Our Speakers and Performers

Earl A. Turner, Ph.D.

Earl A. Turner, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and an assistant professor of psychology at Pepperdine University in the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. His research expertise primarily focused on mental health among racial and ethnic communities, access to behavioral health services, cultural competency, therapy use among parents, and the impact of race-based stress. Dr. Turner was appointed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to serve on the Behavioral Health National Project Advisory Committee where he was one of the contributors that developed an online e-learning program for behavioral health providers to help improve strategies for working with diverse clients. In 2021, he was 1 of 5 psychologists identified to meet with the Biden-Harris transition team to discuss how psychology can help address gun violence. Dr. Turner is a nationally recognized mental health expert and has been quoted by top media sources including The New York Times, Washington Post, Ebony, Oprah Magazine, NPR, NBC News and more. He is the author of Mental Health among African Americans: Innovations in Research and Practice and is the Past-President of the Society for Child and Family Policy and Practice (APA Division 37).

Featured Breakout Session Facilitators

Crystal Rozelle – Bennett, LMSW - Breakout Sessions "See My Color: Why Racial Color Blindness is Unethical" and "Battling Racial Fatigue"

Crystal Rozelle – Bennett, LMSW is the founder and CEO of
THRYVE, LLC, bringing over 20 years of experience
with youth and families to the role. She is committed to advocating for and empowering individuals and communities.  Through coaching, consultation, presentations and workshop facilitation, Ms. Bennett has worked with thousands of professionals, across the nation, to promote the delivery of trauma informed, culturally inclusive and person-centered strategies and services.  Her areas of expertise include Human Trafficking, Suicide Prevention, Child Trauma/Maltreatment, Motivational Interviewing, Racial Trauma, Cultural Humility and working to dismantle systems of white supremacy to promote equity and justice.

Dr. Deborah Wilcox, PhD - Breakout Sessions "Defiance ofRacism and Oppression: Sustaining Black and Africana American Well-Being Through Integrative Health Care" and "Emotional Emancipation"

Dr. Wilcox is the Founder/ Chief Executive Officer of Confluency Consultants and Associates, a consultancy enterprise that provides comprehensive Multicultural Organizational Development and Holistic Health and Wellness Coaching services. The primary mission of her consultancy is to integrate multicultural competency into organizational life by bringing people together across cultural differences in the workplace and within communities, and to enhance decision-making through the sustained deliberative dialogue.

Dr. Wilcox has conducted numerous professional development workshops and applied research projects. Dr. Wilcox was recently awarded the 2020 The New York Association for Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services (NYAPRS) Board of Directors Quincy Boykin Memorial Award for her contributions to mental health recovery, empowerment, and integration of the full diversity of all people with mental health and trauma-related challenges. She was also awarded the 2014 Multicultural Award of Distinction from the Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association (PRA), which recognizes her outstanding contribution to the field of Psychiatric Rehabilitation. Her research areas include Mental Health Wellness and Recovery, African-Centered Rites of Passage a Therapeutic Approach for Youth and Families, Group Process; and Wellness and Resilience Story Circles. Dr. Wilcox serves on a wide variety of professional councils and boards. She holds a Doctorate Degree in Education (PhD); Master’s Degree (M.Ed.) in Community Clinical Counseling from Kent State University Graduate College of Education, Department of Counseling and Human Development. 

Chandra Green LMFT- Breakout Sessions "Confronting Traumatized Black Leadership" and "Generational Trauma"

Chandra Green has been an advocate for the wellbeing and holistic health of her community for over 15 years. With a focus on human rights and trauma, Ms. Green has worked as a community educator, case manager and therapist for those experiencing domestic violence and various types of abuse and trauma. She provides trauma informed leadership coaching as the CEO of SoulMine LLC and is the Director of Alive and Thrive Wyandotte County, which focuses on awareness and education of ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences), Pair of ACEs, and trauma in Wyandotte County. 


Andre Carbonell - Breakout Sessions “Word Portals” and “Social Justice: Practicing the Practice”

Andre Carbonell, better known as Hakeem Furious, is an international performance artist/writer, facilitating artist and community organizer. His work started in 2012, immediately after graduating from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts and becoming a member of Black on Black Rhyme, a community organization that contracts poets/writers for events and programming throughout the south. He migrated to his birthplace Denver to grow his business and learning in 2016, where he launched his #TheUltraTerrestrialTour brand, working as an independent contractor to different grassroots organizations and nonprofits. 


