The Faces of our 2023 Campaign

As an organization whose roots run deep in highlighting international artists and embracing diversity, we wanted to showcase some of the people and cultures that make up our growing community. So many entrepreneurs, Indigenous dancers, Tai Chi champions and more deal with struggles and hardship every day; now is the time to RISE! Join Arden, Carter, Michael, Shirley, Jeremiah, and Arts & Ideas as we rise above those moments and lead you through a journey of great art and big ideas. Photography by Jonathan "Joose" Bogans

Arden Santana

Arden Santana is an advocate for the healing and freedom of BIPOC people in her hometown. A native of New Haven, Connecticut, Arden founded SĀHGE Academy, a civic preparatory school. She is currently a Yale Access to Law Fellow to better serve her community and with aspirations of becoming a college professor. Also known as “Fire,” Arden is one-third of The Elements of Abundance, life style and culture curators whose vision is to lead New Haven’s return to its hub status. Of all the work she’ll ever do, being a mother of two daughters is the highest level position Arden holds.


Carter Leonelli-Blain

Carter Leonelli-Blain is a vibrant happy 8 year old boy who lives with his younger sister Gabby and two dads Jeff and Brian. Carter enjoys listening to music, watching his favorite shows and going out to eat at his favorite restaurants Cheesecake Factory and Bears SmokeHouse. Carter also loves going to the pool during the summer and for therapies. His smile lights up a room along with his giggles and personality.

Shirley Chock

Shirley Chock, also known as "The Stressbender," is the owner of Aiping Tai Chi, founded in 1996 by Grandmaster Aiping Cheng. She is a national and international champion in Tai Chi and holds a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Chicago. Shirley has a successful background in finance and realized the importance of Tai Chi in managing stress in her workplace. In 2017, she took over the school and has since expanded into wellness programs and online content. She has rapidly growing YouTube and TikTok channels, introducing Tai Chi to a younger generation.


Michael Iamele

Son of Iamele, Marino, Trunik & McGowen. Descendants from Italian, Austrian and Irish Immigrants.
Who left their countries, their families, to create their future. I am multi-ethnic, the result of immigrants that chose chaos and struggle and found love.

I strive to honor them, to know them and to learn their stories. I cook prayers for them, my ancestors, the shoulders that have carried me the arms that have held me, the lips that have whispered gently. Go on.

When I cook for them, if I get It right, I can travel back in time to their living rooms on the Amalfi Coast. Or to Fermanagh, North of Ireland. We rise together. 

Jeremiah Craggett

Jeremiah 'Feathered Wolf' Craggett is a two-spirit, urban native, medicine keeper, Native businessman, and direct descendant of the Cherokee nation Eastern band with ties to the Mashantucket Pequot tribal nation. Feathered wolf was born and raised in new haven, CT. Feathered wolf is proud of their New Haven public school system education that led to Medaille College in Buffalo, New York, where feathered wolf majored in animal science. Feathered wolf is a reconnecting native who had served the Mashantucket tribal community, Mashpee tribal community, and the Golden Hill Paughusset tribal community engaging in traditional craft and trade as well as spiritual practices. The city of New Haven has commissioned Feathered Wolf to dance traditional dances" that blend the masculine and feminine components to honor the two-spirit Identity that has been present in Indigenous communities since before colonialism. Former New Haven Mayor Toni Harp has recognized him with a proclamation as an "Herbalist in the Community" He also uses his ancestral knowledge and social media to educate on the intersection of Afro-Indigenous history and Identity.