Shontina Vernon, founder and creative director
Shontina is a theatre artist, filmmaker, director, and educator. Her work fuses performance, live music, and multi-media in centering the narratives of marginalized communities. Vernon is a recipient of the 2016-18 Robert Rauschenberg Foundation “Artist as Activist” Fellowship for the creation of the Visionary Justice StoryLab to address the impact of systemic oppression through media, storytelling and performance based healing practices. She is also this year’s Herb Alpert/MacDowell Colony Fellow in Theatre and a 2017 MAP Fund grantee. Her work champions the necessity of arts and culture to catalyze social change. As such, it has been recognized nationally and internationally for both its artistic merit and risk taking.
She is currently developing FORGING AHEAD on the impact juvenile incarceration has on who we become as adults with Flying Carpet Theatre, and LAST KIND WORDS, the story of two black queer women and their erasure from the American blues canon. Her recent short film, GRRRL JUSTICE, exploring the pathways of girls and gender non-confirming youth of color into the juvenile justice system is in now in post production.
HATLo, Education and community outreach coordinator
Hatlo is a collaborative queer theater artist who creates and facilitates new performance. Their dramaturgy, directing, writing, movement and performing work centers the lives and stories of queer and trans folks and other narratives that disrupt dominant power structures and aim to destroy white supremacy. For more than a decade Hatlo has worked as a teacher, program director and case manager supporting the basic needs, artistry and self determination of young people with a focus on queer young people and young people experiencing homelessness. They manage all aspects of production for VJSL and act as dramaturg for new works. Hatlo has collaborated with more than a dozen celebrated Northwest performing artists and companies. Hatlo has a BFA in Original Works/Theater from Cornish College of the Arts.
LARA DAVIS, Creative strategist
Lara Davis is an artist, arts administrator, racial equity strategist and consultant working at the intersection of culture, public education and social justice. She has served as a Seattle Arts Commissioner and as Program Director for Arts Corps, a nationally-leading youth arts organization based in Seattle. As a strategic advisor for the Seattle Office of Arts & Culture, Lara leads The Creative Advantage, a public/private initiative to reinvest in equitable arts education for all Seattle students. Lara is the inaugural co-chair for the National Guild for Community Arts Education ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian/API Arab, Native American) Network and serves on the National Advisory Committee for the Teaching Artists Guild. Lara was recently named a Marshall Memorial Fellow and is a 2015 recipient of the Americans for the Arts Emerging Leader Award. She knows firsthand the power of creativity necessary to build access, transform communities and inspire systemic change.