Bukola Oriola is an international public and motivational speaker, bestselling author, mentor, advocate, entrepreneur, consultant, and member of the U.S. Advisory Council on Human Trafficking – appointed by President Barack Obama in December 2015, and reappointed by President Trump in 2018. Oriola is an award-winning journalist and a survivor of labor trafficking and domestic violence.
Depicting her experiences in two memoirs, she has dedicated her life to helping others by sharing her story and offering practical solutions to service providers and community members on how to help victims of human trafficking and domestic violence. Her work has reached millions around the world. Oriola is the founder of The Enitan Story, a Minnesota based nonprofit organization with a mission to advocate for victims and empower survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence.
She is the CEO of Bukola Oriola Group, LLC, formerly known as Bukola Braiding & Beauty Supply, LLC. She is an entrepreneur who uses her skills to help others become entrepreneurs through book publishing and small business startups.Read More
Once a practicing attorney, Natalie Fowler is an author, a freelance editor (for FATE Magazine), paranormal investigator (for Ghost Stories Ink) and a psychic medium. Fascinated by good ghost stories from a very young age, now she writes her own stories inspired by her work as a ghost hunter and psychic medium. An avid researcher and self-proclaimed history nerd, Fowler’s works are also influenced by the dark depths of history.Read More
Marilène Phipps was born and grew up in Haiti. She held fellowships at the Guggenheim Foundation, Harvard’s Bunting Institute, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, and the Center for the Study of World Religions. The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti, won the 2010 Iowa Short fiction Award. Her poetry won the 1993 Grolier prize, and her collection, Crossroads and Unholy Water, won the Crab Orchard Poetry Prize. Her new book, Unseen Worlds, literary nonfiction, is published by Calumet Editions. She has contributed to American anthologies and collections such as The Best American Short Stories; Haiti Noir: The Classics; The Beacon Best; Ploughshares; River Styx; Callaloo; and Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and she edited Jack Kerouac: Collected Poems for The Library of America. Phipps is the recipient of the NAACP’s Award of Excellence for outstanding commitment in advancing the culture and causes for communities of color.Read More
Born and raised in Minneapolis, Vincent Wyckoff dedicated a career to the U.S. Postal Service. His first book, Beware of Cat, celebrates the life stories of people on his route. For a short time he lived on the Northshore of Lake Superior, from which he developed the background for Black Otter Bay. He and his wife, Sybil, are long-time residents of south Minneapolis. They have three children and six grandchildren.Read More
Brittany Chaffee is an avid storyteller, professional empath, and author. On the daily, she gets paid to strategize and create content for brands. Off work hours, it’s all about a well-lit place, warm bread, and good company. Her first book, Wild Morning was released in 2017. Her recent work, Borderline: A Series of Essays, is a collection of prose essays about memory, time, change, and wonder. She lives happily in Saint Paul.Read More
Christine (Chris) Bauer’s first book Those Three Words: A Birth Mother’s Story of Choice, Chance, and Motherhood was published in 2018, after decades of work. Her book, which has been described as “heartwarming and heartbreaking,” “beautiful and insightful,” and “honest and raw,” chronicles her journey of experiencing an unplanned pregnancy at age 18, the agonizing decision she needed to make, and its impact on her life.
Bauer has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota, and attended Mankato State University in Mankato, Minnesota, where she majored in Mass Communications and hoped to one day be part of a Woodward and Bernstein-type team who saved the world through ground-breaking journalism. Soul searching and need for employment led her to a gratifying career in corporate communications, public relations, and marketing.
Her greatest achievement and most profound joy are being the mother of three kind-hearted children and two beautiful grandchildren. In addition to being a mom and grandma of humans, Bauer is also the proud mom to one very spoiled dog and an equally spoiled granddog. She admits there were moments in the motherhood journey where she preferred the canines.Read More
Susan Thurston’s grandfather loved a poem she wrote in second grade, and within the glow of his appreciation, she decided to become a writer. Later, a well-meaning adult mentioned that as a journalist, she could earn her living. She became a reporter and editor, but wouldn’t really say what she earned was a living. She did get to work with some of the finest people she has ever known. Along the way, she has created and produced programs for adult education, traveled in search of her soul-deep home, mothered two fabulous kids, learned to make really good bread, flown in a hot air balloon, and a lot of other things. And always — writing. She has published, performed, and earned awards for a lot of her poetry and some of her prose, co-authored a cookbook, published the novel Sister of Grendel, and taken a few plays from page to stage. She is also the executive editor of The Black Hat Press, assumed from dear friend and fellow writer Beverly Voldseth.Read More
Dale A. Swanson is a published author, poet, screenwriter, and playwright. His historical novel, The Thirty-ninth Man, made the Star Tribune “Best book read” in 2013. The sequel, Tears of Sorrow, was released in 2018. His fantasy chapter book, The Wild Ways: Mystery of the Hanging Tower, for 9- to 99-year-old readers, was published in 2015. He has had poetry included in two annual stage productions by the Bloomington Arts Council, and two of his radio plays have been performed live and aired statewide. Swanson’s screenplay, Creation Story, was filmed for the nonprofit, Native Strong ARC. In addition to writing, Swanson is an accomplished speaker, having given talks on the US-Dakota War of 1862 to area schools 6th-grade classes and many other venues. His talk about growing up in the ’50s has been popular with 4th-grade classes and senior centers alike.Read More
Richard Thieme is an author and professional speaker who addresses challenges posed by new technologies, how to redesign ourselves to meet these challenges, and creativity in response to radical change. His speaking addresses “the human in the machine,” technology-related security and intelligence issues as they come home to our humanity. He has published hundreds of articles, dozens of short stories, five books, and delivered hundreds of speeches.
His novel, FOAM, was published in 2015 and A Richard Thieme Reader, fiction and non-fiction, in 2016. His column, “Islands in the Clickstream,” was distributed to thousands in 60 countries before collection as a book in 2004. When a friend at NSA said, “The only way you can tell the truth is through fiction,” he returned to writing fiction and Mind Games, a collection of 19 stories about anomalies, infosec, and professional intelligence, was published in 2010.
Many speeches address technology-related security and intelligence issues. He spoke in 2018 at Def Con for the 23rd straight year. He has keynoted conferences around the world and clients range from GE, Microsoft, Medtronic, and Johnson Controls to the NSA, FBI, US Dept of the Treasury. Los Alamos Lab, and the US Secret Service.Read More
Sammi Jones got her start in roller derby in 2010 when she joined the Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls. She quickly fell in love with the sport and has been skating the flat track ever since. Jones earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University Moorhead and has written for a variety of publications. She currently resides in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area where she works as an editor for a trade magazine and skates for North Star Roller Derby.Read More