Black and white photo of Hamza Walker. He is looking at the camera and wearing a white shirt and suit jacket.
Hamza Walker – 2017 Keynote speaker

Since September 2016, Hamza Walker has been executive director of LAXART in Los Angeles, one of the city’s most important platforms for emerging and under-recognized contemporary art.  Prior to joining LAXART, Walker served as associate curator and director of education at the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago and cocurated (with Aram Moshayedi) the 2016 edition of the Hammer Museum’s “Made in LA.” Walker continues to teach at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago as an adjunct professor.

Recent exhibitions Walker has organized include Reconstitution at LAXART (with Catherine Taft; 2017), “A Painting Is A Painting Isn’t A Painting” (2015) at San Francisco’s KADIST; “Wadada Leo Smith, Ankhrasmation: The Language Scores 1967 – 2015” at the Renaissance Society (with John Corbett; 2015), “Teen Paranormal Romance” (2014), and “Suicide Narcissus” (2013), two group exhibitions, also at the Ren; and “Black Is, Black Ain’t” at the Renaissance Society (2008). 

Walker is also the winner of both the 2004 Walter Hopps Award for Curatorial Achievement and the 2010 Ordway Prize.



Black and white photo of DeRay McKesson. He is looking at the camera while his body is turned slightly to the side. His hands are clasped in front of him.
DeRay McKesson – 2017 Keynote speaker

DeRay Mckesson is a civil rights activist focused primarily on issues of innovation, equity and justice. Born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland, he graduated from Bowdoin College and holds an honorary doctorate from The New School.

DeRay has advocated for issues related to children, youth, and families since he was a teen. As a leading voice in the Black Lives Matter Movement and the co-founder of Campaign Zero and OurStates.org, DeRay has worked to connect individuals with knowledge and tools, and provide citizens and policy makers with commonsense policies to ensure equity. Spurred by the death of Mike Brown and the subsequent protests in Ferguson, Missouri, DeRay has become a key voice in the effort to confront the systems and structures that have led to the mass incarceration and police killings of black and other minority populations. He is also the host of Pod Save The People, a weekly podcast focused on activism and social justice. DeRay was named as one of the World’s Greatest Leaders by Fortune Magazine in 2015 and as one of the 30 Most Important People On The Internet by Time Magazine in 2016.



Black and white photo of Barika Williams. She has her head turned to the camera and is smiling. A tiled wall is behind her.
Barika X Williams – 2017 Moderator

Barika X Williams is the Deputy Director of the Association for Neighborhood Housing Development (ANHD) where she advocates for affordable housing, equitable economic development, and land use policies that support low-income communities, immigrants, communities of color, and vulnerable populations. She is responsible for the development, research and strategic implementation of policies and initiatives that promote and ensure equity and opportunity in all neighborhoods.

Previously she worked as a researcher at the Urban Institute in Washington, DC where she published on a number of topics including affordable housing, fair housing, healthy neighborhoods, urban mobility, the quality neighborhood schools, tenant rights, and homelessness. Barika worked in real estate development where she managed the conversion into a housing cooperative, allowing the tenants to purchase the complex from their landlord. She also worked on a community-based comprehensive education reform initiative with NYU’s Metropolitan Center for Urban Education. She serves on the board of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation and of CommonWise, a Bronx economic democracy organization. Barika holds a Master’s from MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning and a Bachelor’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

Image Credits:
Hamza Walker (by Esteban Pulido) and DeRay Mckesson (by Melissa Spitz)