Night of Ideas



Andre Dickens

Mayor of the City of Atlanta

The Next Generation and the New Mayor

Andre Dickens is the 61st Mayor of Atlanta. Prior to becoming mayor, he served as an at-large City Council member for two terms. In addition to serving in public office, Mayor Dickens has been a businessman and nonprofit executive and is an engineer, deacon, father and native Atlantan. His career follows his passions, and his impact follows his commitment. Dickens is a member of the Georgia Tech Alumni Board of Directors, an Alumnus of Leadership Atlanta, Diversity Leadership Atlanta, United Way VIP; Regional Leadership Institute, Kappa Alpha Psi, Fraternity, Inc.; and Deacon of New Horizon Baptist Church. He is a product of Atlanta Public Schools and a graduate of Mays High School. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Public Administration degree in Economic Development from Georgia State University.


Accidental Queens

Video Game Studio

Art, Technology, and Inclusion

Accidental Queens is a French video game studio initially founded by three women from the games industry.

They seek to create games featuring new mechanics, exploring topics from everyday life and social questions, through innovative narrative tools. They believe digital games can be entertaining but also convey social values and meaningful messages to a broad and diverse audience.

Accidental Queens is made up of Diane Landais (programmer), Miryam Houali (artist), and Simon Bachelier (project manager).

They are Villa Albertine residents in Atlanta from end of April till end of May 2022.


Daisy Acosta Pliego

Student, Architecture, Georgia Institute of Technology

The Next Generation and the New Mayor

Daisy Acosta Pliego graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Architecture in May 2022. She is a first-generation, Mexican-American who grew up in Georgia. She was previously a member of NOMAS (The National Organization of Minority Architecture Students) and served as the vice president during her last year. Through her studies, she took an interest in activist groups and how they advocate for the best interest of the people. This spring she worked on a research project focusing on five community-led groups: The Black Panther Party; The Young Lords; The National Farm Workers Association; National Domestic Workers Alliance; and Red Power Movement. She highlighted how these mutual aid-driven groups gave voices to different demographic groups who are invisibilized in the US and how each challenged the status quo by directly addressing socio-economic disparities in wealth, housing, health, policing, employment, wealth, through various types of organizing, self-help, and direct-action programs. Alongside this research (and as part of course readings), she has become interested in how mayors and other elected representatives balance activist agendas with legislative initiatives and constituent services.


Salah Ananse


Closing Party

With over 20 years as a producer and DJ on the Atlanta music scene, Salah Ananse’s talent as a DJ has put him on bills with notable DJ’s such as Vikter Duplaix, DJ Kemit (Kemeticjust), Rich Medina, DJ Spinna, ?uestlove and Kai Alce.

Not only does Ananse rock crowds for some of the Southeast’s most popular party series such as One Music Fest, House In The Park and his own Afrique Electrique & Sunday School, he travels the world bringing his unique mix of soul, house & hip hop.


Lauren Tate Baeza

Curator of African Art and Africanist

African Art and the Black Atlantic: New Perspectives

Lauren Tate Baeza is the Fred and Rita Richman Curator of African Art at the High Museum of Art, overseeing its rich collection of West and Central African art and material culture. She is a contributing editor at ART PAPERS; and speaks, lectures, and consults at nonprofit organizations, universities, and federal departments on a range of cultural and sociopolitical topics related to Africa and the African diaspora. Baeza previously served as Director of Exhibitions at the National Center for Civil and Human Rights and curated the Morehouse College Martin Luther King Jr. Collection. She holds an MA in African Studies from University of California, Los Angeles; a BA in Africana Studies from California State University, Northridge; and studied curation at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. She has been featured on NPR and PBS, as well as in Associated Press News, Art Seen Magazine, Culture Type, and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

Tate Baeza_ATL

Gaëtan Bruel

Director of Villa Albertine, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the US

Opening Remarks: Why a Night of Ideas in Atlanta?

Since September 2021, Gaëtan Bruel has served as Villa Albertine’s first director.

A former student of the ENS specializing in history, he has been Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy and Permanent Representative of French Universities in the United States since September 2019. In January 2020, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs conferred upon him the mission of creating and opening Villa Albertine, the fourth French Villa abroad in the United States following the Villa Médicis in Italy, Casa Velazquez in Spain, and Villa Kujoyama in Japan.

