Community Conversation

Community Conversation is an annual event hosted by Actors Theatre of Louisville that brings members of the community together to explore important topics in Louisville’s cultural landscape. This year, our virtual event centers on themes from the upcoming Humana Festival entry, Ali Summit, as well as the entire year of programming at Actors Theatre of Louisville and our evolution into an arts and culture organization as social enterprise.

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This event is supported by LG&E and KU Foundation.

 

About Ali Summit

Ali Summit will release in late May 2021 and is inspired by the 1967 summit of prominent Black athletes who met to question Muhammad Ali about his conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. Ali Summit is a virtual reality experience for the entire family.

 

Community Conversation Panelists

Dr. Angelique C. Johnson

 

Dr. Angelique Johnson is CEO/founder of MEMStim LLC, a company that produces implantable electronics to treat neurological disorders. With a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Michigan, her work on microfabricated electrode arrays has resulted in several national and international patents, funding from the NSF and NIH, and a feature on the cover of Hearing Research.

As an expert in Lean Startup Methodology, Dr. Johnson has educated several founders on how to build successful companies. She is an authority on innovation and entrepreneurship. Dr. Johnson has delivered a congressional briefing on Capitol Hill, served as a speaker for the eighth district of the Federal Reserve, and delivered several international talks. She has been featured on NBC Universal, National Public Radio, The Root news site, Louisville Insider, Business First, and other media outlets.

Passionate about people as well as entrepreneurship, Dr. Johnson has led numerous outreach programs to promote tech careers to underrepresented minorities and women. One such program involved her traveling to Abu Dhabi to increase opportunities in STEM for Middle Eastern and North African Women. Dr. Johnson is CEO/Founder of Vissionaireum, an organization that promotes, trains and equips underrepresented entrepreneurs.

Dave W. Christopher Sr.

 

Dave W. Christopher Sr. grew up in Gary, Indiana, the youngest of nine children whose parents were loving but both disabled. When a high school counselor implored Christopher to enlist in the military, warning that he would end up dead or jailed otherwise, he joined the Air Force, stayed eleven and a half years which included stints in Korea, Japan and Germany, and later became an IT entrepreneur.

He righted his own life and took it in a different direction, but those experiences in his formative years left him committed to helping others experiencing a bit of what he did. In 2014, he founded the Academy of Music Production Education and Development (AMPED) in Louisville, Kentucky, a community center and after-school program where kids and adults alike are encouraged to express themselves through music while also learning tech skills such as coding.

Now, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation, Christopher, 57, is launching the Russell Technology Business Incubator (RTBI), the first and only small business incubator in Louisville’s Russell neighborhood. The goal: to create not only jobs but businesses, and through this to support economic growth, mobility, entrepreneurship, and independence.

Tawana Bain

 

As CEO at TBAIN & CO., Tawana manages business development, market research initiatives and strategic direction of the firm. Tawana is a leading marketing strategist and visionary with a niche in streamlining outsourced services. In addition to TBAIN & CO, Bain is Founder of the Global Economic Diversity Development Initiative (GEDDI) and curator of the Derby Diversity & Business Summit (DDBS), an annual event of GEDDI, designed to drive innovative strategies to attract diverse consumers while promoting the intersection of best-in-class diverse business leaders within the Executive Workforce and Global Supply Chain.

She is also the proud owner of Encore on 4th, a Southern Coastal Booze Room with Live Music, situated in the heart of downtown Louisville, known for serving as an intersection for various cultures to network, enjoy good food and shake a tail feather. Not only is she a force to be reckoned with on the entertainment scene, but she’s the founder of one of Louisville’s hottest curated boutiques’ - AFM Threads, located in both Oxmoor and St. Matthews Mall known for its trendy, chic and unique head to toe wear. Most recently, she added owner of Today’s Woman Magazine to her resume.

Bain has been featured in Savoy, WE CEO, Tops Louisville, Voice Tribune, Diversity Professional and many other publications for her work and success as an African American, multi-preneur.

Tawana’s leadership skills have led her enterprise to receive National Recognition and Minority Supplier of the Year for Supplier Excellence by NMSDC, Regional Supplier of the Year by TSMSDC and the Diversity Excellence Award by One Southern Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

Tawana has 15 years of experience in Business Process Outsourcing (BPO), marketing strategy and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). She is a graduate of Brockport University and holds a BA degree in French Communications with a minor concentration in Computer Science. She attended L ’institute De Touraine in Tours, France, and accomplished proficiency in oral and written French Communications. She is the proud mother of two handsome and talented Men –Ty and Jeff and a furry companion Busta Rhymes.

Laura M. Douglas

 

Laura M. Douglas is the Muhammad Ali Center’s President and CEO. She will be the first woman and first Black woman to lead the organization.

Ms. Douglas is a highly respected leader in the corporate, legal, education, and social justice communities. In addition to her ten years of service on the Muhammad Ali Center’s Board of Directors, she led the organization for three years as its Chairperson and now serves as its Immediate Past Chair on the Center’s Executive Committee. Ms. Douglas is no stranger to the Louisville community, for both her high-profile professional career and her multitude of volunteer positions in the community. Ms. Douglas received a J.D. from the University Of Louisville Brandeis School Of Law and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Louisville.

Early on in her career, she practiced law at large companies, and worked at The University of Iowa and Ohio University. She relocated back to Louisville where she was employed at the Legal Aid Society. From there Ms. Douglas moved to the Metropolitan Sewer District; the Louisville Water Company; E.ON.US; and LG&E and KU Energy, LLC. She also served as Secretary for the Public Protection and Regulation Cabinet. Ms. Douglas has served on multiple Louisville area Boards, Commissions, and Workgroups over the years. Most recently, she worked as the Interim Co-Executive Director of the Transit Authority of River City (TARC).