Staff

 

Haley Bender-James, Booking Associate

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Haley is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. She is a young professional with a Masters in Public Health. Knowing that Public Health has many layers, Haley is aware that artistry is a major factor in the mental health of many individuals. She has a passion for organizing and has held many positions that utilizes those skills. As an undergraduate student at Jackson State University, Haley became a media team leader for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. She also was charter member and historian for Healthcare Administration Association. She enjoys networking and finding new talent to introduce to Rhythm Visions Production Company. She is a fan of many different arts. During high school, she directed and was executive producer of a several short films and documentaries. Haley is detail-oriented with strong communication skills. She is also committed to promoting the overall health of minorities in all capacities.

Avery Collins, Program Associate

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Avery Collins, host of the Open Mic Nite Series Rhymez & Rhythm, is an actor, playwright, and director in the DMV area. Born and raised in Baltimore, MD, he has a strong tie to urban culture and stories "from the streets". He brands himself as a Hip-Hop theater artist, as Hip-Hop and Theater are both mediums of storytelling. While attending the University of Maryland, from which he graduated in 2016, he began merging these two passions into what he realized was called Hip-Hop Theater. Since he began this journey, he has performed in and written various Hip-Hop Theater productions, including his most recent work My Free Sun with Renita Martin.

Sidney Greer, Brand Ambassador

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Sidney R. Glee is a performance-driven fundraising professional with over 20 years of experience in consistently exceeding goals for various non-profit organizations. Sidney has a demonstrated ability to plan and operate strategically while working with both internal and external stakeholders.
 

As the first African American Donor Relations Director in the history of the New York division of the Salvation Army, Sidney exuded strong emotional intelligence and excellent interpersonal and human resource management skills. He has vast experience in cultivating and securing major gifts from individuals, national and local foundations, and corporations. These skills allowed Sidney to lead teams that supported many programs like the "Super Storm Sandy Relief Effort" and the first all-girls school in Washington D.C.
 

A native Washingtonian who was blessed to be raised in the South East section of the district, Sidney continues to follow his passion for social justice and eliminating food insecurity.

Jarrell Pittman, Communications Director

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Hailing from PG county, born and bred, Jarrell 'Tha Griot' Pittman uses his artistry to emphasize the importance of embracing and diving deep into the figurative pages of our own stories. He adopted the name because a griot is a storyteller sharing the culture and history of a people through the spoken word. He prides himself on that. In doing so, he finds the elements of those stories which, we as people, are to offer as lessons to the world.

As an emcee, Jarrell has performed in numerous showcases up and down the east coast. He placed 2nd in the Who's Got Next? showcase in DC and placed first in the Coast to Coast live showcase in DC, which offered him the opportunity to compete nationally in Miami, Fl. 

As an educator, Jarrell has dedicated his daytime work to elementary education teaching Kindergarten and First Grade. He, now, utilizes his teaching skills to instruct artists and entrepreneurs in digital media.

As an entrepreneur, Jarrell is the founder of Tha Griotsphere, a multifaceted organization that combines his love for the art of storytelling, teaching, and media. Tha Griotsphere also collaborates with other entities like Propel Productions Center Inc., a non-profit focused on mental health and wellness through the arts. 

Ty Velines, Digital Media Associate

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Tyasia Velines is a musician, actor, and IT Specialist from Baltimore, MD. They got their start in both the arts and STEM at a young age, participating in musicals while attending a STEM program during their middle school years in the Baltimore area. They went on to attend Baltimore School for the Arts for Vocal Performance before venturing off to University of Maryland for Landscape Architecture. Their love for theater, music, and the arts lead them back into the world of theatre in college, and they graduated with their degree in Theater Performance.  Their work has been seen across the DMV area since 2015, beginning with Stage Kiss at Round House Theatre. While acting, they worked as a Desktop Analyst for the University of Maryland, where they served 140 plus clients across campus. They have DJ'd at Rhymez and Rhythmz Open Mic since it's beginnings and is excited to see it continue to grow. They are currently working to find the balance between their passions and utilize their gifts to their full ability.

Lauren Jones, Production Associate

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Maryland native, Mrs. Lauren Jones, credits her career to being exposed to social injustice through a unique lens and at an early age. Jones' childhood home served as a therapeutic emergency placement for foster care children. Her parents modeled pure healing and wellness through food and laughter...they embodied arts-based mental
health.
In 2011, Jones graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Winston-Salem State University, a HBCU, in North Carolina. Immediately following, in 2013, she earned her Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and Social Entrepreneurship certificate from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. Jones later returned to her home state, combined her clinical and creative skills, and founded Propel Productions Center, Inc. (Propel/PPC) in
2013. She incorporated and launched the first program in 2016. PPC is a 501(c)3 non-profit, arts-based mental health organization comprised of a collective of mental health clinicians, social workers, educators, artists, entrepreneurs, and social justice advocates.