Advisory Board

Robin Caldwell

Robin Caldwell is president of The J Standard Media Group. Her current and former client roster as an independent practitioner includes NFL players, authors, artists and photographers, Internet founders and new media entrepreneurs.

She began her PR career in St. Louis, Missouri where one of her first projects was working with the legendary choreographer, anthropologist and philanthropist, Katherine Dunham in promoting both her international fundraising campaign, and her museum interests in East St. Louis, Illinois.

As an academic, Robin researched and taught mass-mediated images of African Americans for Ohio University and Cleveland State University.

Recently, in addition to her PR work, Robin worked as the managing editor for BlackWeb2.0.com and the executive editor for their parent company, Black Web Media. In 2009, she was invited to contribute as a blogger to the launch of the HuffPo’s Technology & Innovations vertical.

Today, Robin works as a PR consultant while building out MissLolaSays.com, a new media property that provides information on etiquette, civility, and protocol translated in contemporary terms.

Farai Chideya

After a twenty years of combining media, technology and diversity as an award-winning author and journalist, Farai Chideya joined Etsy as their VP of Voice. She coordinates editorial, PR, social media, and works with the marketing and community engagement teams closely.

She is also the founder of Pop and Politics, which produces multimedia political specials via broadcast radio, web-video and social media with partners including WNYC and American Public Media.

Chideya is currently a “Leader in Residence” at the Colin Powell School for Policy Studies, where she is focusing on media training the next generation of public policy leaders.

From 2006 to early 2009, Chideya hosted NPR’s News and Notes. She has been a reporter for ABC News, a political analyst for CNN, a host for the Oxygen Network, and continues to appear on television as a cultural commentator. She and the teams she has worked with have won awards including a National Education Reporting Award, a North Star News Prize, and a special award from the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association for coverage of AIDS.

Chideya has written three nonfiction books: Trust: Reaching the 100 Million Missing Voters; The Color of Our Future; and Don’t Believe the Hype: Fighting Cultural Misinformation About African Americans. Her novel Kiss the Sky (Atria Books) was released in hardcover May 2009 and paperback May 2010.

Lisa Cortes

Executive Producer of the Academy Award winning film Precious, Lisa Cortés is a versatile producer with deep roots in both the film and music industries. She has worked with actors such as Helen Mirren, Halle Berry, Cuba Gooding Jr., Mo’Nique, Kevin Bacon, Joseph Gordon- Levitt, Paula Patton and Gabourey Sidibe and is known for producing films with difficult and provocative themes.

As Senior Vice President of Production at Lee Daniels Entertainment, she developed and produced numerous award-winning films including The Woodsman, Shadowboxer and Tennessee.

Prior to her film career, Cortés worked with Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin to launch the iconic Def Jam brand. She was Vice President of Artist and Repertoire at Mercury Records, where she worked with many multi-platinum and Grammy Award winning artists. Four years later she founded and served as President of Loose Cannon Records, a subsidiary of Polygram Records.

Cortés launched her own production company, Cortés Films, in 2010.

Jon Cropper

Jonathan Cropper is a highly respected media and marketing strategist and entrepreneur. Currently, he is the founder of Futurlogic, a next generation, online education company. Its focus is developing best-in-class online schools in alliance with major brand sponsors. Its first school will launch in the Fall of 2011.

Jon began his career at MTV: Music Television where he authored the business plans for MTV’s expansion into Asia and Latin America and South Africa. He also served as Director of Project Development of Quincy Jones Entertainment / Time Warner where he reported directly to Mr. Jones on all traditional and new media business development.

Jon also has deep internet experience. As the VP of Marketing and the #4 hire at iCast, (a CMGi funding company that was the precursor to YouTube), Jon got significant exposure to new ideas that would help shape the future of Internet culture.

Later, as Senior Manager, Youth and Urban Communications at Nissan North America, (an internal group that he founded), Jon was responsible for all youth, multicultural marketing and strategic alliances for the Nissan and Infiniti brands. He managed a $100 million annual budget and oversaw the production of dozens of multimedia campaigns. He was acknowledged by industry trade publication, Brandweek, as the best marketer under 40 in America.

