Amar C. Bakshi is an artist whose work focuses on how to integrate technology into environments and across pronounced distance to create new forms of digital-physical public spaces that challenge and subvert existing norms. In particular, he works to connect members of diverse communities who would likely not otherwise meet in intimate environments to create their own meanings. As an artist, Amar treats the formation of institutions as, themselves, sites of creation. Amar previously worked as a reporter at The Washington Post, an editor at CNN, and as Special Assistant to the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Amar, a Soros Fellow and Truman Scholar, has an AB from Harvard University, a MA from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and a JD from Yale Law School.
Co-Founder and Director of Global Development
Michelle Moghtader runs global development for Shared_Studios. Previously, she was a multi-media journalist based in the Middle East. She has written for Reuters, CNN, The Huffington Post and Energy Intelligence Group and worked as a community organizer across the U.S. Michelle graduated from the University of Virginia and received her master’s degree from the Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs. She speaks Persian, French and Spanish.
Chief of Staff
Jake manages operations and public engagements for Shared_Studios. Jake most recently worked on issues of sexual assault in the military for Protector Our Defenders. He has also worked as a speechwriter for the NYC Mayor's Office, as a concert producer in Havana, Cuba, and at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, where he advised Lincoln Center's executive leadership on programming for new audiences. Jake is a graduate of Macaulay Honors College at Brooklyn College, CUNY, and is a contributor on topics of technology and politics to The Hill.
Director of Operations & Legal Affairs
Kathryn focuses on internal operations, legal affairs, and partnerships. Before joining the Shared_Studios team, Kathryn worked as an attorney at the Washington, D.C. office of an international law firm. She previously served as an Aide to the Marshal at the Supreme Court of the United States, excavated in the ancient marketplace of Athens, and held a variety of curatorial internships. Kathryn has an A.B. in Classical Archaeology from Dartmouth College and a J.D. from Yale Law School. She hails from central Florida and is now based in New Haven, Connecticut.
Prior to joining Shared_Studios, Neesha Rahim co-founded and led Level Up Village, a social impact company building global competency skills in K-12 students through guided global virtual exchange experiences revolving around STEM subjects. She helped scale the company's impact to 26 states in the US and 20 countries around the world as co-CEO, reaching thousands of students and educators. Before this, she spent 15 years working in the NGO space with youth development and conflict resolution organizations, including Seeds of Peace, where she first understood the power of connecting people with seemingly insurmountable differences. She brings her passion and expertise in creating wide-scale impact through education, philanthropy and global connectedness to Shared_Studios where she will be focused on bringing the Portal experience to colleges, universities, nonprofits and NGOs. Neesha has a Masters Degree in Social Work, with a minor in International Affairs from Columbia University. She sits on the board of Level Up Village as well as NicaPhoto, a youth development organization in Nicaragua and Opportunity Plus, a micro lending organization for women.
Global Portal Curator
Emma Saperstein is a performance artist, curator and arts administrator based in San Luis Obispo, CA. A graduate of Wheaton College and the New York Center for Art and Media Studies, her experience includes serving as studio manager to internationally recognized artist Titus Kaphar, co-curator of Inverse Performance Art Festival, involvement in the thriving alternative arts and publishing community in Chicago, specifically with the Public Media Institute, Lumpen Magazine and the Co-Prosperity Sphere. For the past two years, she has served as an editor and curator for the feminist collective HYSTERIA. She currently splits her time between Shared Studios and the Harold J. Miossi Art Gallery at Cuesta College.
Head of Educational Programming
Kristen Erickson has spent the past seventeen years as an educator at Greenwich Academy, an independent school for girls in Greenwich, CT. She teaches high school and middle school students and served for nine years as a grade-level dean. Prior to her time at Greenwich Academy, Kristen spent twelve years in the curatorial field at the Museum of Modern Art, Smith College Museum of Art, Ashmolean Museum, and Luchsinger Gallery at Greenwich Academy. She is fluent in French and has decades of experience as a competitive rower and rowing coach.
Washington DC Portal Curator & Associate Portal Program Coordinator
Marisa DeSalvio has worked in educational institutions, museums, and design agencies for the past five years. She is passionate about finding the intersections between education, technology, and great design. Through her time as an English Second Language Teacher in Qatar, she experienced firsthand the transformative power of conversation between different cultures and how connection is the key to understanding.
