The Homer 2 Hip Hop Advisory Committee provides relevant guidance on program development and is composed of the following poets, educators, and community members:

Mauricio “Cio” Alexander is a first-generation bilingual artist of Latin American and East European roots.  A graduate of Oberlin College and the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, he has performed at the US Social Forum, Kennedy Center, D.C. Hip-Hop Theatre Festival, Puerto Rican Traveling Theatre, Symphony Space and Public Theater.  A SAG-AFTRA member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, his original work has appeared at the HBO New York International Latino Film Festival, on television and in new media. Mauricio is an Actors’ Equity 2018 recipient of the Actors’ Fund Push Grant, a 2019 NYUHemispheric Institute’s EMERGENYC member, and teaching resident artist at The Schermerhorn.

Toni Blackman is the first Hip Hop artist selected to work as a Cultural Ambassador with the US Department of State. She is currently an artist with the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute and a fellow in the Echoing Green Foundation’s Thought Leadership Cohort. Creator of Freestyle Union Cipher Workshop and Rhyme Like A Girl, for which she was awarded a prestigious Open Society Institute fellowship (Soros Foundation), Toni is one of the world’s foremost Hip Hop activists. This influence led to Toni being selected as a 2012 DOVE soap Real Woman Honoree. Working in over 34 different countries, touring Africa, southeast Asia, Europe, Canada and Brazil has positioned Toni to consult for festivals, conferences and she most recently curated SOURCE 360’s International Hip Hop Show as a part of the Barclay’s Center programming in a partnership with BAM. She has spoken at ASPEN Institute’s World Summit on Creativity in Oman, the Pio Manzu Conference in Italy, the World Social Forum in Barcelona, as a featured speaker at Chicago Ideas Week, at TEDx UMass at Amherst and most recently at Rockefeller Plaza for NBC Universal’s B.P.A. Conference. Toni taught the art of emceeing as an elective at BCAM High School in Brooklyn, NY, she also taught a course on Hip Hop at Binghamton University, served a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, spent a year working with the Independent Living Program in Washington, DC, served as a teaching artist with WritersCorps (an Americorp program for poets), and has led workshops everywhere from Syracuse University, Spelman College and the Children’s AID Society to the Julliard School and the Smithsonian.

Baba Israel is a Hip Hop artist, poet, and performance maker, producer, educator and consultant raised in New York by parents who were core members of the Living Theatre. He was Artistic Director and CEO of Contact Theatre in Manchester, a leading venue at the intersection of youth leadership and innovative performance. He premiered his most recent multimedia performance The Spinning Wheel as a resident artist at BRIC in Brooklyn. The production was developed and toured in the UK, Holland, Norway and in America with MDC Live Arts and the University of Madison, Wisconsin. He is the Co-Artistic Director of The Performance Project and is proud to be part of HERE’s HARP program. He holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. His band Soul Inscribed has been selected as part of the American Music Abroad program for the second time bringing their music and workshops to the world as cultural ambassadors. 

Currently a National Endowment for the Humanities and Gilder Lehrman Fellow at Princeton, Michael Eisenberg teaches music at Bryant High School in NYC and received his PhD from CUNY.  He has taught and held research fellowships at Columbia, Harvard, UCLA, the University of London School of Advanced Studies, the Italian Fulbright Commission, the Delmas Foundation, and the Getty Research Institute. As a member of the Metropolitan Opera Guild roster, he was selected as the only conductor to perform for the Placido Domingo Met Gala celebration. Michael has performed throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia, and the Middle East, and for the National Public Radio, the BBC, CBC and HBO. He enjoys exploring aural, literary, and visual culture with his students to make music culture come alive.

Marwa Helal is the author of Invasive species (Nightboat Books, 2019) and winner of BOMB Magazine’s Biennial 2016 Poetry Contest. Born in Al Mansurah, Egypt, she currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. To learn more about this writer, visit

Chris Jordan explores the medium of light, movement, and time through the use of technology. His installations have appeared at the Moma, The New Museum, The Whitney, The Museum of Natural History, The Chelsea Museum, Times Square, numerous galleries and clubs; and the incidental spaces inbetween.The common elements that define Chris’ work include explorations into memory, photography, film, interactivity, and projections. By examining the political and social implications  technology has on us through a diversity of media, his work challenges the viewer to redefine perceptions of audience and performer. Chris is also City Lore’s POEMobile projectionist and teaching artist. He has taught participants, between 13 and 18 years old, how to projection map their poems onto building facades, culminating in an early evening performance on the building. This allows the students to create words aligned with the buildings’ windows, doors, railings, and architectural elements. By pairing the words with facades, the participants’ stories unearth new meanings for these public spaces, while also bringing communities together. 

Lisken Van Pelt Dus is a poet and a teacher of writing, languages, and martial arts, living in western Massachusetts. In particular, she champions poetry education and international awareness. In 2016, she was named Berkshire County Secondary Educator of the Year. Lisken holds a BA from Williams College in Religion, with a concentration in Asian Studies, and an MA in Comparative Literature from the UMass Amherst. She is an eighth-degree and third-degree black belt in Uechi-ryu karate and Okinawan kobudo, respectively, and is certified as a Master Instructor. Her poetry can be read in many print and online journals and anthologies, in a chapbook, Everywhere at Once (Pudding House, 2009), and in a full-length book, What We’re Made Of (Cherry Grove, 2016).

Kyle Vaughn’s poems have appeared in publications such as Adbusters, Matter, Poetry East, The Boiler, Vinyl, and Firewheel Editions’ Introduction to the Prose Poem. An educator for almost 20 years, he has taught over 20 distinct courses in English, Humanities, and Visual Arts. His most recent book, Lightning Paths: 75 Poetry Writing Exercises, was published by NCTE Books in 2018. Find more of his work, including photography, other publications, and curriculum materials at

R.A. Villaneuva is the author of Reliquaria, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). New writing appears in Poetry, the American Poetry Review, Guernica, Prac Crit, and widely elsewhere. His honors include commendations from the Forward Prizes, the Ninth Letter Literary Award, and fellowships from Kundiman, the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts, and The Asian American Literary Review. A founding editor of Tongue: A Journal of Writing & Art, he lives in Brooklyn.


Candace Williams is a black queer nerd living a double life. By day, she’s a sixth grade humanities educator and robotics coach. By night and subway ride, she’s a poet. futureblack, her first full-length manuscript, is a finalist of the 2018 National Poetry Series open competition. In 2018, she released Spells for Black Wizards (The Atlas Review), a winner of the 2017 TAR Chapbook Series. Her work has appeared in the PEN Poetry Series, Tin House Online, Hyperallergic, and Nepantla: An Anthology for Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books), among other places. She earned her master’s in education from Stanford University and has received support from Cave Canem, Brooklyn Poets, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Her essays, interviews, and reviews can be found in Electric Literature, VIDA Review, the Fanzine, and Shondaland.


Jenny Xie is the author of Eye Level (Graywolf Press), recipient of the Walt Whitman Award and the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University, and a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry and the PEN Open Book Award. She has been supported by fellowships from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and Poets & Writers.