Meet Our Presenters

Raashan Ahmad

Raashan Ahmad  |  Common Sense

In Common Sense, Changemaker Raashan Ahmad shares how he has been building inclusivity and belonging through arts and culture to help people feel seen, safe, and whole.


Raashan Ahmad is a father, musician, poet, community worker, and DJ. He has released six critically-acclaimed albums which have taken him to over thirty-five countries around the world. This, in turn, has led him down a path of international collaboration across artistic mediums, borders, and cultures. Raashan loves the intersection of the arts and community, and is passionate about equity and access to the arts. He is executive director of Vital Spaces, an Arts Commissioner for the city of Santa Fe, a founding member of Earthseed Black Arts Alliance, sits on the advisory board for the National Parks Arts Foundation, and is a director and producer of video and storytelling projects. Raashan lives by the Emma Goldman quote “If I can’t dance I don’t want to be in your revolution,” so he is also passionate about throwing the best dance parties.

Raashan Ahmad


What are common spaces, and how can they be truly valuable? Raashan Ahamd invites us to let go of our own preconceptions about what makes sense, and embrace the unknown and the beauty of diverse perspectives. Through his body of creative projects and community initiatives, Raashan shares how he builds inclusivity and belonging.

Cindy Conn

Cyndi Conn  |  Data for the Common Good

Curator Cyndi Conn unveils the power of data—how it can shape urban planning, policymaking, philanthropy, and public engagement in Data for the Common Good.


Cyndi Conn is an art curator and documentary film producer. She is the founder and president of LaunchProjects, a consulting firm dedicated to leveraging the power of the arts to reframe existing challenges and shape extraordinary futures.

Cyndi is currently producing a documentary film about the global state of mental health, is curating exhibitions across the country, and is the Executive Director of the Santa Fe Data Platform. She serves on the Governing Board of The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and is on advisory boards of The Black Mountain Institute, the National Parks Arts Foundation, the N Square Innovators Network, and is a member of the International Women’s Forum. She was previously the Executive Director of Creative Santa Fe. In 2014 she was named​ one of New Mexico’s 40 Under Forty.

Cyndi holds a Master’s Degree in Curatorial Studies and Arts Administration from Skidmore College in conjunction with the Tang Museum, a BA in Latin American studies from Tulane University, and studied at the Universidad Ibero Americana in Mexico City.



When you hear the term “data platform,” what do you think of? Your mind may jump to incomprehensible spreadsheets, biased algorithms, complex mathematical calculations, and a world frighteningly beyond your control. The Santa Fe Data Platform, however, is here to change your assumptions and put the power of data into your hands. It is enabling smarter public policy, sound use of taxpayer dollars, and innovative strategies to grow the economy and ensure transparency and equity in every sector.

The Santa Fe Data Platform is an innovative collaboration of private and public funds that supports data-based decision-making for the future health, prosperity, and equity of Santa Fe.

Urban Planner Carlos Gemora

Carlos Gemora  |  Levers of Housing Affordability

How has pro-housing land use and regulatory policy impacted access to affordable housing throughout Santa Fe County? Urban Planner Carlos Gemora shares his findings in Levers of Housing Affordability.


Carlos Gemora is an urban planner facilitating creative changes in New Mexican communities. He is focused on land use, affordable housing, socio-economic justice, and education. He works for planning firm Sites Southwest and serves on the boards of the Telluride Association and Friends of Architecture Santa Fe.

Affordable Housing in Santa Fe


Urban Planner Carlos Gemora shares key learning from his two-year research on the effect pro-housing land use and regulatory policy had on Santa Fe County’s goal in providing more affordable housing access. The findings shed light on the tension between the well-being of the individual versus the collective.

Ralph La Forge

Ralph La Forge  |  Coffeehouse Karma

How does coffee bring us together? In Coffeehouse Karma, Photographer Ralph La Forge shares images of candid, singular moments captured in coffee shops around the world.


Ralph La Forge, a physiologist and clinical lipid specialist at Duke University and with the U.S. Indian Health Service, is also a photographer for Nikon, Fujifilm, and Leica photographic systems. He has traveled worldwide for his work, but when he travels he makes time for his passion: street and landscape photography and candid photographic work, particularly in coffeehouses.

Photo by Ralph La Farge


How does coffee bring us together? Photographer Ralph La Forge shares his collection of coffeehouse photos from around the world—the amalgum of personal cross-cultural connections. His art captures the fraction of a second of people’s stories—those people who are “one” with their laptop, deep conversations with friends, contemplative thought, cultural crosscurrents, homeworkings, shared amour with partners, and just whatever comes along in the espresso domain. That singular moment.

