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Cusp Conference - Presenters

Presenters

2008

United States Army Specialist Bryan Anderson has always been the kind of guy who lives life on his own terms.
Bryan Anderson

United States Army Specialist Bryan Anderson
has always been the kind of guy who lives life on his own terms, quick to laugh and to make others laugh – and willing to try just about anything.

At the moment he lost three limbs to a roadside bomb in downtown Baghdad, he clearly remembers thinking "My life is really going to change now."

Since his return from Iraq he's moving forward with a sense of humor, personal drive, microprocessor controlled limbs and a whole new design on life. He sees his physical condition as an asset, rather than a liability, as he pursues his goal of becoming a movie stuntman.


Portrait of Bryan Anderson courtesy of the photographer: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

Dana Arnett is a founding principal of VSA Partners, Inc., internationally recognized for integrated design programs, film projects, interactive and brand marketing initiatives.
Dana Arnett

Dana Arnett is a founding principal of VSA Partners, Inc., whose 130+ associates create internationally recognized integrated design programs, film projects, interactive and brand marketing initiatives for a diverse roster of clients including Harley-Davidson, IBM, General Electric, Coca-Cola, American Express, Nike and Chicago's 2016 Olympic Games Bid.

Over the course of his 27 years in the field, Dana and the firm have been globally recognized by over 60 competitions and designations including; Communication Arts, AIGA, Graphis, The Type Directors Club, the American and British Art Directors Clubs, ID, The LA Film Festival, the One Show and the American Marketing Association. Arnett was a 1999 inductee into the Alliance Graphic International, and holds the honor of being named to the ID40 – who cited him as one of the 40 most important people shaping design internationally. Arnett is a former member of the AIGA National Board of Directors, the Architecture and Design Society Board of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Chicago Children's Theater. A frequent lecturer and visiting professor, Arnett is also active in community based arts and commerce initiatives that further the role of design in society.

John Bielenberg helps companies find the courage, and the sense of humor to consider "wrong" ways of bringing their stories, ideas, and innovations out into the world.
John Bielenberg

What John Bielenberg does best is help companies, and their people, find the courage, and the sense of humor to consider whole new, "wrong" ways of bringing their stories, ideas, and innovations out into the world. Once they’ve seriously considered these options, it makes everything easier, including making those options real, viable ways of talking about their business.

John has won over 250 design awards, was nominated for 2 National Design Awards from the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, served on the AIGA National Board of Directors, and teaches at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has acquired six of his projects and staged a solo exhibition in 2000.

In addition, John is a member of AGI (Alliance Graphique International) and on the Boards of the Pop!Tech Institute, Waterfall Arts and Swans Island Blankets. He is also the founder and Director of Project M, a summer program designed to teach young people that their work can have a significant and meaningful impact on the world.

The New York Times described Chef Homaro Cantu as “a chef in the Buck Rogers tradition, blazing a trail to a space-age culinary frontier.”
Homaro Cantu

The New York Times described Chef Homaro Cantu as “a chef in the Buck Rogers tradition, blazing a trail to a space-age culinary frontier.”

An internationally recognized chef and leader in the field of postmodern cuisine and an inventor of futuristic food delivery systems, Chef Cantu graduated from Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Institute in Portland, Oregon. After developing his culinary skills at several establishments along the West Coast, he traveled to Chicago to work at Charlie Trotters restaurant, where he rose to the position of Sous Chef. After leaving Charlie Trotters he concentrated on the development of his concept of an experiential design-based restaurant with a molecular gastronomy approach. As Executive Chef at his Moto Restaurant, Chef Cantu and his staff put these concepts and creations into practice, entertaining their guests with imaginative and savory dining experiences.

As Chairman and Founder of Cantu Designs, Chef Cantu is working on developing his inventions for commercial and humanitarian applications, and has filed numerous patent applications covering dining implements, cookware and edible paper.