Having begun his career as a teaching fellow at Columbia University, he worked in three different ministries—Defense, Culture, and Foreign Affairs—first as a speechwriter, then specializing in cultural affairs. He created the cinema program at the Ministry of the Armed Forces, and worked as an administrator on the Arc de Triomphe and the Panthéon during his time at the Centre des monuments nationaux. Before taking on his current role in New York, he was an advisor to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in charge of the Americas and cultural diplomacy.


Erika Denman

Student, French & Political Science, Georgia State University

The Next Generation and the New Mayor

Erika is a senior French major and political science minor at Georgia State University. She is a mother to a (nearly) two-year old son and lives in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Between her studies and her time with her son, she enjoys reading, learning, and listening to podcasts. She has recently accepted a position with a humanitarian aid organization to satisfy her goals of providing help to others.


Cheryl Finley

Inaugural Director, Atlanta University Center Art History + Curatorial Studies Collective

African Art and the Black Atlantic: New Perspectives

Cheryl Finley holds a Ph.D. in History of Art and African American Studies from Yale University. She directs AUC Art Collective, an innovative undergraduate program at the largest HBCU network designed to transform and diversify the art industry. Dr. Finley is the author of “Committed to Memory: the Art of the Slave Ship Icon” (Princeton UP, 2018) and “My Soul Has Grown Deep: Black Art from the American South” (Yale University Press, 2018). A specialist in the art market and African diaspora art history, Dr. Finley’s current research examines the global art economy, focusing on the relationship among artists, museums, biennials and migration in the exciting new book project, “Black Venice.”


Alex Frankcombe

Public Art Manager, Fulton County

Art, Technology, and Inclusion

Alex Frankcombe has over 11 years of experience in the fields of strategic planning, stakeholder engagement, urban design, placemaking, and public art management.

From city-shaping projects to street-based place activation, he has been able to deliver authentic and contextual solutions for clients and communities in both a personal and professional capacity.

Alex’s work with Fulton County Arts and Culture aims to engage Fulton County residents with the arts and their community through exciting and innovative programming.


Ryan Gravel

Urban Thinker, Designer, Author

Where Do We Go from Here: Atlanta, Urban Development, and the Politics of Inclusion

Ryan Gravel is an urban thinker, designer, author, and builder – an entrepreneur working on ideas about the future of cities.

His master’s thesis in 1999 was the original vision for the Atlanta Beltline, a 22-mile transit greenway that with fifteen years of progress, is changing both the physical form of his city and the decisions people make about living there.

Ryan Gravel is the founder of Sixpitch, Generator, Aftercar, and Elevator.


Floyd Hall

Creative Producer for Science Gallery Atlanta

What is Culture: A Dialogue on the Future of Atlanta's Identity, Values, and Influence

Floyd Hall is a media strategist, engineer, cultural producer, writer, and documentarian from Atlanta, Georgia.

As an artist and curator, his work often relates to the intersection of culture, media, and technology as platforms to construct narratives of place.

Hall holds a BS in Mathematics from Morehouse College, a BS in Mechanical Engineering from Georgia Tech, and an MBA from Columbia University.

He is currently the Creative Producer for Science Gallery at Emory University.


Ashlee Haze

Poet and spoken word artist

Poetry Performance

Ashlee Haze is a poet and spoken word artist from Atlanta by way of Chicago. Earning the nickname “Big 30″ because of her consistency in getting a perfect score, she is one of the most accomplished poets in the sport of poetry slam. She recently appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk series alongside Blood Orange. Ashlee is the host of Moderne Philosophy, an educational podcast for creatives. Her sophomore book “Smoke” was released April 20, 2020


Maurice Hobson

Professor, Historian, Author

Where Do We Go from Here: Atlanta, Urban Development, and the Politics of Inclusion

Dr. Maurice Hobson is an Associate Professor of African American Studies and Historian at Georgia State University.

His research interests are grounded in the fields of African American history, 20th Century U.S. history, comparative labor, African American studies, oral history and ethnography, urban and rural history, political economy, and popular cultural studies.

He is the author of award-winning book titled The Legend of the Black Mecca: Politics and Class in the Making of Modern Atlanta (University of North Carolina Press).


Monica Delores Hooks

Executive Director of Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative

Atlanta: How Might Business and Society Converge for a Better Future?

Monica Delores Hooks is Executive Director of Atlanta’s Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative. She is responsible for innovation policy, entrepreneur workforce programs, financial capacity building, as well as entrepreneur retention and development as it pertains to women’s entrepreneurship throughout the City of Atlanta.

