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Glenn Towery

FOUNDER

Glenn Towery is the founder of the Veterans Suicide Prevention Channel. He is also a Vietnam combat veteran who served on the USS Rupertus DD851 as a Quartermaster. Glenn is considered a service connected disabled United States veteran but that hasn’t stopped him from working hard at contributing to America through media and the arts, nor from working to help other veterans who have served in the United States armed services.

“IMPOSSIBLE IS POSSIBLE”
Glenn Towery Interview By Koy McDermott (April 15, 2015)

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April Sullivan

Visual Art Director

April Sullivan has a BFA in Art History from UT-Austin and has been working in the arts in Austin since 1996 at venues such as Gallery Lombardi, Flatbed Press, Laguna Gloria, and Access Arts Austin. She has been the Artworks Director at VSA Texas since 2002 and Curator of Access Gallery from 2009-2012.

April has curated hundreds of exhibitions throughout the years, including the National Arts Program at Austin annual exhibition for 10 years, which featured over 200 works of art.

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Bart Pitchford

Performance Art Director

Bart Pitchford is a PhD candidate in Performance as Public Practice at the University of Texas. His dissertation examines the intersection of performance and community with displaced Syrians in Jordan. While at the University of Texas, Bart has also taught undergraduate classes on theatre history, performance analysis, ethics of representation, and artistic policy.

Prior to entering his PhD program Bart was a sergeant in the 4th Psychological Operations group at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. During his 8 years in PSYOP, Bart deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and to Sana’a, Yemen and Islamabad, Pakistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. He received two Meritorious Service Medals and one Joint Services Commendation Medal for these deployments.

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Dustin Welch

Music Director

A Nashville native, Dustin grew up surrounded by writers, singers, pickers, and artists of all kinds. At an early age, he was exposed to the literary value of song form, and formed his own unique style of storytelling. Appalachian grooves and melodies coupled with lyrics, strange and beautiful.  He encountered solid recognition for his talent and hard driving music and lyrical style for his first two solo records Whisky Priest and Tijuana Bible, putting him into the upper realm of Austin rockers. His long awaited third installment, Amateur Theater, is due out in the spring of 2018.

The highlight of his active schedule is hosting weekly songwriting and guitar workshop in San Marcos for Armed Forces veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress for a non-profit organization he founded called Soldier Songs and Voices. It's inspiring...it's a beautiful thing.

Celia Hughes

Health and Wellness and writing conference DIRECTOR

Celia Hughes has over 35 years of experience working in the arts - mainly focused in theater, film and music - as teacher, producer, artist and administrator. She has also worked alongside people with diverse disabilities for over 30 years. In her role as Executive Artistic Director of VSA Texas, she develops and oversees inclusive arts programs in partnership with public schools, community centers, cultural arts facilities, and disability service organizations across Texas.  Celia has developed programs including ArtWorks: Creative Industries, professional development opportunities for emerging artists with disabilities; New Media Arts, workshops that combine traditional arts and media to engage transitioning youth in pre-employment training activities; Opening Minds, Opening Doors, public speaking by people with developmental disabilities, and Body Shift, a mixed-ability dance initiative. In 2000, Ms. Hughes wrote Stop the Violence, Break the Silence, an abuse prevention manual for professionals who serve people with disabilities (published by SafePlace, Austin); and in 2001, she produced “The Art of Audio Description” the only video training series currently available. Ms. Hughes is a professionally trained audio describer, and has described performances across the country; highlights include a concert by jazz pianist Henry Butler at the Americans for the Arts conference in Boston, MA, and the world premier of the documentary “The Eyes of Me,” at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival. She holds a Master of Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.