Milwaukee Portal Curator
Lewis coordinates Portal operations in Milwaukee, local outreach, and business development in the Amani neighborhood. Lewis is also the Outreach Coordinator for the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative, and is a leader working on community and restorative justice his community.
Omid Habibi is a professor of computer science and the director of ADIB. He single=handedly brought the first Portal to Afghanistan and has helped secure the expansion of Portals in his country and beyond. He is currently studying computer science in Berlin.
Mexico City Curator
Tomas Ramirez is an interpreter and translator who studied at the Instituto Superior de Intérpretes y Traductores in Mexico City. He is also a freelance booking agent and has worked with several entertainment agencies like Ache Entretenimiento, Filter Mexico, TAPE, Sicario, among others. He has produced dozens of concerts and performances through the Mexico City Portal.
Lindsay Mackenzie is a communications specialist and photo & multimedia journalist from Canada, currently based between Erbil and Beirut, working for a range of news and NGO clients throughout the Middle East and North Africa. She teaches photography for National Geographic Student Expeditions and create radio documentaries for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. She has an BA in Geography and an MA in International Multimedia Journalism and has completed a journalism safety training courses at Columbia University and through the UN in Iraq. She is also the founder and curator of the popular Instagram feed @everydaymiddleeast.
Khaled A Salar
Herat Portal Director & Portal Ambassador
Khaled was born in the Badghis province of Afghanistan and raised in Herat. He is an alumni of the Youth Exchange and Study program in the U.S. Khaled is currently studying medicine at Herat University. He will be a Medical Doctor in a year. He is also a professional simultaneous translator and holds a diploma in business and entrepreneurship.
Washington DC Portal Curator
Deirdre Darden is an emerging curator born and raised on art in Washington DC. She began her curatorial practice in 2014 exhibiting the youngest members of Black Artists of DC. Following that show she exhibited and collaborated with some of DC's best emerging artists, organized panel discussions and artists talks touching themes of race, societal pressures, and art's power. Notable shows include Black Lives / White Light, Pressure Points and Lest We Forget.
Washington DC Portal Translator
Wassim is a citizen diplomat from Colorado who enjoys learning about the world and its people. His ethnic heritage crosses Saudi, Syrian, Sudanese, Kurdish, Egyptian, and his work takes him even further, translating business and security needs into learning interventions for clients around the world.
Berlin Portal Curator
Omar Alshafai is an electrical engineer and app developer. He fled Damascus when war broke out and has been living in Berlin since April 2015. He is the co-founder of the Bureacrazy app, which helps simplify German bureaucracy for refugees and migrants. Omar speaks Arabic, English and German.
Portal Ambassador & Kigali Portal Director
Judith is the founder and director of Kurema, Kureba, Kwiga, and a public health and educational systems specialist. Her work across East and West Africa and the Caribbean focuses on the roles of new technologies and creativity for development. She received an interdisciplinary BA in Anthropology, Community Building, and Photography, and holds a Master of International Affairs and a Master of Public Health from Columbia University. Judith and the Kigali Portal are supported by hosts Olivier Dushimimana, Arlette Umwari, and Yves Banza.
Havana Portal Curator
Alejandro Alfonso is a graphic designer and photographer who recently completed his studies in Havana. His subjects range from street scenes to famous Cuban musicians and artists such as Kcho and singer Omara Portuondo from the Buena Vista Social Club.
Erbil Portal Curator
Rami was born and raised in Mosul, Iraq. He has been displaced by fighting and now lives in the Harsham IDP & Refugee Camp outside of Erbil.
Herat Portal Curator
Saied Habibi was born and raised in Tehran. At age 19 he moved to the Herat province of Afghanistan. Saied is currently studying Science and Technology at Herat University. He is an assistant professor at Herat University, and will soon be a full professor.
Mexico City Portal Curator
Ángeles Santillana is a Mexican interpreter and translator for English, French and Portuguese. Art enthusiast and wannabe musician, Angie is currently studying Arts theory and Russian language in Casa Lamm.
Kigali Portal Curator
Dogon Nshimiyimana graduated from the University of Rwanda where he studied education and language. He is congolese by nationality and has been living in the congolese refugee camp for 20 years. He is an honest, self motivated, hardworking man focused on his life and career.
