Deepak Chopra, M.D. FACP
Founder, The Chopra Foundation
Founder, The Chopra Center for Wellbeing
Senior Scientist, The Gallup Organization
“My country has been enriched by the contributions of more than a million Indian Americans, which includes Dr. Deepak Chopra, the pioneer of alternative medicine.” – President William Clinton, March 21, 2000 – State Dinner - India
Time Magazine heralds Deepak Chopra as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century, and credits him as “the poet-prophet of alternative medicine.” – Time Magazine, June 1999
“A renowned physician and author, Deepak Chopra is undoubtedly one of the most lucid and inspired philosophers of our time.” – Mikhail Gorbachev, Citation of the Medal of the Presidency of the Italian Republic awarded by the Pio Manzu International Scientific Committee
As a global leader and pioneer in the field of mind-body medicine, Chopra transforms the way the world views physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social wellness. Known as a prolific author of over sixty-five books with twenty New York Times best sellers in both the fiction and non-fiction categories, his works have been published in more than eighty-five languages. His latest New York Times bestseller, Spiritual Solutions: Answers to Life’s Greatest Challenges, was released in March 2012. Additionally, his New York Times bestsellers, Peace Is the Way received the Religion and Spirituality Quill Award in 2005, and The Book of Secrets: Unlocking the Hidden Dimensions of Your Life was awarded the 2005 Nautilus Grand Prize. FINS - Wall Street Journal, mentioned his book, The Soul of Leadership, as one of five best business books to read for your career.
He is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and Washington Post On Faith and contributes regularly to Oprah.com, Intent.com, and The Huffington Post.
Deepak Chopra's popularity as an international presenter and keynote speaker is exemplified in an impressive list of honorariums. Chopra is the recipient of the 2010 GOI Peace Award, 2010, Starlite Humanitarian Award, 2010 Art for Life Honoree, 2009 Oceana Partners Award, 2006 Ellis Island Medal of Honor presented by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations Foundation, and 2006 Trailblazer Award by the Scripps Center for Integrative Medicine, 2002 Einstein Humanitarian Award through Albert Einstein College of Medicine in collaboration with the American Journal of Psychotherapy. He participates annually as a lecturer at the Update in Internal Medicine event sponsored by Harvard Medical School, Department of Continuing Education and the Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center since 1997.
Chopra is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, Adjunct Professor of Executive Programs at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University and Senior Scientist with The Gallup Organization.
Vishakha N. Desai
President and CEO, Asia Society
Vishakha N. Desai will be the new senior advisor for global policy and programs at the Guggenheim Foundation in September 2012. She is the sixth president of the Asia Society, assuming the position in July 2004. As chief executive officer, she is responsible for managing an international organization with offices throughout the U.S. and Asia. She sets the direction for the Society’s programs in the diverse fields of arts, culture, policy, business and education, overseeing a budget of $22 million.
Since 1990, Dr. Desai has served the Asia Society in various leadership capacities, most recently as Senior Vice President and Director of the Museum and Cultural Programs. She was responsible for the management of the Society’s $40 million renovation of its New York City headquarters and for its 2001 inaugural season. The new facilities have generated a marked growth and diversification of the Society’s programming, audiences and funding sources.
A scholar of classical Indian art, Dr. Desai has built an international reputation for introducing contemporary Asian art to a broad audience and using it to illuminate historical trends and their influence on the development of today’s society. She has been at the forefront of integrating Asian American issues into the Society’s public programs. A regular commentator in the news media, she frequently addresses business and foreign policy audiences on topics ranging from the evolution of U.S. engagement in Asia to the role of culture in changing Asian societies.
Prior to joining the Asia Society Dr. Desai was a curator of Indian, Southeast Asian and Islamic art at The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where she also served as head of public programs and academic affairs. She has also taught at the University of Massachusetts, Boston University and Columbia University.
Dr. Desai received her B.A. from Bombay University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. In 1996 Susquehanna University awarded her an Honorary Doctorate in Arts. The recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, Dr. Desai has published widely on traditional Indian art and on issues in contemporary Asian art. She has lectured extensively in the U.S. and in Asia, and has served as an advisor and juror for numerous international projects on contemporary art, including the Venice Biennale in 2003.