Additional Breakout Session Facilitators

Anthony Townsend

iCAN- I Care About My Neighbors

Anthony Townsend is a trauma-informed community activist, mentor, leader, motivational speaker, businessman, philanthropist, leader and father. He has won numerous awards for his work in areas such as community engagement, safety, youth development, human rights and more.

He is the pioneering Head of Safety and Risk Management for a national nonprofit housing developer, CEO of Kinship Villages, a company dedicated to creating innovative safety solutions and Founder of youth-led and youth-driven community benefits organization, Safe & Sound.

He is a Nationally Certified Gang Prevention Specialist and Trainer, Certified Balance and Restorative Justice Practitioner and Circle Facilitator who is genuinely concerned about people.

Tracy Stanton

When It Rains, It Pours

Tracy Stanton is the new owner of Addiction to Ambition Coaching and Consulting which is a well-being practice that equips individuals, groups and organizations with tools needed to live holistically healthy lives and build thriving brands. She is also a nationally recognized community organizer and healing support specialist with the Freedom Community Center which is a Black-Led organization that uses an abolitionist political framework and transformative justice approach to repairing Black communities. They are committed to intervening when violence occurs on the individual and systemic level and dismantling the oppressive systems that inflict harm and trauma on Black community members.

Nita Hughley

Master Your Mind, Master Your Life

Nita Hughley (She/Her), also known as Available Healing, is an aspiring life coach specializing in personal enrichment. She leads therapeutic groups in which she often speaks and teach about self-mastery, mindfulness, manifestation and mindset. Currently she serves as a board member for the Kansas City non-profit organization, No Divide KC, and works as a Mental/Behavioral Health Technician at a children’s psychiatric hospital.

Devin Smith


Founder of Lifted KC, a nonprofit that focuses on mental health awareness and Life Coach.

Devin is certified by the State of Missouri as a Peer Specialist where she began her journey of coaching those directly affected with mental illness, facilitating classes and training that provided an alternative to living in the trauma cycle and later becoming a facilitator for the Mental Health First Aid program.

Devin uses her life experiences for the last 6 years as an advocate for mental health while encouraging those to seek support.

Regina Wagner

Media and Mental Health

Smooth with a hint of sass would describe Poet, Host, and Actress Serenity. Since 2011 Serenity has dominated the airwaves and internet in Kansas City from hosting events and an online web show, to hosting a radio show Serenity has her pulse on what’s trending.

In October 2014 she started a project with Cascade Media group in which she interviewed local poets via the website http://www.whatsupkansascity.net. At the time the site had virtually no poetry on the site. Serenity worked diligently and built the poetry section in less than a year. She eventually moved into the position of Head of Arts & Entertainment/V.P. for Cascade Media Group in late 2015. As of 2017 Serenity has interviewed such celebrities as Regina Belle, Tech N9NE, Courtney Richardson, Fred Hammond, Murphy Lee, Post Malone, and Jane Elliott to name a few. In 2018 she started her own platform Prose & Verbs in which she plans to continue with media and artistic endeavors.

Bushenga AaronAli

Reconstructing Black Boy Joy

Bushenga AaronAli, artistically known as Bubba Peace, is a Peace Advocate & Activator working towards self emancipation through reflective songwriting, performances, and poems. As a Kansas State University alumni with a background in American Ethnic Studies and Women’s Studies, he has organized culturally responsive events since 2014 in hopes of facilitating peaceful experiences through authentic expression. Bushenga has partnered or worked on staff with a variety of non-profits advocating for youth and families exposed to violence, folks who were formerly incarcerated, and historically harmed communities. In 2022, Bushenga and his Queen Lover Jahmila Co-Founded B Peace Productions LLC, “to ensure the unheard and misunderstood voices of the world discover pathways for peace”. Through their family owned emancipation enterprise, Bushenga aspires to emancipate his inner child and ancestral traumas, while performing around the world with his beautiful family.

Tamicka Monson

Identity: Reshaping Misconceptions​

Tamicka Monson MA, MS, LPC is a professional counselor at Tamicka Monson Counseling LLC. She holds a computer engineering degree and two master degrees. Tamicka is extremely passionate about identity work. Through individual and group counseling, speaking, and writing, Tamicka helps others heal, grow, and become the best version of themselves.

As a dedicated speaker of 15+ years, Tamicka uses her skills to reach out to hurting individuals within  communities, discussing topics such as mental/emotional healing, including living as a whole person after experiencing trauma. She also speaks to community leaders on topics surrounding social justice (such as gun violence, mass incarceration, and poverty) affecting the minority communities.

