JCU Presents “Lift Every Voice:” An Inclusive Black History Month Celebration

John Cabot University is proud to present ‘Lift Every Voice: An Inclusive Black History Month Celebration.’ The event, which will be held on Saturday February 27 at 6pm, will be hosted by JCU alumna Alexandria Maloney, and will feature JCU alumni and current students.

Panelists include Diedre Blake, Art Therapist and Educator (class of 2014), Misha Nicholas, Fellow at Africa Center for Strategic Progress (class of 2018), Pierre Baranyanka, CEO and Founder at BardiFuels LLC (class of 2013), and Giggs Kgole, current JCU student and Vice President of the Africans in the World Cultural Club (class of 2022).

Diedre Blake will talk about her experience as a Black woman in Rome, and how living in the city impacted her and her creative writing. Misha Nicholas will discuss her professional experiences across the environmental policy space, and what inspired and prepared her to pursue this path. Pierre Baranyanka will provide an overview of what he is doing in the energy commodity area and offer advice to people who are exploring innovative projects. Giggs Kgole will explain why he believes that Black art and Black art history should be included in the larger context of the art history and curation world.

About the Speakers

Alexandria Maloney - Black History Month

Alexandria Maloney – Black History Month

Alexandria J. Maloney received her B.A. in International Affairs from JCU in 2015. During her time at JCU, she was the founder and president of the JCU Women’s Leadership Initiative and regularly held leading roles in JCU musical theater. In 2020, Alexandria was the recipient of the 2020 JCU Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award. She is currently a foreign affairs and communications strategist with the U.S. Department of Defense, specializing in diversity, inclusion, and equity. In 2020, Alexandria’s efforts with Black Professionals in International Affairs connected thousands of minorities to international affairs opportunities through targeted programs and efforts. She was named a Forbes Under 30 Scholar in 2019 and is the Founder of “The World is Watching BLM” an international coalition supporting the global Black Lives Matter movement. Alexandria also serves on the Advisory Council for the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s (CBCI) Special Representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. She received her MA from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, and her MPA from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Diedre Blake - Black History Month

Diedre Blake – Black History Month

Diedre Blake holds a master’s in expressive therapy, specializing in art therapy, from Lesley University in Massachusetts. She holds a bachelor’s degree in art from Stanford University, where she minored in German. In 2014, Diedre earned a second bachelor’s degree in Italian Studies from JCU, where she also minored in Creative Writing. She was a 2014 recipient of the Premio America Award given by the Fondazione Italia USA. In 2015, Diedre was the recipient of JCU’s Award for Academic Excellence in Creative Writing. For the past few years, she has been working in Japan in the field of language education, guiding teachers to improve their skills through embracing cultural competency and developing self-awareness.

Misha Nicholas - Black History Month

Misha Nicholas – Black History Month

After graduating from JCU with a B.A. in Communications in 2018, Misha Nicholas continued her studies in Australia and received her M.A. in International Relations from Macquarie University. Her professional experience has included the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Greenpeace Australia, and participation in the U.N. Geneva Graduate Program. Currently, Misha is an environmental research fellow for an African policy think-tank called the Africa Center for Strategic Progress.

Pierre Baranyanka - Black History Month

Pierre Baranyanka – Black History Month

After attending JCU between 2010 and 2013, Pierre Baranyanka moved to Paris where he got his professional start by being on the founding team of Bumble App. Subsequently, he joined a commodity trading firm in Amsterdam and learned the art of trading renewable energy. In 2020, he founded Bardi Fuels LLC, a U.S.-based renewable energy trading company with a focus on biofuels.

Giggs Kgole - Black History Month

Giggs Kgole – Black History Month

Giggs Kgole was born in Limpopo in 1997 and grew up in Tembisa, Johannesburg. In grade six he applied for a scholarship with the Student Sponsorship Program (SSP). From a pool of 3000 applicants, he was one of 25 who earned a full scholarship to attend the prestigious St John’s College in Houghton, where he completed high school. In 2017, a year after his first solo exhibition, Giggs received a Presidential Scholarship to study at JCU. In 2018 he became one of Africa’s youngest gallery owners at the age of 21.  GasLamp Gallery, located in Johannesburg, was a contemporary art space for creatives who needed an opportunity to tell their stories in a commercial gallery. In 2019, Giggs was featured in the Mail & Guardian’s annual 200 Young South Africans list. He also won the People’s Choice Awards for his painting God Ke Mama, which was the catalogue cover of the 10th Anniversary Young Masters Art Prize in London in 2019.