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Christopher Michael

Director of Spoken Word aka Master of Words

Christopher Michael has been a regular in The Texas Slam scene since 1999 and the National Slam since 2004. He is the co-founder of Killeen Poetry Slam, and a regular host at Austin Poetry Slam. Among his accomplishments are 2005-2006 Austin Slam Champ, 2008 Killeen Slam Champ, 2010 ArkansasGrand Slam Winner. He has been a member and coach of 9 National Slam Teams and coached 4 Youth Poetry Slam Teams. Former Executive Director and Slam Master of They Speak Youth Slam in Austin Tx., and is now the SlamMaster of Austin NeoSoul.

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Dr. Elicia Baker-Rogers

Dr. Elicia Baker-Rogers is a native of Detroit, MI. She is a 20-year Veteran of the United States Navy, Nurse Corps with over 34 years of professional nursing experience.  Her distinguished leadership positions in the military encompass: Director of Public Health Services; Department Head of Occupational Health; Department Head of Wellness; Department Head of Case Management; and Department Head of Performance Improvement.  Her military assignments include: two tours overseas in Guam and Rota, Spain; a humanitarian mission to Africa (Ghana and Senegal) as the sole Community Health Nurse; and four state-side tours in San Diego, CA; Charleston, SC; Camp Pendleton, CA; and Cherry Point, NC. 

Her personal military awards include the Meritorious Service Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (three awards), and Navy Achievement Medal (two awards).

Dr. Baker-Rogers provided integrative nursing modalities to fellow Veterans during her doctoral clinicals at the VAMC in Minneapolis, MN. She received her Doctor of Nursing Practice - Integrative Health and Healing (DNP-IHH), from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, MN in May of 2017. She is member of the Board of Directors for the Veteran Suicide Prevention Channel, and is passionate about continuing to work with fellow Veterans using integrative nursing modalities for health and healing.

Additionally, Dr. Baker-Rogers is Board Certified in Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork (BCTMB) and is an Acudetox Specialist (ADS).

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Olie Pope

Veterans Service Officer at Travis County

Comrades In Arms,

I want to invite you and your organization to participate in the forthcoming AUSTIN VETERANS ARTS FESTIVAL (AVAFEST), a national festival intended to present alternative healing methods toward preventing suicide and encouraging veterans suffering with PTSD to gain a voice and become more creative by “Using the Arts and Community.

AVAFEST is a month long series of events being designed to create a festival that can provide healing benefits to all veterans.

AVAFEST is designed to introduce civilians, active duty, veterans, and their families on a massive scale to the benefits of therapy through the practice of using the Arts freely. Our intention is to turn the city of Austin, Texas into a central healing hub for veterans and military personnel every year.

AVAFEST features painting, drawing, photography, singing, acting, dancing, poetry, comedy etc.

In November, at the new Faulkner Austin Library located in downtown Austin, there will be a weekend long Veteran Literary Conference. Also at the same location there will be a Veterans Health and Wellness Seminar, which will offer alternative forms of treatments for PTSD. AVAFEST is in need of volunteers and veterans who really care about ending the Veterans Suicide Crisis in America and who cares more for veterans than the members of veteran Service Organizations like yours? So we look forward to hearing from you soon.

The First inaugural AVAFEST is not far away. We are calling all veterans organizations to join us. Help us to save veterans lives by working to grow the first ever festival created specifically to find ways of saving veterans from suicide. Help us to get out the word and join us in this great venture.

AVAFEST Opening Day is October 12, 2019 ending November 16, 2019. Show you care, be there! We can bring awareness to the Veterans Suicide Crisis in America, if we all work together and believe. To Volunteer go to https://www.avafest.org/volunteer  and sign up as an individual or your organization.

Support AVAFest with a direct donation at https://www.avafest.org/donate-today. Donations are greatly appreciated.

Sincerely, Olie L. Pope Jr.

AVAFEST Veterans Service Organizations, Coordinator

Bobbie Jo Cardenas
Anthony Torino
James Burnside
Dewayne Luster
Elisabeth Joy
Christopher Jones
Hilario Covarrubias
Jacinda Ramirez
Aminah Dece

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