NIA “RISE” 2017 Gathering Keynote Speaker The Hon. Marilyn Hortense Mackel Born in Natchez, Mississippi to fearless activist parents, Marilyn and her five siblings learned early that a life worth living required that one give of oneself to, and for the well-being of others. As a retired judge, commissioner, professor, writer, community activist, dynamic keynote speaker and world traveler, her life has been a kaleidoscope of national recognition, judicial appointments and celebrated accomplishments. She has been honored by numerous organizations including the NAACP, Bennett College National Alumnae Association, Superior Court of the County of LA, and the National Association of University Women as a Hall of Fame inductee. A graduate of Bennett College, Georgetown University and John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Marilyn considered herself fortunate to sit in the Dependency Court where she had a positive impact on the lives of children and families. She encouraged students, court dependents, and parents who have been successful in reunifying with their children to give back through volunteer service. One of Marilyn’s main concerns is the impact of child abuse, neglect, and intoxicants on our communities. Since retiring she has relocated to Marin City, CA where she became an active member of the community, a volunteer at the local elementary school, and a member of the Board of Directors of California Youth Connection, a statewide youth-led organization that develops leaders who empower each other, and their communities to transform the foster care system through legislative and policy change.  She is a founding member of the Board of Directors and Emeritus Board Member of the African American AIDS Policy and Training Institute, and former board member of the National Black Gay and Lesbian Leadership Forum. To date, Marilyn continues her
NIA “RISE” 2017 Gathering Honoree, Mary “Midgett” a NIA Collective Co-Founder “I am fortunate to find love at this stage and time in life. I say stage because a setting is happening and I am ready. I will walk and beam to all that I grace with my presence. I will prepare myself for this grandiose beginning in my life.” Thank you. Mary “Midgett” To our dear pioneer sistah-elder: You have shown us that it is never too late, and why wait until…
Friday November 17, 2017
Time   Location
4:00-6:00 pm Registration Midgett Hall
6:00-6:45pm Dinner Pat Parker Eatery
7:30-7:45pm Welcoming/ Opening (Ekua) Midgett Hall
7:45-9:00pm Honoring Midgett (Sherry and Kibibi) Midgett Hall
9:00-10pm Transgender Forum Midgett Hall
Saturday November 18, 2017                                                                
Time   Location
7:15-8am Silent Meditation Walk Pat Parker
Anytime Sitting Meditation June Jordon
8 - 8:45am Breakfast Pat Parker
9-10:15am Opening Ceremony Opening Activity Key Note Speaker Midgett Hall
10:30-12pm                      Yoga/Keisean Raines    Asha Zawadi
10:30-12pm The Butch Femme Dance Kofi /Mkali-Hashiki   Audre Lorde
10:30-12pm Drum Vibrations/Mar Stevens    Midgett Hall 
12-12:45pm Lunch Pat Parker
1:30-3pm Butch Space: Creating Spaces for the Butch Communities  Kofi/Stacy  Audre Lorde
1:30-3pm Well Played: Empowering Women Through Play & Humor/Karen Bayard Midgett Hall
3:15-5pm Beyond the Wobble “Urban Line Dancing           --- Kofi Adoma & Marie Crossley Asha Zawadi
3:15-5pm Use of  the Erotic in the Time of Resistance/Mkali-Hashiki  Audre Lorde
5:00-6:00pm Free Time  
6-6:45pm Dinner Pat Parker
8-9pm NIA at the Apollo Midgett Hall
9pm - Until Dancing Midgett Hall
Sunday November 19, 2017
Time   Location
8-8:45am Breakfast Pat Parker
10-11am Packing  
11-12 Town Meeting NIA’s Future Midgett Hall
12-12:45                                   Lunch  
1-2                                Closing (Ekua) Midgett Hall
  Spaces that are open 24hrs:     “The Comfort Zone” is provided for our relaxation, rejuvenation and entertainment. Visit the Comfort Zone in the Ruth Ellis Room (Fireside Room) to play cards or ping pong, share stories, listen to music, lie by the fireplace, or munch on snacks. We ask that you clean up after yourselves.
  • Silent Meditation Room (Carson Room) for quiet relaxation, calming, and reflection.
  • Brittney Griner Field An area for basketball, volleyball, and exercising. Balls are provided.
  • Vendor Market is a marketplace to shop and support sistah entrepreneurs. It is located in the Pat Parker Eatery (Cafeteria).

Workshop Description

Karen Bayard

“Well Played:  Empowering Women Through Play & Humor”


This fun workshop is crafted to guide participants to hone, remember or learn their strengths. What makes each of us powerful, resilient & undeniably amazing. This workshop includes music, movement, gentle, yet deep self exploration and celebration.  And, of course….much Laughter!


I feel it fits this year’s theme RISE because when we know ourselves we are unstoppable. This workshop supports this idea in a way that is enjoyable and conducive to a community gathering such as NIA.


