Theresa Gatewood, Executive director
Theresa Gatewood (she/her) grew up in the Five Points neighborhood and is thrilled to return to her roots in this area as the Executive Director of Creative Strategies for Change. Theresa’s life’s work centers on ensuring people who experience oppression are able to thrive; she has relentlessly pursued removing barriers and ensuring racial justice in the education system and our communities. Theresa brings more than 15 years of nonprofit and education experience to this role as well as a Master’s Degree in Organizational Development, Performance and Change from Colorado State Univerity. She started her career working for a national college access program serving first-generation students and has held a number of roles in higher education that emphasize access and equity. Theresa is a proud graduate of Denver Public Schools (Manual High School) and a member of the inaugural class of Daniels Fund Scholars. Theresa has served on many state-wide committees and nonprofit boards, most recently as a Project Manager for a multi-year equity initiative for The Denver Foundation. When not collaborating in the community, she enjoys sports, nature and her rent-free pup, Charlie.
Bianca Mikahn (she/her) has been working with CSC as an artist and facilitator since 2017. She recently joined the administrative team as the Program Manager, already bringing tremendous insight and leadership managing the School Programs and Community Cypher Series. Originally from Denver, Mikahn is an emcee, poet, digital composer, cultural activist and educator. Mikahn is currently Executive Director of youth mental health-based program, Check Your Head, and a Partner Artist with leading creative educators Think360 and Youth On Record. Addressing stigma reduction and mental health for marginalized peoples, Mikahn recently explored these themes through a TedX talk titled “From scars to Strength; The Poetry of Recovery”. Whether performing alone or with her self-produced duo The Maybe Sos, her stage presence and lyrical content have earned multiple nominations for “Best Emcee” as well as a feature in the “100 Colorado Creatives” series from Denver’s Westword publication. She has shared stages at Regis University, University of Denver, the Chateau de La Napoule in Nice, France and Stockholm Sweden’s historical Fylkengin Theatre. Her lyrical work has been featured in social justice studies at Wyoming University and University of Northern Colorado. Her current efforts are focused on honing social-emotional learning and arts-based facilitation to encourage trauma-informed care and Mental Health First Aid (adult and youth modules) in under-served communities.
Rachael (she/her) is committed to racial justice and community-based arts, education, and healing. Her dedication to this work has been pivotal in developing and delivering CSC curriculum and programs. Recently, Rachael has engaged in a range of continuing education, coaching and training opportunities, including executive coaching with experts and advisors, Community Accountability training with Just Practice, and membership and conference presentations / participation with the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation, Pedagogy and Theatre of the Oppressed, Colorado Nonprofit Association, and Colorado Creative Industries. Administratively, Rachael has a range of experience, including her term as the Director of River Mist Learning Community. Rachael specializes in devised performance, dialogue, and popular education. With more than two decades working in education, shel has facilitated innovative programs with people across age and identity. She holds an MA from NYU, and has completed training with Bay Area Nonviolent Communication, Julian Boal, Dominic Barter (Restorative Circles), and the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs at NYU, where she taught courses through the commission on Gender, Race and Social Justice, and received the Nia award for her innovative work.
Maurice (he/him) has been a facilitator and consultant with Creative Strategies for Change since 2017. He is a versatile and dynamic facilitator who has been a community organizer and curator of arts and activism for nearly two decades. A gifted storyteller with immeasurable lived experience to draw from, Maurice weaves key concepts with on the ground examples to bring them to life and make them accessible across differences. Maurice has also worked with youth, and in public health, including numerous groups and organizations such as Denver Public Health, Children’s Hospital, and Denver Buddhist Cultural Center. A graduate of Satya Yoga Teacher Training, Maurice brings yoga practice and consciousness, as well as his cultural wisdom into his work with CSC. In addition, Maurice is part of the Rosehouse Botanicals team and the man behind the magical creations of @theblusaint.
