Nico Colombant teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno, and works on social justice documentaries for River Road Big Films. He also coordinates the Our Town Reno street reporting collective which focuses on issues of homelessness, the use of public space, gentrification, and the lack of affordable housing. He was previously a multimedia international journalist who worked in Africa, Europe, Asia, and South America.
Lisa Lee has a Master’s degree in anthropology. Her research focused on radical inclusivity and social connectedness of individuals experiencing homelessness, engaging in injection drug use, sex workers, and others.
Lisa is the Wellness Program Director at the Life Change Center, and she works as a psychiatric case manager at Alta Vista Mental Health in Reno, Nevada. Lisa is a certified alcohol and drug counselor intern and a certified peer recovery and support specialist. Her favorite job title is “Mom.”
Lisa experienced episodic homelessness from ages 18 through 26, and has been in long-term recovery from opioid use disorder since February 2002. Poetry and open mics were instrumental to her recovery, and she considers writing the “cheapest form of therapy” and a creative outlet for self-expression that allows the writer time for self-reflection and finding one’s voice, while sharing connects one’s self with others.
She runs V.O.I.C.E. (Voices of Inspiration, Courage, and Empowerment), a writing group for people experiencing homelessness, which she started in 2016.
Susan Ellenberg is an attorney, educator, sitting member of the San Jose Unified School District Board of Education (currently serving as Board President), and a candidate for the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors in San Jose, CA. She is a long time champion for social justice, an advocate for the disadvantaged, and a change agent in a community with wide wealth disparities and a severe shortage of affordable housing.
Barbara Hoggan, Ph.D.
Barbara Hoggan is a retired educator who focused on underserved populations such as intellectually gifted and economically disadvantaged students. She trained teachers and taught students at the elementary, middle, high school, and university levels.
Dr. Hoggan has been a passionate civil and human rights advocate for most of her life, and is currently engaged in church community efforts to provide clean water and basic nutritional and medical support for citizens in underdeveloped parts of the world. Her interest in bringing awareness to and supporting the quest for real solutions related to homelessness has brought her to the Steve Gruetzmacher Homeless Awareness Essay Contest.
Michael Gibbs, M.D.
Michael Gibbs is a physician in Oakland California. He is pleased to participate in a project that causes students to look into homelessness, a human situation that will only get worse if we don’t get young people informed. He hopes students in their learning more about homelessness will gain insight into how complex and precarious life can be and how our preconceived notions are not always accurate.
Greg Brower is currently Senior Director and Head of HR for TDK InvenSense, helping to attract, develop, and motivate a world class team of engineers and business leaders to provide cutting edge sensor technology. Previously, Greg held numerous roles at Cisco in HR and Learning & Development, managing the planning, development, and deployment of technical, professional, and community learning for Engineering, Manufacturing, and IT. Greg has also presented at various conferences on topics of L&D operational excellence, qualitative research, change management, and community learning. Greg earned his BA at UC Santa Barbara (Economics & Psychology) and his MA in Education at Stanford University. In his spare time, he enjoys spending time with family and friends enjoying and participating in all manner of sports, concerts, and theatre.
John Grinnell is an engineer working in the Silicon Valley tech industry. He has a long-time interest in education, and a more recent interest in homelessness.
As the contest coordinator, John maintains the contest website, recruits judges, coordinates contest promotion, and facilitates occasional webinars in support of the contest.