I’ve included links below that illustrate my work for your your review.


Magazine Cover (October 2017):

The 6-page article can be accessed by following these 3 easy steps:


Mar Stevens;

Djembe Vibrations – Lively, interactive workshop with an emphasis on West African rhythms.  We will start with a drum meditation to ground ourselves to breathe and relax.  We will focus on letting go of what we don’t need to open ourselves to strength and power using the drum as we continue on this life journey. All levels welcome.

Mar Stevens, drum warrior, connected with her inner rhythms as a child drumming on her grade school desk.  She began her drum journey twelve years ago with Master Drummer, Afia Walking Tree, of Spirit Drumz. The Drum transformed her life and continues to inspire and heal her.

She continued her study of West African rhythms by attending the Fore-Fote drum camp in Guinea, West Africa.  She studied with Master Drummers and dancers on the Island of Roume, learning songs, dances, and rhythms. Mar loves sharing the rhythms of West Africa with community. She teaches private lessons, and performs in and ensemble, “Sistah’s of the Drum,” a Bay Area group of Women of African descent ( The group’s mission is to heal, transform, and witness through the power of the drum. Mar’s contact info:


Marie Crossley

Workshop Title:  “Beyond the Wobble 2 “ Urban Line Dancing Workshop

Facilitators: Marie Crossley and Kofi Adoma

Marie; I have been a NIA supporter since 1989.  I reside in San Antonio Texas and I retired from the Financial Services industry in 2016.  I have been part of the growing Urban line Dance community for past 5 years.  As a mother, grandmother and recently a great grandmother I am proud and honored to be able to bring this workshop to my NIA sistahs.

Purpose and Goals: Provide NIA participants an opportunity to join in on the phenomenon of Urban Line Dancing in a safe and nurturing environment.

Urban line Dancing has many health benefits:

  • Reduce Stress
  • Fun way to exercise
  • Improve memory
  • Improve coordination
  • Provide social outlet
  • Help fight serious medical issues (blood pressure, obesity, depression)


Stacy Reed & Kofi Adoma


Butch Space: Creating Spaces for Butch Communities

This butch-only workshop provides safe space for masculine-of-center women to “rise” and

express their thoughts/feelings about being their authentic in a world that pressures women to be

gender conforming, The workshop will encourage participants to share healthy coping strategies

to assure a sense of well-being and safety in a climate of fear of Black masculine bodies.

Participants will also be exposed to two examples of butch organizing in communities across the

country: Butch Voices (CA) and The Jerry Palmer Group (Detroit). Time for networking and

fellowship are included.


Kofi Adoma; is a native Detroiter, full time psychologist and psychotherapist, and community organizer. She is a co-founder of the Ruth Ellis Center which is a social service agency for homeless LGBTQ and gender nonconforming youth. Kofi has conducted butch-space workshops across the country since the 90s, and helped to form The Jerry Palmer Group for Black masculine-identified lesbians in Detroit. A book chapter devoted to the founding of this grassroots organization can be found in “Outside the XY: Black and Brown Queer Masculinity” by Morgan Willis.

Stacy Reed is a 45 year old poly, kinky identified butch woman living in the Bay Area. She is a retired board member for the NIA Collective and has facilitated butch/bulldagger groups throughout the East Bay. Stacy thinks it is important for butches and MOC (masculine-of-center) folks to have spaces to meet and talk with each other about issues that affect us.




Maria Cora & Sherry Dowd


RISE: This Workshop is to discuss how we can Support and Empower our Transgender Family but maintain respect for our Unique differences. We share the same fight…We RISE Together.

TITLE: Community Dialogue  About Transgender Inclusion in Lesbian Spaces and               Organizations

PURPOSE AND GOALS: To take the pulse of the Community Perspective on the topic of Transgender Inclusion at NIA.

To foster a better understanding of issues surrounding Transgender Inclusion in Lesbian Spaces and Organizations.  Review recent events that illustrate the challenges and solutions available.

Maria Cora is a Black Puerto Rican Lesbian and one of NIA’s founders. She is a lead vocalist with Azúcar Con Ache and is the Coordinator of 13 older adult choirs for the San Francisco Community Music Center. She has been an activist in the SF bay area for 30 years and most recently served as the last ED for the Lesbian Health and Research Center at UCSF. She holds a BA from Harvard and an MA in Ethnic Studies from San Francisco State University.

Sherry Dowd is currently the Vice President of NIA focused on Outreach.  She has been active in supporting NIA, BLU and SistahFest.  She is a Published Author with her first offering; “The AssAssination of Bill Cosby ” available on Barnes and She is dedicated, loyal and considers NIA Family.