The WEI advisory board is comprised of thought leaders and key business influencers who demonstrate an enthusiastic commitment to supporting entrepreneurial empowerment and access to business growth opportunities for women in Atlanta.


Bem Joiner

Co-founder, Atlanta Influences Everything

Closing Party

Bem Joiner believes in Atlanta. Born and raised in the city, he has a pure passion for its people and its progress, and he majorly contributes to what makes culture in Atlanta, cool and captivating. As a culture curator and co-founder of the creative consultancy/brand, Atlanta Influences Everything, Bem has managed and consulted a variety of lifestyle brands and designed meaningful programs for clients like Sprite, Mississippi Dept. of Education,, Jack Daniels, Nissan, the National Black Arts Festival and countless others.


Anne Lafont

Art Historian, Professor

African Art and the Black Atlantic: New Perspectives

Anne Lafont is an art historian, professor, and research director at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS).

She studied in Canada and France as well as at the Villa Medici in Rome. Her latest publication, “L’Art et la race. L’Africain (tout) contre l’œil des Lumières” won the Prix Fetkann! Maryse Condé award for research and the 2020 Prix Vitale and Arnold Blokh.

She also works with museums and was a contributor to the “Le Modèle noir de Géricault à Matisse” exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay in 2019.

Anne Lafont is a Villa Albertine resident, in New York, Chicago and New Orleans.

© Ashley Week

Tatiyana Matthews

Student, Dental Hygiene, Atlanta Technical College

The Next Generation and the New Mayor

Tatiyana Matthews is currently a senior in the Dental Hygiene Program of Atlanta Technical College. She serves as the senior class president as well as the 2022 GOAL Student of the Year. She will be graduating on May 21st this year. This will make Tatiyana a two-time successful student of the technical education system of Georgia. Technical College has afforded Tatiyana the opportunity to work as a dental assistant for 11 years. She has had the privilege of working and building relationships with children, adults, and special needs patients. She is excited to embark on the next level of her career as a licensed Dental Hygienist this year. Tatiyana’s goal is to motivate and inspire the next generation to go after their true passion through the route of technical education as an alternative to the traditional 4-year post-secondary education.


Neha Murthy

Student, Biological Anthropology & French, Emory University

The Next Generation and the New Mayor

Neha Murthy is a rising junior at Emory University obtaining her degrees in Quantitative Social Sciences with a concentration in Biological Anthropology(B.S.) and French(B.A.). She aspires to pursue a career in data science in healthcare, possibly even working for the government. In just her one year on Emory’s campus, she has been elected by the students to serve as their next Vice President of the student body, in addition to starting her own organization for Carnatic music, Swara, and being involved in the Hindu Students Association. She is a proud American-born Indian, who stays connected to her roots through her music, learning vocal South Indian classical music since the age of 3. Apart from performing, she spends her time reading books and articles, photographing her food creations and, of course, binging Netflix shows.

neha murthy

Allen Jaion Powell

Student, Painting, Savannah College of Art & Design Atlanta

The Next Generation and the New Mayor

Allen Jaion Powell is an American fine artist born in Memphis, TN. He is pursuing a BFA, in Painting at SCAD Atlanta. He has always admired train graffiti from a young age as it passed on railroad tracks. Being especially enamored by the bold colors and graphic lines, this admiration carries over into his current work. He uses these elements in his larger-than-life portraits inspired by people, both famous and in his personal life. Powell also takes bold creative risks in his work by experimenting with glass fragments and other unique materials to enhance his pieces and set them apart from other large-scale, pop portrait paintings.

AJ Powell Photo

Camille Russell Love

Executive Director, City of Atlanta Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs

Opening Remarks: Why a Night of Ideas in Atlanta?

Since 1998, Camille Russell Love has directed the cultural programming for the City of Atlanta.

As Executive Director, she guides the cultural and artistic vision of the Chastain Arts Center and Gallery, the City’s Public Art Program, Gallery 72, Elevate, Municipal Support for the Arts, the Cultural Experience Project and the Atlanta Jazz Festival, which, year after year, continues to be one of the nation’s preeminent free jazz festivals.

She has served on the boards of the Metropolitan Atlanta Arts Fund, APEX Museum, Piedmont Park Conservancy and the National Black Arts Festival. In addition to accolades throughout her career, in 2017 Camille received the distinction of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters by the French Minister of Culture and Communication, recognizing her contribution to art and culture in Atlanta and abroad.

