Kasia Johnson is the Chief Operating Officer of a mid-sized Chicago law firm, HMB Legal Counsel. She is passionate about the necessity of arts in a well-rounded, highly-functioning society and has completed the On Board program with the Arts & Business Council of Chicago. A professional violist at one time, Kasia is a long-standing advocate of live music. In her career as an active freelance musician in Chicago, Kasia had the opportunity to perform with various orchestras including the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, the Lake Forest Symphony and the Chicago Philharmonic, chamber groups including Artistrings and Meritage Ensemble, and various touring popular acts including The Who and The Moody Blues.
A. Gita Krishnaswamy is the Deputy Director of Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, an independent policy center that works to build power and momentum for social justice and health equity in Illinois. She is passionate about building equitable community partnerships to support the public’s health and views a strong anti-racist organizational culture as essential to this work. At Health & Medicine, she oversees day-to-day operations and works closely with program directors to ensure that implementation of new ideas and projects is strategic, aligned to mission, and explicitly reflects organizational values. Gita began her professional career as a K-12 classroom teacher and later, as a public health professional, continued work with school districts and nonprofit organizations interested in policy changes to support health equity and lifelong health for students. Just before joining Health & Medicine, Gita was the Acting Director of the Community-Oriented Public Health Practice program at the University of Washington in Seattle. Originally from Illinois, Gita began violin lessons at age three and has been a committed amateur and semi-professional violinist for much of her adult life. Most recently, she was a violinist with the Cascade Symphony Orchestra in Washington State for nine years. Gita earned a B.A. in Cell and Molecular Biology from Northwestern University, M.Ed. from DePaul University, and MPH from the University of Washington.
Bonnie McGrath is a Chicago lawyer and a multi-award-winning journalist. She writes a blog for ChicagoNow.com called “Mom, I think I’m Poignant.” She also works part-time as an arbitrator. She has been a prosecutor for the City of Chicago and has spent many years in private practice. She was a columnist for the Chicago Tribune and a contributing writer for the Chicago Reader. In addition to the Picosa board, she is on the board of the League of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Association, Friends of Downtown, Cedille Records, Project Onward, Art Encounter, Intuit Gallery, the Chicago Bar Association editorial board and the CBA Public Affairs Committee. She is also a docent at the Glessner House, an historic Chicago home and museum in the Prairie Avenue District. She lives in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood and serves on the board of her homeowners association. She has been involved in a number of South Loop activities for the last 25 years. She has been on the board of South Loop Neighbors, the John Howard Association (a prison reform group), the Dearborn Park Advisory Council, Chicago Women in Trades and she has served as president of the Decalogue Society of Lawyers. She has been a supernumerary for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, as well as a light walker–and is an active participant in many activities related to the Chicago opera community.
Visit my blog: http://www.chicagonow.com/mom-think-poignant
A native of Temple Hills, Maryland, LaRob K. Rafael developed a love for singing at an early age. He found a spirit in the Gospel songs he sang and nuance in the Classical music he learned. A graduate of DePaul University where he received a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, LaRob has studied with world-renowned teachers, directors, and coaches and has had musical opportunities that include traveling internationally to study language, culture, and music.
LaRob is the Founder and Artistic Director of Hearing in Color, an organization dedicated to supporting those whose contributions and stories have been historically excluded from classical spaces. He is a current member of the William Ferris Chorale, and supplemental artist for Bella Voce and Constellation Men’s Ensemble. He has been featured as a guest artist, soloist, or speaker on several in- person or virtual events.
As an Arts Administrator, he has worked with Lyric Opera of Chicago in the Learning and Creative Engagement Department, sits on the Board of La Caccina, an all-women’s profession choral ensemble, as Diversity and Community Engagement Advisor, been the Director of Community Engagement with Chicago’s Ear Taxi Festival (2021), and is an active consultant with the recently formed Black Opera Alliance and Black Administrators of Opera groups. LaRob was recently selected as one of 11 arts administrators nationwide to join the 4th Cohort of Sphinx LEAD, a 2-year program designed to evolve the industry landscape by empowering the next generation of executive leaders.
Additionally, LaRob uses his voice to connect people from different communities as recently appointed weekend morning host of Chicago’s Classical music radio station, WFMT (98.7 FM) to aid in decentralizing the predominantly white, European, male- centered classical consciousness.