Speaker Bios

Antionette Carroll

Founder, President, and CEO
Creative Reaction Lab

Antionette Carroll is the Founder, President and CEO of Creative Reaction Lab, a nonprofit educating and deploying youth to challenge racial and health inequities impacting Black and Latinx populations, and the newly created Institute of Equitable Design and Justice. Within this role, Antionette has pioneered an award-winning form of creative problem solving called Equity-Centered Community Design (named a Fast Company World Changing Idea Finalist) and a new leadership model called Redesigner for Justice. Through this capacity, Antionette has received several recognitions and awards including being named an Aspen Institute Civil Society Fellow, Roddenberry Fellow, Echoing Green Global Fellow, TED Fellow, ADCOLOR Innovator, SXSW Community Service Honoree, Camelback Ventures Fellow, and Essence Magazine Woke 100. Additionally, Antionette has been featured in Empathy for Change by Amy J. Wilson, Fast Company Innovation by Design: Creative Ideas That Transform the Way We Live and Work by Stephanie Mehta, and the Beloved Economies: Transforming How We Work by Jess Rimington and Joanna L. Cea. In her “free” time, Antionette is a civic and equity design coach and international speaker.

Mark Herrera

Director of Safety and Security
International Association of Venue Managers

Mark Herrera is the Director of Safety and Security for the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM) and recognized as one of the 25 most influential leaders in the meetings and event industry. As part of his duties, he teaches Situational Awareness-Mindset training aimed at giving venues the tools to be safer and more secure. The training emphasizes Exceptional Focus, Performance, and Control in Extreme Situations and Risk Mitigation through Guest Services Interjection. In addition, as the Director of Safety and Security for IAVM, Herrera represents the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office of Infrastructure Protection as the current Chair for the Public Assembly Facilities Sub-Sector Council (PAFSC). As a representative of PAFSC, he works in collaboration with DHS and the Protective Security Advisor to identify capability gaps across soft target community, counter threats to the pattern of life, research technology to mitigate risk and provide information to protect our Public Assembly Facilities and all Critical Infrastructures.

Herrera is also a seasoned law enforcement officer and trainer, having spent 20 years with the Hobbs, New Mexico, Police Department in numerous roles including Patrol Officer, Detective for the Gang and Narcotics Unit, Supervisor of the Crime Prevention Division, Field Training Officer, Honor Guard Commander, and Entry Team Leader and Tactical Sergeant for a Special Operations Unit known as S.W.A.T. During this time, his responsibilities also included the development and implementation of security policies and procedures and security awareness programs for the Community of Hobbs. Upon retiring from the police department, he leveraged his training background to implement security policies, procedures and training programs for the oil and gas industry and later worked as an instructor for DHS, training 3,000 armed pilots to defend against acts of terrorism involving criminal violence or air piracy.

Reverend Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr.

Founder and Chief Equity Officer
The National Training Institute on Race and Equity

Reverend Dr. Bryant T. Marks, Sr. is a minister, researcher, trainer, award-winning educator, and former member of the Obama Administration. He is the Founder and Chief Equity Officer of the National Training Institute on Race and Equity and a tenured professor of Psychology at Morehouse College.

Between 2017 and 2021, Dr. Marks provided implicit bias training to over 100,000 employees and volunteers in law enforcement; city, county, and federal government; corporations; education; and healthcare.

Dr. Marks holds a B.A. in psychology and a minor in economics from Morehouse College, and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan.Dr. Marks conducts research and professional development in the areas of diversity and implicit bias, Black male psychology and development, and personal passion and productivity. Dr. Marks is married to Dr. Kimberly Marks and father to Kim, Zion-Trinity, and Bryant II.

Nina Simon

Best-Selling Author
The Art of Relevance

Nina Simon has been described as a “museum visionary” by Smithsonian Magazine for her community-based approach to design. She is an Ashoka fellow, cultural manager, author, and a leader in the movement for more inclusive and relevant cultural and civic organizations.