Camille earned a B.A. in psychology from Wake Forest University and attended Duke University Law School. She is a proud mother of three and a grandmother of two.


Wanona Satcher

CEO/Founder of Mākhers Studio

Where Do We Go from Here: Atlanta, Urban Development, and the Politics of Inclusion

Wanona Satcher is CEO/Founder of Mākhers Studio, LLC a for-profit green manufacturing firm and design-build studio.

As a social enterprise her team is dedicated to developing what she calls “prosilient communities.”

Over the course of her career, she’s served as an urban designer with a focus on equitable housing policy, landscape architect designer, city planner, economic developer, art curator and theater producer.


Amelia Schaffner

Managing Director and Co-founder, Roberto C. Goizueta Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (Emory)

Atlanta: How Might Business and Society Converge for a Better Future?

Amelia Schaffner is the Director of the Roberto C. Goizueta Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School.

She is responsible for developing the school’s entrepreneurial culture, thinking, and initiatives, partnering with students, faculty, alumni, and the local ecosystem of investors, VCs, organizations.

She is involved in a number of initiatives, including the pitch-the-Professors program to support new student concepts, the partnership with the Atlanta Tech Village incubator, the Entrepreneurs in residence program, the RAISE Forum for startups and investors in the Southeast, the AHIA (Advancing Healthcare Innovation in Africa) initiative, and more.

Previously, Amelia was a senior principal at Accenture, and led a global Innovation initiative, where she was instrumental in visioning Accenture’s Innovation architecture.


Rose Scott

Journalist, Host of "Closer Look"

Where Do We Go from Here: Atlanta, Urban Development, and the Politics of Inclusion

Rose Scott is an award-winning journalist and host of the midday news program “Closer Look” heard on Atlanta’s NPR, station 90.1 FM – WABE.

In her role as a co-host and now host, Rose has interviewed foreign heads of states, cabinet members, U.S. ambassadors, numerous consul generals, state and local elected officials as well as civic and social leaders.

Closer Look has become a signature broadcast for the community and brings together viewpoints from all sectors of society.


Marina Skye


Trashy Fashion, 2022 (Scale Model)

Marina Skye is a Clio Award-winning set designer and creative director who has taken her talents coast to coast, leaving a trail of greatness and style.

Some of her latest projects include stage designs for Summer Walker for Jimmy Kimmel and BBC, tour stage design for Wale, and creative consulting for Backwoods Cigars, Motel 21 for 21 Savage and Atlanta’s own Trap Music Museum.

The Los Angeles-born Creole creative has worked with some of the biggest brands and clients, including, but not limited to, Jidenna, KCamp, Budweiser, Jameson, and the esteemed High Museum of Art.

Along with working with major brands, Skye has her own Set Design and Creative Direction Agency, SET BY SKYE.  Whether it be a video shoot, live performance set, or an Airbnb location, Skye’s work is highly recognized and widely sought after. She is seen as one of the most influential set designers and creative directors in the industry.


Elizabeth Strickler

Director of Media Entrepreneurship at Georgia State University

The Virtual is Real

Elizabeth Strickler is the Founding Director of the Creative Industries Blockchain Lab and Director of Media Entrepreneurship at Georgia State University. She teaches media innovation to undergraduate and graduate students and works with major labels and cultural icons to build web3, blockchain, and nft strategies.

Her April 2021 TEDx talk is considered canonical viewing for those entering the digital art and metaverse space and presents regularly on the topic.

Her goal is to help others start businesses, tell immersive stories, and build a stronger cultural economy. She believes most people can learn most things and have fun while doing so.


Brian Tolleson

Entrepreneur, Co-Founder at Lexicon Strategies

Atlanta: How Might Business and Society Converge for a Better Future?

Brian has spent his entrepreneurial career working at the intersection of human rights, public health, media and social justice while managing billions in partnership marketing initiatives for 60+ of the Fortune 100 as well as for many governments and foundations.

Current Advisor at Authenticity Partners, Ethic Alliance, and Zane Ventures.

Previously Interim CEO of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, Founder of Clio and Cannes Lions winning advertainment studio, BARK BARK, former Marketing & Creative executive at Viacom, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Time Warner and CAA.


Donray Von

Idea Generator, Investor, Partner

Atlanta: How Might Business and Society Converge for a Better Future?

