Haley Bender-James, Booking Associate
Haley is a native of Jackson, Mississippi. She is a young professional with a Master's in Public Health. Knowing that Public Health has many layers, Haley is aware that artistry is a significant factor in the mental health of many individuals. She has a passion for organizing and has held many positions that utilize those skills. As an undergraduate student at Jackson State University, Haley became a media team leader for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. She also was a 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. She directed and was executive producer of several short films and documentaries during high school. 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
Avery Collins, the Open Mic Nite Series Rhymez & Rhythm host, 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 the beginning, 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
Sidney R. Glee is a performance-driven fundraising professional with over 20 years of experience consistently exceeding goals for various non-profit organizations. Sidney has demonstrated the ability to plan and operate with precision while working with 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 vital emotional intelligence and excellent interpersonal and human resource management skills. He has vast experience cultivating and securing major gifts from individuals, national and local foundations, and corporations. These skills allowed Sidney to lead teams that supported programs like the "Super Storm Sandy Relief Effort" and the first all-girls school in Washington D.C.
A native Washingtonian blessed by his South East upbringing, Sidney follows his passion for social justice and eliminating food insecurity.
Jarrell Pittman, Communications Director
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. Jarrell prides himself on that. In doing so, he finds the elements of those stories that are to offer as lessons to the world.
Jarrell has performed in numerous showcases up and down the east coast as an emcee. 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 experience in elementary classroom education to instruct the youth, 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
Tyasia Velines is a musician, actor, and IT Specialist from Baltimore, MD. They started 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 attended Baltimore School for the Arts for Vocal Performance before venturing to the University of Maryland for Landscape Architecture. Their love for theater, music, and the arts led 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. Since its beginning, they have been chosen as the premier DJ of the Rhymez and Rhythmz Open Mic and are excited to see it continue to grow. They are currently working to balance their passions and utilize their gifts to their full ability.
Lauren Jones, Production Associate
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
In 2011, Jones graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) from Winston-Salem State University, an HBCU. 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.
Niree Collins, Production Associate
Being born and raised in Baltimore has shaped who I am as an artist. I love telling stories about and bringing awareness to young Black children struggling due to no fault of their own. My work addresses issues that forever impact our children's lives, including mass incarceration, welfare, and zoning. I am here to be a part of the change one heart at a time. Through my work at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Kennedy Center, Young Playwrights Theater, and F.R.E.S.H.H. Inc., I've been able to use my directing, playwrighting, and teaching skills to not only tell these stories but also teach children how to create their own paths.