This summer, the sorts of tragedies that have long befallen many in our country and the world came at a pace and a pitch that felt especially relentless. In response to this violence, racial injustice, and trauma, we have invited writers, artists, and leading creative voices to come together for Powerful Words, an evening of readings, reflections, and community. On Thursday, September 8, luminaries including WGBH President and CEO Jon Abbott, Huntington Theater Managing Director Michael Maso, author Gregory Maguire, Boston Poet Laureate Danielle Legros Georges, Harvard Hip-Hop Archive Director Marcy Morgan, award-winning chef Joanne Chang, WBUR journalist and host Meghna Chakrabarti, community powerhouse Robert Lewis, Jr., and many more will gather as a creative community to read in front of the Grandstand* on our waterfront plaza and find strength and healing through “Powerful Words.” In a July speech in Dallas, President Obama implored us all to fight cynicism, to see in each other a common humanity and shared dignity, and to look at the world though each other’s eyes. Artists have a unique and vitally important role to do just this: to see differently, to open minds, and to build empathy. We hope you will join us for this evening of Powerful Words.

+ BIO: Jonathan C. Abbott

Jon Abbott is President and CEO of WGBH Boston and a leading advocate for public service media nationwide. He joined WGBH as Vice President and General Manager in 1998, became Executive President and COO in 2004, and was named President and CEO in October 2007. WGBH is a regional, national, and global public service media resource – creating award-winning documentaries and Web content in news and public affairs, science, history, arts and drama, children’s programming, and more. WGBH is PBS’s single largest producer of content for television (prime-time and children’s programs) and the Web: Nova, Frontline, Masterpiece, Arthur, Curious George, and Antiques Roadshow are just a few of its signature productions. WGBH also is a major supplier of broadcast and Web content for public radio listeners, a pioneer in educational technologies for teachers and students, and a major provider of media access services for the 36 million Americans with hearing or vision loss. Abbott oversees 11 public TV services and 3 public radio services serving southern New England. Abbott has worked closely with PBS to extend public service media’s reach, spearheading the launch of two new national digital services: Create (a syndicated lifestyle channel co created with WNET/New York featuring many WGBH productions) made its national debut in 2005; PBS World (a syndicated non fiction service co-created with WNET/NY showcasing science, history, nature, and news programming) followed in 2007. During his tenure as president, Abbott has expanded WGBH’s new media and educational efforts and partnerships, from Teachers’ Domain (a multimedia online service for teachers and students)…to the experimental WGBH Lab (using the Web and rights-cleared “open content” to open doors to the next generation of media makers)…to We Shall Remain from American Experience, an ambitious multimedia and outreach project about Native history anchored by a groundbreaking five-part television documentary. These efforts build on Abbott’s early and longstanding interest in mining the capabilities of broadband and online social networks to distribute public service media’s distinctive content across an expanding array of digital devices – making it easier for the public as well as educators and students to access WGBH’s rich library of programming and information when and where they choose. Before coming to WGBH, Abbott served as Senior Vice President for Development and Corporate Relations at PBS (1992-1998). Prior to that, he spent five years in senior management with San Francisco public station KQED. A long-time jazz enthusiast, Abbott got his start in broadcasting in 1981 at Columbia University station WKCR-FM. He serves on numerous public media boards, including the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), American Public Television (APT), American Documentary/P.O.V., and public television’s Major Market Group. He is a Trustee of the Boston Children’s Museum and Arts Boston, and a board member of Project Healthy Children. And he is an Advisory Council Member for Harvard University’s Master of Liberal Arts in Management Program. Abbott holds a BA from Columbia University and an MBA from Stanford University.

