Noa Zimmerman is a senior at the University of Southern California’s Thornton School of Music, double majoring in Songwriting and Music Production. She has devoted much of her life to music and giving songwriting lessons to underprivileged youth, as well as working as an advocate for climate justice. Noa founded Soundwaves: Marin City Youth Music Academy, a music program for students at Bayside Martin Luther King Elementary School where the arts programs were being cut due to lack of funding. The program began in 2016 and is still active. In 2019 she started a therapeutic songwriting program for foster teenagers with addiction issues in Los Angeles. Noa also worked as the primary videographer for a documentary on community organizing to prevent destructive and dangerous shallow oil drilling in Santa Maria.
ELENA SALINAS O’TOOLE
COMMUNITY BUILDING DIRECTOR
Elena Salinas O’Toole was studying at the University of California Santa Barbara, when she decided to take a break to focus her energy on community organizing. She is a committed activist for climate justice who has worked in community organizing and art mobilization with organizations such as Sunrise Movement and Food and Water Action. Elena was first introduced to the issue of environmental injustice through witnessing her Dad’s work advocating for an Indigenous tribe that has been continually exploited by oil companies and the Colombian government. She uses her passion for visual art and community relations to raise awareness about the intricacies of environmental justice and the need for large-scale, systematic change.
Emily Goniea is a senior at New York University whose self-designed major focuses on the sociological impact of music and art. She works in live music, and volunteers with Musical Intervention, an organization that creates art facilities for people struggling with addiction and homelessness. She is an active advocate for the prison abolition movement, for which she conducted research in 2018 for the Rikers Public Memory Project, as well as volunteering with Books Behind Bars, selecting and sending books to incarcerated people across the country. Emily helped with social media marketing for an independent documentary about the lives of transgender teenagers, and has channeled her passion for ocean conservation by volunteering for a conservation society dedicated to marine life. Her current project is a non-fiction book about tangible actions for sustainable living.
Taylor Meloche attended USC’s Thornton School of Music’s Popular Music Performance Program with a focus on Songwriting. She has used her passion and skills in this field to co-lead a therapeutic songwriting program for foster teenagers with addiction issues. Taylor is currently working to create more songwriting programs at foster homes and rehab centers in Vancouver, Canada, where she is also an active member of Vancouver Allies. Additionally, she served as the music and events chair for USC’s Relay for Life in 2018 and 2019 to support cancer research and patient care through the American Cancer Society.
Brendan Lett is an Art major at University of California Santa Barbara, with a minor in Black Studies. He is a climate change activist and has volunteered with organizations such as Sunrise Movement. Brendan is also an advocate for black equality and justice, and uses his diverse artistic talent in graphic design, photography, printmaking, poetry and music to further his activism for causes that he believes in.
ARTIVIST PANEL CO-LEAD
Lupita Rios is an artist and organizer majoring in Political Science at Allan Hancock College. They began activism in 2014 through grassroots organizing, participating in a youth-led campaign for ethnic & gender studies. Their work is centered in justice for immigrant, farmworking and queer poc communities. Lupita currently serves on the board of Corazon Del Pueblo, the first art & cultural center of the Santa Maria Valley.
Founder of the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music Popular Music Program
Professor of Songwriting and Popular Music Performance at University of Southern California Thornton School of Music Popular Music Program
Founder and Executive Director, Value Culture
Leadership and Planned Gift Officer for the American Friends Service Committee
Chief Innovation Officer, Kumanu
Susan Sullivan and Rob Preskill