Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess

Tyehimba Jess’ first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.”  Jess received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004-5 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. He won a 2000 – 2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry and the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award. Jess is an Assistant Professor of English at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a Cave Canem fellow.

Gloria Araya Quinlan


Gloria Araya-Quinlan is an International Presenter and Choreographer, who has traveled the world teaching and educating other professionals in the field of fitness and dance.  She has been nominated for Best Presenter in Switzerland and recognized by her home town as Best of Chicago by Chicago Magazine.  She has also served as spokesperson for the American Heart Association, targeting the Hispanic Community, to increase public awareness of the risk of heart disease in women.  One of Gloria’s trademarks is her ability to fuse art and health. She received “The Woman of the Year Award” by The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for her efforts to raise funds on behalf of the foundation, and organized “Arts for Life”, a variety benefit concert which gave local Chicago-Area artists the opportunity to contribute to the community by sharing their artistic talents.  She is also a passionate supporter of Literacy, the Arts and Education.

Her goal is to Spark Creativity and Inspiration through Movement, and she uses dance to maintain a healthy Mind, Body and Soul. Close to her heart is the work she does with children. She has worked as Artistic Director of Choreography for The Happiness Club, a multicultural not-for-profit children’s group where members write, sing, and perform their own material, and which has performed for former President Bill Clinton, General Colin Powell, Bill Cosby, and Tiger Woods, among others.

For More Information, Please Visit:  www.glomundo.com

Will Simms (II)

Will Simms

Will Sims II received his B.F.A. from North Carolina A&T State University and his M.F.A. from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in Theatre.  He was last seen at Alabama Shakespeare Theatre Festival in SANTIFIED. Previous credits include Congo Square’s BLACK NATIVITY, SEVEN GUITARS (which won three Jefferson Awards for best director, best production and best ensemble),  THE ISLAND, THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT (which won him a BTAA award for best featured actor), A SOLDIER’S PLAY, PIANO LESSON, BEFORE IT HITS HOME, and WEDDING BAND (which was a  collaboration with the Steppenwolf).  He also recently reprised the role of Avery in PIANO LESSON at Madison Repertory Theatre.

Lillian Friedberg


LILLIAN FRIEDBERG is a bilingual author with a PhD from the University of Illinois/Chicago and an MA from the University of Chicago. Lillian is also one of the first non-African students of Les Ballets Africains legend and Malinke master drummer Famoudou Konaté. Lillian is a writer and teacher, and has spent 20+ years as a Djembe soloist, group leader, and performer in Europe and the United States.

Learn More at: www.chidjembe.com