Nina is the founder of OF/BY/FOR ALL, a global nonprofit that creates digital tools to help civic and cultural organizations become more inclusive, relevant, and sustainable. The OF/BY/FOR ALL Change Network includes over 100 museums, libraries, parks, theaters, and community organizations around the world. Prior to founding OF/BY/FOR ALL, Nina was Executive Director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History, where she led a dramatic turnaround and eight years of growth rooted in community involvement and public arts engagement. Nina is the best-selling author of The Participatory Museum (2010) and The Art of Relevance (2016). Nina lives off the grid in the Santa Cruz mountains with 20 people, 16 chickens, 3 dogs, and 1 zip line.

Sharon Yazowski

Executive Director
Levitt Foundation

As Executive Director, Sharon provides visionary leadership in fulfilling the Levitt Foundation’s mission. She is the chief spokesperson for the organization, traveling across the country to share the impact of Levitt programs and creative placemaking. Her passionate commitment to the arts as a vehicle for creating equitable, healthy, and thriving communities has guided the growth of Levitt programs nationwide, including the development of long-term public/private partnerships and sustainability strategies for the national Levitt network of venues and concert sites. In her role, Sharon also leads the Levitt Foundation’s contributions to the field, including research and field-building initiatives.

Prior to her position with the Levitt Foundation, Sharon was the founding Executive Director of Levitt Pavilion Los Angeles at MacArthur Park. Her work there and the venue’s impact in the community earned her the recognition of “Los Angeles Park Hero” by the City of Los Angeles. Sharon’s career began working with arts nonprofits in metropolitan Chicago. She earned a Bachelor of Music from Northwestern University with a concentration in arts and business management.

Sharon is often an invited speaker at regional and national conferences, including the National Main Street Conference; Grantmakers in the Arts; Walk/Bike/Places; Growing Sustainable Communities Conference; Association for Performing Arts Presenters; EcoDistricts Summit; National Recreation and Parks Association Conference; Music Cities Convention; City/Nation/Place Americas; FestForums; VenueConnect; and National Outdoor Recreation Conference, amongst others.

Liz Levitt Hirsch

Board President
Levitt Foundation

Elizabeth Levitt Hirsch (Liz) is best known for her ability to connect and inspire people to achieve a shared vision to better our communities, and for directing her life-long passion for the performing arts into a source for positive social change.

As a philanthropist over the past four decades, Liz has supported a range of cultural, arts and social justice nonprofits, including as a board member of her family’s foundation, of which Liz has served as Board President for nearly a decade. In this role, Liz has played a key part in the development of the venture philanthropy model at the core of the Levitt Foundation’s giving philosophy, with the Foundation awarding more than $25 million in grants for free concerts across the country.

As the daughter of Mortimer and Mimi growing up in Manhattan society during the 1960s and 70s, Liz was exposed to the arts and the engaged philanthropy of her parents.

Throughout her youth, she developed a deep love of music, which inspired Liz to study music history as a student at Scripps College in Southern California. Following her graduation in 1974, Liz settled in Los Angeles, where she held various positions in the music industry—in administration at Elektra/Asylum Records and Bearsville Records, and in Artist Relations at ABC Records, where she worked with musical artists including Chaka Khan, Stephen Bishop and Tom Petty. Always a natural at connecting with people, Liz later worked in sales for the Minolta Corporation, where she won multiple awards in recognition of her achievements.

In 1981, Liz met and fell in love with the internationally-renowned hospitality designer Howard Hirsch, whom she married. She then began supporting a variety of causes including arts and cultural nonprofits, and later served on the boards of the Los Angeles Master Chorale and the Joffrey Ballet. On behalf of each of these organizations, Liz chaired benefit events and helped guide strategic direction to ensure their long-term viability. As the benefit chair for the Los Angeles Master Chorale, for example, Liz elevated the annual benefit to become a signature gala in Los Angeles. The event’s success went on to draw dignitaries from Italy, France and Spain when their respective cultures were celebrated.

Through Howard’s work, Liz and Howard traveled extensively throughout Asia, Australia and Europe during the 1980s and ‘90s. Liz’s travels to China made a deep impression on her–it was there, as a passenger in a car driving to the hotel from the airport, that she witnessed extreme disparities unlike anything she had seen, a crush of humanity on the streets deprived of basic necessities like food and shelter. Not long after, the year 1992, later dubbed the Year of the Woman for the number of females elected to the Senate, also made a big impact on Liz and launched her into a more engaged form of philanthropy, inspiring her to become involved with political campaigns including Barbara Boxer and social justice organizations including My Friend’s Place.

