Gabriel Pickus, Founder, Executive Director, Teaching Artist
Gabriel Pickus founded, directs, and serves as the lead teaching artist for the Baltimore Wisdom Project. Under the auspices of the BWP, Gabriel Pickus is the Program Director for the Whole Child Intervention Program at Franklin Square Elementary Middle School with Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Center for Neurodevelopmental and Imaging Research. A Healing Touch™ Certified Practitioner (HTCP), Gabriel has been dedicated to transformative education since he attended a bi-lingual Montessori school. Gabriel is trained in Systema (a Russian martial art), Capoeira Angola, Ghanaian drum and dance, and conflict management. He is an alumni of Habonim Dror, an international youth movement that values social justice, collaboration, and positive identity formation. A Chicago-native, he spent 14 summers with Habonim, immersed in alternative learning models, and training as an educator. Gabriel earned a Bachelor of Arts in Religion from Goucher College and spent a year in Israel/Palestine designing and facilitating conflict resolution curricula for Muslim-Israeli, Christian-Israeli, and Jewish-Israeli youth. A student of Contra-Mestre Skher Brown, a Capoeira Angola teacher, Gabriel also completed Dr. Theodore Richards’ Wisdom Teacher Certification course before founding the BWP.
Cleis Abeni, Managing Director and Teaching Artist
tree aka Cleis Abeni is a veteran holistic educator; a Buddhist Upāsikā/Upāsaka in practice for over 31 years; a seasoned mindfulness educator; a deeply-rooted restorative practitioner and conflict management specialist trained in part by Samuel H. Wilson, Jr. (1922-1995), co-founder and former head of the Arena Players; a language arts, spoken word, and storytelling teacher; a former nurse practitioner with training in trauma informed care; a former Baltimore City Public School teacher; a former Columbus City Public School teacher; a former instructional trainer for Columbus City Public School arts teachers; a long-time communications specialist; a longtime writer, editor, and journalist; a former movement theatre artist and child entertainer; and a long-serving, multifaceted nonprofit administrator. For more information, visit CleisAbeni.com
2018 Contributing Teaching Artists
- Adam Candelaria is a multifaceted artist, graphic designer, and art educator with skills in arts administration.
- Christina Cook, creator of Rhythm Keys, is a musician, multi-instrumentalist, and QiGong holistic educator.
- Talbolt Johnson is an award-winning Hip Hop dancer, storyteller, arts educator, and multi-genre artmaker.
- Lev Shamberg is a martial artist, art educator, and teacher with advanced skills in Capoeira.