El Progreso Portal Curator
Amanda Hall is the Development Coordinator of Oye Honduras.
Kigali Portal Curator
Yves Banza is a Congolese-Rwandese currently working and living in Kigali, Rwanda. After his Business Studies at the National Universities of Rwanda in 2010, he worked as a Business Development Agent for different companies in Rwanda and currently he is working as an Independent Consultant for a Market Research Company in East Africa. He speaks French, English, Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, Lingala and a little bit Spanish. He has a lot of hobbies among others art, music, travelling, meeting new faces and learning from people of different backgrounds and cultures, teaching and learning new languages.
Gil is a tech professional with 15 years experience managing and implementing technology projects and systems. He now spends his time divided between tech projects, Dj-ing as well as management, operation and production of events under Barge Party People. He also takes time to volunteer in social projects focused on art and technology. Gil loves art, music, tech and creating.
Arlette Umwali is 28 years old, from Rwanda, a born again Christian. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Agribusiness and works in one of the top telecom companies in Rwanda, where she is in charge of high value customers. She loves interacting with people and reading.
Milwaukee Portal Director
Dennis Walton is head of the Milwaukee Fatherhood Initiative. He is a community organizer from Harambee who has been involved in numerous projects over the year, including the making of the film Milwaukee 53206.
Kavita is a New York City-based jazz singer and composer. Shah has performed and recorded with musicians such as Lionel Loueke, Steve Wilson, Yacouba Sissoko, Rogerio Boccato, Cécile McLorin Salvant, and Samir Chatterjee. Shah was named by Downbeat Magazine as the "Best Graduate Jazz Vocalist" (2012) and winner of the ASCAP Herb Alpert Young Jazz Composers Award (2013). Shah's 2014 debut album, "Visions", was produced by Benin-born jazz guitarist Lionel Loueke, and released on saxophonist Greg Osby's record label Inner Circle Music. "Visions" combines a jazz quintet with the West African kora and Indian tabla and includes special guests Loueke (guitar, vocals), Steve Wilson (saxophone, flute), and Rogerio Boccato (percussion).
Milwaukee Portal Director
After graduating from Harvard University with a degree in Visual and Environmental Studies Mikal returned home to Milwaukee where he has become a staple in both the art and music scenes. He constantly produces events throughout the city and has performed and exhibited nationally as well.
Through his work as an artist, producer, musician, educator, organizer, event coordinator and placemaking consultant, Mikal strives to creates moments in Milwaukee that are inspiring and inviting.
Elizabeth Bick is a photographer, informed by her training in classical ballet and her study and practice of street photography. Her work examines the public and private display of individual and collective movement as pantomime. She holds a MFA in Photography from Yale University School of Art and is currently a faculty member at International Center for Photography, Pratt Institute, and School of Visual Arts.
Brandon Culpepper, Milwaukee native and founder of PeppNation, moved back to his hometown in 2013 after studying and working in marketing and as a professional athlete for a decade. He chose to return in large measure to try to “become part of the solution” to daunting problems within the central city, where he grew up and still lives.
Lily Sarafan is Chief Executive Officer of Home Care Assistance. Under Lily‘s leadership for more than a decade, Home Care Assistance has grown from startup to industry champion and today employs thousands of team members across more than 150 markets. The company is consistently recognized as an employer of choice and best-in-class consumer service, and Lily as a featured expert on digital health and innovation in aging at the White House and global conferences. For her role at the helm of Home Care Assistance, Lily has been honored as Women Health Care Executives 2016 Woman of the Year and Ernst and Young‘s 2016 Entrepreneur of the Year. She holds M.S. and B.S. degrees from Stanford University.
Portal Program Coordinator
Cara Neel is a freelance writer and the former Stanford Portal Curator for Shared Studios. Her background is in research psychology, communications, and community outreach. She received her Bachelor's degree from McGill University in 2015, where she received the Entrepreneurship Prize for the creation of the Unofficial McGill Guide.
Rich currently works as an investor focused on making long-term private investments in North America. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member at Wayne State University Law School. Previously, he served as Senior Advisor to the Mayor at the Detroit Mayor's Office, where he coordinated policy-making and special projects across several departments and subject areas. Prior to the Mayor's Office, Rich worked at Goldman Sachs's Financial Institution Group, McKinsey & Company's New York Office, and Jericho Capital, a New York-based investment management firm. He is a graduate of Yale Law School and Yale College, and a recipient of the Soros Fellowship for New Americans. Rich was born in Nanjing, China, and raised in Detroit and Troy, Michigan.