Jon was also the Chief Marketing Officer for Sean “Diddy” Combs’ collection of companies, and as an Executive Creative Director / Senior Vice President at Young & Rubicam Brands, led an advanced, communications think tank around mobile and social media.

He received his BA in International Economics from the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys travel, computer animation, collects first edition magazines and model cars. (He is a co-owner of the best model car maker in the world, a UK based firm called Amalgam Fine Model Cars.)

Dr. Kyra Gaunt

Dr. Kyra Gaunt voices the unspoken through song, scholarship and social media. Kyra has become a prominent voice in the conversation of race/racism and the transformation of higher education through students based on her innovative teaching style that she calls “new jack pedagogy.”

Kyra is a 2009 Inaugural TED Fellow, a former CUNY Associate Professor, and author of The Games Black Girls Play (NYU Press, 2006), winner of the 2007 Alan Merriam Prize in ethnomusicology for a book about how musical blackness is learned through girls’ musical games and gender roles in the era of hip-hop. She was one of six Twitter finalists for Nokia’s Connecting People Special Shorty Award. Following a blog post in February 2011 on “Black Twitter” she was a guest on NPR’s All Things Considered and Mark Anthony Neal’s Left of Black online TV show. Over 20,000 people have read three e-books she curated with folks from 3 different continents as well as her students including Could You Be the Bigger Nigger? (or Could You Be Bigger?), a book of op-eds on racism.

This past year she spoke at conferences in China, Norway and Moldova about her work on empowering students. She recently resigned from Baruch College-CUNY to launch her own business, KyraocityWorks. Her personal triumph this year was finding her husband on Facebook at 48. She actively tweets @kyraocity and you can follow her at kyraocity.wordpress.com. Find her CD Be the True Revolution on CDBaby and iTunes.

Greg Tate

Though he is making a name for himself as the bandleader for experimental jazz/funk/soul orchestra Burnt Sugar, many got to know Greg Tate from his role as  Staff Writer at The Village Voice from 1987–2003.  In fact, he was recently acknowledged by The Source magazine as one of the “Godfathers of Hiphop Journalism” for his groundbreaking work on the genre’s social, political, economic and cultural implications in the period when most pundits considered it a fad.

His writings on culture and politics have also been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Artforum, Rolling Stone, VIBE, Premiere, Essence, Suede, The Wire, One World, Downbeat, and JazzTimes. His published interviews include dialogues with Miles Davis, George Clinton, Richard Pryor, Carlos Santana, Lenny Kravitz, Erykah Badu, Joni Mitchell, Lisa Bonet, Samuel R Delany, Ice Cube, Betty Carter, King Sunny Ade, Chuck D of Public Enemy, Cassandra Wilson, Wynton Marsalis, Branford Marsalis, Ornette Coleman, and Vernon Reid of Living Colour, among others.

Tate has also written for the Museum of Modern Art, The Whitney Museum, ICA Boston, ICA London, Museum of Contemporary Art Houston, The Studio Museum In Harlem, The Gagosian Gallery, Deitch Projects and the Tate Museums London and Liverpool. His writing about visual art includes monographs and essays about Chris Ofili. Wangechi Mutu, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ellen Gallagher, Kehinde Wiley and Ramm El Zee.

His books include Everything But The Burden: What White People Are Taking From Black Culture (Harlem Moon/Random House, 2003), Midnight Lightning: Jimi Hendrix and The Black Experience (Acapella/Lawrence Hill, 2003); Flyboy In The Buttermilk: Essays on American Culture (Simon and Shuster, 1993). Next year Duke University Press will publish Flyboy 2:The Greg Tate Reader. He recently completed The 100 Best Hiphop Lyrics for Penguin and is now working on a book about the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, for Riverhead Press.

More info on Burnt Sugar is here.

 
  • V. Marc Fort

    This is really exciting! I look forward to attending. Thank you in advance for gathering this great group of likeminded folks for the first time!

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