Who Are We?
Wendy Firven Smith
Wendy Firven Smith is a Certified Mediator, Conflict Resolution Specialist, Facilitator, and Consultant. Currently, Wendy serves as Conflict Resolution Specialist at Tulane University, where she is developing the newly created Conflict Resolution Program. She has worked with the Office of the Independent Police Monitor as a coordinator for civilian/police complaints, assisting with case intake and mentoring new mediators.
As an experienced mediator and conflict resolution specialist, Wendy is as passionate as she is committed to expanding restorative practices in the city of New Orleans. She is no stranger to building programs - she is co-founder of Changing Landscapes Consulting, a training and educational service that seeks to restore community trust by bringing awareness to the effects of the changing cultural landscape in New Orleans.
A Masters-level Community Counselor, Wendy is especially drawn to working in communities by making direct impact through serving individuals, families, and organizations via prevention and intervention programming. Her professional work as a senior mediator and mediator coach informs her practice in the field of Conflict Resolution by incorporating her educational training and professional experience.
Wendy received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Southern University and Master of Science in Community Counseling from Minnesota State University. She is also listed in the Civil Mediation Registry with the State of Louisiana.
Ifátùmínínú Bamgbàlà Arẹ̀sà (formerly known as Kelsi Brooks)
Ifátùmínínú Bamgbàlà Arẹ̀sà (formerly known as Kelsi Brooks) is a multidisciplinary artist with a background in education and film. Ifátùmínínú is a third generation educator and a third generation Xavierite who is born and raised in New Orleans. She has had the opportunity to coach teachers and artists all around the world including in the US, Tanzania and Nigeria. She has a Master of Arts in Teaching in Elementary Education from Xavier University of Louisiana.
Ifátùmínínú suppressed her creative side for a decade before moving to Tanzania where she was reborn. There, she directed an award-winning film, co-founded a non-profit dedicated to creatives and traveled around the continent connecting with other artists.
While working in education, Ifátùmínínú specialized in leadership coaching where she worked extensively with individuals and teams to help change mindsets and improve the overall culture of organizations. More specifically, she led diversity initiatives encompassing trainings on anti-racism and cultural sensitivity including properly entering and exiting communities as an outsider. She directly coached many Teach for America educators who led classrooms and school systems and often facilitated large and small workshops and public and private events.
Ifátùmínínú expresses herself and her identity through her Ancestors who guided her back to their spirituality, a spirituality that was intentionally vilified and hidden from her. Those same powerful Ancestors called her back to New Orleans to do work on their behalf. She considers herself a professional conversation starter and an intentional space taker-upper.
Ifátùmínínú recently began a meet up for melanated folks entitled “A Black Creative’s Guide to Art Exhibitions” in which BLACK people convene, take up space and have relaxed discourse about art from THEIR perspective.
Her current ancestor-led work is to engage the public in the Greater New Orleans area in dialogue about the changing landscape and exploitation of post-Katrina New Orleans. This work includes “Dear Transplants” which gives realistic advice on how to respectfully engage and collaborate with native New Orleanians of color. She and Wendy Firven Smith also co-curated and facilitated a panel series titled “How to Be a New Orleans Ally” with New Orleans Airlift. She recently co-curated and and directed a performance art piece called “Black New Orleans: A Lineage of Resistance” at the Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans with the same organization.
In addition, Ifátùmínínú founded Local New Orleans, a t-shirt line that expresses her views on such topics like gentrification and the colonization of African-American traditions within the city.