Chef Cantu’s innovative approach to cuisine and food delivery has influenced thought across several disciplines. Chef Cantu and his “edible paper” have been featured in Gourmet, Food and Wine, the Wall Street Journal and American Scientist. Fast Company featured Chef Cantu and Cantu Designs in a cover story entitled “Weird Science”, and Cantu Designs’ interactive utensils were part of the exhibit “Feeding Desire, Design and Tools of the Table, 1500-2005” at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. Chef Cantu’s recent television appearances include “Battle Beets – Morimoto vs Cantu” on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America and the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

When Thomas Chen, isn't at school, jamming guitars with friends, playing tennis, or watching the Food Channel, he's practicing for or winning piano and violin competitions.
Thomas Chen

When Thomas Chen, a sophomore at Glenbrook North High School in Northbrook, Illinois, isn't at school, jamming guitars with friends, playing tennis, or watching the Food Channel, he's practicing for or winning piano and violin competitions.

In 2007 alone, Tom was a gold medalist at the NSMTA Sonata Festival – an honor he has achieved every year since 2003 – was the winner of the Level D (most advanced) section at the 27th Roberta Savler Piano Contest, and was a gold medalist at the Illinois State Music Teachers Association Sonata Festival. He has also been concert master of the Honor's Chamber Orchestra at the Music Institute of Chicago, second prize winner in the violin competition at the Confucius Music Festival, and won first prize, with his sister, in the Chicago Duo Piano Festival.

Other than that, he's just a regular kid.

Tim Daisy has been an avid member of Chicago’s creative music scene since 1997.
Tim Daisy

Tim Daisy has been an avid member of Chicago’s creative music scene since 1997. He has performed, composed, and toured with many of the city's acclaimed ensembles including: the Vandermark 5, The Engines, The Rempis Percussion Quartet, Dragons 1976, Kyle Bruckmann’s Wrack, Klang, Aram Shelton’s Arrive, and the Frame Quartet. He also composes and writes for two of his own ensembles: The New Fracture Quartet and Vox Arcana.

Tim can be heard performing at many noted Chicago venues including: The Green Mill, The Velvet Lounge, The Hungry Brain, The Chicago Cultural Center, Gallery 37 for the Arts, and The Hideout.

He has toured North America and Europe extensively and has performed at many jazz festivals including the North Sea Jazz Festival in the Netherlands, Mulhouse Festival and Banlieues Bleues Festival in France, the Suoni per il Popolo Festival in Montreal, and The Chicago Jazz Festival.

Along with Tim on drums, the Cusp Conference 2008 closing night party will feature three of Chicago’s finest musicians: Tim Haldeman on tenor saxophone, Dave Miller on guitar, and Jake Vinsel on bass. The group leans into a more traditional jazz sensibility and focuses on a mix of original compositions and a wide range of jazz standards.

Best known as iJustine, Justine Ezarik is a lifecaster / video blogger who broadcast almost every aspect of her life for over 6 months.
Justine Ezarik

A freelance graphic/web designer and video editor based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she's best known as iJustine, a lifecaster / video blogger who broadcast almost every aspect of her daily life directly to her legions of fans through ijustine.tv for over 6 months. Although she tried not to change her personal routine as she lived virtually 24/7 online, she would vocalize her thoughts by talking to herself for the benefit of her audience, concerned herself more with what people around her might be saying, and recognized the personal safety issues that resulted from being findable by anyone with an internet connection and a means of transportation.

Justine has also produced more than 200 videos, including the infamous "300-page iPhone Bill," which quickly became an internet meme after stories of unexpected billing issues began to circulate in blogs and the technical press following the iPhone's heavily advertised and anticipated release. The video was viewed more than 3 million times in ten days, and was later reported to have reached over 11 million total views.

Ms. Ezarik has made appearances on Macbreak, hosts a weekly show Chatfest, blogs daily at ijustine.com and placed second overall in the 2006 Yahoo Talent Show. She has been interviewed by USA Today, ABC News, CNN and Fox News Channel among others. In a live telephone interview on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," interviewer Robert Siegel noted that he could see Ms. Ezarik's lifecast video stream of the interview on his computer as he was interviewing her. Featured along with Justin Kan – the creator of Justin.TV – in a weekly installment of Kevin Sites' "People of the Web" on Yahoo! News, Sites referred to her as "the star of this network."

Richard Farson wants you to fail. Faster.
Richard Farson

Richard Farson wants you to fail. Faster.