In 2001, at the invitation of her then 94-year-old father, Liz became active with the family foundation, with the goal of realizing Mortimer’s vision to develop a national network of Levitt venues presenting free concerts, modeled after the original Levitt Pavilion in Westport, Conn., which the Levitt family had supported since its inception. To get the program off the ground, Liz became a donor activist on the frontlines, traveling to cities across the country to introduce the Levitt mission to community leaders and identify potential sites and sharing the mission by networking at conferences, community events and fundraisers. Above all, Liz nurtured the community buy-in that is essential for Levitt programs to have impact and be sustainable.

In 2002, Liz led the first venture philanthropy effort of the Foundation to develop a Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena, Calif., building upon her existing philanthropic relationships in Southern California to generate local support while embracing a grassroots approach. The venue successfully launched in 2003 with the support of Pasadena’s Mayor Bill Bogaard and the community. “I talked with people anywhere and everywhere about the program,” she recalled. “I participated in board meetings and ingrained myself in Pasadena activities. After its opening, I stood on street corners handing out concert flyers and regularly attended Levitt shows, meeting artists backstage to tell them about our mission, connecting with audiences of all ages and backgrounds on the lawn and thanking volunteers. It was wonderful to see the mission being realized.”

For Liz, those early years of tirelessly working to get the Levitt program off the ground were an incredible opportunity to witness the social impact of the program. “Throughout my life I’ve loved music and recognized that free, live music in public spaces brings people together, creating joy and enriching our well-being,” she said.

In addition to the Levitt Pavilion in Pasadena, Liz’s engagement with communities helped bring the Levitt program to life in Los Angeles (2007), Arlington, Texas (2008), Memphis (2008), Bethlehem, Pa. (2011), and Sioux Falls (2019). She was a founding board member of the Levitt music venues in Los Angeles and Pasadena and was instrumental in developing each pavilion, helping to establish the community-driven public/private partnerships at the heart of the Levitt model. In 2008, recognizing the potential for expanded impact of the Levitt program across the country, Liz professionalized her family foundation by hiring its first executive director, thereby setting the stage for significant program growth and advancing the mission of building community through music through new initiatives.

Today, the Levitt Foundation realizes its mission through two main programs: permanent outdoor Levitt music venues and the Levitt AMP [Your City] Grant Awards, as well as contributing to the field through research. In 2021, the Foundation’s giving has grown to support 28 towns and cities across America through 500+ free Levitt concerts serving more than 750,000 people every year.

Beyond the work of the Levitt Foundation, Liz has a long and distinguished history of involvement with charitable organizations, serving on numerous nonprofit boards and supporting organizations that foster social justice and access to the arts. Liz currently serves on the boards of Center Dance Arts (founding board member) and My Friend’s Place (formerly Hollywood Arts). Liz has also supported early-stage grants to her alma mater Scripps College’s Levitt on the Lawn, to create free on-campus concert series for the entire community to enjoy; an artist recording studio at Cal State Northridge KCSN radio station to present live, on-air music performances; Make Music Pasadena, at one time the West Coast’s largest single-day free music festival, as well as early support for performing arts organizations like The Broad Stage, Center Dance Arts, The Soraya Performing Arts Center and Hollywood Arts.

In 2018, Liz was the recipient of the Founders Award from the Liberty Hill Foundation, a recognition given to individuals whose philanthropy embodies the spirit of “change, not charity” and whose exceptional generosity is helping to realize equality and justice for all. Some of Liz’s other recognitions include: an Honorary Citizen Award from the City of Memphis; recipient of the Ruby McKnight Williams Award from the NAACP (Pasadena chapter); Gold Crown Award from the Pasadena Arts Council; Finalist for the Vanguard Award presented by Western Arts Alliance; and Finalist for Philanthropist of the Year by Association of Fundraising Professionals, Los Angeles. Liz has also been honored by the Los Angeles Master Chorale, The Gabriella Foundation and The Joyce Theater in New York.

In addition to Liz’s role at the Levitt Foundation and her many philanthropic activities, Liz is a devoted stepmom and step-grandmother and loves spending time with her family and hosting celebrations.