Born in Kansas City, Missouri and raised in San Pedro, California, Misty Copeland began her ballet studies at the late age of thirteen. At fifteen, she won first place in the Music Center Spotlight Awards. She studied at the San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre's Summer Intensive on full scholarship and was declared ABT's National Coca-Cola Scholar in 2000.
Misty joined ABT's Studio Company in September 2000, joined American Ballet Theatre as a member of the corps de ballet in April 2001, and in August 2007 became the company’s second African American female Soloist and the first in two decades. In August 2015, Misty was promoted to principal dancer, making her the first African American woman to ever be promoted to the position in the company’s 75-year history, and she made her Broadway debut in the role of “Ivy Smith/Miss Turnstiles” with the critically acclaimed show, On The Town.
In 2008, Misty was honored with the Leonore Annenberg Fellowship in the Arts, a two-year fellowship awarded to young artists who exhibit extraordinary talent providing them additional resources in order to attain their full potential. Performing a variety of classical and contemporary roles, one of Misty’s most important roles was performing the title role in Firebird, created on her in 2012 with new choreography by much sought after choreographer Alexei Ratmansky. In December 2014, Misty debuted the lead role of “Clara” in American Ballet Theatre’s production of The Nutcracker, also choreographed by Alexei Ratmansky. In the fall of 2014, she made history as the first black woman to perform the lead role of “Odette/Odile” in American Ballet Theatre's Swan Lake during the company’s inaugural tour to Australia. Misty reprised the role during ABT’s Metropolitan Opera House spring season in June 2015, as well as debuted as “Juliet” in Romeo & Juliet.
Misty has been featured in numerous publications and television programs, including CBS Sunday Morning, 60 Minutes, The Today Show, This Week with George Stephanopoulos, MSNBC's Melissa Harris Perry, Vogue, Essence, Ebony, and People Magazine. She was honored with an induction into the Boys & Girls Club National Hall of Fame in May 2012, received the “Breakthrough Award” from the Council of Urban Professionals in April 2012, the Young, Gifted & Black honor at the 2013 Black Girls Rock! awards, and the 2015 Glamour Magazine Women of the Year Award.
Her endorsements, past and present, include American Express, COACH, and Diet Dr. Pepper. In 2014, Under Armour announced Misty as one of the faces of their "I Will What I Want" campaign with a commercial that went viral, gaining over 9,000,000 views and in 2015, she was named a brand ambassador of Seiko as part of its “Progress to Seiko” global campaign.
Misty’s passion is giving back. She has worked with many charitable organizations and is dedicated to giving of her time to work with and mentor young girls and boys. Misty was named National Youth of the Year Ambassador for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America in June 2013. In 2014, President Obama appointed Misty to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. And in 2015, she traveled to Rwanda with MindLeaps to help launch its girls program and to establish The Misty Copeland Scholarship.
Misty is the author of the New York Times Bestselling memoir, Life in Motion, co-written with award-winning journalist and author Charisse Jones, published March 2014. She has a picture book titled Firebird in collaboration with award-winning illustrator and author Christopher Myers, published September 2014. She received an honorary doctorate from the University of Hartford in November 2014 for her contributions to classical ballet and helping to diversify the art form.
T. J. Holmes is an award-winning journalist and nationally recognized television personality. In September of 2014, Holmes joined ABC News as an anchor/correspondent and contributes daily to "Good Morning America," the most watched network morning program.
Holmes first gained national prominence during his time at CNN. He spent 5 years as anchor of "CNN Saturday/Sunday Morning" where he dominated breaking news events. Holmes anchored the network's coverage of Saddam Hussein’s execution in 2006 and the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India in 2008 and at Glasgow Airport in 2007. He also anchored from Ground Zero to commemorate the emotional 10th Anniversary of the September 11th attacks and covered the historic first papal visit to the United State of Pope Benedict XIV in 2008, including anchoring live from the mass at Yankee Stadium.