By nature a thoughtful contrarian, Richard Farson is the author of the critically acclaimed bestseller Management of the Absurd, and co-author of Whoever Makes the Most Mistakes Wins: The Paradox of Innovation, which advocates 'productive mistake-making.' Since the best way to fall behind in a shifting world is to rely on what's worked in the past, Dr. Farson challenges leaders to accept setbacks as necessary footsteps on the path toward success.

Co-founder and president of Western Behavioral Sciences Institute, an independent, nonprofit organization devoted to research, education and advanced study of human affairs, Dr. Farson was the founding dean of the California Institute of Arts School of Environmental Design, president of the International Design Conference in Aspen, and a fellow on the Human Relations Faculty of the Harvard Business School.

Douglas Gayeton is a digital renaissance man, who keeps one foot in the synthetic world and one in the organic.
Douglas Gayeton

Douglas Gayeton is a digital renaissance man, who keeps one foot in the synthetic world and one in the organic.

Most recently, as Chief Creative Officer at Millions of Us, he created immersive story experiences for virtual worlds and social networks such as Second Life, Gaia, Habbo Hotel, Scenecaster, Zwinktopia and Sony Home, the world’s first high def virtual world (public beta June 2008). He previously conceived and directed production on virtual world and social network projects for AOL USA, AOL France, MSN, and Vivendi's YA FOULE, and served as creative director at Napster, transforming the company from a music download service into a semi-open social network.

As a filmmaker Gayeton wrote, produced and directed “Molotov Alva and His Search for the Creator: A Second Life Odyssey," a documentary shot entirely within Second Life. The highest rated video in the world on YouTube, it was recently purchased by HBO. He directed “Tomorrow,” the first documentary about interactive television. Its depiction of what Interactive TV might look like—and Gayeton’s conviction that “everyone will become their own channel”—was considered heretical at the time, but was eventually realized in the emegence of the Internet. He also developed interactive projects for Viacom & ATT’s Interactive TV, and for MTV and U2's short-lived ZOO TV.

Other projects include "Lost in Italy," a 26 episode interstitial TV series created, directed, and shot for US cable network Fine Living, and "My Shoes are Caked with Mud," a photographic series for a PBS project awarded a Webby for best broadband website of 2004. He has also consulted for the largest publishers in the videogame business. His "Ghost Recon" was nominated for best script and honored with the BAFTA for 2006’s videogame of the year. With William Gibson he wrote and directed "Johnny Mnemonic," then wrote and designed "Big Brother" with Media-X, and designed an interactive version of "Einstein's Dreams" with writer Alan Lightman.

He is currently preparing a one man retrospective of his works for Slow Food Nation.

In her extraordinary career, British singer/ songwriter Kirsty Hawkshaw has collaborated with some of the world's top electronic artists.
Kirsty Hawkshaw

In her extraordinary career, British singer/ songwriter Kirsty Hawkshaw has collaborated with some of the world's top electronic artists including Delerium, BT, Orbital, and DJ Tiesto. She rose to fame as a member of Opus III, whose track "It's a Fine Day" reached number five on the 1992 UK singles chart.

Still a major presence in dance music, Kirsty lends her angelic vocals to a number of electronic and dance artists and is on the forefront of new models of web-based music distribution. Connecting with fans through emerging media such as Second Life, where she experiments with machinima and other film-making techniques, her latest independent release, The Ice Castle, is the top selling download on pay-what-you- feel site Magnatune.

Carl Hodges is the Founding Director of the University of Arizona's Environmental Research Laboratory (ERL).
Carl Hodges

Carl Hodges is the Founding Director of the University of Arizona's Environmental Research Laboratory (ERL), which developed non-traditional food production systems for controlled or unique environments, and projects addressing environmental issues. ERL helped design The Land Pavilion at Walt Disney World's EPCOT Center in Orlando, Florida, and was one of the principal consultants on Biosphere 2, a $150,000,000 totally-closed ecological research complex.

He serves as Chairman of Global Seawater, Inc., a company focusing on the commercialization of technologies of ERL and other environmentally-sound investment opportunities, through which he directed scientists and technicians from seven countries in building a 1,000-hectare integrated seawater farm at Massawa, Eritrea.

