Next Wave Featured Participants

Meet Next Wave’s featured participants, who will be sharing their gifts with us throughout the day. And check our full lineup of workshops and more program information.


Kelvy Bird

graphic facilitator

Kelvy Bird is joining Next Wave to serve as a graphic facilitator and workshop presenter. Ms. Bird has been working as a scribe in the fields of human and organizational development since 1995, with a focus on innovation, collective intelligence, and systems thinking. As part of the Presencing Institute since 2007, Ms. Bird has helped shape many of the global community offerings, most recently the edX course u.lab, for which she provides extensive visual material. In 2016, she co-edited the anthology: Drawn Together through Visual Practice, and in 2018 released Generative Scribing: A Social Art of the 21st Century. Her most current passion is teaching, and she has steadily been delivering visual practice workshops since 2016. Ms. Bird received a BFA and BA from Cornell University, and currently lives in Somerville, MA. For more, visit


Will C.

facilitator of personal, communal, and leadership development

Will Chalmus (aka Will C.), a highly skilled facilitator of personal, communal, and leadership development, will be facilitating a Playback Theatre workshop at Next Wave. Will C. is currently an adjunct professor at Brandeis University with an M.Ed from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education and a BA in Theater Arts from Brandeis. He is most known for his work with the Centre for Playback Theatre, an organization that runs the international school of this community-building form of improvisation theater based on personal narratives. In addition to serving on the board of directors and as faculty for the Centre for Playback, Will C. has also founded various Playback Theatre companies in New England and has led programs and provided consultations for many non-profit organizations in the US, Canada, Germany, Brazil, Belarus, and Australia. Will C. is also a highly respected poet, playwright, hip-hop artist, and M.C. that performs solo acts and with numerous groups nationally. He is also a teaching fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Education as well as a teaching assistant for multiple courses in the Education Department of Brandeis University and a Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership faculty member. Will C. is currently building a Playback Theatre company in Cambridge Port as a Flow Grant recipient from the Cambridge Arts Council.


Dr. Adele Diamond

developmental cognitive neurologist

Adele Diamond will join us as a lunch guest at Next Wave. She is the Canada Research Chair Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at University of British Columbia (UBC) in Vancouver, Canada. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, she has been named one of the “2000 Outstanding Women of the 20th Century” and has been listed as one of the 15 most influential neuroscientists alive today. Her many awards include an Award for Lifetime Contributions to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society. She was educated at Swarthmore (where she received her BA, Phi Beta Kappa), Harvard (where she received her PhD), and Yale Medical School (where she was a postdoctoral fellow).

Prof. Diamond helped pioneer the now flourishing field of "developmental cognitive neuroscience” and she is one of the world leaders on “executive functions.” Executive functions enable us stay focused, mentally play with ideas, reason, problem-solve, flexibly adjust to changed demands or priorities, see things from new and different perspectives, and exercise self-control. Her discoveries have improved medical treatment for two different disorders (PKU and ADHD) and impacted education worldwide, improving millions of children’s lives.

Prof. Diamond’s work has emphasized that addressing social and emotional needs may be central to whether executive functions improve and whether those improvements last. Prof. Diamond offers a markedly different perspective from mainstream education in hypothesizing that focusing exclusively on training cognitive skills is less efficient, and ultimately less successful, than also addressing emotional, social, spiritual, and physical needs. She has championed the roles of music, dance, storytelling, and play in improving executive functions and academic and mental health outcomes.


Wyatt Jackson

drumming/win-win circles


Wyatt Jackson will get our flow going at Next Wave, sharing his drumming, percussion, and energetic spirit. An Emmy Award® winning dancer, recording artist, and actor, Mr. Jackson began performing throughout the New England region with his own hip-hop crew in the 1980s and worked with the acclaimed Boston Youth Theater for seven seasons. He was later cast in the European tour, Body and Soul, where he worked with Tony Award® winner, George Faison, Mercedes Ellington, and European avant-garde producer and director Andre Heller. Upon finishing the tour, Jackson landed a recording contract with Warner Brother Records, under the corporate direction of actor Michael Douglas. The hip-hop/R&B duo HERE AND NOW mixed vaudeville style story-telling with popular music production. The chart-climbing release generated two hit songs, Are You Ready and Tastin' Love Again, the latter landing him the soundtrack to the Paramount Pictures release, Losing Isaiah. He currently directs Generation Excel’s Arts/Wellness program at the Jeremiah E. Burke School in Dorchester, Boston. Mr. Jackson is a life-long practitioner of the philosophy of the Law of Success and Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and is currently getting his certification to be an instructor of the Success Philosophy by the Napoleon Hill Foundation. Wyatt holds a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Arts from Lesley University and is an alumnus of the Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership. For information on Wyatt Jackson and ImagiData, Inc., visit


Shaw Pong Liu

violinist, composer, activist

Violinist and composer Shaw Pong Liu engages diverse communities through multidisciplinary collaborations, creative music and social dialogue. Her project Code Listen, which she started as City of Boston Artist-in-Residence in 2016, uses songwriting and performances to support healing and dialogue around violence, racism, and police practices, in collaboration with the Boston Police Department, teen artists, family members surviving homicide and local musicians. Ongoing projects include the song-sharing project Sing Home which she leads as Artist-in-Residence at the Pao Arts Center in Boston’s Chinatown, and composing music for Conference of the Birds, an international multimedia collaboration with choreographer Wendy Jehlen's Anikaya Dance Theatre and dancers from eight countries.