Tamara Williams Van Horn (They/them and She/her) joined CSC in 2020. In their role at the University of Colorado as well as with the consulting of her intercultural training company Black Womxn Reading Aloud (BWRA), Tamara’s “stand your story up” poetic engagement work leverages the power of sharing narratives we create in “together-space”. Using an intersectional feminist kitchen value set and work ethic, Tamara facilitates through writing and games, historical case study and critical information literacy, to engage participants to seek, co-create, and share nuanced stories as foundational to constituent-led change. When not supporting students, staff, and faculty towards activating their civic vision and social justice contribution, Tamara makes a home with partner-spouse, Jason, and Jinx, a 17-year-old “kitten overlord,” and can be found walking the greenbelt paths of Boulder, dancing with more vigor than skill, and cutting up the acres of magazines they collected for inspirational projects.
April Axé Charmaine (she & they) is an award-winning, Queer Afro-Fusion artivist who leads empowering embodiment experiences through their global dance and wellness companies: SOL VIDA™ and For Lovers of Dance. Axé is a seasoned and holistic performing arts educator, choreographer, director, entrepreneur and movement leader who is dedicated to inspiring others to radical personal freedom; pioneering progressive dance communities and creating safe, inclusive spaces for authentic expression, collective healing and liberation. Their work has appeared in the U.S., France, Spain, Colombia, Brazil and Guatemala. Dedicated to being a part of projects rooted in embodied social, racial, environmental, and healing justice–this project is a call to purpose and life.
Keandra Hunt, Intern
Keandra Hunt (They/She) is interning at Creative Strategies for Change through the DITA program. Born and raised in Texas Keandra is excited to be in Denver and engage within the community. Keandra is a recent graduate of Texas Tech University obtaining a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting. Keandra hopes to gain a community within the theater scene of Colorado and looks forward to learning more about the area.
Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez
Micaela Iron Shell-Dominguez is a Sicangu Lakota, Apache, and Xicana woman born and raised here in Denver, Colorado. First and most importantly she is a new mother. She wears many hats starting with being a human rights advocate, a co-founder and adult mentor for the International Indigenous Youth Council 5280, co-founder of Womxn from the Mountain, social justice empowerment coordinator for Spirit of the Sun, model, and last but not least an actress for the Anishinaabe Theatre Exchange and the Social Imagination with Creative Strategies for Change performative art project. She works hard every day to fight for climate change for those of us existing today, and for our future generations, but most importantly she works hard to bring women of all backgrounds together in a way that allows them to empower each other and create strong, matriarchal bonds for future generations. Her continued pursuit is to help spread awareness and stop the violence our women and two-spirit people who have endured for centuries.
Robinson (born Justice Smith) is a multifaceted artist and content creator whose biggest life passion is to inspire the next generations into action, self-discovery, and learning to connect with other people. He aims to achieve these goals through writing plays, film, and television, direction of plays and movies, and acting in those same mediums. He is a founding member of Don’t Shoot the Zine, and is the writer, producer, and editor for Dream. Create. Inspire.’s YouTube series, #CreatorsOnly.
Xavier Hadley (he/him) is a Colorado State University alum with degrees in English (Creative Writing) and Ethnic Studies. Through his work as a multi-disciplined artist-scholar, Xavier has self-produced three full-length albums, performed spoken word pieces around Colorado, and built a diverse photography portfolio. Through his artistic and spiritual practices, Xavier largely seeks to connect the past to the present by building from the work of those whose efforts have been essential to his artistry and personal development. Humbled by the privilege to work and learn among so many brilliant, like-minded individuals, Xavier attributes his accomplishments to each and every person who has put the time, care, and effort toward making him into the artist he is today.
Toluwa (she/they) has been working with CSC as an artist since 2017. She is a Nigerian poet, performer, and workshop facilitator based in Denver, Colorado. She is a Brave New Voices international slam champion, a Denver city slam champion, and author of an upcoming chapbook. She has been a member of the Denver Minor Disturbance youth poetry team, and is currently a member of the Slam Nuba poetry team. In 2015 she was announced as Denver’s first Youth Poet Laureate.
