A native of Buffalo, Demone Smith is a graduate of School #69 and Burgard High School.  He received his BA in Political Science from Wilberforce University. In 2004, he began his career in the Erie County Legislator where he served as Chair of the Finance and Management Committees, Vice-Chair of the Community Services Committee and as a member of the Public Safety Committee. Serving as City Common Council Member for the Masten District since 2008, he was elected Majority Leader in 2012.


At 14, Zandra is TEDxYouth@Buffalo’s youngest speaker. At 9, she created her own line of bath and body products to encourage young women to be beautiful young leaders. An ambassador to the “Educate A Girl,” Program, Zandra works outside of the box to spread her message of being a strong, confident and educated woman. When not tackling the challenges of being a kid entrepreneur, she keeps busy with her studies at Nardin Academy. Read full bio here.

Eric is an award-winning saxophonist, keyboardist and vocalist and educator. He has played with The Waz, Bob Weir and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, The Roots, and Michael Franti. “Critt” earned his BA in Jazz Performance and MS ED in Career and Tech Education. In 2003, he co-founded the IMAGE Urban Arts Workshop, a life-mentoring program. He currently serves as Arts Director for the Buffalo Center for Arts and Technology. Read full bio here.

A sophomore at SUNY at Buffalo, Tom is currently pursuing a joint degree in English and Communication. A two time winner of the Pure Ink Poetry Slam, he has competed as a member of the Pure Ink and Nickle City Poetry Slam teams. Most recently, he placed 1st at the Youth Buffalo Niagara International Poetry Slam, and currently serves as a member of the Living Poet Society, a premier feature of Buffalo Poetry.

Steven pegs himself as a new age “visual-ist”. Committed to executing his creative mindset through the media, he has curated many websites, digital campaigns, and marketing campaigns. A current student at SUNY Buffalo State, Steven keeps himself busy with his studies in Broadcast Journalism while minoring in  Public Relations. Born in Manhattan, he credits his fast-paced, never sleep lifestyle to his experiences and determination to become a media maven. Read full bio here.


A freshman at Manhattan College, Raquel is a part of the Roots and Shoots College Council, of the Jane Goodall Institute. She is co-founder of Greenwich High School’s Roots & Shoots club which has completed service projects including building wells and creating text books for students in schools in Mali. She is also actively involved with Invisible Children and raising awareness about wars in Uganda, South Sudan, and the D.R.C. Read full bio here.

Chuckie is a musician, poet, fiction writer, editor, publisher, and educator. He holds a Ph.D. in English Literature and Creative Writing from University of Southern Mississippi and is a professor at Bryant & Stratton College. In addition to his academic achievements, he is the recipient of the 2014 ALL WNY Music Awards for “Best Hip Hop/Rap Performer” and “Best New Artist.” He is also the founder and editor of Sunsets and Silencers, a print journal for art, literature, and culture. Read full bio here.


Erika received her B.A. from New York University, her M.A. from Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and her Ph.D. from the American Studies Department at SUNY at Buffalo in American Religious History. She has been writing and performing poetry for most of her life. She currently performs with the Buffalo based Njozi Poets and has two self-published books: Crying Out Loud and So I Said to the Mountain, “Move” and a CD entitled More Than.
 Name-JULIAN LOVEJulian’s love for performing started when he was just 3 years old, dancing for family and friends. Today, he continues to perform utilizing his dance skills not only to entertain, but also as a form of therapy. At just 16 years of age, Julian struggles with severe depression. He hopes that his passion for dance and his story will inspire other young people to pursue their dreams and use them as positive outlets for their lives.