Holmes also reported from the scene of some of the most riveting news stories including the devastating Joplin, Missouri tornadoes, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in New Orleans, and the tragic shootings on the Virginia Tech campus in Blackburg, Virginia. He secured some of the first accounts from the survivors of the US Airways Flight 1549 that crash-landed in New York’s Hudson River in January 2009 and reported from the campus of the University of Mississippi during the first presidential debate between Senators John McCain and Barack Obama.
Holmes previously worked as a news anchor at NBC11 in the San Francisco Bay Area. While at NBC, he traveled to Athens, Greece to cover the 2004 Olympics, the first Summer Games held after the September 11th attacks. Holmes also covered numerous other stories that garnered national attention, including the historic recall election of the California governor in 2003 and the double murder trial of Scott Peterson.
Prior to NBC11, Holmes served as a weekend anchor and reporter at KTHV in Little Rock, Arkansas. He started his career at KSNF in Joplin, Missouri.
Holmes is a graduate of the University of Arkansas. He now serves as a member of the Chancellor's Board of Advisers at the University and is on the Board of Visitors at Emory University in Atlanta. He's been an active member of the 100 Black Men of Atlanta and the National Association of Black Journalists.
Karyn Parsons has acted on stage, in several films and on t.v, but is perhaps best known as the character “Hilary Banks” on the long-running television show, “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.” Today, Karyn dedicates most of her time to being a mother of two, and to her non-profit organization, Sweet Blackberry. Parsons established Sweet Blackberry in 2005 in order to introduce children to little known African Americans in history through various forms of media. Sweet Blackberry’s films have appeared on HBO, garnered several awards, including the Parent’s Choice Award, can be found in schools and libraries across the country, and are currently available for streaming through Netflix. Her wish is that through these engaging and entertaining stories of determination and triumph in the face of adversity, children will find themselves inspired and empowered.
Linda Sarsour is a workingwoman, racial justice and civil rights activist, every Islamophobe’s worst nightmare, and mother of three. Ambitious, outspoken and independent, Linda shatters stereotypes of Muslim women while also treasuring her religious and ethnic heritage. She is a Palestinian Muslim American and a self-proclaimed “pure New Yorker, born and raised in Brooklyn!” She is the Executive Director of the Arab American Association of New York and co-founder of the first Muslim online organizing platform, MPOWER Change. Linda has been at the forefront of major civil rights campaigns including calling for an end to unwarranted surveillance of New York’s Muslim communities and ending police policies like stop and frisk. In wake of the police murder of Mike Brown, she co-founded Muslims for Ferguson to build solidarity amongst American Muslim communities and encourage work against police brutality. She is a member of the Justice League NYC, a leading NYC force of activists, formerly incarcerated individuals, and artists working to reform the New York Police Department and the criminal justice system.
Linda co-chaired the March2Justice, a 250-mile journey on foot to deliver a justice package to end racial profiling, demilitarize police and demand the government invest in young people and communities. Linda Sarsour was instrumental in the Coalition for Muslim School Holidays to push New York City to incorporate 2 Muslim high holy holidays in to the NYC Public school calendar. This year, New York City will be the largest school system in the country to officially recognize these holidays. This year, Linda joined leading social justice faith leaders as a Senior Fellow at Auburn Seminary.
She has received numerous awards and honors including “Champion of Change” by the White House, YWCA USA’s Women of Distinction Award for Advocacy and Civic Engagement and the Hala Maksoud Leadership Award from the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. Sarsour was named among 500 of the most influential Muslims in the world. Most recently, Linda was profiled on the front page of the New York Times Metro Section and dubbed “Brooklyn Homegirl in a Hijab” and introduced Linda to their readership as “ Mixing street smarts, activism and her Muslim identity, Linda Sarsour has become a political force”. She has written for and has been featured in local, national, and international media discussing impact of domestic policies that target Arab and Muslim American communities, criminal justice issues and Middle East affairs. Linda is well respected amongst diverse communities in both in New York City and nationally. She is most known for her intersectional coalition work and building bridges across issues, racial, ethnic and faith communities.