Hodges is also Chairman of The Seawater Foundation, a 501(c)(3) dedicated to ecologically friendly development of the world's desert seacoasts using seawater, photosynthesis and human intelligence to generate wealth, green the earth and contribute to the elimination of atmospheric carbon. The Seawater Foundation is presently working with the Government of Mexico to divert shrimp farm effluent wastewater inland for irrigation of mangrove forests, and farming of a seawater crop that can be used to produce environmentally beneficial biofuels.

Dr. Ayanna Howard is all about robots. She is the founder of Georgia Tech's Human-Automation Systems (HumAnS) Lab.
Dr. Ayanna Howard

Dr. Ayanna Howard is all about robots.

An Associate Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Dr. Howard is founder of Georgia Tech's Human-Automation Systems (HumAnS) Lab, where she is an educator, researcher, and innovator focused on technology development for robots that interact with a human-centered world.

After receiving her B.S. from Brown University, her M.S. and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California, Dr. Howard was a member of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology. She has made significant contributions in the areas of artificial intelligence, computer vision and robotics, and continues to produce novel ideas and supporting research results for applications that range from assistive robots that provide self-care in the home, to interfacing climate-change scientists and their robots in the Arctic.

Dr. Howard's research record and her breadth of experience and success in several key technology areas help her bring a unique perspective to the academic environment. A tremendous source of knowledge, leadership and inspiration for students – from hosting her Astronaut-Robot summer design workshop for students to producing the book “Intelligence for Space Robotics” – she continues to positively affect and change the world around her.

Leaving Hollywood to found a goat's milk ice cream company in the countryside of Sonoma County completes a loop for Laura Howard.
Laura Howard

Leaving Hollywood to found a goat's milk ice cream company in the countryside of Sonoma County completes a loop for Laura Howard. As a child, she'd spent many happy vacations on her grandparents' farm, but after 15 years in the advertising and film world she longed to return to a slower pace of life.

A design and marketing graduate from Miami University, Laura served as creative director at Tool of North America before opening her own production company, Slo.Graffiti. When it was bought by Palomar Pictures she became managing director responsible for six firms, controlling millions of dollars in annual revenues. After 9/11, she devoted time to Fairplay Group, building environmental messaging into popular media. She eventually joined Fairplay, produced an independent film in Tuscany with Douglas Gayeton, her soon-to-be husband, and began studying yoga and Sanskrit, following a diet restricted to goat's milk dairy products. For a girl with a serious Ben & Jerry's habit the dairy rule was tough, so she got creative, making goat's milk ice cream to satisfy her craving. Laura's eyes were opened to the world of "Slow Food" while in Tuscany, and she decided to become part of the natural food revolution.

Laloo's Goat's Milk Ice Cream Company was launched in the fall of 2004 featuring all natural, local ingredients – starting with milk produced by very happy goats. Laloo's is now available in 15 flavors of low lactose, low-fat, spoon-lickingly delicious goat's milk ice cream and frozen yogurt – from Laura's very first, Black Mission Fig, to new favorites like Cajeta and Rumplemint. In 2008, Laloo's forged a charity partnership with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s Waterkeeper Alliance and continually sponsors www.cleanfarmcleanwater.org to promote waterways protection.

In his 27 years as a Catholic priest, Mike Ivers recognized the enormous power of people with a common vision to effect societal change.
Mike Ivers

In his 27 years as a Catholic priest, Mike Ivers recognized the enormous power of people with a common vision to effect societal change. Now, as president of Chicago's Goodcity, he continues to enhance lives and build communities by supporting neighborhood visionaries, providing training and technical assistance to help them establish independent, accountable and sustainable programs, services, or other initiatives.

British comic book writer Paul Jenkins has played a significant role in shaping the characters of Marvel Comics over the past decade.
Paul Jenkins

British comic book writer Paul Jenkins has played a significant role in shaping the characters of Marvel Comics over the past decade.

After earning an English degree in his native UK, he moved to the US, joining Mirage Studios as editor/ production manager on projects including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. He eventually pitched his writing to several companies, landing a gig for DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, where he took over as writer of Hellblazer and began a four year stint that would gain him attention in the American comic industry.

