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Meet The Changemakers: Speaker Series

Meet The Changemakers: Speaker Series

Listen to the stories of regional Changemakers and be inspired to become a Changemaker in your own community. 

Join us for our new speakers series to meet five of the women featured in our exhibit, The Changemakers: Rochester Women Who Changed the World. Listen and learn how these women broke barriers in their respective fields, creating innovative solutions to long-standing problems and amplifying their own voices and others that deserve to be heard. While their work is groundbreaking, admirable, and sometimes seems larger than life, you may learn that these women are just like you and that becoming a Changemaker isn’t as impossible as you may think. 

Explore the full line up below and register today! 

All events will be held virtually via Zoom. Zoom links will be sent to attendees following registration.

Cost: This speaker series is free with a suggested donation of $10. 


Norma Holland

Wednesday, April 14 | 7pm

Untitled design 2Moby Dick, The Rowboat, and Why You Should Always Bring The Tartar Sauce: Three Ways to Face Your Fears and Boss Up Your Life

From her earliest days as a reporter while still a student at SUNY Geneseo, to early mornings on the anchor desk at 13WHAM News for 16 years, Norma Holland has unabashedly been herself. In an industry that prizes youth and traditional standards of beauty, she has changed what it means to be a woman on TV. A regular fixture in people’s homes for her entire adult working life, she made a seemingly sudden career switch in 2019 and left life as a journalist. In her presentation, Holland explores her decision to blaze a new path and what it can teach you about being resilient, facing your fears, and “bossing up" your own life. 

Register Today!

Aesha Ash

Thursday, April 29 | 7pm


Join us for an evening with Aesha Ash and hear her inspiring story of persistence and accomplishment in the world of ballet. 

More details coming soon.

Register Today!




Michelle Shenandoah

Wednesday, May 5 | 7pm


Learn about Michelle's work to uplift the voices of Indigenous and Haudenosaunee women. 

More details coming soon.

Register Today!




Alexis Vogt

Thursday, May 13 | 7pm


Learn how Alexis Vogt is breaking boundaries in the optics and photonics industry and is creating pathways for young people to pursue careers in this field. 

More details coming soon.

Register Today!




Past Events

Annette Ramos & the Latina Changemakers of Tomorrow

Tuesday, April 6 


Telling our Stories: Latina Changemakers of Tomorrow

Join us for a panel led by Annette Ramos, one of our featured Changemakers, and meet four amazing Latina Changemakers of tomorrow. Learn about their path to advocacy, how they are organizing for change, and what groups they are inspired to advocate for. Hear about what changes they want to see in Rochester through their stories of transformation. You'll have a chance to see how their art has been impacted by the Pandemic and what these four young Changemakers are investing in for continued growth. Join us and listen to the wisdom they will share with us all. 

About Annette and the Panelists

Annette Ramos is a master storyteller and theater artist, arts educator, and cultural curator and connector. Through her dynamic bilingual approach to all of her work, Annette exudes cultura y arte (culture and art). Originally from NYC by way of Los Angeles, California, she has been living, working (and playing!) in Rochester for over 20 years. Her ensemble approach to folklore and performance contributes to her re-telling of indigenous stories of the Caribbean. As Executive Director of the Rochester Latino Theater Company, she has produced, directed, and written over 30 productions, and has even played the role of María López (another Changemaker)! Ms. Ramos says, “The satisfaction of paving the path of Latinx art fills my spirit and propels me to fearlessly forge ahead!”

Neyda Colón-DiMaria is a teaching artist who currently attends the University at Buffalo for Communications. This Rochester School of The Arts alumna has been teaching and performing with Borinquen Dance Theatre since 2012. Community engagement, outreach, and connection fuels Neyda's creative projects and social justice work as well as her daily life. Most of her writing and art addresses topics such as mental health, current events, and celebration of culture. Neyda is the founder and director of the performance group Nomad Dance and The Barrio Network, which connects people so that we may learn, grow, and thrive as individuals and help our communities do the same. She is extremely grateful to join in with such wonderful women.

Katelyn Cruz-Plonczynski has over 10 years of business leadership experience and currently works as the assistant director of national accounts & executive of local sales for Casco Security System, Inc. During her career, she has built a reputation for operational excellence, innovative strategic thinking, and working with the highest level of integrity and commitment to her clients. She is also a passionate community servant to the City of Rochester--currently serving as the Vice President of Rochester’s Hispanic Youth Baseball League, where she has worked and coached for over 4 years. In her work, she helps create transparency of the league, secures sponsorships, and works with NO MAS and Project Clean in the Clinton section to help battle the opioid crisis which impacts the gameplay of the youth.

Erika De Jesús Rodriguez (She/Him) is a photographer, writer, sexual health advocate, and educator. Erika is a queer/lesbian from the Dominican Republic working in Rochester, NY, as an HIV prevention specialist. In their artistic life, Erika spends their time writing poetry and short stories and posing in front (but mostly) behind the camera. Erika is the creator of WOC+ Sex, a sex-positive group for women of color to discuss everything from health concerns to pleasure and kinks.

Paola LaBoy, born and raised in Rochester, NY, is a 16-year-old senior at the School of the Arts. Paola goes by She/They pronouns. Energetic, kind, and caring, she received the Do The Right Thing Award in 2019. Stepping up to bullying at school as she herself used to be bullied, she now stands up for herself and others. They/She always try to help in the community any way they can. Soon she will be graduating high school and going off to college for Journalism so that she can continue to serve the community doing something they love.



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