+ BIO: Michael Maso

Michael Maso has served as the Huntington’s managing director since 1982, overseeing all fiscal and administrative operations, producing more than 125 plays, and leading the Huntington’s 10-year drive to build the Stanford Calderwood Pavilion at the Boston Center for the Arts, which opened in September, 2004. Mr. Maso is the immediate past president of the League of Resident Theatres (LORT), an association of 70 of the country’s major not-for-profit professional theatres. Last year, Mr. Maso was named as one of a dozen members of the inaugural class of the Barr Fellows Program. He received the 2005 Commonwealth Award, the state’s highest arts honor, in the category of Catalyst, and was honored by The Boston Herald as 2004 Theatre Man of the Year. He has served as a member of the board of directors of Theatre Communications Group (TCG), the national service organization for not-for-profit theatre, and as a site visitor, panelist, and panel chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts. Locally, Mr. Maso is a member of the board of directors of ArtsBoston. He previously served as chairman of the Cultural and Scientific Directors Group, as a member of Mayor Menino’s Advisory Task Force for Cultural Planning, as a trustee of the Massachusetts Advocates for the Arts, Sciences, and Humanities (MAASH) and StageSource, as a member of the Boston Foundation’s Cultural Task Force, and as Program Consultant for the Arts Leadership Initiative of Business Volunteers for the Arts. In 2000, Mr. Maso was honored with the Norton Prize for Sustained Excellence at Boston’s Elliot Norton Awards. Prior to coming to the Huntington, Mr. Maso spent three seasons as the managing director of the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. He has also been the general manager of New York’s Roundabout Theatre Company, business manager for PAF Playhouse on Long Island, and an independent arts management consultant based in Taos, New Mexico. Mr. Maso is an associate professor of theatre at Boston University.

+ BIO: Danielle Legros Georges

Danielle Legros Georges is Boston’s Poet Laureate. She was born in Haiti but grew up in Boston’s Haitian community in Mattapan. She has been teaching in Lesley University’s Creative Arts in Learning Division since 2001. Her recent literary awards include the 2014 Massachusetts Cultural Council Artist Fellowship in Poetry, the 2012 Massachusetts Cultural Council Finalist in Poetry, Lesley University Faculty Development Grants, and a 2013 Black Metropolis Research Consortium Fellowship/Andrew W. Mellon Grant. She’s quoted on the website as saying, “America is best when it recognizes its inherent plurality. Americans are best when, embracing plurality, we move toward and seek to understand those around us. Americans are best when we are engaged and dialogic . . . . It allows us to see that, though different in many ways, de Crèvecoeur, Wheatley, and Lazarus, were each immigrants or the daughter of immigrants. They were bicultural, and bilingual, if not speakers of several languages.”

+ BIO: Marcy Morgan

Marcyliena Morgan is Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University and the Executive Director of the Hiphop Archive . Professor Morgan earned both her B.A. and her M.A. degrees at the University of Illinois in Chicago . She obtained an additional M.A. at the University of Essex, England and her PhD through the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania . Her research interests include: 1) Urban speech communities: identity, migration, interaction, language use, discourse styles, urban youth language, verbal performance, hip-hop culture; 2) The African Diaspora: continuity and innovation in language and communication styles of peoples of African descent residing in the Americas and throughout the African Diaspora; 3) language, culture and identity: how language both constitutes and works in the construction of gender, national and other group identities, especially in urban areas; 4) Discourse strategies: intentionality and responsibility in discourse; construction of gender in discourse and narrative style and; language socialization; 5) verbal performance: in urban African Diaspora speech communities with special emphasis on African American toasts, signifying and hiphop; 6) hiphop language and culture; 7) language and education: language policy and planning regarding social class varieties and African American English in the US , literacy instruction, language education policy and programs for bilingual creole language speakers. Marcyliena Morgan has conducted field research on the African Diaspora, identity and language in the USA , England and the Caribbean . She has received major grants from the Ford Foundation, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is the author of many publications that focus on youth, gender, language, culture, identity, sociolinguistics, discourse and interaction, including Language, Discourse and Power in African American Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2002) and the forthcoming bookThe Real Hiphop - Battling for Knowledge, Power, and Respect in the Underground (Duke University Press, 2008). Professor Morgan founded the Hiphop Archiveat the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research at Harvard Universityin 2002. Professor Morgan teaches classeson hip hop, the ethnography of communications, representation in the media, language and identity, race, class and gender.