Dr. Desai serves on the boards of The Brookings Institution, Citizens for NYC, and the New York City Advisory Commission for Cultural Affairs. She served as the President of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) in 1998-99, and was on the Board from 1995-2000. She has also served on the Boards of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, LEAP (Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics), the South Asian Council of the Association of Asian Studies, the College Art Association, ArtTable, and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the Asian Americans for Equality 2004 Asian American of the Year Award and the National Institute of Social Sciences Gold Medal.
Dr. Desai is married to Robert B. Oxnam, a China scholar, who was the Asia Society’s president from 1981 to 1992.
Fred Ho is a Chinese American matriarchal revolutionary socialist, aspiring Luddite, and composer of Afro Asian manga opera and other grand works. He has never had a university or any institutional job his entire professional life, and runs his own for-profit enterprise, Big Red Media, Inc. He has won five Rockefeller Foundation fellowships, three New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in Jazz Composition and Opera/Musical Theater, the Harvard Arts Medal, and many other mainstream and guerilla awards, the latter including Martial Arts Pioneer by the Museum of the American Moving Image. Some would say he is a “Tang Dynasty Man” or a “Timbuktu Man,” or, if one must be Eurocentric, then a “Renaissance Man.” He is the author of seven books, including most recently Diary of a Radical Cancer Warrior: Fighting Cancer and Capitalism at the Cellular Level, and Raw Extreme Manifesto: Losing Weight, Self-Improvement and Changing the World by Spending Almost Nothing!, both by Sky Horse Publishing.
His manga operas include Deadly She-Wolf Assassin at Armageddon!; Journey Beyond the West: The New Adventures of Monkey; and Voice of the Dragon: Once Upon a Time in Chinese America . . . The Martial Arts Epic, among about a dozen works.
He received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2011, which supported a work for big band: The Sweet Science Suite: A Scientific Soul Music Honoring Muhammad Ali.
He is collaborating with Dr. Salim Washington on a new book entitled So What? “Jazz” and the Revolutionary Imagination, a theoretical treatise of what makes Black music Black and revolutionary, and how it must continue to black and revolutionary in the face of the counterrevolutionary onslaught for the American musical establishment.
He has been fighting advanced colorectal cancer since 2006, including four tumors in four years, the loss of his left kidney, bladder, and prostate, and a whole host of other physical losses, which have in turn gifted him with a profound ability to pursue a mission of doing the politics and art that no one else can or will do.
Christine Toy Johnson
Actor, Playwright, Filmmaker
Christine Toy Johnson is an award-winning actor, playwright, and filmmaker.
As a performer, she has been breaking the color barrier in non-traditionally cast roles for over 25 years, and has been featured extensively on Broadway, off-Broadway, in regional theatres across the country, in film, television, and concerts worldwide.
An anthology of her written work was inducted into the Library of Congress Asian Pacific American Performing Arts Collection in 2010. She is currently writing book and lyrics to her first musical, BARCELONA, with composer/lyricist Jason Ma. Christine was the Executive Producer and Co-Director with her husband, filmmaker Bruce Johnson, of TRANSCENDING – THE WAT MISAKA STORY, the award-winning documentary feature film about Japanese American basketball star Wat Misaka, the first person of color to be drafted into what is now the NBA by the 1947 New York Knicks.
An avid advocate of inclusion, Christine has been a member of the elected leadership of Actors’ Equity Association since 1992, serving as co-chair of the union’s Equal Employment Opportunity Committee and also on the executive board of the Tony-honored Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts and is a founding steering committee member of AAPAC (Asian American Performers Action Coalition). She was a semi-finalist for the Ford Foundation "Leadership for a Changing World" Award in 2001, and has received multiple grant awards in support of her work from The California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, Asian Women Giving Circle, The Open Meadows Foundation, The Manhattan Community Arts Fund, The Puffin Foundation, The Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and The Boomerang Fund for Artists. She was honored by the JACL in 2010 for “exemplary leadership and dedication”. Christine is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Certificate of Screenwriting Program at NYU. For more information, please visit www.christinetoyjohnson.com.
Greg’s theater credits include the world premiere productions of “The Ballad of Yachiyo” (Berkeley Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Public Theater-New York Shakespeare Festival) , “Butcher’s Burden” (Asian American Theater Company), “The Summer Moon” (A Contemporary Theater, South Coast Repertory Theatre), “10,000 Years” (written and produced by John Ridley), “No-No Boy” (adapted by Ken Narasaki), “The Happy Ones” (South Coast Rep.) for which he was nominated for an L.A. Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Performance and “Extraordinary Chambers” (The Geffen Playhouse) for which he was nominated for an Ovation Award for Best Featured Actor in a Play.
