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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.