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The Chicago Cultural Mile Association has selected some of Chicago’s most influential creative leaders to be recognized as “Creative Spirit Fellows”. These prominent industry leaders serve as ambassadors for The Halloween Gathering as well as Grand Marshalls for the procession.

2016 Creative Spirit Fellows

G.Elliot  Graham Elliot – Chef – At age 27, Elliot became the youngest four-star chef named in any major U.S. city after traveling the world and all 50 states while he was growing up. His restaurant, Graham Elliot, has also earned two Michelin stars which puts him in a unique category of only 15 other restaurants in the U.S. Not only is he also part of the Chicago Chefs Hall of Fame, but he embraces his singer and guitarist side by serving as the Culinary Director of Lollapalooza where he oversees the food offerings to the headlining bands and the festival in general.

C.Hernandez   Carlos Hernandez – Executive Director, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance – Carlos Hernandez is a founder and director of Puerto Rican Arts Alliance (PRAA), a non-profit arts organization for emerging Latino arts. Hernandez has been able to complete a $2.5 million capital campaign drive to establish an expanded Puerto Rican/ Latino cultural center in the Logan Square/ Avondale community of Chicago and he has also continued to produce PRAA’s annual Emmy Award Winning National Cuatro Festival. As a past recipient of the Chicago Community Trust Experienced Leader Fellowship, he has been able to build his knowledge and credibility through connections with multiple Puerto Rican and Caribbean cultural leaders and artists. 

P.Irmer   Perri Irmer – President and CEO, DuSable Museum of African American History – Perry Irmer is President and CEO of the DuSable Museum of African American History, the iconic institution founded by Dr. Margaret Burroughs. Just prior to joining the Dusable, Irmer ran her own global management consulting and strategic planning firm with a mission of promoting economic development through the integration of advanced technology, sustainable design, and public policy. This President and CEO is the recipient of numerous awards and honors for her involvement in the community and youth services, her longstanding support of minority and woman-owned businesses, and her promotion of international business relationships within Illinois.


alan-king-1 Alan King – Chosen Few DJs – Known as a “lawyer by day, DJ by night”, Alan is one of Chicago’s original house music DJs and one of the early members of The Chosen Few DJs. His influence on the house music landscape has been felt for more than 30 years, and he has been cited as an inspiration by DJs and producers including Grammy Award-winning Frankie Knuckles, Steve “Silk” Hurley and Chip E.


paul-natkin Paul Natkin – Photographer – Paul Natkin is a celebrated photographer who has photographed many rock and roll icons over the years. His work has been features in many prominent publications including Rolling Stone and Newsweek Magazine. In his free time Paul donates his time to charities dealing with social issues, such as Farm Aid, Rock for Reading and the Chicago Music Commission.


A.Pissios   Alex Pissios – CEO, Cinespace Chicago Film Studios –Cinespace Chicago Film Studios opened for business in May 2011 and today has 18 fully functioning sound stages with office and support to accommodate any size production. Also, as part of an outreach program, there is an educational classroom and sound stage available to give area students hands on experience in how to build, write, produce, and direct a project for the screen. Some of Pissios’s past projects include Lionsgate’s Divergent, Kelsey Grammer’s TV Series Boss, and many more!

A.Payne   Amaniyea Payne – Artistic Director, Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago – Amaniyea Payne has spent the past thirty years as a celebrated dancer, choreographer, and teacher. After studying with renowned groups such as the National Dance Company of Senegal and the International Afrikan-American ballet, she now works as Muntu Theatre’s artistic director and helps preserve traditional African dance. Her accomplishments include receiving the Ruth Page award both in 1994 for Dance Achievement and in 2001 for Lifetime Service.

lou_raizin_headshot_2_220_275 Lou Raizin – President, Broadway in Chicago – Lou Raizin has over 30 years experience in the entertainment industry. As the prime mover behind Broadway In Chicago, a joint theatrical venture formed in 2000, his leadership propelled the transformation of Chicago from a short-term stop on “the road” to the third most important city in the world for theater.