Shaw Pong is is a founding member of Play for Justice, a network of musicians and artists in Boston supporting social justice causes. Her compositions have been commissioned by Silkroad Ensemble for the Freer-Sackler Museum, Anikaya Dance Theatre, A Far Cry, Lorelei Ensemble, and pianist Sarah Bob. As a violinist she performs with groups including Silk Road Ensemble, MIT’s Gamelan GalakTika, Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Ludovico Ensemble, and Castle of Our Skins. She has worked as a teaching artist with Yo-Yo Ma's Youth Music Culture Guangzhou, the New England Conservatory of Music, the Urbano Project, Celebrity Series, Cantata Singers, Young Audiences, and is a founding faculty at the Cuerdas Oaxaca strings chamber music festival in Mexico. She was a 2018-19 Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow.

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Linda Nathan

Executive Director, Center for Artistry and Scholarship

Linda Nathan is the Executive Director of the Center for Artistry and Scholarship, a non-profit organization that develops and supports innovative and tenacious leaders in education to build more equitable, collaborative and creative communities. She is also an Adjunct Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she teaches a course called “Building Democratic Schools: Studio Design Workshop.” As an experienced leader in education, Linda mentors teachers and principals, and consults nationally and internationally on issues of educational reform, leadership, teaching with a commitment to racial justice and equity, and the critical role of arts and creativity in schools. Linda is also an author with two widely praised books: The Hardest Questions Aren’t on the Test and When Grit Isn’t Enough.


Dr. Vikram Patel

psychiatrist and teacher

Dr. Vikram Patel will join us at Next Wave’s opening session in conversation with Esperanza Spalding. He is The Pershing Square Professor of Global Health and Wellcome Trust Principal Research Fellow at the Harvard Medical School. He co-leads the Global Mental Health@Harvard initiative. His work has focused on the burden of mental disorders, their association with social disadvantage, and the use of community resources for their prevention and treatment. Dr. Patel holds Honorary Professorships at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, the Public Health Foundation of India, and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (where he co-founded the Centre for Global Mental Health and the Mental Health Innovations Network). He is a co-founder of Sangath, an Indian NGO which won the MacArthur Foundation’s International Prize for Creative and Effective Institutions in 2008 and the WHO Public Health Champion of India award in 2016. Dr. Patel is a co-founder of the Movement for Global Mental Health. He is a Fellow of the UK's Academy of Medical Sciences and has served on several WHO expert and Government of India committees, including the Committee which drafted India’s first National Mental Health Policy and the WHO High Level Independent Commission for Non-Communicable Diseases and Mental Health. He has been awarded the Chalmers Medal (Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, UK), the Sarnat International Prize (US National Academy of Medicine), an Honorary Doctorate from Georgetown University, the Pardes Humanitarian Prize (the Brain & Behaviour Research Foundation), an Honorary OBE from the UK Government and the John Dirk Canada Gairdner Award in Global Health in 2019. He was listed in TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential persons of the year in 2015. 


Amirah Sackett

dancer, choreographer, educator, activist

Amirah Sackett will lead an afternoon session at Next Wave. A Muslim American dancer, choreographer, educator, and activist. She explores and embodies her Muslim American identity through hip-hop movement and Islamic themes. Based in Chicago, Amirah continues to teach the next generation and encourage future artists to use hip-hop culture as a way to uplift, inspire, and bring change to those communities that need it the most. In 2011, Amirah formed the company and performance piece entitled “We’re Muslim, Don’t Panic.” Amirah and her dancers received millions of views as featured in rapper Brother Ali’s music video “Mourning in America” in 2012 and received the prestigious Sage Cowles Award for “Best Ensemble Performance” in 2013. In 2014, Amirah traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh as part of “Next Level” a hip-hop cultural exchange program by the U.S. State Department and the University of North Carolina. In 2016, Sackett’s activism, dismantling stereotypes of Muslim women through her work, reached viral video fame after being featured on POPSUGAR Celebrity, the Huffington Post, AJ+, and Upworthy will millions of views.  Sackett was honored to be a TEDx speaker, and guest performer and lecturer at Harvard University in 2016. She was one of “17 Muslim American Women Who Made America Great in 2016” in the Huffington Post. Sackett performed in and co-directed “Footsteps in the Dark – Journey of Hip-Hop Movement,” a show featuring an international Muslim cast of dancers, produced by Words Beats and Life in 2017 and 2018 in Washington D.C.  She traveled to Honolulu, Hawaii as a resident guest artist at Shangri La Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Arts, a museum dedicated to Islamic Arts. In 2018, Amirah did a two-week teaching residency in Malaysia called “The Get Down Session” with fellow Muslim American b-girl, Mary Mar, made possible by the U.S. Embassy Kuala Lumpur and Orbitujuh Productions. Currently, Amirah is lecturing and touring her solo works “Love Embraces All” and “Qadr” that are based on the poetry of 13th century Islamic scholar, poet, and mystic Rumi around the world.  Most recently, she further explored combining her love of Rumi’s poetry and hip-hop movement by choreographing a full length work entitled “Al Nafs” set on the company, Chicago Dance Crash, made possible by Moraine Valley Community College in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals’ Building Bridges: Arts Culture and Identity with additional support provided by the Illinois Arts Council Agency. 