Franklin (he/him) has been bringing his shine to CSC since 2016. He is a Denver-based poet with interests in Science, Dance, and Culture. He is a graduate of Biology at Metropolitan State in Denver, and also works at the Museum of Nature & Science.
Sarah (she/her) joined CSC in 2017 as a facilitator, artist, and graphic designer. Founder of Curious Sunshine, Sarah comes from Central California and recently moved to Colorado where she got a M.A. in Environmental Leadership. Through her journey, she has been inspired to create a space for women and children of color to reconnect with nature, incorporate more mindfulness and meditation, play more, celebrate our diversity, and honor the curiosities in life. She considers herself one of the many fringe-dwelling, quirky, black girls that need a place to be authentic and empowered; which was the motivation behind creating her health and wellness business, Curious Sunshine. She has always seen the magic in life and tried too hard to not let the demands and ideologies of society dim that inner sunshine. As an artist, she learned from many of amazing role-models that one of the easiest ways to disrupt the status quo is through art, self-love and thinking outside of the box.
Born and raised in Ruby Hill, Vonne Edwards, is a West Denver based artist. Vonn has been working with CSC since 2019. Vonne’s art is multi media, and they are known for their work in spoken word and performance poetry. Vonne supports Denver’s community through food medicine and dialogue.
Wendy (she/her) has worked as a consultant, facilitator, artist and executive coach with CSC since 2015. Wendy’s career is a rich tapestry of community advocacy and engagement. She is a highly seasoned facilitator, trainer, social worker with over 20 years of experience with organizational leadership, education, and collaboration. She galvanized a new corporate culture, post-merger between The Spot Youth Center and Urban Peak, and orchestrated a successful $500,000 grant application with five culturally and economically diverse collaborators to address youth employment. Under Wendy’s guidance, The Spot initiated the quantitative and qualitative program evaluation, resulting in the first published article on the Harm Reduction Model for intervention with high risk youth. Among her wealth of experience, she was accountable for implementing the City of Santa Monica’s Strategic Plan to address homelessness and oversee the appropriation of $5 million in City funds for the project.
Fatu (she/her) has been a facilitator and artist working with Creative Strategies for Change since 2018. Judy Henderson (Fatu Lady Drummer) began her journey into West African Dancer and culture with the Irepo African Dancers and Drummers from 1987-1992) of Denver under the Direction of Baba Adetunji Joda (ibase) learning the chants, drumming and dances of the Yoruba people of Nigeria. She also worked with Irepo’s sister dance company; “Sankofa”, in Colorado Springs, CO. Fatu was the Musical Director of the Harambee Dancers of the University of Colorado, Boulder (2000-2006) under the Direction of Leticia Williams. Harambee is a recipient of the El Pomar Foundation award for excellence. In the year 2000, Fatu founded and directed “Jambalaya Sistah’s Drum and Dance Company” and performed and taught West African music and culture across the Country. Fatu currently teaches enrichment classes in West African music and culture in Denver Public schools. An initiated Priest in the Yoruba Spiritual Practice of Ifa, Fatu also teaches the intersection of African American and West African History. I began my drumming and dance studies in 1986 with the Damballah Dance Company in Boulder, CO. I concurrently began to study traditional songs and dances of the Yoruba people of Nigeria with the legendary Baba Adetunji Joda in Denver, CO. At that time, women were still persecuted for playing traditional African drums and I was an anomaly. I have studied numerous forms of West African drumming traditions with indigenous teachers living in America. I also traveled to Africa twice to study Drumming and Dance with Master Dancer Marie Basse-Wiles of Senegal and Master Drummer Abdoul Doumbia of Mali. In the year 2000 I developed Jambalaya Sistah’s Drum and Dance ensemble and performed and taught traditional djembe music throughout the country. I simultaneously encouraged women to drum as an act of personal empowerment.