Converging Minds

What is Converging Minds?
• A program of coordinated events scheduled before or after a performance which enhance and extend the audience’s experience of the play; these events include workshops, panel discussions, facilitated dialogues with community leaders, and things we have yet to dream up.
• An avenue to present related resources.
• A source of actions audience members can take to become advocates or simply more inclusive citizens.

Converging Minds guests and events for A New Nation
Noobtsaa Philip Vang, Founder & CEO of Foodhini
Sally Dworak-Fisher, Litigator with The Public Justice Center
Erin McKenney, Executive Director of Just Neighbors
Stoking the Coals Activist Workshop

Converging Minds Speakers

Convergence Theatre is proud to partner with local organizations that are committed to creating positive change in our community. Below is a schedule of our featured Converging Minds speakers:

Noobtsaa Philip Vang, Foodhini

Friday, July 13th (following the 8 PM performance)

Noobtsaa Philip Vang (Founder & CEO) is an MBA graduate of the Georgetown McDonough School of Business, with an emphasis in social entrepreneurship. Prior to business school, Noobtsaa earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Minnesota and led capital projects for 3M Company. Growing up as a Hmong American, he grew to appreciate his culture’s cuisine, while at the same time seeing the barriers to sustainable income generation for his community as immigrants. Noobtsaa recognized that many immigrant communities face this challenge, and in the summer of 2015, he founded Foodhini.

Foodhini is a for-profit social enterprise focused on creating sustainable income generation opportunities for marginalized immigrant communities through food commerce. Foodhini provides a commercial kitchen for independent immigrant home chefs to leverage their existing culinary skills and prepare their authentic home-cooked ethnic cuisines. Through Foodhini’s digital platform, the chefs can then sell their meals direct to customers.

Learn More about Foodhini
Sally Dworak-Fisher, Public Justice Center

Sunday, July 15th (following the 4 PM performance)

Sally Dworak-Fisher joined the PJC in 2002, where she has worked on a variety of projects, including national class action litigation against Wal-Mart for gender discrimination; class action litigation against the state of Maryland for unconstitutional conditions of confinement at the Baltimore City Detention Center; class action litigation against the Baltimore County Board of Education for violations of homeless children’s education rights; policy advocacy and litigation on behalf of low-wage workers; and public and client education regarding homeless students’ education rights. She currently leads the PJC’s Workplace Justice Project.

Sally graduated with honors from University of Michigan Law School in 1997, where she was also an editor of the Michigan Journal of Race & Law, Coordinator of the National Lawyers Guild, and recipient of the Jane L. Mixer Award for her demonstrated commitment to social justice. After graduation, Sally clerked for two federal judges and worked as an attorney in Washington, D.C. at Ayuda, Inc., where she represented low-income individuals seeking relief from deportation. Sally received her B.A. in Government with a concentration in International Relations from Cornell University.

Learn More about the workplace justice project
Erin McKenney, Just Neighbors

Saturday, July 21st (following the 4 PM performance)

Erin McKenney (Executive Director) is a native of Kentucky and graduate of Georgetown College (KY) with a degree in Marketing and Finance. As Executive Director, Erin manages the business and development aspects of Just Neighbors. She also connects Just Neighbors to the community through churches, organizations and individuals. Erin speaks a little Portuguese and Spanish. Her mission trips through her church (AUMC) have exposed her to a number of immigrants as well as her last job at Safe Haven, feeding the hungry and homeless. Her extensive travel to places like Mozambique, Brazil, Haiti and other parts of the Caribbean and Central America has allowed her to see the conditions that cause people to emigrate. Erin is actively involved in Annandale United Methodist Church, where she has served as the Missions chair, and president of the United Methodist Women. Her favorite thing about Just Neighbors is the passion that the staff, volunteers and board have for what they do every day!

Just Neighbors is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization dedicated to serving and supporting the immigrant community of northern Virginia. Its mission is to provide immigration legal services to low-income immigrants and refugees of all faiths and nationalities, especially those who are most vulnerable.

Learn More about Just Neighbors