Aaron T. Kinzel is a Criminologist at the University of Michigan and Oakland University. His teaching and research areas of expertise are education, corrections, and public policy. He is a consultant that has worked nationally on criminal justice related issues and collaborated with numerous organizations, including the U.S. Department of Justice. He has worked with thousands of incarcerated/formerly incarcerated individuals and visited over 100 correctional facilities in the United States, Mexico, and Europe. Kinzel’s childhood was surrounded by poverty and crime with many of his family members spending time incarcerated. Throughout his life, Kinzel has utilized his lived experience and academic training to improve public safety in various communities. He will be talking in depth about how collectively we can break the culture of violence in our society. 

Joy Masha (M.Ed.) is an advocate for joy and liberation in education. Currently, she serves in D.C. with the Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools and works with service providers and practitioners to liberate parent and family engagement. Joy is on a mission to deconstruct normative narratives that compromise family success or well-being to create liberatory learning and engagement for all, including the professional.

Affectionately known as “The Zora Girl,” Rae Chesny is the Director of the forthcoming Zora Neale Hurston Summit presented by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust. Accomplished author of Zora’s Garden, Rae is also a Johns Hopkins University Literary Consultant who splits her time researching, writing about, and presenting the literary great. During the 33rd Annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, she served as the keynote speaker for the Zora Neale Hurston: The Storyteller and Her Town series. Rae is a 2021 Baldwin House Urban Writer in Residence and currently serves as the ZNH Trust’s resident scholar while hosting their new It’s All About Zora! Series. 

The Zora Neale Hurston Scholar is equally passionate about empowering children to tell their stories. In 2017, Rae created the Junior Storyteller Program to mentor historically underrepresented children through programming that gives them the opportunity to become published authors. Rae’s poem “When Zora Rises” is the opening piece for The Fire Inside Anthology Vol. 2 released in 2022. She’s also been featured in The Grio, Black Enterprise, American Black Journal, Michigan Chronicle, and several radio shows.

Angelica Portillo’s passion for education and public policy led her to advocate for the Out-of-School Time (OST) field. She has spent nearly a decade working in afterschool programs and providing OST programs with quality assistance, which ultimately led her to serve as NAA’s Director of Advocacy and Workforce Development. 

Before her role at NAA, Portillo worked at Dallas Aftershool as the Director of Advocacy, increasing access to afterschool programs for children across Dallas County. In 2018, the National Afterschool Association (NAA) honored her with the Next Generation of Afterschool Leaders award. Angelica holds a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Public Administration from the University of North Texas (UNT) and is currently a board member for the Dallas Regional Chamber’s Young Professionals. She also takes pride in being an alumnus of Leadership ISD Civic Voices, Mayor’s Star Council, and the LBJ Women’s Campaign School.

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