2020 Leaders of Color Institute

 Home     Session Descriptions
Schedule Session Presenters
Session Recordings


November 7th and 14th


Annalisa Dias                                                   

Annalisa Dias (she/her) is a Goan-American citizen artist, community organizer, and award-winning theatre maker working at the intersection of racial justice and care for the earth. She is Director of Artistic Partnerships & Innovation and Interim Director of Learning & Social Accountability at Baltimore Center Stage, and is also a Co-Founder of Groundwater Arts. www.annalisadias.weebly.com 


Michael John Garcés

Michael John Garcés...is the artistic director of Cornerstone Theater Company, a community-engaged ensemble based in Los Angeles.  Recent projects he has directed include Seize the King by Will Power (The Alliance Theatre); Larissa FastHorse's The Thanksgiving Play (The Geffen Playhouse); The Royale by Marco Ramirez (Arizona Theatre Company); the just and the blind by Marc Bamuthi Joseph and composer Daniel Bernard Roumain (Carnegie Hall and The Kennedy Center); and, at Cornerstone, Native Nationby Larissa FastHorse and What Happens Next by Naomi Iizuka.  Michael is the recipient of the 2020 Doris Duke Artist Award, the Princess Grace Statue and the Alan Schneider Director Award. 


Chil Kong

CHIL KONG has been a leader in theater, film, television and digital for the last 30 years. He began his career garnering multiple awards for his innovative reimagining's of American classics and ground breaking new works as Artistic Director of theater companies in Boston, San Diego, Seattle, and in Los Angeles. He also co-founded the critically acclaimed Lodestone Theatre Ensemble and became co-Artistic Director for several years. After a successful career in theatre, Chil was tapped as the creative director of a film fund which focused on English-based stories for the Asian market. But his love of theater called him back to the stage and called him back home to his home town in the DMV area, just when the COVID19 crisis began. As audiences were tested with the limits on public gatherings, the stresses of those limits placed the heart of audience-actor relationship, and the rise of Asian-Americans hate crimes, Chil Kong met the moment with his experience in digital/film/TV, community activism, and the connective power of theatre. He provided a fresh voice to the artistic and social crisis. He helmed Adventure Theatre MTC's push into uncharted waters with creative digital events that preserved the live "theatrical experience." Kong's innovative leadership has been highlighted in multiple news outlets across the DC metro area. He was also been a leader in social justice and was highlighted in the New York Times article "Spit On, Yelled At, Attacked..." that shone a light on the rise of hate crimes against Asian Americans during the COVID19 crisis. Mr. Kong proudly serves as the Artistic Director of Adventure Theatre MTC in Glen Echo Maryland.


Tara Moses

Tara Moses (she/her) is a citizen of Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, director, multi award-winning playwright, Producing Artistic Director of telatúlsa, and co-Founder of Groundwater Arts. She holds a BA in Theatre from the University of Tulsa and is expected to attend Brown University/Trinity Rep as an MFA Directing Candidate in the fall of 2021. www.taramoses.com





Brisa Areli Muñoz

Brisa Areli Muñoz is a Brooklyn-based theater director, cultural worker, and arts educator. Brisa’s expertise lies in devising original participatory works and developing cross-sector collaborations between organizations and communities. Brisa uses liberatory educational principles and democratic models of engagement to curate creative space for dialogue and action locally and abroad. She has facilitated work with urban planners, architects, international mediators, social workers, educators, business leaders, artists, and communities. She has been published in the Journal of Mediation for her work with peace-building educators in Dohuk, Iraq. Brisa obtained her Masters in Applied Theatre from the City University of New York, including additional Master’s coursework in Organizational Change Management at The New School. 


T. Oliver Reid

T. OLIVER REID Performer, Educator, Activist, Co-Founder & Artistic Director of Black Theatre Coalition, has spent the past 20 years working on Broadway shows, (Hadestown; Once On This Island; Sunset Boulevard; After Midnight; Sister Act; Mary Poppins; The Wedding Singer; Chicago; La Cage Aux Folles; Never Gonna Dance; Thoroughly Modern Millie; Follies; Kiss Me, Kate),which have amassed more than 20 Tony Awards from the American Theatre Wing’s Tony Awards. He is also an accomplished cabaret artist and multiple award winner for his solo show, “Drop Me Off In Harlem” which he directed, wrote and starred in. He has produced and directed concerts for Feinstein’s 54 Below and continues to work in film and television. He is on faculty at NYU-Tisch’s Grad Acting Program and Columbia University School of the Arts’ Grad Acting program. He sits on the Board of Visitors for the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. He’s currently in the critically acclaimed, Hadestown on Broadway.  