Furthermore, having worked in the field of childcare, youth development, education, and mental health  for more than 10 years, she challenges educators to consider the unique struggles of those within minority and poverty-stricken communities, and how these struggles affect them.

Kathleen Shaw

Muse Express

A playwright, poet and jewelry designer, Kathleen Shaw has written nine plays of varying lengths: The Shoe Wizard Brings a Brand New Dance, The Making of a Legend: Madam C. J. Walker, Going Back in Time, Life Lines, Whoa Men, A Female Buffalo Soldier, Slave Mommas, The Lifetime of Emily Fisher, 1808-1898, Moral Dilemma and Stitches.

Her work has received staged readings in Los Angeles, Louisville, Kentucky and Kansas City, Missouri and surrounding areas. She has successfully completed four playwriting workshops including The Robey Theater Playwrighting Workshops in Los Angeles, CA (2006) and University of Louisville. She is a past member of the Alliance for Los Angeles Playwrights and the International Black Writers and Artists of L.A.

She has self-published five books of poetry Ten Poems (2019), Vocal Vibrations (2008), Manifestations of Black Feminist Thought in Poetry and Drama (2000), Continuum (1996), A Creative Light (1993). She holds a Master of Arts in Theatre/Playwriting and Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies from the University of Missouri – Kansas City.

Cam F


Cam holds the title as the Winningest Boxer in USA Boxing history. Cam’s accomplishments are impressive but pale in comparison to the losses he has accumulated to reach this point. His story of resilience is so inspiring it’s featured in the NETFLIX Original documentary COUNTERPUNCH.

During his motivational speeches he shares how he faced adversities in and outside of the ring with a Championship Mindset.

Boxing is the greatest metaphor because everyone is fighting their own battles. This is what makes Cam’s message so relatable.

“If you can fail without being discouraged, success becomes inevitable.” Is a quote Cam lives by. Cam’s secret to remaining resilient through ups and downs is keeping a positive mindset through practicing gratitude.

Featured Performers

Steven Antoine Willis

Slam Feature

Born and raised in Chicago, Illinois Storyteller Steven Antoine Willis uses his poetic and theatrical background to embark on the daunting task of creatively articulating African-American culture. With art heavily influenced by urban life and religion, Steven mixes elements of hip-hop, poetics and theatrical performance wit hformal teaching of Anthropology, and Political theory to help express his eclectic prsonal narrative. Willis is a contributing writer to the breakbeat poets anthology, NYU’s National Council for Teacher or English Journal, is a 3 time Individual World Poetry Slam Finalist and former resident poet of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Willis received his MFA in Acting from the University of Iowa in 2021. He currently attends Iowa writers workshop for Poetry.

Obbie West

JoyUs Gala Feature

Obbie West is a native of Los Angeles, a retiree from the United States Army. Obbie is an International Spoken Word artist. He is the author and writer of a Poetry book entitled Blossom and a Poetry album entitled Unstable Man.

Obbie’s life with Poetry began in 2011 in Killeen, TX under the tutoring of the Killeen Poetry Slam Team. He travels the world, presenting life depicting Poetry on a variety of topics. He also uses Poetry as a form of a social activism. Obbie has invested a personal and sincere interest in bringing awareness to taboo topics, like sexual assault.

Ed Mabrey

JoyUs Gala Host

Ed Mabrey, actor, author, and speaker, exemplifies the modern-day renaissance artist.  From the script to the screen and the page to the stage, Ed captivates, motivates, and promulgates the performing arts. He is accepted as the greatest poet in the history of poetry slam with over 500 wins in his career, including 4 individual world titles and 6 consecutive individual regional titles.

From 2017 through 2020, Ed has been commissioned to perform at the Freedom Award ceremony and event. He is a Watering Hole Graduate Fellow, Scioto Retreat Cohort, a Pushcart Nominee, and a contributing author to a New York Times bestselling anthology. Also, Ed is a two-time TEDx speaker and the 2019 APCA Spoken Word Artist of the Year. He is an NAACP Image award nominee and Emmy nominee. Ed has been on Verses and Flow (TV One), as well as appearing on ABC, FOX, HBO All Def Digital, Crackle, CNN, and C-SPAN.  Also, he has been a voice actor of companies ranging from the Ohio State Medical Center to Lexus.