Co-founder and Director of Design
John Farrace is a Los-Angeles based designer working at the intersection of media and architecture. He directs Shared_Studios' design, architecture, and strategic practice. John is a graduate of the University of Southern California and Yale University (M.Arch.).
International Advisor & Writer in Residence
Nick McDonell is a novelist and journalist. Born in New York City in 1984, he studied at Harvard and St. Antony’s College, Oxford. His work has been published in twenty three countries and appeared on bestseller lists around the world. His book on nomadism in politics, The Civilization of Perpetual Movement , is forthcoming from Hurst & Co. in 2014.
Austin Portal Curator
Ben Carneiro is a filmmaker and musician from Austin, TX. He loves using Austin's Portal to share his hometown with people all over the world. He brings artists and musicians to the portal to share art, exchange culture, and "Keep Austin Weird." He is often found taking long walks on the beach, and he can register you to vote.
Newark Portal Curator
Divad was born and raised in Newark, NJ aka Brick City. An educator, consultant, community activist, youth advocate, prisoner reentry specialist, author and artist. He brings over 20 years of professional experience to areas where impact is crucial.
As Portal Curator, Divad utilizes his desire for community empowerment to enhance creating needed bridges and connections.
Newark Portal Curator
Fayemi Shakur is a writer, editor, and activist fayemi shakur first began writing political and cultural news stories for The Source magazine in 1999. Her interviews and published work have appeared in The International Review of African American Art, Artvoices Magazine, UPTOWN, Ebony.com, Nueva Luz Photographic Journal and various online and print media outlets.
She is a former editor and contributing writer for HYCIDE Magazine, a photography journal and is the creator and co-editor of OPEN: An Erotic Journal, a collection of short stories, poetry and photography featuring the work of George Pitts, Akintola Hanif, Michael A. Gonzales, jessica Care moore, Liza Jessie Peterson, Greg Tate and more.
In addition she serves as an advocate for political prisoners in the United States, teaches yoga and meditation as a tool to help heal trauma in communities affected by violence and is a proud mother of two sons.
Michael Arri is a trainer/coach and consultant for intercultural communication and conflict management. Before his current role, he worked in China for more than ten years as a TV journalist.
Now he is managing a refugees’ home outside of Berlin, and turning a former nunnery into a meeting point for intercultural communication, arts and performances.
Project Manager and Social Impact Activist
Karla Maradiaga is a Charles P. Howland Fellow at Yale University. She is performing her fellowship in El Progreso, Honduras. She studied public heath and pre-med at Yale and is an active member of the Yale math and science club.
London Portal Curator
Farzana recently finished her third year of studying Business Marketing BA Honors. With her degree she wants to accomplish her dream of working in a business-marketing establishment. Throughout the 3 years of studying Business Marketing she has learned many things such as working within a business environment, marketing their products as well as using the best strategy for them and making the business one of the leading businesses within their market.
Chicago Portal Curator
Dre Meekins was born and raised in Chicago but has spent years around the globe in South Korea and China, teaching English. Dre speaks five languages and is committed to community development across America.
Mission Portal Curator
Cristina is the Program Director for the Mission Economic Development Corporation. She was formerly a museum professional and arts educator. Her current work in economic development focuses on providing a wide-range of professional development to the citizens of Mission, Texas, but her future work deals with the creation of programs that promote arts and culture. She grew up in Matamoros, Mexico. She holds a BA from New York University and an MA from Syracuse University. Her academic research focuses on early-modern women artists, particularly in representations of food and sex in their work.
Berlin Portal Curator
Karam Yahya is a Syrian refugee who made a dangerous journey to Berlin for a better life. Her has been living in Berlin since July 2015, studying German language and volunteering with several refugee initiatives. Karam is from Idlib in the northwest of Syria. He has previously worked as a community mobilizer with ActionAid in the Zaatari Camp. For more on Karam, read his interview with the European Student Union.