Alvaro Saar Rios

Alvaro Saar Rios is a Texican playwright living in Chicago.  His award-winning play Luchadora! is published by Dramatic Publishing Inc.   Other plays include Blue Bullets, On The Wings of a Mariposa, The History of Mexicans in 10 Minutes, The Day the Music Came Back, and One Hot Texican Summer (or the summer I found out I was Mexican), a quasi-autobiographical one-person show about growing up in Texas in the early 80’s.  He is currently adapting Matt de la Peña’s New York Times Best Seller Carmela Full of Wishes, a co-commission for Chicago Children’s Theatre and The Rose Theater in Omaha.
Alvaro has received playwriting commissions from various organizations, including Kennedy Center, Chicago Children’s Theatre, First Stage, Houston Grand Opera, Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Alley Theatre, Express Children’s Theatre, Milwaukee’s United Community Center, Houston Community College, and Zoological Society of Milwaukee.  He is an Associate Professor at UW-Milwaukee and a proud veteran of the US Army.   He is also a Resident Playwright at Chicago Dramatists and Playwright-In-Residence at Milwaukee's First Stage. 
Website: alvarosaarrios.com   Twitter: @realCrazyMex

Lady Shug

Lady Shug,  pronouns are she/her and they/them, and identifies as a non-binary queer person. 

A proud full blood Indigenous Native American, born of the Diné (Navajo)Nation, growing up in the four corners area in New Mexico.Lady Shug was born for the Kinłichii'nii (Red House) and Bit'ahnii (Folded Arms) clans. Lady Shug's drag persona, has been in the business of female impersonation for over 10 years. 

She was first created in Las Vegas, Nevada, where she was able to start her career and work amongst some of the best entertainers of the world at the Las Vegas Strip, performing nightly and rubbing shoulders with your favorite celebrities. 

After being in the Limelight for so many years, the land of enchantment called her home. Recently she relocated and is now living on the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. She has been fighting for equal rights as an activist for her LGBTQIA2S+ indigenous relatives, to create equal rights in rural areas and reservations that do not normally protect those on indigenous lands.  She loves working with the collectives of Taala Hooghan Infoshop, which has been the key to encouragement in Lady Shug and to smash white supremacy and heteropatriarchy for our indigenous trans, non-binary and gender nonconforming folks. 

Recently, Lady Shug was featured on an HBO special “We’re Here,” featuring Drag Race alumni Bob the Drag Queen, Shangela and Eureka. The series follows them going to small towns and empowering everyone to the art form of drag. I was one of the highlights in the season finale, as an indigenous queen that strives to bring drag back to our indigenous territory. I'm so excited to have this platform, to inspire folks young and old that it's okay to be who you are and to be proud of yourself, whether you're a pow pow dancer, a drag queen, a comedian, a parent, a teacher, or even a caregiver. You are worthy of love and acceptance, and I wish to embody that feeling of love and Pride so no Indigenous queer person ever gets left behind.


Dawn M. Simmons

Dawn Simmons is the co-founder and artistic director of the Front Porch Arts Collective, a black theater company committed to advancing racial equity in Boston through theatre. She also founded New Exhibition Room in 2008 to produce provocative, political, and affordable theater events. She is also the  Executive Director of StageSource, an arts service organization focusing on work force development and sector improvement in theatre across New England. Dawn is originally from Buffalo, NY, where she received a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Buffalo. She went on to study playwrighting at Boston University and directs for regional theatres such as The Front Porch Arts Collective, WAM Theatre, The Nora Theatre, Greater Boston Stage Company, SpeakEasy Stage Company, Bad Habit Productions, Fresh Ink Theatre and Lyric Stage Company. More recently, she served as the Director of Performing Arts at the Boston Center for the Arts.   (Photo Credit: Stephen F. Bevacqua) 

2020 Partners & Sponsors   

Copyright © 2020 AMERICAN ALLIANCE FOR THEATRE AND EDUCATION | 718 7th St NW, WASHINGTON, DC 20001| PH: (202) 909-1194 | [email protected]