Gabriel Pickus, Co-Director and Lead Teaching Artist
Gabriel Pickus founded, directs, and serves as the lead teaching artist for the Baltimore Wisdom Project. A Healing Touch™ Certified Practitioner (HTCP), Gabriel has been dedicated to transformative education for over 15 years. Gabriel is trained in Systema (a Russian martial art), Capoeira Angola, Ghanaian drum and dance, and conflict management. A Chicago-native, he is an alumni of Habonim Dror, an international youth movement that values social justice, collaboration, and positive identity formation. 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. Gabriel also completed Dr. Theodore Richards’ Wisdom Teacher Certification course before founding the BWP. Gabriel is a founding member of the acclaimed Baltimore-based band, J Pope and the HearNow.
Upāsikā tree turtle, Co-Director and Lead Teaching Artist
Upāsikā tree turtle is a veteran nonprofit manager who helped found the Baltimore Wisdom Project. (tree's name is spelled lowercase even at the beginning of a sentence.) For the last 25-plus years, tree has helped guide the vision, operations, communications, fundraising, and educational initiatives of several nonprofit organizations. tree is an ordained Thai Theravada Buddhist upāsikā/upāsaka in the 33rd year of contemplative practice. tree possesses extensive, multifaceted training in mindfulness and meditation. A lifelong advocate for child welfare, animal rights, and peace education, tree is a restorative justice practitioner with certificates in Yoga for children and conflict management. Click here for an overview of tree's holistic teaching practice since 1986. tree is also a formerly licensed nurse (LPN) with a certificate in trauma-informed care. Additionally, tree taught for Baltimore City Public Schools and Columbus City Public Schools and also served as an instructional trainer for arts teachers for Columbus City Public Schools. tree is a widely published writer (under the name Cleis Abeni as well as tree turtle); a longtime professional editor and grant-writer; and a grassroots journalist for alternative publications. tree earned an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Arts Education from The Ohio State University. Lastly, tree was a former movement theatre artist, vocalist, backup/session singer, and child entertainer. For more information, visit everythingtree.info.
2018-2019 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.