frank2023 speakers

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We’re still adding new speakers to the mainstage. Check back for updates.

Amahra Spence

Amahra Spence lives in the UK and works globally across cultural, public, Built Environment and philanthropic sectors. Her practice is rooted in spatial and racial justice, exploring transformation and iterating change oriented towards liberation. As Founding Director of MAIA (2013) and Organiser of The Black Land & Spatial Justice Project (2020), Amahra brings a critical analysis of systemic injustice, to build infrastructure, redistribute resources and curate programmes that platform radical imagination.

Ashwath Narayanan

Ashwath is the Founder & CEO at Social Currant, a DC based managed service and platform that matches social impact organizations and nonprofits with the influencers and content creators across social media platforms. He founded Social Currant while a student at The George Washington University and continues to manage the firm & platform after graduating in May 2022. Prior to Social Currant, he spent time working within the startup and nonprofit space in DC. He was named on the 25 Under 25 DC Inno List, has spoken at events across the country and is on a mission to empower creators. He can be retwached at

Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay

Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay leads the international research group CoFUTURES, and is the principal investigator of two major research projects, “CoFutures: Pathways to Possible Presents” (European Research Council), and “Science Fictionality” (Norwegian Research Council which explore contemporary global futurisms movements from a transmedial perspective, including literature, film, visual arts, and games). He is manager and co-founder (with Moumita Sen) of Theory from the Margins, a research collective with over 16,000 followers worldwide. Chattopadhyay is an Associate Professor of Global Culture Studies at the University of Oslo. He is also an Imaginary College Fellow at the Center for Science and the Imagination, Arizona State University. He has served as an innovations consultant with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), and has been a visiting researcher at the Department of Informatics at the University of California at Irvine and the Evoke Lab/Calit2, as well as the Department of English, University of Liverpool. He has served as co-Editor-in-Chief of Fafnir: Nordic Journal of Science Fiction and Fantasy Research, and the Journal of Science Fiction. He is also founding co-editor (with Taryne Taylor) of the Routledge book series Studies in Global Genre Fiction. Chattopadhyay has written or edited ten books, published numerous articles, exhibited in six transnational art projects, and produced the award-winning film Kalpavigyan: A Speculative Journey, the first documentary on science fiction from India and Bengal. His latest work is the forthcoming Routledge Handbook of CoFuturisms – coedited with Grace Dillon, Isiah Lavender III, and Taryne Taylor – a 400,000 word essay collection featuring a stunning range of work from around the world on contemporary futurisms, including Indigenous Futurisms, Afro and African futurisms, Latinx and Latin American futurisms, and Asian Futurisms. Other than his research and artistic research grants, he is also the recipient of numerous awards and prizes, including the prestigious World Fantasy Award (2020), the Johannes H Berg Memorial Prize (2019), the Foundation Essay Prize (2017), and the Strange Horizons Readers’ Poll Award (2013). His research website is:

Faylita Hicks

FAYLITA HICKS (she/they) is a queer Afro-Latinx activist, writer, and interdisciplinary artist. Born in South Central California and raised in Central Texas, they use their intersectional experiences to advocate for the rights of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people by interpreting policy’s impact on the individual using poetry, music, performance, and digital art.

They are the author of HoodWitch (Acre Books, 2019), a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Poetry, and the forthcoming poetry collection A Map of My Want (Haymarket Books, 2024) and debut memoir about their carceral experience A Body of Wild Light (Haymarket Books, 2025).

The former Editor-in-Chief of Black Femme Collective and Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, they are a voting member of the Recording Academy/GRAMMYs and the Songwriters and Composers Committee for the Texas Chapter. Hicks is also the recipient of fellowships and residencies from Black Mountain Institute, the Tony-Award winning Broadway Advocacy Coalition, Civil Rights Corps, Lambda Literary, Texas After Violence Project, Tin House, and the Right of Return USA. Faylita is a 2022 recipient of Art for Justice’s New Visions for Shared Safety grant, allowing them to create work that envisions a world without mass incarceration.