Donray Von is bi-coastal (Atlanta & Los Angeles) and started his career as a music manager working with such artist as Cody ChesnuTT, Martin Luther (Across the Universe), The Roots and OutKast.

Donray Von has made strides in the venture capital sector. He links investors and family offices to opportunities in Technology, Media, Real Estate, and Social Impact.

To date, Donray Von has been involved in four acquisitions and co-invested alongside Google Ventures, Guggenheim, TPG, Wellington and Lower Case Capital.


Fabian Williams


Art, Technology, and Inclusion

Fabian Williams aka Occasional Superstar is an artist born and raised in Fayetteville, NC, now living in Atlanta, GA.

Fabian received a BFA from East Carolina University in Illustration. After working for 13 years in the advertising industry with a long list of clients from Nike, Warner Bros to HBO, he decided to move to a purely expressive practice outside of the commercial space where he had the freedom to express more political and socially relevant contemporary themes.

Fabian is well known for his wall murals around the city of Atlanta and now, he’s entering the NFT arena with a message to the world.


Jasmine Wilson

Student, African American Studies, Clark Atlanta University

The Next Generation and the New Mayor

Jasmine Wilson is a writer, scholar, and curator from Atlanta, GA. She is a Master’s candidate in the African American Studies program at Clark Atlanta University, where she has completed her thesis, “The African Symbolism of Simone Leigh’s Brick House Sculpture.” As a researcher of African and African Diaspora art, Jasmine is committed to developing African aesthetic approaches to explore the work of Black women artists and currently serves as the Graduate Research Assistant at the Spelman College Museum of Fine Art.

In recent posts, Jasmine has worked as Youth and Family Programs Assistant at the High Museum of Art, Mellon Curatorial Fellow at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and Graduate Research Assistant for the AUC Art History & Curatorial Studies Collective at Spelman College. Her writings have appeared in Contemporary And, Burnaway, and Burlington Magazine, among others. Jasmine holds a BA in English with Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude honors from Howard University.

Jasmine Wilson_Bio Photo

Joycelyn Wilson

Educational Athropologist & Professor

Where is Hip Hop Going? Preserving Hip Hop’s Past and Building the Future

Joycelyn Wilson is an integrative curriculum designer, essayist, and assistant professor of Hip Hop Studies and Digital Media in the Ivan Allen College at Georgia Tech. Her work focuses on Black maker culture and design pedagogics across industry, discipline, and field.

Dr. Wilson is the founder of the HipHop2020 Innovation Archive, an education technology start-up that designs and builds learning resources informed by the Hip Hop Archive. Its focus is secondary and post-secondary humanities and computational media instruction. Some of this research can be publicly accessed on Google Arts and Culture and as part of Amazon Future Engineer’s “Your Voice Is Power”, a coding competition that uses culturally relevant methods to inspire a love for computer science through music production and lyric-writing.

Her courses on Hip Hop in the American South are some of the most popular and have been covered in a variety of local, national, and international media platforms. She also teaches courses in experimental digital art, and interactive narrative – using Hip Hop as the approach. Dr. Wilson extends her practice to publishing across academic, popular, and documentary platforms. She will publish her first book The OUTKAST Imagination on UGA Press in 2023. Most recently, Dr. Wilson was recognized for serving as the lead coordinator of a new minor in Black Media Studies.


Ryan Wilson

CEO and Co-founder of The Gathering Spot

Atlanta: How Might Business and Society Converge for a Better Future?

Ryan Wilson is the Co-Founder and CEO of TGS Holdings, a consumer lifestyle and hospitality company based in Atlanta, Georgia. The company’s holdings consist of The Gathering Spot, a private membership club; and A3C, a music, tech, and film conference and festival.

Ryan has been honored as the Small Business Person of the Year by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, selected as one of the 2020 Atlanta Business Chronicle’s 40 under Forty honorees, and was the recipient of the John Lewis Emerging Leader Award by the 100 Black Men of Atlanta. He was also selected to join the inaugural class of Shea Moisture’s Social Justice Coalition.

Ryan has been featured in notable national publications such as The New York Times, Essence, Fast Company, Forbes, Inc, Black Enterprise, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Huffington Post, and USA Today. A native to Atlanta, Ryan is currently an active participant in several Atlanta civic and community organizations. Ryan has also had the privilege and honor of hosting several political, civic, and cultural leaders at The Gathering Spot including President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris among others.


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