Speakers

 

Jei Africa Headshot

Opening Keynote: Jei Africa PsyD, MSCP, CATC-V

My name is Dr. Jei Africa. I am one of the few Tagalog-speaking licensed clinical psychologists who is also certified as a domestic violence and addiction counselor in the San Francisco-Bay Area. I am also a consultant, educator and facilitator on integrating diversity and multicultural-related issues in clinical and organizational practice. As an advocate for providing effective and quality services for the underserved and unserved population, especially Asians and Filipinos, I continue to work with different sectors of the community to educate them about health and mental health issues. In my work, I am mindful of the role and influence of socio-cultural factors on how individuals conceptualize and make meaning of their experience, which in turn influences how they behave.

 

Will Richey Headshot

Closing Keynote: Will Richey

Will Richey is an award winning spoken word artist, teacher and creative director who has left an imprint across North Texas and beyond by mixing and melding original poetry performances in workshops, speaking engagements and the production of interactive events.  The heartbeat of his work engages people of all ages, cultures, creeds and backgrounds, while empowering each unique voice to connect and identify with personal and collective acknowledgment, self-expression and growth. From school districts to art districts, drug and alcohol prevention and recovery organizations to college campuses and churches, Will enjoys cultivating experiences of strength, healing and hope.  
The University of Dallas recognized Will in Tower magazine as one of “11 Alumni Who Have Found Success in Uncharted Territory.” Their piece, “How to Guide a Community towards Emotional Literacy,” highlights his work as founder of Journeyman Ink and father of DaVerse Lounge, an under-21 spoken word, live music and visual art event that has been a beacon of intergenerational inspiration since 2005.  Co-produced with Big Thought, Will has shepherded the event into a movement with a mentoring program and a “DaVerse Works: Power of Voice” curriculum for schools and youth organizations. 

Richey’s delivery is dynamically enhanced with creative partner and multi-disciplinary arts educator, Alejandro Perez, Jr.  Friends and collaborators since the early 2000’s, their walk and work together is driven by the core tenet of Emotional Literacy – the bridge between “degrees and the streets,” much less their own personal inherent similarities and overt differences.  Together they engage audiences with their infectious, kinesthetic, call and response approach to the Art of Spoken Word as expressed through original stories, poetry and song.
For over a decade, Will and AP have been lead teaching artists in Big Thought’s Creative Solutions, summer theater and visual arts program for youth on probation in Dallas County. They have also partnered with Irving ISD since 2005 with their Write to be Heard and ESL Enrichment Programs, Karen Blessen’s 29 Pieces / MasterPEACE / Dallas Love Project, the Dallas Children’s Theater’s, “Baker Idea Institute,” and as content producers for the Embrey Family Foundation and Dallas Faces Race’s “Implicit Bias” social media campaign. 

In addition, their words are often brought to life by nationally renowned, live interpretive painter and scribe David Rodriguez of Dr Gorilla Studio. The three of them not only share in their Puerto Rican heritage, but as story tellers who have showcased their collaborative performances at TEDxSMU: “DaVerse Lounge – The Power of Voice,” the Embrey Human Rights Program’s inaugural “Triumph of the Spirit” awards, The National Race Forward Conference, The National Performance Network’s 25th Anniversary Meeting, and the first ever Extra Yard for Teachers Summit, an initiative of the College Football Playoff Foundation.