Nona Hendryx Musician, songwriter, multimedia artist and activist, a founder of SistersMATR. She evolved from Patti LaBelle & The Bluebelles and Labelle, the ground breaking glam funk band whose hits include Lady Marmalade (Voulez Vous Coucher Avec Moi Ce Soir?), to a stunning solo career. Nona Hendryx has always been on the cutting edge of music. She’s written music for a Broadway play and scored and contributed music and new songs for multiple films. Nona has performed at summer festivals across Europe and the U.S. and taught music seminars on the east and west coast as well and Europe. She is a current Ambassador for Artistry in Music for Berklee College of Music in Boston.
Nona is passionate about everything she does. She is currently the nurturing the seed being planted as SistersMATR.org, a new organization of women partnering to address the needs and provide opportunities for young women of color.
China Blue is an art pioneer interested in how our world is built from our sensations and perceptions and how this emerging umwelt provides not only a basis for exploring the inner world of the mind, but also how technological extensions of our senses, provide a way to transcend their limits. Her work enhances the audience’s perceptual world through her investigations and explorations into bioacoustics, ultra and infrasonic sampling devices, brain wave monitoring, and robotic sensory avatars. She was nominated to a one-of-a-kind in the nation, two-year Artist-in- Residency at the Norman Prince Neurosciences Institute at the Rhode Island Hospital.
China Blue has received two NASA/RI Space Grants. One was for her research of the sound created by NASA’s Vertical Gun. The Vertical Gun is a three-meter-tall meteorite impact simulator which shoots particles at Mach-10. Her project is the first proposal to study sound in the facility in its 50 years of existence. She is also the first person to record the Eiffel Tower in Paris and discover her voice. Her award of a Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, Fellowship was based on works that not only “employ technology in new and interesting ways” but was the “only one to explore robotics,” said the panel.
JoAnn Chase is a citizen of the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Indian Nation, and was born and raised in the community of Twin Buttes, North Dakota. She is a social justice advocate and innovative strategist committed to building a more inclusive democracy. Following over a decade of public policy work in Washington, DC including serving as the Executive Director of the National Congress of American Indians, this country’s oldest and largest organization representing tribal governments, JoAnn moved to New York City to launch her own consulting company, The Chase Group.
She built upon her expertise in Indigenous rights to include efforts to move more philanthropic resources to advance social justice, promote environmental justice, advance efforts to promote and protect Native arts and culture, and engage the Native voice in the media justice movement. She served as a consultant to several organizations regarding public policy, public relations, capacity building, sustainability, and management & development. In 2010, JoAnn returned to Washington, DC to serve in the Obama Administration as the Director of the American Indian Environmental Office and Senior Advisor for Indigenous Affairs at the Environmental Protection Agency.
Makani Themba is Chief Strategist at Higher Ground Change Strategies based in Detroit, Michigan. A social justice innovator and pioneer in the field of change communications and narrative strategy, she has spent more than 20 years supporting organizations, coalitions and philanthropic institutions in developing high impact change initiatives. Higher Ground Change Strategies is her newest project, which she describes as “a place where change makers can get the support they need to take their work to the next level.” Higher Ground helps partners integrate authentic engagement, systems analysis, change communications and more for powerful, vision-based change.