Terry Loftis is the president and executive director of The Arts Community Alliance, a nonprofit supporting the arts in North Texas through grant making, capacity building and thought leadership. He can provide insight on the struggles cultural institutions are facing during the pandemic as well as what the future holds.
Before joining TACA, Loftis was vice president of the Broadway Strategic Return Fund in New York, which co-produced the Tony Award-winning productions Once on This Island and Hadestown. He also produced the 2017 Broadway run of Bandstand, which won the Tony for Best Choreography and Orchestration.
A Dallas native, Loftis graduated from the city’s Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts. He has a 25-year career in marketing and advertising.
Outside of TACA, he serves on the boards of directors for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Black Tie Dinner, Arts District Dallas, and the president’s council of the advisory board of Booker T. Washington High School.
Location: Dallas, TX
Expertise Field: Arts and culture, arts and culture funding, theater, music, museums, nonprofits
Karen Tongson is an associate professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California. She is the author of “Relocations: Queer Suburban Imaginaries.” She is an expert in queer theory, women and pop music and queer and racial representations and stereotyping in popular culture. Tongson is currently the series editor for the Postmillennial Pop series at NYU Press and an associate editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies.
Associate Professor of English and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California
Dr. Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician and pianist based in Chicago. Dr. Cheng is currently the Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is tenured in Pure Mathematics at the University of Sheffield, UK. She is an expert in mathematics who focuses on ending “math-phobia” through innovative teaching methods. Cheng is a popular YouTube personality, producing videos that aim to demonstrate that math can be fun. In 2015, she wrote a book, “How to Bake Pi” that explains mathematics through food. She is also a concert pianist and the founder of Liederstube, a Not For Profit organization in Chicago dedicated to bringing classical music to a wider audience.
Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Location: Chicago, IL
Areas of Interest: Mathematics, Innovative Undergraduate Teaching Methods, Concert Piano
Stephon Alexander is a musician and professor of physics and astronomy at Brown University.
He was previously a professor at Dartmouth College, where he directed the Dartmouth EE Just Scholars program which promotes excellence and innovation for young scientists especially from underrepresented backgrounds. He is the president of the National Society of Black Physicists. Born in Trinidad, Alexander is a theoretical physicist, jazz saxophonist and author specializing in the interface between cosmology, particle physics and quantum gravity.
Alexander has worked on a variety of projects throughout his career. In August 2014, he released a critically acclaimed album, Here Comes Now, in collaboration with electronic producer RIOUX. His 2016 book, The Jazz of Physics, explores the secret link between music and the structure of the universe.
Areas of Expertise: Cosmology, Particle Physics, Quantum Gravity, Intersections with Jazz Music
Dr. Travis L. Gosa is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University and faculty associate at Cornell’s Center for the Study of Inequality. He serves on the advisory board of Cornell’s Hip-Hop Collection, the largest archive on early hip-hop culture in the United States. Gosa is an expert on race, new politics, hip-hop culture, and education. He is also the co-editor of The Hip-Hop & Obama Reader, the first hip-hop anthology to center on contemporary politics, activism, and social change, and is finishing his manuscript School of Hard Knocks: Hip-Hop and the Fight for Equal Education a book that explores how schools fail black students and why hip-hop can help fix education in America. He can speak about the role of youth voters and race in national politics and the 2016 presidential election.
Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University
Areas of expertise: Race, new politics, hip-hop culture, education, popular culture.
Bakari Kitwana is the Editorial Director of Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop, which conducts townhall meetings across the US on difficult dialogues facing the hip-hop generation, and the Senior Media Fellow at the Harvard Law based Think Tank, The Jamestown Project. Kitwana wrote the bestselling book The Hip-Hop Generation: Young Blacks and the Crisis in African American Culture, which is used as a coursebook in over 100 colleges and universities.
Kitwana was former executive editor of The Source: The magazine of hip-hop music, culture and politics and editorial director of Third World Press. He also taught political science at University of Chicago and was a visiting scholar at Columbia College. Kitwana is the author of the forthcoming book Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama Era set to publish later this fall.
Editorial Director of Rap Sessions: Community Dialogues on Hip-Hop
Senior Media Fellow at the The Jamestown Project
Areas of Expertise: Hip-hop activism, youth culture and young voter political participation
Jasmine Garsd is co-host (along with Felix Contreras) of NPR’s Alt.Latino, a program covering Latin alternative music, from electronic and hip-hop to rock and salsa. Garsd says she “grew up on a steady diet of Argentine rock” as a teen in Buenos Aires, and now brings a fresh eye to the constantly changing Latino music scene.
Nilanjana Bhattacharjya is an ethnomusicologist and popular music scholar who focuses on South Asian popular music and film in India, as well as in the South Asian diaspora. She currently teaches interdisciplinary courses on the humanities, Asian Studies, music, and film at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University. She has been researching how respective communities use music to define their identities, and how the meaning of that music changes as it travels one location to another since she began her doctoral research in 1999. Her research has focused on topics including the transnational career of the early 20th century dancer Uday Shankar in the United States and Europe, British popular musicians of South Asian descent in London during the mid 1990s through early 2000s, and Hindi film music sequences’ role in popular Hindi films. She is particularly interested in how the song sequence— once the distinctive marker of an Indian popular film— is evolving to respond to developments in the film and music industries, as well as changing tastes.
Her publications appear in the journals Asian Music, South Asian History and Culture, andSouth Asian Popular Culture, and the books Global Bollywood: Travels of Hindi Music and Dance, and South Asian Transnationalisms: Cultural Exchange in the Twentieth Century.
Most recently, she has been working closely with other scholars who focus on the South Asian diaspora in the United States as a member and current co-chair of the Academic Council of the South Asian American Digital Archive <https://www.saadigitalarchive.org/>, which aims to raise awareness about South Asian American history by preserving historical documents and making them available to the public.
Honors Faculty Fellow at Barrett, the Honors College at Arizona State University
Areas of Expertise: Ethnomusicology, South Asian popular music, Music and migration, South Asian popular culture, South Asian popular culture in the diaspora, South Asian American history, South Asian immigration
A musician and producer himself, King has written about music and culture for publications like Blender, The LA Times, Slate, Vibe, The Village Voice and The Root. He has been a talking head on various documentaries and has appeared as a guest on NPR’s Tell Me More and All Things Considered.
Culture Critic, Associate Professor of Recorded Music at NYU, Host/Curator of NPR’s “I’ll Take You There”
Area of Expertise: Music (R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Rock, Jazz), Record Producing, African American Culture, Asian American Culture
Oliver Wang is a music writer and cultural critic whose work has been published in almost every major hip-hop magazine: The Source, XXL, Vibe, Scratch and others. He has written about race, popular culture and music for Mother Jones, Spin, The Nation and the LA Times.