Art of Surrender Performers


Read Mysterious' Bio

Tiara “Mysterious” Ford was born, raised, and resides in Wyandotte County of Kansas City, Kansas. She picked up her poetic pen at 11 years old and found her way to her first stage at 17. At 19, she found herself on a path to become something bigger than self, leading to a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice Human Service.  She followed that with years’ worth of counseling experience in the behavioral health field inside and outside the psychiatric hospital, mentorship, community development, and case management.  Artistically, she has completed 2 albums, 3 self-published books, multiple appearances/features on radio stations, local and distant stages, podcasts, and college appearances. After years’ worth of hard work, dedication, restarts and determination Tiara “Mysterious” Ford’s life was suddenly struck with a complete rerouting, and she became disabled only days after her 31st birthday.  She became the patient in her on chair and solely focused on poetry to remain resilient.  Until this day she has a different view on life and what it means to be bigger than self.

Gie Santana

Read Gie's Bio

Gie Santana is a 32-year-old single mother Kansas City Missouri native and an avid lover of the arts. Southeast High, Bryant Elementary and a host of local libraries contributed to a childhood passion for poetry. In adulthood, multitasking, surviving failing and succeeding grew the passion.

Currently, Gie Santana is an advocate for mental health/suicide awareness, and self-love as well as an increasing writer. She creates an abundance of different pieces in hopes of helping her community, peers, and herself.

She is a certified Breastfeeding Peer Counselor/ Community Resource Specialist Truman Medical Center 2015-2017 and Medical Assistant.

Alex Tha Great 

Read Alex Tha Great's Bio

Alex Tha Great (Given Real Encouragement Amongst Turmoil) is an accomplished speaker, spoken word artist, educator, and diversity, equity, and inclusion trainer. She is the co-founder and host of Random Xpressions, a monthly open mic venue space. A graduate of the University of California, Irvine with a B.A. in African American Studies, and Claremont Graduate University with a M.A. in Cultural Studies, she is now in service to others in the field with her scholarship program the Alex Tha Great Award for Black Studies Scholars. Her poems have been published in several journals including The Cookout, Illya’s Honey, The Voices Project, The Legendary, and Linden Avenue. Her one woman show Passport to Womanhood was awarded Best One Woman Show by the Houston Fringe Festival. She is the author of three books including the forthcoming titled Weeping in Public Spaces (2022). Her most gracious job is being mother to a vivacious 5-year-old little girl and is balanced by a self-care routine involving peanut M & M’s, prayer, and much needed naps.  She lives by the motto: Whatever you do, let it be bold

Wesley Frazier Keys

Read Wesley's Bio

Wesley Frazier-Keys is a spoken word artist and native of the south side of Chicago. He has used the art of poetry and spoken word to take him all over the country teaching, workshopping, and competing. In 2014 he was initiated as a member of Nu Gamma Psi Fraternity, incorporated, where he currently holds the title of national step master. He is the 2015 Chicago Grand Slam champion and finished 9th out 200 poets at the 2015 Southern Fried poetry festival. In 2018 he repeated as Chicago Grand Slam champion and coached the team representing Chicago at the National Poetry Slam. During the 2021 Southern Fried festival he made it to the finals and placed 8th out of 150 poets. Most recently he participated in the Black Arts Matter Invitational competing against the top Black poets from across the country and finished 9th out of 48 poets. He is the 2022 Blackberry Peach spoken word winner. Writing and performing became a passion for Wesley at a young age and he cannot wait to see where the world leads him on his spoken word journey

JoyUs Gala Performers

Just Angel

Just Angel is a Kansas City creative that has a background in song, dance, and poetry. She hasbeen a performance artist for over 3 decades and is a sponsored P3 artist.

The Black Creatures

Representing the strange land of Kansas City, Missouri, Jade Green and Xavier began working together around the end of 2013 with no more than the intention to collaborate on just a few songs. They couldn’t stop and eventually dubbed the project The Black Creatures. They both write and perform vocals, with Xavier at the helm of production and composition.

The Black Creatures make a point to blur the lines of genre while maintaining a recognizable cohesion; often timesblending contemporary styles of pop, hip-hop, dance, R&B, EDM and soul with cinematic and storytelling sci-fi/fantasy elements and themes. With the complex approach The Black Creatures take to their work, fans young and old have consistently regarded their performances as surprisingly gripping and intensely enchanting.

Jade Green pulls no punches! They have a vocal background in opera and a penchant for theatrics, and both are the foundation of their ever-evolving approach to writing and performing in The Black Creatures. While the instrumentals may set the tone for the show, Jade’s voice captivates the audience from beginning to end. 

Xavier lays the groundwork… Originally a violinist, Xavier unfurled into a producer and vocalist, maintaining the same air of intrigue and mystery throughout his compositions and performances in The Black Creatures.


More performers to be announced!