PETER BENKENDORF, FOUNDER
Peter Benkendorf has spent the past 33 years fostering imagination, connectivity and action. A highly conceptual thinker, catalyst and implementer, his experience spans brand development, product development, marketing, and civic engagement in the corporate, advertising, consulting, and community sectors.
In 1992, Benkendorf founded the non-profit organization Involvement Advocacy (under which the Collaboratory operates) in Chicago to help citizens develop opportunities fundamental to addressing systemic community needs. Inspired by two tragic shootings, Involvement Advocacy’s first initiative, “Sister Neighborhoods,” which received nationsl recognition, brought together residents of the north shore suburb of Winnetka and the infamous public housing community of Cabrini-Green, much to the dismay of nearly everyone. A number of exchanges and programs took place, however the one project that took hold from this unusual collaboration was the establishment of the resident-run Voices of Cabrini, which for its four years of publication was the only community newspaper in Chicago public housing.
In relocating to Dayton, Ohio in late 2008, Benkendorf returned to his urban roots that gave rise to Involvement Advocacy. In addition to relocating Blue Sky, an international summer artist residency and youth collaborative, Involvement Advocacy has originated more than a dozen initiatives, including the Ten Living Cities symposium in 2009, a response to the Forbes list of America’s Ten Fastest Dying Cities, the TECH-ARTS Collaboration, which was co-developed with Joe Sciabica, then executive director of the Air Force Research Lab, “Dayton, Ohio: You Are Here!” an insurgent civic pride campaign, 3rd Sundays at Front Street, a monthly eclectic outdoor market which is serving as a catalyst to jumpstart retail and residential activity on East Third Street and most recently the Dayton Sewing Collaborative.
JAMES SALEEM, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY INITIATIVES
James Saleem is an internationally-recognized touring comedian, public speaker and actor. A Dayton native and “Communitarian," Saleem currently works on multiple regional social and civic efforts including the working group to open The Gem City Market, a co-operative grocery store in central Dayton and a community media initiative focused on the underserved of the city. He has served as the past president of the Valley View Community Clothes Closet and currently sits on the board of directors of Bike Miami Valley.
TERI SCHOCH, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS AND DEVELOPMENT
Artist. Environmentalist. Communitarian. Teri Schoch has a long history in communications and development in the Miami Valley non-profit sector, working for organizations such as the Boonshoft Museum and the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance, as well as long list of consulting clients. Teri has a personal interest in the environment. Currrently she co-chairs the food sub-committee for Partners for the Environment, engaging in big conversations about local food issues. Teri is also a working artist, maintaining a studio in the Davis-Linden Building, where she explores how we better communicate about the issues and challenges facing our community through art and storytelling.