Greg also appeared as ‘DHH’ in “Yellow Face” at Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company for which he was nominated for a Craig Noel (San Diego Theater Critics Circle) award for Outstanding Lead Performance in a Play.
His television credits include cast member of the UPN sketch comedy pilot Off Limits, 23 episodes of “Watch Over Me” (MyNetworkTV). Other appearances include: Curb Your Enthusiasm, Reno 911!, Criminal Minds, The Proud Family, Hidden Hills, J.A.G., and Nash Bridges.
Film appearances include “Only The Brave”, “Americanese”, “True Love and Mimosa Tea”, “Life Tastes Good”, and “Forgotten Valor”.
Greg has been a company member of the Asian American sketch comedy troupe, the 18 Mighty Mountain Warriors since 1994. The documentary about them, ‘Mighty Warriors of Comedy’ won a Northern California Emmy.
Joseph V. Melillo, executive producer since 1999, is responsible for the artistic direction of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). During his tenure, BAM has enjoyed increases in both programming and audience attendance in its Harvey Lichtenstein Theater, Howard Gilman Opera House, Rose Cinemas, and BAMcafé. Prior to his current position, Melillo served as BAM’s producing director, following a six-year tenure as founding director of the Next Wave Festival.
Over the years, Melillo has fostered the work of emerging and established artists and forged dynamic artistic partnerships. He has furthered the global reach of BAM’s mission through projects like The Bridge Project—a three-year series of international theater engagements featuring a trans-Atlantic company of actors directed by Sam Mendes and produced by BAM, The Old Vic, and Neal Street—and most recently DanceMotion USAsm, a cultural diplomacy program in partnership with The US Department of State that shares the rich dance culture of The United States with international audiences through performance and cultural exchange. In 2012, BAM expanded its campus to include the 40,000-square-foot, seven-story BAM Richard B. Fisher Building, named in honor of longtime friend and BAM Endowment Trust Chairman Richard B. Fisher (1936—2004). The BAM Fisher features an intimate and flexible new performance space, adding a third stage for BAM’s world-renowned Next Wave Festival.
Joseph Melillo was named a Chevalier (1999) and an Officier (2004) de L’ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France. In 2004, he was awarded an honorary OBE for his outstanding commitment to British performing arts in America. Melillo was appointed Knight of the Royal Order of the Polar Star in 2007, in recognition of his role in solidifying ties between the performing arts communities of Sweden and the United States, and in 2012 he was named cultural ambassador for Taiwan in recognition of his efforts to bring the arts of Taiwan to the US. In May of 2012, Melillo was awarded an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from St. Francis College, Brooklyn, NY.
Melillo has served on the faculty of the Brooklyn College Graduate Program in Arts Management and on the boards of directors for the Association of Performing Arts Presenters and En Garde Arts. He was a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts Dance Program and the New York State Council on the Arts, and served as Multidisciplinary Panel Chair of the Pew Fellowships in the Arts’ 2003 and 2007 Awards. Melillo is a lecturer at colleges and universities nationally and internationally. He currently serves as a member of the International Arts Advisory Committee for the Wexner Prize (Wexner Center for the Arts). Melillo earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and theater at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Connecticut and a Masters of Fine Arts in speech and drama at Catholic University of America in Washington, DC. He is currently celebrating his 27th year at BAM.
Co-founder, Rising Circle Theater Collective
Deepa Purohit has worked extensively in theater in New York City for almost 10 years and in the non -profit education reform for over 15 years. Deepa co-founded Rising Circle Theater Collective in 2000 with fellow artist and educator, Rod Bowen and is currently the Artistic Director. Rising Circle Theater Collective is a theater company that is focused on bringing the unheard stories of people of color to the American stage and creating a much needed home for theater artists of color to develop and stage these stories. As the leader of her theater company she has overseen the development and/or production of 12 original plays written by playwrights of color in the past six years, the reconstitution and development of a new Board, the expansion of programming with Q Up, a five-day arts intensive for Asian American high school girls from Queens, the development of Rising Circle’s, INKtank, a 12-week writers lab for writers of color –all of which were supported by grants from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The Asian Women’s Giving Circle (Q Up), The Nancy Quinn Fund (INKTank 2010) and the Puffin Foundation (INKTank/PlayRISE 2010). She spearheads fundraising efforts for the company’s programs.
