Clarisa James is the Co-Founder/Executive Director of DIVAS (Digital Interactive Visual Arts Sciences) for Social Justice. For the past 14 years DIVAS has provided free or sliding scale technology training to youth in underserved communities in Central Brooklyn and Southeast Queens. Ms. James has been dedicated to youth development work for the past 20 years in the roles of Teaching Artist, After School Director, Curriculum Specialist and artist. Her life’s work encompasses empowering youth in underserved communities to use technology for social change and think critically about the issues that are affecting them most. Ms. James holds an MFA in Integrated Media Arts from Hunter College’s Film & Media Department.

Dr. Kayla DesPortes is an Assistant Professor of Human-Computer Interaction and the Learning Sciences at the NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She is a collaborative, community-centered researcher, designer, and engineer. Her work explores how artistic computing, engineering, and data literacy education can foster learners to leverage their knowledge and build new skills in order to empower themselves and their communities. She engages in long-term relationships with community partners and applies participatory methods that engage partners in agenda-setting, problem-solving, and integration of their knowledge and values into their designs. Further, she centers equity in her investigations of the learning environment by examining how design with artistic practices can foster learners’ and educators’ engagement with cultures, identities, and the social and political dimensions of society.


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