Aiyana Sha’niel is a creative writer and singer born and raised in Los Angeles, California. Aiyana started as a youth participant in a variety of Street Poets workshops including our Beats & Rhymes program, and she now helps host and organize these programs. She has performed and organized various open mics throughout her high school and college years. She is a 2021 graduate of the Community Literature Initiative program (CLI), a fellowship that helps poets create their own poetic collection of work. Sha’niel will be releasing her first book through World Stage Press, titled “Little Black Poetry Book” in late 2022.
Barbara has been writing and performing for over 15 years and has over a decade of experience in nonprofit administration and management. For over 10 years, she had led healing-informed poetry workshops for both youth and adults who are incarcerated, those in community, adults in recovery, and survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. In her role at Street Poets, she helps to oversee programs and assists the Executive Director with the overall artistic vision of the organization.
She has competed in 9 National Poetry Slam competitions and she is a World Poetry Slam finalist. She is the author of two poetry collections, Paint, Inside Out (2010) and Mouths of Garden (2022). Her work has been featured by Button Poetry and Def Poetry Jam, and has been published in the Academy of American Poets and Electric Literature, amongst others. She has received residencies from Idyllwild Arts in Idyllwild, California and Connect Arts in Havana, Cuba. She holds a B.A. from Ohio Dominican University, an M.F.A. from Antioch University Los Angeles, and a Master of Theology from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio. She is the founder of the Black Women Rise Poetry Collective and co-founder of The Senghor Project, West African International Artist Residency.
Jaynese is a spoken-word poet, dancer and screenwriter. She hosts, performs and organizes community events and holds safe spaces for youth throughout Los Angeles County and beyond. She has been involved with Street Poets Inc. for over 7 years, first as a youth participant, and now as a teaching artist and media strategist. Jaynese has traveled as far as Sweden to share Street Poets methodology with youth and youth workers worldwide. Jaynese has also worked closely with the Los Angeles LGBT center as an alum of OutSet (a filmmaking program for LGBTQ youth) performing spoken word with Pen Pushers LifeWorks program at Models of Pride 2016 and The Future is Black: Reclaiming Our Power event in honor of Black History Month. She is also a member of 4CLab, a nonprofit providing opportunities for young creative visionaries to share their stories through artistic expression.
Katy joined Street Poets as Interim Administrative Director in March 2020, loved it and stayed. She has more than a decade of experience in nonprofit management and advocacy, as well as a dozen years of work experience as a contract attorney, editor, writer, translator, and writing coach out of Bogotá, Colombia and Los Angeles. With a passion for systems – particularly the human aspects of these – and the arts, Katy enjoys working with our poets to build and streamline creative practices that fit the organization as we change, learn and grow from recent global challenges, launch new virtual and in-person projects, and dream big to picture our next 25 years. As founding full-time attorney at Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, California, Katy launched the immigrant rights clinic of an agency that has since grown to 18 attorneys serving thousands of clients. Katy holds a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a B.A. in Anthropology and Fine Arts from U. Penn. She is bilingual in Spanish.
Matthew is a celebrated poet/spoken-word artist and educator from Jacksonville, Florida. Matthew has over 10 years of teaching and mentoring experience in schools and youth detention facilities, including the past three as a program director and lead teaching artist with Street Poets. In addition to being a two-time winner of the Southern Fried Poetry Slam Competition, Matthew served as the co-coach of the Get Lit-Words Ignite Youth Slam Team and the Hollywood (Da Poetry Lounge) Adult Slam Team, a finalist in the 2017 National Poetry Slam. Matthew has traveled around the world, from Duval to Abu Dhabi, performing and teaching poetry, and coaching slam teams to great success. He has opened for artists such as Wu-Tang Clan, and has been featured on a wide range of live stages and platforms from KPFK radio to BuzzFeed.
Alison is a tv writer/producer and playwright. She has extensive experience as a community organizer and served for many years on the staff of Street Poets, where she facilitated a writing program for teen mothers.
Chenjerai Kumanyika is an assistant professor in NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. His research and teaching focus on popular culture and social justice. Alongside a variety of other scholarly and journalistic writing, scholarly work, Professor Kumanyika specializes in using narrative non-fiction audio journalism to critique the ideology of the American historical myths about issues such as race, the civil war, and policing. Professor Kumanyika was the Co-Executive Producer and Co-Host of Uncivil, Gimlet Media’s Peabody award-winning podcast about the Civil War. He is also the Collaborator for Scene on Radio‘s Season 2 “Seeing White,” and Season 4 on the history of American Democracy. Professor Kumanyika is currently working on a podcast with Crooked Media about the history of the police in American popular culture. In addition to his work on the Street Poets Board, Dr. Kumanyika also serves on the Board of the Moth, and on a number of other advisory boards for organizations working through arts and advocacy.