Their poetry, essays, and digital art have been published in or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Ecotone, Kenyon Review, Longreads, Poetry, Slate, Texas Observer, The Slowdown Podcast, Yale Review, amongst others. Their personal account of their time in pretrial incarceration in Hays County is featured in the ITVS Independent Lens 2019 documentary 45 Days in a Texas Jail, and the Brave New Films 2021 documentary narrated by Mahershala Ali Racially Charged: America’s Misdemeanor Problem.

Kamau Sadiki

Kamau Sadiki is a Board of Directors member and Lead Instructor of Diving With A Purpose (DWP), an organization committed to resurrecting the stories of shipwrecks involved in the Transatlantic Era of African Enslavement (TEAE) through underwater archaeology documentation. He is a certified Professional Association of Dive Instructors (PADI) Divemaster with over 1,400 logged SCUBA dives. He was featured in the cover story of the March 2022 National Geographic magazine and companion podcast entitled “Into the Depths” that explores the work of DWP and the exceptional journey of NatGeo Explorer Tara Roberts as she follows Black SCUBA divers across the globe in search of slave shipwrecks.

Kamau has actively worked on the search and underwater documentation of five TEAE shipwrecks including the pirated ship Guerrero in southern Florida. He was a member of the field team that confirmed the location of the TEAE shipwreck Clotilda in the Mobile River in Alabama, the last ship to bring captured Africans into the USA. He is one of only two African-American divers that have entered into an actual cargo hold of a TEAE shipwreck, the space in which captured Africans experienced the horror and trauma of the Atlantic Middle Passage. He is featured in the October 2022 release of the documentary film “DESCENDANT” that tells the story of the Clotilda descendant community of Africatown near Mobile, AL. Kamau has conducted numerous lectures and presentations on TEAE shipwrecks, memory and resistance. He has worked on multiple shipwreck sites around Mozambique Island, Mozambique, South Africa, and shipwrecks in the NOAA Thunder Bay and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuaries and Biscayne National Marine Park off the southern Florida coast, Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.

Kamau Sadiki is a certified NOAA and NABS Foundation Scientific Research Diver and a Blue Card Diver for the National Park Service. He holds numerous PADI specialty certifications including Deep Diver, Archeology Survey Diver and Coral Reef Conservation. He was recognized as the 2016 National Association of Black SCUBA Divers “Diver of the Year” and received the Underwater Adventure Seekers 2016 Founder’s Award, awarded by NABS co-founder and International Diving Hall of Fame inductee, Dr. Albert Jose’ Jones.

Kamau is a retired Civil Engineer and a certified Jiivana Yoga Instructor. He is a licensed general aviation pilot with over 400 hours of flying experience. He also enjoys river kayaking, playing djembe drums and acoustic guitar. Kamau is the proud father of two adult children and resides in the State of Maryland. 

Kate Davies

Kate Davies is a social change strategist with over 15 years professional experience. She has designed and delivered public interest communication campaigns around the world, including perception- and behavior-change campaigns for peacebuilding, global health, poverty alleviation and climate adaptation. 

Her passion is in using data to deliver resource-efficient interventions: using survey research, behavioral science and optimized targeting to deliver impact for public good campaigns, and in building surround sound for progressive social change and advocacy interventions. She is also a keen advocate of measurement, learning and evaluation, both in how we can measure and understand change, as well as inform future design. 

Her sectoral and geographic experience is broad, having spent 8 years in conflict affected states largely in the Middle East and 6 years in poverty alleviation and public health, working largely across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. She has also covered Europe and North America extensively, managing policy and financing advocacy communication, risk and reputation for non-profit brands and building capacity of advocacy networks across donor governments. 

Kate was based in the US most recently at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and in the UK as Head of Strategy at the UK Department of Health and Social Care. She started her career at YouGov where she delivered quantitative and qualitative research projects, predicting electoral and social behavior. She has a Bachelors degree in Political Science and Research Methods, and a Masters degree in Applied Social Psychology. She has lived in Baghdad, Istanbul, New York City, Washington DC and London.

