ZEPHIA BRYANT currently serves as the Founder and CEO of the Bryant Educational Leadership Group. Ms. Bryant is a Higher Education practitioner with over 17 years of experience. Ms. Bryant started the Bryant Educational Leadership Group (BELG) in 2012. The organization was started based upon the principle, we stand on the shoulders of giants, and to whom much is given, much is required. Her vision was to create an organization that would develop leaders of all ages and would become the premier resource for leadership education and the primary producer of global leaders for the next generation.
In her last position, Ms. Bryant served as the Special Assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Student Life at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI). She worked directly with the Vice Chancellor on issues of diversity and multiculturalism. Previously, she served as the Director of the Multicultural Success Center at IUPUI, where she was responsible for the planning and development of the new Center. She provided leadership in multicultural awareness and diversity education, leadership training and development. She was responsible for managing the center and ensuring it serves as an advocate for under-represented ethnic minorities, students of color, women, and
gay/lesbian students by offering educational and social programming aimed at the personal development, retention, and success of its students. Before her appointment at IUPUI, Ms. Bryant actively served the campus of McDaniel College, as the Director of Multicultural Services, located in Westminster, Maryland.
She has also served as Assistant Director of Multicultural/International Student Services
at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. While at James Madison
University, she directed the African-American Female Institute for Learning and
Development where she had an opportunity to impact the lives of hundreds of young
KAREN FRANKLIN grew up in Washington DC. and won a scholarship to a private boarding school, St. Agnes Episcopal School. She attended Georgetown University four 4 years, worked at D.C. Superior Court ,and retired after 38 years.
Ms. Franklin has worked in her community for several years. She was the Vice President and President of the PTA for over 6 years and served on the Board of Directors of her Home Owners Association for over 8 years. She currently volunteers on the Alumni Board at her high school.
D.C. Superior Court Retiree
Winston Salem State
Assoc. Professor of
Theatre, TV, Film, and
ANDRE MINKINS is an actor, director, producer, writer, and the founder of the theatrical touring company, 7AM Productions. Since receiving his Masters of Fine Arts degree from the University of NC at Greensboro, he has performed in, written, directed, and produced numerous plays across the U.S. Besides touring with his own company, he has worked with other national touring groups performing theatre and poetry.
Currently, Mr. Minkins is an Associate Professor of Theatre, TV, Film, and Speech, and a coordinator of the Dramatic Arts at Winston Salem State University. He has taught at other institutions including Livingstone University, Shaw University, Tennessee State University, and the University of Arkansas. He has done workshops and camps across the country, reaching out to share the gift of the Dramatic Arts with all ages.
His training sessions for actors, directors, and writers have created arts enthusiasts and professionals a like in theatre, television, and film. He is also considered one of the foremost authorities on Black Theatre and Theatre Festivals in the country, having been mentored by the late Larry Leon Hamlin, founder of the oldest continuous Black theatre company in the Southeast, The NC Black Repertory Company, and creator of the largest gathering of African Americans in theatre in the world, the National Black Theatre Festival. He has consulted with and been on the board of several festivals and theatre companies including the Tampa Bay theatre Festival, Festival Stage Winston Salem, the DC Black Theatre Festival, the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival, and the International Black Film Festival of Nashville. Lastly, he continues to be a mentor and consultant to numerous former students, actors, and organizations that are involved in film, television, and theatre.
Festival Playhouse, Mgr.
Laura Livingstone-McNelis began her career in the Office of Admissions at Kalamazoo College serving as the Fine Arts Liaison before pursuing a teaching career where she earned the Excellence in Education Award. Laura taught a broad range of children from preschool to high school honors English students, coached state award-winning forensics teams, directed several plays, and for several years, served as a teaching artist through the Education for the Arts program.
Following her entrepreneurial spirit, she and her husband established and managed an internationally recognized and award-winning business that served as a social justice center supported by the building’s function as both a meeting and banquet center and bed & breakfast. Laura later decided to return to Kalamazoo where she has worked as Theatre Company Manager of Festival Playhouse since 2013.
Laura earned her master’s degree from the University of Michigan in Liberal Studies in American Culture; her thesis focused on the works of several Black American playwrights. Laura’s primary Interest in the performing arts is to use theatre as a tool to achieve social justice in the community--and views civic engagement as integral to her life’s work: Laura is active in getting out the vote on campus and in the city at large. She also remains engaged in the ongoing effort to bring Complete Streets (for all users) to Kalamazoo.