Paul's Marvel Comics career began in 1998, when he revived some of the company's horror properties including Werewolf By Night. He and artist Jae Lee were responsible for launching the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Marvel Knights series Inhumans, earning Jenkins an Eisner Award, which of course he never showed up
to collect.

Jenkins and Lee also collaborated on The Sentry, and Paul went on to become the regular writer on the The Incredible Hulk, Peter Parker: Spider-Man, and Wolverine, penning the multi award winning Wolverine: Origin in 2000, and the smash hit Civil War: Frontlines in 2005.

Jenkins is also prolific in the video game medium, having worked on several top-tier titles including the Legacy of Kain, Twisted Metal Black and God of War series.

Oh, and he says he's writing music with "some British tart."

The work of artist and architect Adam Kalkin fuses design, building, performance, conceptual art, kinetic construction and play.
Adam Kalkin

The work of artist and architect Adam Kalkin fuses design, building, performance, conceptual art, kinetic construction and play. The houses and buildings he creates by repurposing prefabricated metal Butler buildings, shipping containers, jetways and urban detritus have challenged conventional notions of architecture and gained considerable attention for their innovative practicality and environmental logic.

A Vassar graduate, Kalkin won the P/A Young Architects Award in 1990. Since then, he has continued his interdisciplinary work in art, architecture, music, technology, and commerce and has exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, and Zurich. Kalkin’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe Magazine, Architectural Digest, Time Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, and G/A Houses among others.

Among his built projects are the Kalkin House (part of the Shelburne Museum in Vermont), Martha’s Vineyard House, House for Anne and Matt in Maine and Bunny Lane. His Push Button House for European coffee company illy created significant buzz at the 52nd Venice Biennale, and Kalkin & Co. have developed the Quik Build Disaster Relief Swat Team, a team of architects, energy and water experts, agronomists and builders who are available to provide fast, low cost, environmentally sound emergency housing around the world.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s reputation as a resolute defender of the environment stems from a litany of successful legal actions. Mr. Kennedy was named one of Time magazine's “Heroes for the Planet” for his success in helping Riverkeeper lead the fight to restore the Hudson River. The group's achievement helped spawn more than 160 Waterkeeper organizations across the globe.

Mr. Kennedy serves as senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, chief prosecuting attorney for the Hudson Riverkeeper and president of Waterkeeper Alliance. He is also a clinical professor and supervising attorney at Pace University School of Law’s Environmental Litigation Clinic and is co-host of Ring of Fire on Air America Radio. Earlier in his career, he served as assistant district attorney in New York City.

He has worked on environmental issues across the Americas, and has assisted several indigenous tribes in Latin America and Canada in successfully negotiating treaties protecting traditional homelands. He is credited with leading the fight to protect New York City's water supply. The New York City watershed agreement, which he negotiated on behalf of environmentalists and New York City watershed consumers, is regarded as an international model in stakeholder consensus negotiations and sustainable development. He also helped lead the fight to turn back the anti-environmental legislation during the 104th Congress.

Among Mr. Kennedy's published books are the New York Times bestseller Crimes Against Nature (2004); The Riverkeepers (1997); and Judge Frank M. Johnson Jr: A Biography (1977). His articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Rolling Stone, Atlantic Monthly, Esquire, The Nation, Outside magazine, the Village Voice, and many other publications. His award-winning articles have been included in anthologies of America’s best crime writing, best political writing and best science writing.

Mr. Kennedy is a graduate of Harvard University. He studied at the London School of Economics and received his law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. Following graduation, he attended Pace University School of Law, where he was awarded a master’s degree in environmental law.

Brian Murphy knows intellectual property law. And you probably don't.
Brian Murphy

Brian Murphy knows intellectual property law. And you probably don't.

His practice focuses on copyright, trademark, right of publicity/ right of privacy, false advertising, unfair competition, and defamation, providing counsel to advertising agencies, advertisers, and entertainment companies as they develop and produce advertising and entertainment properties across all media. Brian negotiates and structures agreements relating to celebrity talent, product placement, sponsorship, content licenses, and agency-client contracts, and assists clients in the development and execution of complex promotions and programs, including those involving user- generated content, social networking, and interactive, mobile, and other emerging content platforms. He regularly advises clients on the development and production of branded entertainment projects such as television shows, films, live events, electronic games, webisodes, mobisodes, and web sites.