Lizz Winstead



Co-creator and former head writer of The Daily Show, and co-founder of Air America Radio, comedian Lizz Winstead helped change the very landscape of how people get their news.

Winstead is not only a writer and creator, she was also a correspondent on The Daily Show and co-hosted Unfiltered, Air America Radio’s mid-morning show, with Chuck D and Rachel Maddow.

Known as one of the top political satirists in America, Winstead is recognized by all the major media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, O Magazine, and as Entertainment Weekly’s 100 Most Creative People. Winstead’s first book, Lizz Free Or Die: Essays, released in 2012, garnered incredible reviews.  Ms. Magazine says, “Lizz Winstead is a sharp-witted truth-teller, and Lizz Free or Die will inspire anyone who has ever talked back to the television or wished they could come up with satire as insightful as The Daily Show.

Lizz continues to do stand-up, yet spends most of her time helming Abortion Access Front, an inclusive NYC- based reproductive rights organization she founded in 2015. AAF uses humor and outrage to expose anti-choice hypocrisy and mobilizes people to take action in all 50 states.

Creating Abortion Access Front was the natural next iteration of her Daily Show sensibilities and she and the organization are taking it one step further by producing and co-hosting Feminist Buzzkills Live! FBK Live! brings all of her passions together- Slaying bad guys with humor, making people smarter, and talking with folks the world needs to know.

Magdalena Saldaña

Magdalena Saldaña is assistant professor in the School of Communications at Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, where she teaches topics related to social media and news, data journalism, and research methods. She is also associate director of the Center for Media, Public Opinion, and Politics in Chile, and associate researcher at Chile’s Millennium Institute for Foundational Research on Data. Her research looks at information disorders in digital environments, such as mis- and disinformation, uncivil language, and hate speech. Her work has been published in journals such as Digital Journalism, New Media & Society, and International Journal of Press/Politics, and her studies have been awarded by several academic organizations, such as the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC). In addition, she has received a number of important awards in recognition for academic achievement and excellence in journalism education, including Becas Chile and Fulbright scholarships. She holds a B.A. in Journalism and an M.A. in Social Research, both from Universidad de Concepción, Chile, and a PhD in Journalism from the University of Texas at Austin.

Mia Birdsong

Mia Birdsong is a pathfinder, author, and facilitator who steadily engages the leadership and wisdom of people experiencing injustice to chart new visions of American life. She has a gift for making visible and leveraging the brilliance of everyday people so that our collective gifts reach larger spheres of influence, cultural and political change, and create wellbeing for all of us.

Mia is the founding Executive Director of Next River, an institute for practicing the future. Through Next River, Mia is moving conversations, culture, and resources to nourish the people and communities whose ways of being, doing, and relating can move us toward a liberated future. In her book How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community (Hachette, 2020), Mia maps swaths of community life and points us toward the promise of our collective vitality. In “More Than Enough,” her podcast miniseries from The Nation, she expands the guaranteed income movement by tapping into the voices and visions of low-income people. 

Believing that, taken collectively, we are the guides we most need, Mia has made an art out of inviting people into rich explorations of how we map paths forward. Her writing, interviews, and public conversations draw targeted attention to the stories of people who are finding their way despite myriad barriers. Mia helps audiences understand and embrace radical frameworks on things like freedom, deservedness, and interdependence. 

Mia is a Senior Fellow of the Economic Security Project, a Future Good Fellow at Institute For the Future and an inaugural Ascend Fellow of The Aspen Institute. She lives in Oakland California on the occupied land of the Chochenyo Ohlone people.

Michael Huang

Michael Huang is a community organizer, and former advertising exec turned creative agency owner. Michael spent most of his young adult life building and organizing community around Hip Hop and street dance culture in the Pacific Northwest including founding a non-profit for at-risk youth. He decided to take his cultural insight, creative skillset, and organizing experience to big advertising. After a stint in New York, Michael went on to found his own creative agency, Milli, in 2014 focused on creative, cultural, and communications strategy as well as design, branding, and production. Select clients include the City of Seattle, ReFrame, Netflix, New York University, Red Bull, and RadComms. Outside of his agency work, Michael works closely with local and national social, racial, and economic justice organizations especially in the AAPI and creative industry communities. 

