Mino Lora

Mino is the Founding Executive Director for People’s Theatre Project. Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Mino has been living and working as an artist, educator, activist and arts administrator in NYC since 2000. People’s Theatre Project is a true passion project for Mino and she takes a very hands-on approach to the work. Each of the programs the organization has developed began with her in the role of teaching artist. NBC Latino recognized Mino as one of 10 Latinos with Heart and she has been profiled by Fox News Latino, NBC Latino, El Diario, Manhattan Times, Listin Diario, El Nacional and other newspaper and magazine publications in the US and abroad. Mino has participated as a panelist and guest speaker throughout New York City and was the international orator for the Women of Success 2014 conference in Santo Domingo, DR.

“Joy is Resistance”


Jim Fryer

 “Identity and the Life Story”

What do we actually know when we “know” a person?  How do we define our own identity, and come to understand who we are?  What is it that makes any of us different from anyone else?  One way to think about identity is through the narrative approach to personality – we develop our identity and create meaning through the construction of life stories.  There’s more to each of us than a series of life events; our identity is based on the stories we tell about those experiences.  During this talk, he will explain the overall purpose of life stories, highlight several of the relevant scenes we use to craft them, explore important themes that run through these narratives, and invite each of us to consider how our interpretation of our own personal experiences makes us who we are.

Jessica Hurlbut

“How to Win at the Race Called Life.”

On November 16, 2018, Jessica attempted to run 110 miles throughout St. Lawrence County on National Adoption Day in order to be a visual representation of the 110,000 children currently in foster care in the United States who are freed to be adopted and are in desperate need of a forever family. Through recounting the events of that day and the lessons learned along the way, Jessica hopes to inspire others to consider adopting through the avenue of foster care and to challenge the notion that OUR IDENTITY IS NOT FOUND IN OUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS, BUT RATHER IN THE LIVES WE CHANGE. 

Karen Kus

"Career Trajectory: Claiming Your Identity" 

Karen Kus is a lifelong educator who specializes in preparing students and alumni to be effectively equipped for their career trajectory. Currently, Karen is the assistant director for Career Services in the Lougheed Center for Applied With career exploration come the stressors of narrowing a path that invites a smooth trajectory. As a career coach, she has witnessed individuals experience the ebbs and flows of trying to find a career that fits; from being uncertain about their interests, to experiencing an identity crisis and not knowing what steps to take to secure a job (let alone a career). This can create an emotional rollercoaster, as individuals struggle with narrowing their focus to self-proclaim their identity when facing challenging decisions regarding one’s career. Rather than leaving life decisions to chance, planned happenstance and exposure to applied experiences can help unveil a direction. A career path is not formulaic; it takes self-reflection, assessment, research, experiences, mentorship, and networking to build confidence and unfold career clarity. 

Kathleen Mahoney

"Anei Au- New Zealand's Māori Art- A Window For Examining Our Own Cultural Identity"

Kathleen Mahoney is an artist, designer and educator, focused on the artist and viewer experience. Kathleen teaches graphic design, video, and game design in the Art Department at SUNY Potsdam. Her presentation is about her research, Anei Ai, a collaborative student project at SUNY Canton in 2016, and the continuation of that research through today, as a Doctor of Professional Practice student at Otago Polytechnic in Dunedin New Zealand. This presentation discusses the intercultural collaborative processes and digital tools employed through the concept and development stages of this exhibition, the project’s challenges and its unique outcomes. It reflects on how the project helped them to consider their own identity, their place in the world, and to compare the fleeting nature of digital and social media within a deeper investigation into media ecologies as they offer an approach to reconsidering our place in a complex contemporary system. This research has continued with work both locally here in New York and internationally in New Zealand. 

Jess Melendez

"Diverse Children's Literature"

Jess is from Brooklyn, New York. She is a third-year early childhood education major with a specialization in English. Her Tedx talk will be focusing on the ways in which we can help children become aware of their own identity, while also exposing them to diverse identities through literacy. As a college student and an education major, she has discovered a myriad of children’s books that introduce diverse groups (race, gender, disability, sexuality, religion, social class, etc.) and would like to emphasize the developmental impacts that literature like this would have on future generations (and even adults!) inside the classroom or at home. 

Joe Pease

"Virtual/Actual Reality: A Study on Video Games and the Human Psyche"

Joe is a senior student in the Department of Theatre and Dance.Joe’s talk is about how video games have been an underrated art form, slowly sharpening its laser focus on narrative over the past 3 decades. Instead of simpler days of Mario stomping on mushrooms and Pac-Man chomping on fruit, ghosts, and white......dots(??), the medium has established itself as a major conduit for storytelling, characterization, and immersion. A multitude of delicate topics are placed in the spotlight: Prejudice, grief, and interpersonal relationships to name a few. The topic of mental illness, the way it's depicted, and how it resonates with the audience is the most important aspect to me. It is the key to helping us relate to these characters on a screen and get to know them better than we know ourselves, and in turn stumbling upon discoveries we wouldn't have thought possible. 

Jordan Quiles

"Out the Box"

Jordan is SUNY Potsdam graduate. Jordan graduated from SUNY Potsdam in May of 2020 with a bachelors in Theater and Dance. Jordan’s TEDx Talk is about how she struggled her entire life with her identity, being in the closet and confused about how she saw her. She came to the realization through a choreographic process that gender is dead. Labels aren’t something that she wanted to cling to because she didn’t need them to identify herself. I am Jordan and labels are overrated. 

Mei Shen

"Helping Struggling Learners Succeed in Writing"

Mei Shen is an assistant professor of special education at SUNY Potsdam. Her talk is about how writing is a critical literacy skill has been playing an important role in almost every aspect of our life. The presenter will first review the writing and language requirements as specified by the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The presenter will then explain how to improve the writing performance for struggling students using the Self-Regulated Strategy Program (SRSD), a research-based intervention approach that combines teaching specific writing strategies and self-regulation skills. At the end, the presenter will emphasize the importance of helping our students become independent, sufficient, and goal-oriented writers through explicit and systematic instruction. 

Janet Sussman

"Moving Towards A Post-Gendered World"

Janet Sussman is currently Associate Professor of Costume Design and History at the SUNY Potsdam. Her talk will explore how the role of gender has shaped our identities in the past and how perspectives have shifted over the past fifty years from a binary cis gendered world to a more plural definition of gender. She will look at why gender has been such an overarching aspect of how we identify ourselves and how we are identified buy our gender. She wants to introduce the notion that we need to move to a post-gendered world where we can shed this false self-identification to reveal our true selves. 


Mino Lora

Mino Lora knows the all consuming pain of injustice is exhausting by design. It’s why as an educator and nonprofit executive in the predominately white, male led world of arts & culture in NYC - she centers joy and identity in her work. A Latina Immigrant, Lora turned $400 she saved from waiting tables into People’s Theatre Project, a social justice arts nonprofit that serves 1,000 young people annually, and unexpectedly helped lead the cultural renaissance of Upper Manhattan. Simply put - joy is a boundless, radical act that transforms the communities around us. 

“Joy is Resistance”