Speakers: Vanessa Roberts

Vanessa Roberts Headshot

Pronouns: She, Her, Hers

Vanessa Roberts is a self-titled “artivist” based in Boulder, Colorado. The term “artivist” refers to an intentional combination of the arts, activism, and academic practice. In Roberts’ work, all three are equally valued and important, as each informs and influences the other. She believes in the power of performance to open new spaces for learning and connection, therefore her presentations are interwoven with humor, personal stories, and a love of social justice, inspiring us all to go beyond our constructed limitations.

Ms. Roberts earned her Bachelors of Arts from Colorado College and her Masters of Arts from the Tisch School of Art at New York University. Currently she speaks, trains, and performs nationally, traveling to a multitude of educational institutions, conferences, businesses, and also provides services as a Diversity and Inclusion consultant for private clients in Colorado. She is also currently pursuing her PhD while acting as a graduate instructor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado-Boulder where her concentrations broadly are youth and cultural sociology.

Vanessa’s Presentations

“Identity Theatrics”

Length: 40-60 minutes
Audience: Variations Available for Middle and High School

What does it mean to be the ‘other’? How do we all create the ‘other’ in our everyday interactions? What power lies in recognizing our own ‘other-ness’?  Through the use of interactive theater techniques, attendees are invited to play with these concepts in order to gain a clearer understanding of the “us vs. them” dynamic in school culture. Students will take away a greater sense of how they can impact their school environment along with a new set of vocabulary and terms related to inclusion for carrying the conversation forward.

“Afropuff Lederhosen – Experience the Difference Humor Makes”

Length: 60 minutes
Audience: High School Students

Perfect for high school assemblies, “Afropuff Lederhosen” will leave your students with plenty to talk about after the laughter fades. Designed around Ms. Roberts’ satirical performance piece, Afropuff Lederhosen: What Happens When You Take a Black Baby and Raise it to be German, this presentation cleverly combines social theory with personal storytelling, resulting in a hilarious, crowd-pleasing performance. Students will be given tools for promoting conversation and action focused on their personal relationship to inclusion and what they can do to make a difference in their school.

“Decoding Difference: Moving from Intent to Impact”

Length: 50-60 minutes
Audience: Parents, Teachers, Community Members

Full of tips, strategies, and tools, this interactive “keynote-style” workshop for adults aims to increase awareness and recognition of the multitude of topics that contribute to our understanding of how to create inclusive spaces. Through a combination of interactive exercises, personal and group reflections, and other unique activities, Ms. Roberts will engage participants on the personal and professional level. Culture, diversity, bias, difference – these are all very personal concepts that impact efforts to build inclusive communities.

“I am Culture – Unleashing the Power of YOU”

Length: 40-50 minutes
Audience: Middle School Students

Who you are matters – never forget it! This energizing keynote is designed to inspire the next generation of student leaders. Tapping into personal stories and funny anecdotes, this presentation will leave the students eager to make a mark on their community using the new tools they’ve learned.


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