Mikka Kei Macdonald

Mikka Kei Ito Macdonald is a political communications specialist, writer, designer & illustrator, and avid marathoner & ultramarathoner. Ms. Macdonald’s background stems from experience in policy, program management, communications, and campaigns. She has led multiple high-budget progressive advocacy initiatives, serving in a breadth of senior management roles including communications lead, press secretary, digital & design lead, political lead, and as the head of the campaign. Her work & ghostwriting have appeared in publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, Vox, Variety, and TIME Magazine, she has been quoted in outlets including the NYT, POLITICO, & the WSJ, and her personal writing has appeared in the Daily Beast, ChangeWire, DCist, WAMU, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, and

One of her projects also explores Japanese American Internment Camps and the intersection of policy and human experience in World War II. Lifting her grandparents’ experience in the camps, she published an article on the subject in the Princeton Journal of Asian American Studies and has spoken in cities including Tokyo, Japan and Boise, Idaho (near Minidoka).

Nell McShane Wulfhart

Nell McShane Wulfhart is an author and former travel journalist from Philadelphia. She’s written for The New York Times, The Wall St. Journal, The Guardian, and many other outlets. Her most recent book, THE GREAT STEWARDESS REBELLION – about how flight attendants in the 1960s and 70s staged a revolution for working women everywhere – was published by Doubleday in April. She’s currently based in Uruguay.

Rodrigo Dorfman

Rodrigo Dorfman is Latino Chilean award-winning writer, filmmaker and multimedia producer known for his work documenting the Great Latino Migration to the American South. He has worked with POV, HBO, Salma Hayek’s Ventanazul and the BBC among others. His films have been screened at Toronto IFF, Full Frame, Cucalorus, Edinburgh, Telluride, Human Rights Watch among others. His plays have been staged in Japan, Germany and the USA. With his father, he won the best screenplay award from the Writers Guild of Great Britain for Prisoners in Time, starring John Hurt. His short One Night in Kernersville won the Jury Award for best short at Full Frame. His work has been exhibited at the Levine Museum of the New South, the Atlanta History Center, the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. In 2018, His sci-fi/Latino documentary, This Taco Truck Kills Fascists won Best Louisiana Feature Award at the New Orleans FF, and his feature FIESTA! Quinceañera was broadcast on PBS stations nationwide. His latest film, Quaranteened, was broadcast on PBS stations in the spring of 2022. He was a contributor to Codrescu’s Exquisite Corpse and he is an associate member of La Pocha Nostra. His memoir Generation Exile will be published by Arte Publico Press in March 2023.

Shanelle Matthews

Shanelle Matthews collaborates with social justice activists, organizations, and campaigns to inspire action and build narrative power for social justice and liberation. She is the communications director for the Movement for Black Lives, founder of Radical Communicators Network (RadComms), and faculty of Resistance Narratives at The New School. She is co-editor of a forthcoming anthology that details world-building narrative campaigns and strategies led by social movement communications workers in the 21st century.

Tanya Watkins

Tanya Watkins (she/her) is a mother, writer, Black womanist, community organizer and prison abolitionist originally from Chicago’s South Side. She studied writing and the teaching of writing at Columbia College Chicago with the intent of bringing innovative arts programs to schools in low-income communities of color. She is a former South Suburban Chicago elected official and served as a Presidential Delegate in 2016. Tanya began as a leader with Southsiders Organized for Unity and Liberation (SOUL) in 2010, a multi-issue, faith-based, social justice organization that assists residents in building power in the Chicago Southland. Since being with the organization, Tanya has led a multitude of campaigns demanding criminal justice reform and police accountability in Chicago; most recently leading SOUL as an anchor organization in the campaign to end cash bail in Cook County and Illinois. Currently, Tanya is the Executive Director of SOUL and SOUL in Action, on the Executive Board of the BlackRoots Alliance, and on the Advisory Board for Black Lives Matter Chicago.

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