Portal Ambassador & International Advisor
As a diplomat, bureaucrat, political campaigner, and advocate, Alexander Djerassi’s work has revolved around building relationships and interpersonal understanding across divides of experience and perspective. Djerassi has served as chief of staff in the U.S. Department of State’s Near East Bureau, which oversees U.S. relations with the Arab world, Israel, and Iran. He is a former nonresident associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and member of the policy team of multiple presidential campaigns. He holds a B.A., magna cum laude, from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and a J.D. from Yale Law School.
Gaza City Portal Curator
Mira is our Gaza City Portal Curator. She is the iYouth Program Coordinator for MercyCorps. She previously worked as a trainer for UNRWA.
Patrick is an experienced systems architect and technical leader that has overseen products and projects of all scales. He is Vice President of systems engineering at LiveStream.
Software Architect & Technology Advisor
Justin Pogrob, founder of Simplex Studio, is a building and software architect focused on the integration of technology and the built environment. His experience with a broad range of award winning architectural and software projects as well as his extensive knowledge in IoT technology made him ideally suited to design and implement the software controller for our global network of portals. Justin is a member if the American Institute of Architects and holds a B.Arch. from Syracuse University’s School of Architecture.
Tim Dubitsky was born in 1978 in Michigan. Dubitsky earned a BA in studio art and psychology from New York University in 2000. Dubitsky works in a style that he has coined “autopluralism.” Drawing from the stylistically free forms of the 1970s, his concept-driven body of work includes a range of design projects and exhibitions.
Designs include “By Request,” a gourmet sit-down dinner with a menu offering the last meal requests from death row inmates, presented at Doyer Street Gallery in New York City, and “Grey,” a re-bound book of white supremacy and black power publications, presented at Partners and Spade in New York City. Dubitsky also designed Hood.e, a hoodie designed with MP3 player speakers in the hood, made in collaboration with fashion designer Angel Chang as part of New York Fashion Week in 2008. Dubitsky was part of a New York-based collective group called Line Up, including artists and designers Amelia Bauer, Robert de Saint Phalle, and Tobias Wong, which formed in 1998. They contributed the project called non-mailable matter to The Book of Stamps, published in 2008 by Cabinet Books in New York and The Greenwall Foundation. This project consisted of a redesign of postal stamps featuring items that are forbidden to mail through the US postal system.
Los Angeles Portal Curator
Born in Mexico City raised in Los Angeles, Andrea found strength and comfort throughout her youth by organizing and creating art in her community. She has helped found two important collectives in her community: Ovarian Psycos and Ni Santas. Both of these collectives focus on team-building and empowering women of color, while addressing pertinent issues in our communities.
Baltimore Portal Curator
Artist and Baltimore native, Rachael London holds degrees in Urban Studies, Design and Fine Art from The New School and Maryland Institute College of Art, respectively. With a focus on public space, her work uses observational research to serve and celebrate the site of each project with specificity and inclusivity. She works as the Baltimore Portal curator, a freelance radio, film and event producer, and sculpture & installation artist. Her local work includes the Idling at Dusk event series and a public concrete bench at Baltimore's Penn Station Plaza as well as on-going media project Greater Sights and Sounds inside Lexington Market. These and more are on her website: www.rachaellondon.com.
Muhammad Shahryar Yaqoob
Islamabad Portal Curator
Shahryar is a graduate of the University of London International Programmes with a degree in Business and Management. Having been working ever since he was in middle school, he has experience in various fields including Marketing, HR, Business Development, Project Managenent, Social Entrepreneurship and even Teaching. His experiences both locally and abroad have shaped his thought process towards innovative and solution centric patterns. He was also the Vice President for AIESEC in Islamabad, an international youth driven organisation while working as the regional manager for Tripda. After this he began working with Carnelian as Project Manager for the biggest youth movement within Pakistan, Together For Tolerance. He's currently working for invest2innovate, an impact accelerator focused towards supporting entrepreneurship in developing markets. Diverse is the word that describes this passionate individual.
Amman Portal Curator
Born and raised in Amman, Jordan, Nour began her global journey at New York University’s portal campus in Abu Dhabi (NYUAD) where she pursued her undergraduate degree. Through NYU’s global network and liberal arts program, Nour studied abroad in New York, Florence, and Shanghai, and realized her passion for integrating engineering and social impact through Product Design and Development. After completing her BSc. in Mechanical Engineering with a pre-professional track in Leadership and Social Entrepreneurship, Nour returned home to further develop her Product Design portfolio within the melting pot that is now Jordan.