Authenticity is no longer optional, and creative re-imagination is a MUST.

Authenticity is no longer optional, and creative re-imagination is a MUST. In the face of racism, oppression, violence and fear, it is our responsibility to reclaim our humanity and make space for the stories and leadership of those that have been most impacted by inequity and injustice. This is a moment when Black Lives Matter can become more than a yardsign, more than a hashtag, more than an organization and reason to protest. This is a moment that we can own the mis-organization of society, and the mis-treatment of Black people that has resulted in dis-ease for us ALL. This is my story…life of the underdog (while) starseed…living as a Black Queer Southern woman/Two-Spirit in America - how I’ve owned my journey as an artist, organizer, entrepreneur + facilitator and managed to survive the attempts on my life, limiting of my greatness, and attempts to extract my creativity by white supremacist culture.

About the speaker

Cortina Jenelle Caldwell (she/they) is a proud millennial and descends from generations of Southern, West African & indigenous farmers, artists, engineers, entrepreneurs and creatives. Cortina is an entrepreneur that learned at her grandmother’s hands, a racial equity facilitator, published poet, exhibited artist, motivational speaker, community builder, cultural organizer, creative facilitator, experience designer, and consultant for individuals, groups, businesses, and communities seeking to more deeply connect through creative development, strategic planning, and sustainable change management. Cortina is the Founder & Creative Community Organizer of Artists Designing Evolution, LLC (adé PROJECT), an artistically-rooted learning organization seeking to create a world beyond oppression, and inequity by building capacity, opportunity, and community with Black, indigenous, people of color (BiPOC).

Over the past 12 years, equipped with management and leadership experience in tourism, social work, marketing, education, nonprofit, art, community organizing, organizational development and event design, Cortina has designed, produced, and facilitated hundreds of trainings, workshops, programs, and community events centered on authenticity, community building, creativity, entrepreneurship, innovation, and leadership across the United States. In that time, Cortina has worked alongside nonprofits, entrepreneurs, educators, community leaders, artists, festival producers, conference organizers, small businesses and activists alike. Cortina holds a Master of Arts in Management & Leadership; Bachelors of Science in Business, Education & Social Science; is a Certified Creative Facilitator as well as multi-level trained racial equity educator, historian and facilitator. Throughout her career, Cortina has received recognition as WNC Women’s Leadership Award in Art + Culture (2019); nominee for Emerging Star for WomanUP (2019); WNC Minority Enterprise Development’s Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year (2012); 40 Under Forty: Asheville (2013); and inductee to Leadership Asheville (2014). Cortina‘s work is guided by ancestral knowledge, collective wisdom, lived experience and community relationships. Ultimately, Cortina’s work is fueled by their personal mission – to shift community, business and organizational culture through authenticity, creativity, entrepreneurship, equity, and collective leadership.

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