Ariane Mahmud-Ghazi

Ariane Mahmud-Ghazi  |  Geographies of Belonging

Afghan-American Somatic Psychotherapist Ariane Mahmud-Ghazi explores our yearning for identity and belonging in her presentation Geographies of Belonging.


Afghan-American somatic psychotherapist Ariane Mahmud-Ghazi focuses on trauma transformation and mobilizing communities for social change. In Santa Fe, she supports Afghan refugee families and co-founded the Afghan Women’s Collaborative, a community center which houses income-generating programs for Afghan families resettling in Santa Fe.

Ariane has led multiple workshops designed to facilitate the continuum of transformation. Her healing approach blends the empowered individualistic selfcare perspective with the larger context of psychosocial structures. She is a seasoned supervisor to social work students, supporter of frontline staff experiencing compassion fatigue, and a sought-after consultant nationally and internationally.


Geographies of Belonging offers a small slice of Ariane’s master’s thesis—The Ecology of Being Human, where she explored how we organize our human experiences from cradle to grave. Her yearning for identity and for the architecture of belonging is transpired from her need to reconcile her Afghan origins—the disrupted connections she experienced to mother, motherland, and mother tongue. Her journey has taken many twists and turns, until one day, in a flash, she asked herself: “When did I stop being a refugee?”

Maria Sanchez-Tucker

Maria Sanchez-Tucker  |  Connecting Community: Social Infrastructure in Santa Fe

In Connecting Community, Community Builder Maria Sanchez-Tucker discusses City of Santa Fe’s Community Service Department with a reveal of the new Southside Teen Center.


Maria Sanchez-Tucker has been improving social infrastructure in the libraries, museums, and nonprofits for over twenty years. Her commitment to equity extends to the care people experience when they walk through the doors of organizations she is a part of. She creates welcoming and vibrant public programs, ensuring quality services that improve the lives of Santa Fe residents. She believes that supporting social infrastructure fosters a healthy, creative, and innovative community. Maria currently serves as the Community Services Director for the City of Santa Fe.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico, a Master of Arts in Museum Science from Texas Tech University, and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.


City of Santa Fe’s Community Services Director Maria Sanchez-Tucker takes us through an overview of our city’s social infrastructure under her purview—Public Libraries, Senior Services, Recreation and Youth Programs. Through her presentation, Connecting Community: Social Infrastructure in Santa Fe, Maria reveals the soon-to-be-opened Southside Teen Center.

Patrick Schaefer

Patrick Schaefer  |  Disputed Territory

With only 2M people in New Mexico, why is it so difficult to move the dial toward progress? Investigator Patrick Schaefer offers historical context and insight into how we can overcome our inherent challenges in his presentation Disputed Territory.


Patrick Schaefer practices law in Santa Fe, focusing on regional structures of governance. In particular, his practice works to bridge jurisdictional divisions between state, tribal, federal, and Mexican entities. He currently serves as Chief General Council for the New Mexico Department of Finance Administration (NM DFA).

Patrick Schaefer Presents at PechaKucha Night Santa Fe VOL. 18


The State of New Mexico and surrounding communities occupy valuable and strategic trade corridors, vital to both transpacific and US-Mexico trade. At the same time, these flows have brought unprecedented divisions and challenges to the region’s governments. This presentation offers a critical historical perspective of these divisions, while also offering ideas to coordinate across borders to overcome these critical challenges and seize common opportunities.

Cia Thorne

Cia Thorne  |  Creating in the Commons

Artist Cia Thorne shares how she has been saved by creative and wholehearted communities Creating in the Commons.


Cia Thorne has been blowing glass since the early 1990s. An artist with finely tuned people skills, she is engaging and inspiring, a compassionate teacher, and a risk taker. Her work is by turns whimsical, inventive, provocative, and deeply personal, reflecting a life journey filled with pushing boundaries and technical proficiency. Thorne has shown her work in New Mexico, New York, and California. She has worked with Liquid Light Glass in Santa Fe, artist Lucy Lyon, Pilchuck, Corning Glass, and more.

Cia Thorne


Artist Cia Thorne shares the influence of the commons: community, shared space, building alliances, and collaborative imagination. Her journey as a glass artist, teacher, creator, and champion of community has been informed by each of these. All of these. Together.