Aithan Shapira

artist and facilitator

Maestro of Next Wave’s powerful closing session, Aithan Shapira (MFA PhD) is an internationally acclaimed artist and Lecturer at MIT Sloan. As facilitator and executive coach, he draws on 20+ years of experience helping individuals and organizations to unlock their creative capacities in order to innovate at the speed of change. He is the Founder of Making to Think, a pedagogy for change that is enabling global organizations, governments, and Fortune 100 leaders to create conditions—strategic, structural, behavioral—for enduring cultures of innovation. Aithan serves McKinsey's think tank on Advancing Adult Learning and Development and has pioneered progressive curricula at the edge of leadership and skills retraining for the future of work at MIT Sloan, Harvard iLab, Stanford and Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship. Aithan developed his research on the creative process at the Royal College of Art & Design, lived in an Australian Aboriginal community for three years to study art’s impact on cultures of survival, and continues to be a visiting critic at arts institutions internationally and exhibit his artwork in museums and galleries in New York, London, and Miami.

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Esperanza Spalding

bassist, vocalist, composer, teacher

Esperanza Spalding is typically referred to as a bassist, vocalist and composer. However like most organisms growing in response to their environment, Esperanza is emerging into something she does not yet understand, nor is able to clarify through reference or language. Some of the primary cells directing this emergent artistic organism could be named: poetry, magic, staging, theater, opera, sound-spells, improvisation, movement, dance, bio-geometry, reiki, nothing, bad-art, fake-art, listening, smells, dream-talk, dialogue, demonic therapy, cat-tongue.

Esperanza will be joining us in conversation during Next Wave’s opening session. Read more about Esperanza's new album and her partnership with the Center for Artistry and Scholarship here.


Dr. Lisa Wong

physician and musician

The moderator of Next Wave’s opening session, Dr. Lisa Wong is a physician and musician dedicated to life-long learning and healing through the arts. An international speaker on arts and health, she is a co-founder of the Arts and Humanities Initiative at Harvard Medical School and the Boston Arts Consortium for Health. She has fostered conversation and collaboration between leaders passionate about arts and healing from most of Boston's major music, health and educational institutions and beyond. Lisa served as President of Longwood Symphony Orchestra for over twenty years and led the LSO to create its “Healing Art of Music Program” that raises funds and awareness for Boston-based medical nonprofit organizations.   She is affiliated with several arts and health organizations locally and nationally, and serves on the boards of Conservatory Lab Charter School, New England Foundation for the Arts and A Far Cry, a self-governed, self-conducted string orchestra. An assistant professor of Pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Wong has practiced at Milton Pediatrics for 34 years, and encourages all her patients to play music. She received an honorary degree in education from Wheelock College in 2016 and was a 2014 visiting scholar in Arts in Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. She published her first book, Scales to Scalpels: Doctors Who Practice the Healing Arts of Music and Medicine in 2012. She attended Harvard University, NYU School of Medicine and trained at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children, and has returned to Harvard to teach an undergraduate course on the role of music in education and health.



genre-defying musician

Zakiyyah’s performance will close our day or learning and connection at Next Wave. Long before being introduced to the awe-inspiring world of Opera, Zakiyyah was singing along to the mesmerizing sounds of Patti Labelle, New Birth, and Smokey Robinson that beamed from her parents’ stereos. In that Boston-home, she inherited the bold, socially-conscious values that cultivated her into the profound and alluring artist and activist that she is today. After graduating from Wellesley College with a Political Science and Sociology degree in 2012, Zakiyyah continued her vocal studies at New England Conservatory and landed the lead role in an original musical entitled “This is Treatment” soon after. She also spent a year pursuing her artistic and scholastic ambitions in Czech Republic, Thailand, South Africa, and Colombia, where she learned about music from around the world, and worked with local artists—including Grammy-nominated group Explosión Negra. Her debut album, African Import, promises to be a continuation of the distinctive excellence that propelled her artistry into the ground-breaking force that the world will soon cherish.

A Thank You to Our Sponsors

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