A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania (BA, magna cum laude, 1989; Phi Beta Kappa) and New York University School of Law (JD, cum laude, 1992), Brian is an Adjunct Professor of Law at New York Law School. He previously taught at Fordham University Law School and has lectured at the Parsons School of Design.

Journalist Quinn Norton explored the field of body hacking and its potential pitfalls when she had a small magnet inserted into one of the fingers of her left hand.
Quinn Norton

As traditional medicine advances, patients are encouraged to be active and informed, to educate themselves about the latest medical research, and to take control of treatment. But medical advances are making it possible for people to do more than just cure disease. Technology is making it possible to enhance and change bodies – a practice increasingly known as body hacking. Where will society draw the line?

Journalist Quinn Norton personally explored the field of body hacking and its potential pitfalls when she had a small magnet inserted into one of the fingers of her left hand, allowing her to sense electrical and magnetic fields. That turned out to be a really bad idea.

Quinn's work has appeared in Wired News, The Guardian, SEED and Make Magazine. She has appeared on NPR's All Things Considered and has talked about body hacking at major technology conferences such as Toorcon, ETech, OSCon, and the Chaos Communication Congress.

In a morning that will stay with him forever, Lyle Owerko photographed the image that would become the cover of Time Magazine's September 11, 2001 issue.
Lyle Owerko

Lyle Owerko is a filmmaker and photographer whose clients range from Sundance Channel to Time Magazine to MTV and a diverse roster of major brands, corporations and human rights groups. His photos are collected by many business, entertainment and celebrity clients, and have been used in several films including Henry Singer's documentary The Falling Man, and the 2006 version of The Omen, and in books such as Jonathan Safran Foer's Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close and Jennifer New’s Drawing from Life: The Art of the Journal. His work is also included in the permanent archive of the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Known for a keen eye and knowledge of urban movements, his images have found an indelible place in the lexicon of pop culture and journalism. In a morning that will stay with him forever, Lyle photographed the image that would become the cover of Time Magazine's September 11, 2001 issue, which the American Society of Magazine Editors ranked as one of the forty most important magazine covers of the last forty years. Further acknowledgment for Lyle’s work has come from the New York and German Art Directors Clubs, AIGA, The Royal Photographic Society, American Photo, Print Magazine, Step Inside Design, The Type Directors Club, The One Club, New York Festivals and the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival,where he was awarded a Grand Prix.

Raised in Calgary, Canada, Lyle earned a Masters degree in communication arts from the Pratt Institute.

Dr. Paul Polak is dedicated to developing practical solutions that attack poverty at its roots.
Dr. Paul Polak

Dr. Paul Polak - founder of Colorado-based non-profits D-Rev: Design for the Other 90% and International Development Enterprises (IDE)-is dedicated to developing practical solutions that attack poverty at its roots. For the past 25 years, he has worked with farmers in countries around the world - including Bangladesh, India, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Myanmar, Nepal, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe - to help design and produce low-cost, income-generating products that have already moved 17 million people out of poverty.

While practicing psychiatry for 23 years, Paul visited the homes and workplaces of his patients to better understand the environments influencing them. After a trip to Bangladesh he was inspired to use the same skills he had honed while working with homeless veterans and mentally ill patients to serve the 800 million people living on a dollar a day around the world. His innovative solutions - such as the $25 treadle pump and $3 small farm drip-irrigation systems - helped IDE increase poor farmers' net income by $288 million annually.

Dr. Polak was named one of the Scientific American "Top 50" for his leadership in agriculture policy in 2003, and he received the 2004 Ernst & Young "Entrepreneur of the Year" award in the social responsibility category. IDE received a $14 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation in 2006.

Julia Rhoads has been described as “Chicago’s resident surrealist” and “adept at both provocative and humorous material”
Julia Rhoads

As choreographer and Artistic Director of dance-theater company Lucky Plush Productions, Julia Rhoads has been described as “Chicago’s resident surrealist” by the Chicago Sun Times, and “adept at both provocative and humorous material” by PAJ: A Journal of Performance and Art.

