Nika Cavat is a poet, teacher, and blogger who has worked in both documentary and feature films. Born in Rome and
raised in both Europe and the United States, she received her graduate training in film, screenwriting and directing from Columbia University. Nika’s critical essays, poetry and fiction have appeared in numerous print and online publications including poetdiversity and Oberon Review. Currently a teacher at Crossroads School in Santa Monica, Nika lives in
Venice Beach, CA with her daughter, their dog, cat and hedgehog.
Prolific and eclectic, Naomi Hirahara is the author of seven novels, including the Mas Arai mystery stories and her latest, Murder on Bamboo Lane, featuring rookie bicycle cop Ellie Rush. Naomi has written extensively on the history and
culture of Japanese-Americans, focusing on topics as diverse as Japanese-American gardeners in Southern California
and Japanese-American physicians in World War II detention camps. A graduate of Stanford University, she also had a distinguished career in journalism editing Rafu Shimbo, an influential bi-lingual Japanese-English newspaper.
Stanford cultural and medical anthropologist Katrina Karkazis studies the history and treatment of intersex people.
Her groundbreaking book, Fixing Sex: Intersex, Medical Authority, and Lived Experience, appeared in 2008. Recent work examines policies around “gender verification” for elite women athletes and her article on this topic in The American Journal
of Bioethics was among the two most read articles in the history of the journal. Karkazis is a frequent speaker
to academic, clinical and lay audiences on issues at the interface of medicine and society.
Hong Kong-born, Ruthanne Lum McCunn is of Chinese and Scottish descent. She was educated at the University of Texas, Austin, and is the author of several novels, including the highly acclaimed Thousand Pieces of Gold, later made into a film. She has taught at Cornell University, UC Santa Cruz, and the University of San Francisco. Her most recent work, Chinese Yankee, relates the tale of Ah Yee Way, a man from Hong Kong who fought on the Union side in the U.S. Civil War.
Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Sonia Nazario has spent her career shining much-needed light on critical social issues.
Her 2002 series, Enrique’s Journey, about the plight of children who immigrate to the U.S. to join their parents won
more than a dozen journalism awards. In 2006, Nazario published a book to great critical acclaim that expanded upon
the series. In July 2014, Nazario penned the influential New York Times opinion piece, The Children of the Drug War:
A Refugee Crisis, Not an Immigration Crisis.
Professor Samatar, a specialist in multicultural literature and non-western authors has taught literature and Arabic at CSU Channel Islands since 2013. Prior to receiving her PhD at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, she lived in South Sudan and Egypt for over a decade. Her debut fantasy novel, A Stranger in Olondria, won the Crawford Award for Best Fantasy Debut and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She is also the nonfiction and poetry editor for the online journal Interfictions.
Professor of Sociology and an affiliated faculty member in Feminist Studies at UCSB, Verta teaches courses on gender
and sexuality, feminism, and social movements. She has published over 100 scholarly articles and is the author of 15
books and edited volumes, including The Marrying Kind? Debating Same-Sex Marriage within the Lesbian and Gay Movement (2013). Verta received the American Sociological Association’s Jessie Bernard Award in 2011 in recognition
of her lifetime of scholarship on women.