With a BA from Northwestern University (History and African Studies) and a Masters in Public Health from Columbia University (Health Promotion and Disease Prevention), she taught 6th and 8th grade English in Baltimore as a Teach For America corps member and alumna for three years and then worked as a teaching artist in New York City for five years, teaching writing and acting to elementary, middle and high school students, working in city schools, psychiatric hospitals, detention centers, and after-school programs in Washington Heights, Brooklyn, the South Bronx, and Queens. All of her teaching focused on helping students from low-income communities write and perform work based on challenges in their own lives. Deepa is a self-taught playwright and trained in acting at the Harlem Theater Company and has trained with master clown, Chris Bayes and master Mask teacher, Per Brahe in New York City.
In February 2011 Deepa developed her play Flight in Rising Circle’s INKtank Playlab as member of the 2nd class of writers to emerge from the lab. Flight was presented as a staged reading to a sold out audience at the Studio Theatre on Theatre Row on June 13, 2011. She continues to work with Sanjit De Silva on Grace (2010), a 2010 Eugene O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference Finalist and a 2009 Lark Playwrights’ Festival finalist. Based on real-life interviews, Grace weaves the story of four individuals whose lives intersect at a refugee camp in Central Africa. It was mounted in July 2009 as part of the NYU Studio Tisch summer program and as a reading in May 2010 as the centerpiece of a day-long Human Rights conference in collaboration with Epic Theater Center. Deepa co-wrote American Family Project (2007), with Sanjit De Silva which was produced by Rising Circle in part with support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in 2007 and then, in 2008, remounted for a conference for 250 mental health service providers in Nassau County, NY.
With Rising Circle she produced her first full length play, Pulling the Lever (2004, with Sanjit De Silva), for 10 performances in New York City during the November 2004 election. In 2005 Pulling the Lever was nominated in six categories for the New York Innovative Theater Awards and won for Outstanding Ensemble Cast. Pulling the Lever was also selected as 1 of 12 plays out of over 300 to be published in the New York Theatre Experience’s annual play anthology, Plays and Playwrights 2006 due out February 2006. She is as 2006 recipient of The New York Coalition of Professional Women in the Arts & Media, Inc.’s Collaboration Award.
In 2003 Deepa was selected to be part of the first round of playwrights commissioned to write an 11-minute play, LotusMart, Ohio, produced by Desipina Productions’ 7.11 Convenience Theater. In 2001, Deepa’s first play, Exiled, based on interviews with her family about her grandmother’s battle with Alzheimer’s Disease was commissioned by the Asian-American Writers’ Workshop for its South Asian Theater Festival. She performed the lead role for that production. Exiled went on to be produced for Artwallah 2003, an annual South Asian Arts Festival in Los Angeles, CA.
Deepa made her television debut in 2001 as a guest star on the Emmy Award winning hit series The Sopranos. She’s also worked as an actor on Law and Order Criminal Intent, One Life to Live, and The Education of Max Bickford. Her film credits include the lead roles in Another Journey, Theen, and The Lottery (all shorts) and guest roles in Sex and the City 2, The War Within and Fillum Star (feature length). In 2003, she was one of twenty actors selected out of over 400 for ABC Television’s Annual Diversity Showcase.
Andy Wang is a highly sought after Hawaiian musician who performs weddings, fundraisers, corporate, private and public events in the New York tri-state area. He has studied under Hawaiian slack key guitar masters Keola Beamer, Raymond Kāne, and Ozzie Kotani. He has appeared as a special guest with "Hawaii's super group" HAPA and twice opened for the legendary Mākaha Sons. Andy's music has also been featured by Hawaiian Airlines and national television networks. When not attired in an aloha shirt, Andy is an owner at Runnymede Capital Management, an investment firm that manages investment portfolios of insurance companies, Taft-Hartley, pension funds, non-profit/religious organizations, and individuals. For more information, visit www.andywangmusic.com.
Marina Celander, originally from Sweden, is a 20 year resident of New York City. Her dance training includes London Contemporary Dance School in London, England. She has performed in both dance and theatre in and outside of New York. She has studied hula for the last 12 years with master hula teachers in New York and Hawai'i. Her hula training is currently as a member of hula hālau or hula school, under the guidance of kumu hula or master hula teacher, Vicky Holt Takamine of Hālau Hula Pua Ali'i 'Ilima.