PROPOSAL: We envision a “Town Hall” style forum co-facilitated by Maria and Sherry who will share their perspectives.  Maria will her share experience from Old Lesbians Organizing for Change (OLOC) where she attended a workshop on the subject.  She will discuss the cancellation of a conference by OLOC due to Transgender Concerns.  She will discuss The Michigan Women’s Music Festival and the issues leading to its demise. We will also present thought provoking questions to encourage and stimulate dialogue.

Topics to be explored are: The value of Intentional Spaces; Generational perspectives; Solidarity with the Trans Community on activism, conflict resolution, bridge building etc.

Question for consideration: If you knew there would be more that 50% Attendees who identify as Transgender attending the next NIA would you attend?

Time allowing: We will be open other topics as suggested by Attendees.


Keisean Raines, author, holistic lifestyle enthusiast and certified yoga instructor


My name is Keisean and I’m an author, holistic lifestyle enthusiast and certified yoga instructor,  with a speciality in evolutionary empowerment for women. Three years ago I started a business.  The services I provide are designed to create a happy, healthy and whole person through the practice of balanced nutrition, regular practice of yoga and meditation, as well as lifestyle coaching.


Free the Belly Yoga:

A mindful, and empowering body positive yoga session.  I hope to share a gently led movement session allowing every participant to feel comfortable in their own body and movement.


This class is an All-Level Yoga class designed introduce you to the healing, therapeutic and stress-relieving practice of Yoga & Meditation.  Through the practice of Surya Namaskar or the Sun Salutation you will be introduced to one of the most well-known yoga routines. Surya Namaskar has a deep effect in detoxifying the organs through copious oxygenation and has a soothing, relaxing effect on the mind and body.


This space will be a body positive space where all bodies are good bodies and all bodies are affirmed.


Are You Tired of Being Broke?

This workshop introduces 4 simple, specific and practical ways to help you improve your Financial Fitness.  From the perspective of millionaires to average income earners, there are key habits to practice in order to stop being broke.  The goal of this workshop is to provide you with habits you can start immediately and will see positive changes in your purse, wallet and bank account. This is not a workshop on investment banking or traditional financial planning.


It is a workshop that will help you shift your mindset, actions and relationship with money.  Duplicating the practices of others who have created a lifestyle of financial freedom, this workshop is designed to show you how to write a new story for your money.



Uses Of The Erotic In The Time Of Resistance

Using Audre Lorde’s seminal essay “Uses Of The Erotic: The Erotic As Power”, we will begin with defining the erotic & it’s relationship to (and differentiation from) the sensual & the sexual. We will discuss the ways we can use the erotic in our lives as a source of power & connection. We will end with learning some breathwork techniques for accessing our erotic power & sharing that power with another with the goal of deepening our connections & strengthening our collective power.



Mkalihashiki and Kofi Adoma

Butches and Femme Interface: An Adventure of Masculine and Feminine Energies Among Womyn

Never has there been an exclusive structured space at NIA in which butch and femme women could talk among themselves about the dynamics of their interrelatedness. Given the 30th anniversary of NIA, it was determined that the time has come to “rise” to the occasion. Through various discussions and activities, this workshop will provide butch and femme women with a chance to dialogue with each other about their needs, wants, desires, goals, and etiquette behaviors. The goal is to gain insights, wisdom, and mutual intimate connection on a sisterly fellowship level, as well as an appreciation for the complexities of gender expression. Prepare to have fun, relax, and express your thoughts and feelings. Given the experiential nature of this workshop, we require and will enforce the exclusive presence of those who are femme-identified, butch/masculine-of-center/stud/AG-identified, and womxn interested in the femme-butch dynamic.


Mkali-Hashiki Nln

M’kali-Hashiki lives in Bay Area and has been an activist and organizer with the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, the Progressive People of Color Grassroots Organizers Summit, and as the Conference Director for Outwrite–the national Queer Writers’ Conference. She was the Interim Arts Editor at Sojourner: A Women’s Forum, and a published author and essayist. She is a co-founder of Lesborados & SAMazons, and co-facilitated workshops on the links between sexuality & spirituality, She has a private practice of Erotic Wellness Facilitation, helping others to re/connect with their erotic voice & power. For more information on her private practice, visit her website:


Kofi Adoma

Kofi is a native Detroiter, full time psychologist and psychotherapist, and community organizer. She is a co-founder of the Ruth Ellis Center which is a social service agency for homeless LGBTQ and gender nonconforming youth. Kofi has conducted butch-space workshops across the country since the 90s, and helped to form The Jerry Palmer Group for Black masculine-identified lesbians in Detroit. A book chapter devoted to the founding of this grassroots organization can be found in “Outside the XY: Black and Brown Queer Masculinity” by Morgan Willis.

M’kali-Hashiki is a Renegade Sexual Mystic, a Tour Guide to the Realm of Eros, a Somatic Teacher of Erotic Possibilities, & a Social Justice Warrior-Healer. Her lived experiences, political analysis, and spiritual devotion inform her work as a healer of Erotic Wounds. Find out more about her work at