+ BIO: Joanne Chang

Joanne Chang, an honors graduate of Harvard College with a degree in Applied Mathematics and Economics, left a career as a management consultant to enter the world of professional cooking. She started as garde-manger cook at Boston’s renowned Biba restaurant, worked for a year assisting the owner/head-baker of Bentonwood Bakery in Newton, and in 1995 was hired as Pastry Chef at Rialto restaurant in Cambridge. Joanne moved to New York City in 1997 to work in the cake department of the critically acclaimed Payard Patisserie and Bistro. Returning to Boston a year later with dreams of opening up her own pastry shop, she brought her French and American training to Mistral where she was the Pastry Chef until summer of 2000. In 2000, she opened Flour, a bakery and café, in Boston’s South End. Flour features breakfast pastries, breads, cakes, cookies, and tarts as well as sandwiches, soups, and salads. In 2007 she opened a second branch of Flour in the Fort Point Channel area and in June 2010 she will be opening a third branch in Cambridge. Flour has been featured in Gourmet, Food&Wine, Bon Appetit, the New York Times, Conde Nast Traveler, Lucky Magazine, Inc. Magazine, and Boston Magazine and has received numerous Best of Boston awards. Flour was also featured on Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the Food Network in which Joanne’s sticky buns won over Chef Flay’s. Joanne and her husband Christopher Myers also opened a Chinese restaurant, Myers+Chang, in the South End down the street from the original Flour in Fall of 2007. Myers+Chang is a fun, hip, pan-Asian restaurant that features dishes from Joanne’s childhood as well as updated versions of traditional Chinese dishes. Joanne’s energetic commitment to excellence extends beyond the kitchen. She writes pastry articles and reviews cookbooks for Fine Cooking magazine. She teaches classes and advises pastry cooks both within the bakery and at area cooking schools. An avid runner, she has competed in every Boston Marathon from 1991 - 2006. She has written a cookbook, Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery+Cafe, which is being published by Chronicle Books and comes out in October 2010

+ BIO: Meghna Chakrabarti

Meghna Chakrabarti is an American journalist and radio producer. She is the host of NPR’s On Point, the former host of the WBUR news program Radio Boston and the Modern Love podcast.

+ BIO: Robert Lewis Jr.

Thirty four years ago, Robert Lewis, Jr. formed a youth baseball team in the South End called the Boston Astros, with a belief that baseball could be a powerful vehicle to teach young men values and life skills such as the importance of teamwork, motivation, resiliency, and respect both on and off the playing field. Since then, Robert has emerged as a nationally recognized thought leader, public speaker and passionate advocate for urban youth and along the way, has led his Astros to be recognized as Triple Crown Sports ‘2012 Team of the Year’ from a field of 40,000, the Triple Crown Sports ‘2013 US National Baseball Champions’, and transformed the lives of more than 8,000 Boston Astros players and alumni. His latest initiative, The BASE, builds on the success of the Boston Astros model to provide players with superior baseball coaching and training, and adds comprehensive academic and life skills training to ensure that every student athlete has a winning game plan for life. Known as a bridge-builder between Boston’s diverse business, civic and public sectors, Robert has deep experience with community-based organizations throughout Greater Boston and has held important roles such as Executive Director of the Boston Centers for Youth and Families, President of NCCJ, and City Year’s SVP of national operations. Most recently Robert was Vice President for Program at the Boston Foundation where he was chief architect of two important initiatives: StreetSafe Boston with a mission to dramatically reduce gun violence in the city by working directly with known offenders in the neighborhoods; and CHAMPS Boston which promotes positive youth development through sports.

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