A recording/performing artist, writer, facilitator, educator and former Street Poets Program Director, Chirag now serves as a Principal with the Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Consulting firm Third Settlements, while continuing to record and release music under the name Chee Malabar.
Don Flood is a veteran photographer specializing in celebrity portraiture and beauty advertising. He also is founder and creative director of FliePaper, a photo-based wallpaper line that’s included in the permanent collection of the Cooper Hewitt/Smithsonian Design Museum. He is a huge advocate of architectural preservation and is active in the architecture & design community near his home in Rancho Mirage, CA.
Senior Producer/Composer and multi-faceted musician (violin/viola) at New Math Music, Jake manages the bi-coastal music/sound company’s West Coast office, which has served as a “creative vacation home” and workspace for musically-inclined Street Poets youth over the past year. Jake also provides mixing and production support for the Street Poets Podcast and album projects. As a violinist, Jake has performed with the likes of Adele, Kanye West, Lauryn Hill and Mariah Carey among others.
Julie is an attorney and founding partner of Young, Zinn, Pazzani & Sandhu LLP, a boutique employment litigation firm. Julie has served on the Street Poets board since 2014.
Our board chair, Nick is a product design engineer in the consumer electronics industry and currently works at Snap Inc. on camera development. He helped to start SnapNoir which provides a forum for fostering cultural understanding, diversity, and professional development for people of the African diaspora at Snap and in the community.
Recently retired as a Partner and Portfolio Manager in the London office of Capital International Investors (a division of LA-based Capital Group Companies), where he worked for 28 years. He is active with the Center for Action and Contemplation’s Living School, and also Camino Nuevo Charter Academy where he chairs the college scholarships committee. Ric is Mexican-American and fluent in Spanish and Portuguese.
Rob Perrin retired from the international law firm Latham & Watkins LLP in 2020, after a 23-year career, including 12 years as Chair of the firm’s Los Angeles Litigation & Trial Department. Rob has been a member of the Street Poets board since 2010. He is additionally the Co-Chair of the Los Angeles Committee of PEN America, and a member of the Board of Visitors of the UCLA Department of English.
Rona serves as the Chief Marketing Officer at Cashmere Agency, a “Culture Agency” providing strategic marketing/PR/branding consulting for a wide-range of entertainment/media companies and artists.
Despite his best efforts, Sean learned a lot about the shoe business at great brands like Nike, ASICS, and Vans. Later, he struck out on his own helping to build companies like TOMS, and now COMUNITYmade who are manufacturing great designs locally while serving the community. Sean believes that there are very few valid excuses not to be happy and he rides his bike almost everywhere.
Susannah is a screenwriter/producer/director. Her credits include such projects as Netflix’s Unbelievable, HBO’s Confirmation, Ever After, and Erin Brockovich.
A founding member of Street Poets’ first performance group in the late 90s, Taylor later served as a teaching artist with the organization, returning to many of the same juvenile probation facilities that once housed him as a youth to mentor and facilitate writing workshops for our next generation of Street Poets. He is currently in the process of finishing up his college studies and professional certifications in Computer Science/Information Technology (specializing in Cyber Security).
Travis is a licensed psychologist and is an Associate Professor at San Diego State University where he serves as Chair of the department of Counseling & School Psychology. Past work he’s been involved with looked at shifting from a multicultural approach to counseling to one of cultural democracy that invites people to heal in mediums that are culturally near. His most recent work involves incorporating the work of Black abolitionist scholars into psychotherapy, community healing, and uprising. His writing has focused on the use of rap music in narrative therapy, working with persons entangled in the criminal injustice system in ways that maintain their dignity, narrative practice stories as pedagogy, a co-created questioning practice called reunion questions, and community healing
strategies. He is co-author, with David Epston and Tom Carlson, of the first book on Contemporary Narrative Therapy released in June 2022 entitled, “Reimagining Narrative Therapy Through Practice Stories and Autoethnography.” The book is part of the “Writing Lives” series with Routledge publishing. Travis has been fortunate to run workshops and speak in Australia, Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, India, Italy, New Zealand, Norway, United Kingdom, and United States.