Synergy is a loosely formed, tightly connected team of cultural strategists who collectively create space to develop, evolve, and innovate channels of expression for cultural change and transformation. Synergy is the primary advisory think tank for the direction, content, and overall paradigm-shifting tactics that DeStory will deploy. Synergy is still in its infancy so don’t be surprised if you come back here and we’ve cycled through a variety of names.
Eduation. Empowerment. Community Building.
Minh-Tram Nguyen and Jora Trang first started their SHENANIGANS at the University of California San Diego where they first met as student activists, budding Asian American feminists, and junior rabble rousers. While at UCSD, Tram and Jora dedicated their time to building cross-racial activist coalitions for women, such as the Sisterhood across the Waves, an Asian-American women’s collective, and the Women of Color Coalition. In addition, they worked in coalition to launch the university’s first Women’s Center. and Cross Cultural Center At the time, UCSD was the only UC which lacked a university-funded center for resources for women.
Tram is passionate about educating, empowering, and building community. She is the founding principal of an innovative public school, EnCompass Academy, in East Oakland, that serves predominately low-income and minority students by emphasizing a well-rounded education, family and community engagement, and an infusion of the students’ diverse backgrounds and cultures into the educational experience.
The root of Tram’s unique vision for EnCompass began with her academic work in ethnic studies, psychology and women’s studies. She was the first graduating class of UCSD’s ethnic studies program many moons ago. This experience informed her creation of EnCompass Academy which values educating the whole child- Mind, Body, Spirit and Emotions. At EnCompass, you’ll find art classes that integrate language learning and science, a family fitness day and a day dedicated to honoring ancestors.
Shahidah Kalam Id-Din
Dream Coach. Writing Coach. Learning Coach.
Shahidah is a long-time activist, educator, and educational coach who is passionate about working with learners of all ages. She is a teacher by day, writer by night, and dream coach all the time. She walks young adults, typically high school or college students, through the arduous process of discovering their BIG dreams and then help create a road map that will quickly get them to their destination.
She is the founder of Personal Education Advancement Consulting which aims to coach students to transform from good to great and from great to outstanding. Her consulting firm works with traditional and non-traditional students to help them navigate big adventures like the college process, graduate school, or a gap year.
She is a graduate of multiple stellar institutions including Haverford College, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Columbia Teacher’s College.
artist activist educator
Naru is an Educator with over 20 years experience in early childhood development. He currently works at Walden Center and School in Berkeley California, where he directs the after school program, and assists in administration, and conflict resolution. As a community activist, Naru initiated a Black men’s forum, a playgroup for children of color, and he has lent his talents to various events surrounding youth education, environmental awareness, political prisoners, AIDS, and healthy life styles choices. Naru is also a veteran in the Bay Area Hip Hop scene. In 1987 (as “Sir Quickdraw”) he became one of the first artist from Oakland to to record a rap record. He was on the Malcola label with an early Easy E and the Egyptian Lover. He has performed with Run DMC, George Clinton, Last Poets, Spearhead, Digital Underground, Askari X, Dead Prez, The Coup, Zion I, Living Legends, Azeem, Black Dot, Sir Mixalot, Medusa, XZibit, Ea ski and CMT, Mr FAB, the Luniz, Dru Down, and Hammer, among many. Naru was the cofounder and lead vocalist of “Organic Creations”, which blended Hip Hop, Jazz, Spoken Word, and Theater. His company “Hip Learning” uses hip hop as a means to cultivate minds with rhyme, focusing mainly on science and life skills.