THE EMERGING SCHOLAR
Marielle is a Fulbright Scholar and a Cultural Studies PhD candidate at the George Mason University (Virginia) and Visiting Scholar at Columbia University. She is a practicing visual artist and social entrepreneur serves as President for Caribbean InTransit. Caribbean InTransit is an arts for social change non-profit and an experimental platform. In addition to providing free access to arts education and deeper cultural interrogation through its biannual open access academic journal, Caribbean InTransit produces: symposia on issues such as Arts for Social Change, workshops for at-risk youth and persons living with HIV/Aids, and arts events that explore avenues through which art can effectively be used to address social issues and propel social development. Caribbean InTransit: The Meeting Place, the inaugural festival, happened in Trinidad & Tobago in October 2013. It will be followed by the Creatives of the Caribbean festival in Washington, DC in June 2014.
Dovetailing with her philanthropic pursuits, Marielle’s dissertation research triangulates artistic practice, institutional memory, and citizenship with a view to understanding the possibilities for effective and sustainable policy design emerging from the realities of Caribbean sites. For her research, Marielle is investigating how cultural production in Cuba, Haiti, and the Bahamas is practiced as learning, citizenship and is productive of personhood and power. Marielle is from Trinidad & Tobago.
THE STUDENT LEADER
Genymphas Higgs is a PhD candidate at Drexel University, where his research focuses on improving the performance of orthopedic implants. He has served as a presenter for organizations such as the American Society for Testing and Materials, the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, and the World Congress on Biomaterials. His research has led to numerous peer-reviewed publications. So far He has been recognized for his work and research by the American Society of Testing and Materials and the American Association of Hip and Knee Surgeons.
A native of Freeport, Bahamas, Genymphas Higgs relocated to Philadelphia in September 2008 to begin his undergraduate studies in Biomedical Engineering at Drexel University. He graduated summa cum laude from the joint B.S./M.S. accelerated program. Though he remained actively involved with a host of student organizations and societies, Genymphas particularly treasured his involvement with Drexel’s West Indian Student Establishment (WISE). He credits this organization for expanding his leadership and networking skills, while allowing him to contribute to advancing the various causes of West Indian culture on campus and within the community.
Florcy is a Haitian-American executive, advocate, and community organizer working at the intersection of culture and business. Her Vivant Art Collection debuted in 2007 on Gallery Row in the heart of Philadelphia’s historic Old City. Vivant Consulting followed in 2011; in that capacity she works with academic institutions and art organizations to create exhibitions and cultural programs that unite diverse communities.
Her initial goal for her gallery was to dispel myths and negative images of Haiti and its culture by presenting brilliant artwork about Haiti’s legacy. Now, the gallery has expanded its reach to celebrate underrepresented art from Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America, while retaining its reputation of highlighting Haitian art. Florcy has also fashioned her art gallery into one of the premier locations to host social receptions, art forums, fundraisers, and networking events.
As the only remaining black-owned gallery in Old City and one of three in Philadelphia, she regularly opens her space to be a unified place to experience joy for artists, art lovers, and professionals. Some of Florcy’s popular curatorial projects are The Illustrated Sounds of Philadelphia, A Tribute to Past & Present Philadelphia Music Icons, Transcending History – Moving Beyond The Legacy of Slavery and the Holocaust (a travelling exhibit), and Haiti: A Tribute in Art 9at the Noyes Museum). Recently also she curated Black: The Art of Color at the prestigious Art Basel in Miami, Florida. That exhibit included over 200 paintings.
Florcy’s professional philosophy emphasizes the importance of arts and culture as the vital heartbeat of any community and her dedication and hard work have earned her a place as a pillar of the Philadelphia art community. In addition to extensive work in the arts community, Florcy has for the past four years, served as the Chair for the board of Haitian Professionals of Philadelphia. She has been featured on the cover of the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Philadelphia Tribune and in 2011 the Tribune named her as one of the 10 under 40 to watch. The Haitian Roundtable named her to 2014’s “1804 List of Haitian Americans to Watch.”
Florcy is a graduate of Duquesne University and is a member of the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority. She works and lives between Philadelphia, New York City and Washington, DC.
Javed Jagai Aajri is a researcher and a campaigner for social and economic justice. Jamaican by birth, socialization and citizenship, Javed experienced intense feelings of alienation while coming of age in a staunchly insular society that extolls the virtues of conformity and submission while shunning non-traditional modes of self-expression and freethinking. A member of what he dubs the ‘dancehall generation’—an era marked by intense hostility towards individuals who flout culturally endorsed possibilities for genitals-based gendered performance—Javed endures aggressive policing and public shaming when he moves through Jamaican public spaces. After finishing high school he left Jamaica to study abroad, an experience which transformed his life and worldview. He attended Lester B. Pearson United World College of the Pacific in Canada and then pursued a liberal arts degree at Dartmouth College. In 2012, he graduated with high honors for his thesis on transgressive gender and sexual identities in contemporary Jamaica. Inspired by the vision that his first home should be a more hospitable place for disadvantaged groups, Javed returned to the island as a Lombard Public Service Fellow to work as the Public Education Officer of JFLAG, an LGBT-rights advocacy organization. He is now the claimant in a landmark legal challenge to Jamaica’s colonial-era, constitutionally protected anti-buggery law. Javed is currently pursuing a PhD in sociology at Yale University. His research explores the dimensions of the colonial condition, creole language heritage, and the politics of taboo identities.
David Mullings, RealVibez Group, Presenting Sponsor
David Mullings is the principal of Parker#009, his private investment ﬁrm building a portfolio of investments in North America and the USA and was recently added to the advisory board of Silicon Valley-based app company Melt. He is also co-founder and CEO of the RealVibez Group, an integrated media and entertainment ﬁrm which includes a record label, ﬁlm company, animation company and interactive gaming company, recently receiving access to an EU grant. He is also CEO of Keystone Augusta, a private investment ﬁrm in Orlando, Florida which owns a mobile app development ﬁrm . He was a co-founder of Random Media, an integrated media and entertainment ﬁrm which became YouTubeʼs ﬁrst caribbean media partner in 2008. He was asked to endorse The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz, along- side Donny Deutsch, formerly host of CNBCʼs The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch. He contributed a chapter to the McGraw-Hill Publishing book, How To Make Money With YouTube and was also a judge for Business.comʼs What Works For Business contest in 2009. He is mentioned in the book Upstarts written by former Inc. Magazine contributing editor Donna Fenn. He also writes a regular opinion column in the Jamaica Observer on Sunday in The Agenda section.
David was born in Kingston, Jamaica, completed his B.Sc. at the age of 19 and received his MBA in Marketing and International Business from the University of Miami at 22.