H.Stillman   Heidi Stillman – Artistic Director, Lookingglass Theatre – For the past eleven years, Heidi Stillman has been in charge of artistic development at the Lookingglass Theatre Company where she has also served as an Ensemble Member, writer, and director. Some of her directing works include North China Lover, The Brother’s Karamazov, and Hard Times which won 5 Jeff Awards including director, new work, and production

T.Tasset   Tony Tasset – Artist – After receiving his M.F.A. at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago, Tasset works with video, photography, bronze, wax, fiberglass and more. His work deals with the trappings of Modernism, Postmodern theory, pop culture and the universal human emotions associated with love, loss, and beauty. In addition to being featured in many solo and group exhibitions around the world, Tasset’s work is featured in permanent collections in the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Contemporary Art.

voshel-102113-story Anne Voshel – Principal, AVA Consultants – Anne is the owner of AVA Consultants, which provides owner’s representative services for commercial real estate. In addition to her contributions to the real estate development industry, Anne co-chars the Planning & Advocacy Committee of the Chicago Loop Alliance.

2015 Creative Spirit Fellows

Lane Alexander – Co-founder/Artistic Director, Chicago Human Rhythm Project
Alexander is a pioneer in the tap dance community and helped to build the first presenting institution in the United States dedicated to American tap and contemporary percussive arts. Co-founded the new American Rhythm Center in Chicago’s historic Fine Arts Building.

Dawoud Bey – Artist, Writer, Teacher
Dawoud Bey holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Yale University School of Art and is currently Professor of Art and a Distinguished College Artist at Columbia College Chicago, where he has taught since 1998. Bey’s works are included in the permanent collections of numerous museums, both in the United States and abroad, including the Addison Gallery of American Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Brooklyn Museum, etc.

Michelle Boone – Commissioner, Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Prior to her post as Commissioner, Boone was the Senior Program Officer for Culture at the Joyce Foundation in Chicago, and prior to that was the director of Gallery 37, an award-winning job-training in the arts program for Chicago youth. She is the recipient of numerous awards and recognitions including an inaugural August Wilson Award from Goodman Theater, 2011 and the 2015 Distinguished Alumni Council Award from Indiana University.

Kevin Coval – Poet, Educator, Organizer
Kevin Coval is the founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival and Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, LTAB’s non-profit home. Coval teaches hip-hop aesthetics at The University of Illinois-Chicago, is a 4x HBO Def Poet, and has written for a wide variety of publications including CNN.com, The Chicago Tribune, Huffington Post and so on.

Lupe Fiasco – Musician, Record Producer, Entrepreneur
Chicago-based MC, Lupe Fiasco, began rapping at age 19. Fiasco was raised in Westside of Chicago and pursued his education at Illinois’ Thornton Township High School. In 2004, He signed with Atlantic Records, released “Kick, Push” as a single and appeared on Kanye West’s 2006 song “Touch the Sky.”

Terri Hemmert – Radio Personality
Terri Hemmert is a radio personality, musicologist, and professor at Columbia College Chicago. She became the first morning drive female host for a rock music station in the Chicago radio market. Terri Hemmert has been at WXRT for over 40 years. In 2002, she became the host of Breakfast with The Beatles, a program specifically dedicated to The Beatles.

Josephine Lee – President & Artistic Director, Chicago Children’s Choir
Josephine Lee has served as Artistic Director of Chicago Children’s Choir since 1999 and was appointed President in 2010. In 2006, the Chicago Tribune named Lee “Chicagoan of the Year in the Arts” and in 2012 she composed a new work for River North Dance Chicago, which premiered on national television.

Joe Shanahan – Owner, The Metro Club
Joe Shanahan is the founder and owner of Metro Chicago and Smart Bar in Chicago, Illinois. He is also the part owner of the Daily Bar and Grill, as well as Double Door. Shanahan is regarded as an expert in the field of independent music promotion, speaking for groups including DePaul University, Columbia College, and South by Southwest.

Anna Shapiro – Artistic Director, Steppenwolf Theatre Company
Shapiro is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and Columbia College and the recipient of a 1996 Princess Grace Award, as well as the 2010 Princess Grace Statue Award. She is a professor in Northwestern University’s Department of Theatre and has served as the Director of the Graduate MFA Directing Program since 2002.

Carlos Tortolero – President/Founder, National Museum of Mexican Art
Carlos Tortolero, President and Founder of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago, came to Chicago from Mexico as a small child. In 1982, Tortolero and friends started NMMA with just $900. It is the only Latino museum accredited by the American Association of Museums.