The Team

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Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute


ESII Staff

adrienne maree brown headshot

adrienne maree brown

storyteller, doula

adrienne maree brown is author of Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds and Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good, and the co-editor of Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction from Social Justice Movements. She is a writer, social justice facilitator, pleasure activist, healer and doula living in Detroit. brown has been facilitating professionally for over fifteen years, and has worked with hundreds of organizations at all levels of scale including informal collectives, foundations, national networks and more. She is the cohost of the How to Survive the End of the World podcast.  

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Melinda Lee

Administrative Manager, aka Boss of Internal Magics

Melinda Lee is a queer, non-binary, first-generation Cambodian, Vietnamese, and Chinese person born and raised in Long Beach, CA. They're currently living and learning in Minneapolis, MN. They enjoy writing, painting, bookmaking, playing games, woodworking, and reading. Melinda spends most of their time trying to honor to the legacy of their grandma, Thida Duong, who raised them.

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Luis Alejando Tapia

Weaver, aka Boss of External Magics  

Luis Alejandro Tapia, a son of Dominican immigrants, serves as a social impact and equity consultant, a racial and restorative justice coach and trainer, circle keeper, social justice educator, and facilitator at the intersections of spirituality, leadership, healing and liberation. Luis Alejandro has facilitated unique programs for a range of social change agencies including the Center for Racial Justice in Education, Harlem Children’s Zone, ArtStart, Public Allies, Urban Arts Partnership & NYU’s Metro Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools.

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Sage Crump

Chief Architect

Sage Crump is a facilitator and culture strategist who seeks to expand and deepen the work of social justice organizing. Based in New Orleans but working nationally, she believes in leveraging art, creative practice, and culture to transform systemic oppression. Sage is a member of Complex Movements, a Detroit-based artist collective whose work interdisciplinary work supports local and translocal visionary organizing. Sage Crump is currently Program Specialist for Leveraging a Network for Equity (LANE) at the National Performance Network. LANE is a 10-year initiative that amplifies the leadership of arts organization of color and rural organizations and grows their ability to thrive in culturally authentic ways. Board vice chair for the Center for Media Justice, Art2Action, and a member of Alternate ROOTS, Sage’s work incorporates complex sciences, emergent strategy and creative practice to imagine the world we want to live in and build the practices that will get us there.

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Mia Herndon

Development Director

Mia Herndon supports the healing and well-being of people as well as groups, organizations and networks as a facilitator, licensed acupuncturist, somatic coach, and therapeutic body worker based in Brooklyn, NY. Mia serves on the advisory council of Black Feminist Future, and is a current fellow within the Harriet's Apothecary. Mia is the former Executive Director of the Third Wave Foundation. Mia is a queer-identified Black mother from the South, who dances and bikes for joy and mental health.

Advisory Board

Inca Mohammed headshot

Inca A. Mohamed

Internationally recognized for her group facilitation and training skills, Inca A. Mohamed has many years of experience managing and working with nonprofit organizations addressing youth development, sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equity, and, diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). Inca has helped hundreds of organizations create effective and powerful management and strategies for change.

Inca’s previous experience includes her role as the Executive Director for Management Assistance Group (MAG) where she spearheaded MAG’s initiative to go beyond one-on-one consulting with single organizations to providing leadership coaching as a stand-alone service, facilitating high-stakes meetings, and working with coalitions and other multi-organization groups. Inca’s approach to consulting is rooted in her experience as a Caribbean immigrant from a multi-ethnic family, “I had to develop ‘border-crossing’ skills to survive and thrive, and I know the power of cross-cultural learning. My experience taught me to listen deeply, honor what is distinct about each environment, and, when appropriate, translate experiences from one place to another.” Inca’s DEI work is informed by the understanding that an organization’s willingness and commitment to consistently and systematically address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion are fundamental to its health and its capacity for sustained impact.

Before joining MAG, Inca was a Program Officer for human development and reproductive health at the Ford Foundation where she oversaw a $60 million dollar portfolio aimed at strengthening youth development domestically and abroad. She stays connected to the philanthropic sector through her work as a consulting philanthropic advisor to Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. Her career has also included work in public education and advocacy, training, program design and management as well as individual and group professional coaching. She has held leadership positions at a diverse range of organizations including the YWCA of the USA, Hawaii Department of Health, The Door (comprehensive youth development center) and Alameda-San Francisco Planned Parenthood in San Francisco.

Inca’s clients have included:, National Civil Rights Museum, Race Forward, SAGE, SisterSong, The Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, The LGBT ED Institute, The National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, The National LGBTQ Task Force, The National Women’s Health Network, The W. Haywood Burns Institute for Juvenile Justice Fairness & Equity, Arcus Foundation, Counsel of New Jersey Grantmakers, Open Society Foundations, The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Ford Foundation, The Leadership Conference Education Fund, The Meyer Foundation, The North Star Fund, The Washington Regional Association of Grantmakers, and many more.

Inca has completed training through Visions, Inc., The Social Transformation Project (Robert Gass), the Interaction Institute for Social Change’s “Conversation about Racism” course and is certified in Community Coaching through Leadership That Works.

