Our Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival team never ceases to amaze! It is the skills and love labor of our team of creatives that makes this multi-dimensional, multimedia festival what it is. All of the visual content associated with the books are “hand crafted” specifically for the festival. All of the imaginative arts and crafts are designed by members of our team. The voices in read-alongs and the words on the website – all can be attributed to our dynamic and brilliant festival team. We have nothing but love and gratitude for the group of people who brought this festival to life.
Yoon S. Byun is a creative problem solver, a strategist, and a planner who thrives on the fly. Through his background in photojournalism, Yoon’s work stays on point with storytelling that is intimate and relatable. He is the co-founder of Strewn Wonder, a storytelling company working with nonprofits and mission-driven organizations. It is a creative collaboration with his wife, Chelsea Conaboy, officially launching in late 2021. He is the lead video producer for the 2021 Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival.
Yoon has also applied his passion for mentoring by teaching documentary photography and film at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies at MECA, and is a coach at Boot Camp for New Dads through Maine Boys to Men, a nonprofit that works to change the definition of masculinity and end violence against women and girls.
Atiim Chenzira & Jason Williams (aka JasWho?) have over 40 years of music composition, production, and sound design between them, and are an amazing team to hire for your next sound environment project. Together they make up Ridah Ridah Entertainment (R2E), a sound design and music composition company. R2E has leveraged their legacy skill sets of indoor/outdoor sound design and music composition to create sound environments for films, built environments (art installations and more), video & music projects, as well as read aloud books.
Atiim Chenzira is a musician, songwriter, spoken word poet, community activist and family therapist. Cultivated in the rich musical soil the Eastbay, his music is an eclectic mix of New Age Hip Hop, Old School Soul and Jazz Poetry.
Jay Williams, aka JasWho?, is a veteran live musician who has toured the US, Japan and England with various bands, including as a keyboardist, guitar and bass player with improv experimental dance music ensemble Playground and Elektra records project Family Funk.
Christina W. Richardson is a Black-identified Portland, ME native with a love for community, equity, creativity, and the little things. Spending as much free time as she can with her daughter, Christina also works as Supervisor at the Portland Public Library. Learning a love of art at a young age, Christina has been in many choirs. After studying more about vocals, she has been a Backup Singer for several albums and local musicians, directed a gospel choir, sung a radio jingle for Maine Seniors Magazine, and acted in countless plays and musicals. She was a co-Creator of The Theater Ensemble of Color, a co-Playwright for Bare Portland’s ‘Storage’, and is currently working on an original one-act play based in historic Maine. A big kid at heart, Christina is incredibly blessed to share her gifts with you all.
After spending most of her life in the Midwest, Samaa has spent the last decade loving and living on unceded Wabanaki/Abenaki land. She currently resides in Portland, Maine. After working in Maine’s domestic violence movement for 5 years, Samaa recently joined the staff at the Maine Humanities Council as their Associate Director. Since 2017, Samaa has been focused on writing poetry, which represents a return to the form after a 20 year hiatus. Each Day Is Like An Anchor (2020) is her first published collection of poetry. Samaa spends much of her free time recreating in the outdoors, enjoying the waterways, mountains, birds, and woods of Maine and New Hampshire.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Aminata Conteh is Metalsmith whose practice hybridizes the histories and traditions of Metalsmithing & Jewelry with basketry weaving. Her work draws inspiration from the collapsing histories that exist between her lived experience as a first generation American and her Sierra Leonan lineage.
Conteh graduated with a BFA in Metalsmithing & Jewelry from Maine College of Art in May of 2021, is the recipient of a 2021 Wingate Lamar Fellowship from the Center for Craft, and has been an intern with Indigo Arts Alliance’s since the beginning of 2020.
Veeva Banga is a South Sudanese dancer and actress based in Portland, Maine. She has a passion for sharing african dance with people locally. Veeva has taught at local Portland studios like Hustle and Flow Studio, Bright Star World Dance Studio, Living Room Dance Collective, Portland Youth Dance and many more. You can find more information about her classes at www.veevabangadanceclass.com
Thank you Dream Team!
Meet the incredible Beautiful Blackbird Children’s Book Festival Planning and Production Committee. For over a year this group of talented, dedicated individuals have been working tirelessly on all components required to bring this Festival to light.