a pound) Nona Hendryx remains the Queen of Transformation; writing music for theatre (the Roundabout’s BLUE, written and directed by Charles R. Wright and starring Phylicia Rashad), film (the Lee Daniels 2010 Oscar-nominated Precious),and producing and collaborating in the works of a new generation of artists as well as cowriting songs and appearing on the Terri Lyne Carrington Grammy Award winning, Mosaic Project with Esperanza Spalding, Cassandra Wilson, Diane Reeves and Sheila E.). An activist and vocal supporter for women’s rights, social, political and criminal justice. Helping to raise funds and awareness of HIV/AIDS from the outbreak of the epidemic and still involved today. Dreaming of being an educator because of her English Teacher and mentor Mrs. Lottie Dinkins, Nona worked with education organizations supporting women in prison, a school in Chicago founded by Monica Haslip, Little Black Pearl, taught Stage Craft at The Clive Davis Recording Academy and founded in 2016 her own Non Profit, SisterSMATR.org to bridge the gap in Science, Math, Art, Technology and Robotics for young women of color.
Nona added Ambassador for Artistry in Music at Berklee College of Music in Boston to her career. Working across three departments; Music Ensemble, Music Theater and Berklee’s Electronic Production and Design Department with the guidance of the EPD Chair Michael Bierylo. Nona recently made her directorial debut, collaborating with Berklee’s Dr. Richard Boulanger and Students, the poet Soul Flower and Hank Shocklee (Public Enemy music producer) to create a multi disciplined performance ‘A Rose Out Of Concrete’ with the merged schools, Berklee College and Boston Conservatory including the Conservatory’s Hip Hop Dance students choreographed by the departments Hip Hop dance professor, Duane Holland.
Hendryx presented multimedia performances at MoogFest and MASS MOCA. Having made yet another transformation into a multimedia ‘CyberDiva’, Hendryx still writes music across genres with politically and socially relevant lyrics wrapped in neo-funk grooves, other worldly and soulful vocals, and art-rock charged rhythms. Performing in and writing a song ‘Grace’ (Trust and Believe) for Carrie Mae Weems’ Grace Notes marks the beginning of another artistic collaboration. Not slowing down, 2018 will be an even busier year for Nona with the honor of being Joe’s Pub’s first Vanguard Residency Artist for and curating a series of shows over the twelve months being January 2018 along with a commission to create new multimedia work inspired by Carrie Mae Weems ‘Kitchen Table and Ulysses Dove’s ‘Urban Folk Dance’, Exploring another form of communication Nona has created a SiriusXM Radio show ‘The Nexus with Nona Hendryx’ discussing Music, Art and Technology, Nona’s three passions.