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Jessica Norwood

Named to Essence Magazines “50 Entrepreneurs to Watch” list, Jessica Norwood is an immediate past RSF Social Finance Fellow in Integrated Capital and Nathan Cummings Foundation Fellow in Economic Disruption where she founded The Runway Project. The Runway Project is a suite of strategies that increase investment capital, particularly early capital known as a "Friends and Family" round, into African American companies nationwide.   

Jessica’s work is the foundation of what economists are calling “culture shift investing”, an investment thesis that is political, cultural and financial in impact.  As a former board member of the famed Highlander Research and Education Center, the same place that trained Dr. King, Jessica is trained in nonviolence organizing and anti-racism and is a skilled popular education facilitator. Her innovative work in investing has been profiled in NPR, Next City, Essence Magazine, Conscious Company, Fast Company and others.   

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Julie Quiroz

Julie is passionate about nurturing collective creativity to reimagine, reclaim, and recreate a lasting world for generations to come. Julie is Director of Narrative Future with Movement Strategy Center where she co-creates embodied cultural strategy experiments to shift our world from domination and extraction to interdependence, resilience, and love. Julie co-launched MSC’s podcast The Big We: Experiments in Liberation and co-authored Love With Power: Practicing Transformation for Social Justice.

Julie is a founding member of Untold Stories of Liberation & Love, an all-volunteer Ypsilanti (Michigan)-centric workshop/anthology project amplifying and generating local women of color’s creative courage to envision what Washtenaw communities will be when we we center cooperative community-governed solutions grounded in abundance. Untold Stories invites Washtenaw County women of color to reach back to our ancestors for radical wisdom, to shift the shape of reality in the present moment, and to embody our vision of the future right now. Julie’s brain only really works through poetry and she writes to discover meaning in her experiences with migration, assimilation, race, class, and gender, as she does in her recent story American Residence.

Julie is deeply grateful for the decade she’s spent working and learning with Norma Wong, who inspired her to breathe, embody purpose, and practice tai chi. Julie loves open water swimming and makes a home with her beloved daughter and a tiny dog named Chula.

Jodie Tonita headshot

Jodie Tonita

Jodie Tonita is the Executive Director and Co-Founder at the Social Transformation Project (STP) helping people strategize, collaborate, and grapple with complex, systemic change for a better world. She has spent the majority of her career in leadership and strategy development at the intersections of social movements building the necessary power and capacity to realize just and sustainable futures. While Jodie leads STP she also serves as a leadership fellow with the Broadbent Institute, an advisory board member of the Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute, and on the steering committee of the Inner Activist. She also served on the boards of two national digital organizing and capacity building organizations Leadnow and Groundwire. Jodie lives and surfs in Los Angeles, CA, and is originally from Vancouver, BC.

Shira Hassan headshot

Shira Hassan

Shira Hassan is the former executive director of the Young Women’s Empowerment Project, an organizing and grassroots movement building project led by and for young people of color that have current or former experience in the sex trade and street economies. A lifelong harm reductionist and prison abolitionist, Shira has been working on community accountability for nearly 25 years and has helped young people of color start their own organizing projects across the country. She is the founder and principal consultant for Just Practice, a capacity building project for organizations and community members working at the intersection of transformative justice, harm reduction and collective liberation. Shira’s work has been discussed on National Public Radio, The New York Times, The Nation, In These Times, Bill Moyers, Scarleteen, Everyday Feminism, Bitch Media, TruthOut and Colorlines.

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Nate Mullen

Nate Mullen is a Detroit based artist and educator. His work as a facilitator has focused on creating relationship centered spaces that use curiosity as starting place for inquiry. Best exemplified by People In Education’s Rida Institute, a year long training that supports educators to work towards more humane classrooms and lives. Nate also facilities training for arts, youth development and nonprofit organizations around program and organizational development. Since 2008, Nate has worked at a variety of arts education nonprofits across southeast Michigan. Currently he is a board member of the James and Grace Lee Boggs Center to Nurture Community Leadership, Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute and the Special Advisor at People In Education, an arts and education project committed to humanizing schooling.

Facilitation Cohort

The Emergent Strategy Ideation Institute Facilitation Cohort is a comprised of seasoned facilitators, apprentice facilitators, and students facilitators that support the work of ESII. Please note that support will often come in teams that will include students and apprentices who are learning these methods.

Seasoned facilitators

  • adrienne maree brown
  • Sage Crump
  • Alexis Pauline Gumbs
  • Mia Herndon
  • Kelly McGowan
  • Nate Mullen
  • Kavitha Rao


  • Shane Bernardo
  • Chelsea Cleveland
  • Geoffrey Jackson Scott
  • Nicole Newman
  • Luis Alejandro Tapia
  • Aja Taylor
  • Jennifer Toles
  • pg Watkins


  • Cherizar Crippen
  • Mallika Dutt
  • Cazembe Jackson
  • Nikita Mitchell
  • Joie Lou Shakur
  • Courtney Sebring
  • Ziquelle Smalls
  • Markasa Tucker