A former company member of the San Francisco Ballet, and performer and artistic associate of XSIGHT! Performance Group, Rhoads’s distinct integration of dance with theater and visual design has brought Lucky Plush to a wide range of venues, from warehouse peep shows to the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. Lucky Plush has created site-specific works for locations such as the Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millennium Park, The Great Hall at Chicago’s Union Station, Sleeping Bear Dune in Glen Arbor Michigan, and the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival in Fairbanks, Alaska. The company was listed among the top 10 memories in dance for 2005 and 2007 by the Chicago Sun Times, and was featured on the cover of Time Out Chicago for the article “5 Reasons to Love Dance in Chicago.”

Independently, Rhoads has received a Cliff Dwellers Foundation Award for Choreography, two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships for Choreography, a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship, a Chicago Dancemakers Forum Lab Artist Award, and was recently named a chorographic fellow for the Maggie Allesee National Center for Choreography in 2008. She earned a BA in History from Northwestern University and an MFA from the School of the Art Institute Chicago, and is currently a part-time faculty member in the theater department at Columbia College Chicago.

The S.A.F.E. Gospel Choir was organized in Chicago by community residents to create a strong network of programs that promote com-munity development.
S.A.F.E. Gospel Choir

In 1991, St. Agatha Family Empowerment (S.A.F.E.) was organized in Chicago by community residents to create a strong network of programs that promote community development. The projects provide educational enhancement, self-esteem enrichment and leadership skills development, while providing job training and part-time employment for youth and adults. S.A.F.E. provides at-risk children, youth and adults a safe haven and positive alternatives to drugs, gangs, teen pregnancy and violence.

The S.A.F.E. Gospel Choir's purpose has always been to utilize music as a means of getting children and youth involved and engaged in arts and culture. And the choir's mission: to engage the mind, educ-ate the body, and enlighten the spirit, has been acc-omplished by more than 500 participants in 17 years.

Jeff Scher is a painter who makes experimental films and an experimental filmmaker who paints.
Jeff Scher

Jeff Scher is a painter who makes experimental films and an experimental filmmaker who paints.

His work is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art and the Hirshhorn Museum, and has been screened at the Guggenheim Museum, the Pompidou Center in Paris, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and at many film festivals around the world, including opening night at the New York Film Festival.

Mr. Scher has also had two solo shows of his paintings, which have also been included in many group shows in New York galleries. Additionally, he has created commissioned work for HBO, HBO Family, PBS, the Sundance Channel and more. Mr. Scher teaches graduate courses at the School of Visual Arts and will be joining the faculty at NYU Tisch School of the Arts Kanbar Institute of Film & Television's Animation program in the fall. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and two sons.

Before there was post-pop-emo-whatever punk, the Smoking Popes were one of the first bands to wrap love in bouncy drumbeats and bombastic power chords.
Smoking Popes

Once in a while, a band casts a shadow much greater than anyone may have thought possible. Before there was post-pop-emo-whatever punk, the Smoking Popes were one of the first bands to wrap love – both its fragile beginnings and devastating endings – in a comforting blanket of bouncy drumbeats and bombastic power chords. And they've been influencing the Chicago music scene since the release of their debut album in 1995.

Paving the way for artists like Fall Out Boy and Alkaline Trio, the Smoking Popes challenged the idea of what a pop punk band could do, offering songwriting that didn't always adhere to verse-chorus-verse progression, and thoughtful lyrics that told tales of love and longing with heartbreaking details. Praise from NME, Melody Maker, SPIN, Alternative Press, Rolling Stone and Billboard found them touring with artists such as Morrisey, Goo Goo Dolls, Tripping Daisy, Jawbreaker, Dinosaur Jr. and Local H, and their hit song 'Need You Around' was featured in the movie 'Clueless.'

Brothers Eli, Josh and Matt Caterer and original drummer Mike Felumlee released three full-length albums before the group disbanded in 1998. Reunited in 2006, and now joined by drummer Neil Hennessy, their 2008 album 'Stay Down' is a collection of twelve clever and catchy songs that the Chicago Sun-Times has called, “clean and crisp and classic Popes.”