The Yarn uses the power of story to amplify voices, build understanding, and create space for human connection.
CRYSTAL C. MERCER is a native of Little Rock, AR. She's a Performance Artist and Activist and the Sole Proprietor of Columbus Creative Arts + Activism and SAFI FABric MARKET. Mercer's past credits include a number of plays and musicals in Arkansas, off - Broadway in New York, and internationally in Canterbury, England. She fuses arts and activism by using theatre and textiles to tell social justice narratives, through merchandising and storytelling, with an emphasis of uplifting voices of color. A dedicated public servant, a woman of many creative talents, and the daughter of legendary late civil rights lawyer, Attorney Christopher C. Mercer, Jr., she honors the legacy of her father by using theatre arts as a tool for empowerment, education, and social justice. Stay connected to Crystal! SUBSCRIBE to her YouTube Channel, follow her on Instagram @colleenmercer, on Twitter @AfroCannGoddess, on Snapchat @AfroGoddessCCM,www.linkedin.com/in/ccmercer on LinkedIn, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/CCMercerToo.
Katherine Silverman grew up in Little Rock and returned two and a half years ago to work at The Rep and be close to family. Beforehand, Katherine lived in sunny California where she earned a B.A. in Theatre from CSU, Northridge and caught the eye of an eligible bachelor. Now married, Katherine wishes to thank her husband, Mike for his ongoing support and her family, friends and mentors who have encouraged her to strive for true happiness. A special thank you to Hilary for creating an avenue for unique, local storytelling through THE YARN in Little Rock. This performance is an excerpt from an untitled solo performance Katherine has been writing detailing her experience with her own and other’s mental health. Katherine believes acknowledging a challenge is an important step to healing relationships and living the best life possible.
Fredie C. Smith is a resilient coach who teaches individuals, businesses, and organizations how to get up after being knocked down from life. Www.thoughtstoink.com
Brad Martins grew up in Conway, AR and received his B.A. in biochemistry and molecular biology from Hendrix College in 2013. Brad is an MD/PhD candidate at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences where he is studying psychiatry and neuroscience. He is currently a researcher in the Brain Imaging Research Center within the UAMS department of psychiatry, and his research focuses on using computational modeling to understand the neurobiological underpinnings of addiction co-occurring with other psychiatric disorders. Additionally, Brad serves on the NAMI Arkansas Board, where he was recently elected President. He is also co-founder of the MIND Coalition, a nonprofit aimed at increasing collaboration and communication between mental health organizations throughout Central Arkansas.
Lorenzo Lewis is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas and a 2015 graduate of Arkansas Baptist College. He is a recent 2017 graduate in the Masters of Public Administration program at Webster University Lorenzo is the Founder/Executive Director of L & J Empowerment, a community based 501 c(3) non- profit organization located in Central Arkansas that focuses on community empowerment, and sponsors the Confess Project initiative, which centers around mental health awareness for young men of color. In addition to his arsenal of experience, Mr. Lewis is a Lead Community Organizer for BMOST (Boys Men Color Opportunity Success Team) which is governed under Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation that strengthens and improves the narrative around boys and men of color in Central Arkansas.
Nancy Russ retired after a career of college student ministry, college teaching, personnel communications, writing, and working in the mental health field. While serving as director of the Mental Health Association in Garland County, she wrote a weekly column for the Hot Springs Sentinel Record for three years. She served three years as Drug Study Coordinator for GAIN, Inc., a community treatment program for the mentally ill. She and her daughter have coauthored two books, Was the Funeral Fun? and What’s More Fun than a Funeral? She has been married to a Licensed Professional Counselor for 49 years. She now does volunteer work and free-lance writing and editing.
Anna Kimmell is an actor, educator, and artist raised in Atlanta, GA. A graduate of Elon University with a BFA in Music Theatre, she has performed in touring and regional companies throughout the United States including NC's Flat Rock Playhouse, RI's Theatre by the Sea, CO's Lake Dillon Theatre, FL's Show Palace, GA's Georgia Shakespeare and Theatre of the Stars, and on The Wizard of OZ National Tour, to name a few. Anna has taught all over the country, specializing in music theatre, art, acting, and dance curriculums for students of all ages. From 2013-2016, Anna served as the Director of Education at Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke, VA and in August 2016, Anna began as the Director of Education at Arkansas Repertory Theatre where she is spearheading the development of a new, year-round Education Department for youth and adults. Recent projects include teaching as an adjunct professor at Hollins University, performing in The Rep's annual Saints and Sinners gala, developing new scripts for young audiences, implementing theatre enrichment workshops to at-risk students throughout the City of Little Rock, choreographing for The Rep’s production of The School for Lies, and exploring Arkansas with her wonderful boyfriend Micah and her goofy dog, Leon.
Rick Owen grew up in Minneapolis but is now a Southerner, as he has lived in Little Rock for 26 years. He shares his life with his beautiful wife Ann Owen, and was thrilled when he became a grandfather two years ago to the amazing Teddy. He loves the outdoors, volunteers for environmental causes, and makes music – he writes songs and plays acoustic and bass guitar. Rick is a psychiatrist by training and works at the Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System where he is the Associate Chief of Staff for Research. He also directs the VA Center for Mental Healthcare and Outcomes Research, is a professor of psychiatry at the UAMS Psychiatric Research Institute and a professor of epidemiology in the College of Public Health. For 30 years he has conducted research to improve healthcare delivery and outcomes for individuals living with serious mental illness. He served on the NAMI Arkansas Board from 2007-2012.
Molly Miller was born and raised in Oklahoma, but has called Little Rock home for nearly seven years. Molly received her B.A. in Politics from Hendrix, her Master's in Public Health from UAMS, and her Master's in Public Service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. Molly is an advocate for mental health awareness and works to eliminate stigma associated with mental health and substance abuse treatment by sharing her personal experience through her blog, which can be found at www.duallynotedblog.com, and by facilitating open conversation about the realities of living with mental illness.
Stacy Cox is a local photographer and avid volunteer. She’s made it her mission to combine her passion for photography and her love of volunteering to provide non-profits with photography services to help meet their needs. When she isn’t volunteering her photography services she can be found camera in hand, lost on a hiking trail or leaping across streams to pursue her personal photography projects.