Artists & Elders: Christopher Mad Dog Thomas & Brenda Butler
Christopher Mad Dog Thomas is the program manager and creative director for Kuumba Lynx, a not-for-profit Hip Hop and performing arts organization. His artistic inquiry is deeply rooted in social liberation through artistic expression, and footwork is his primary dance form to convey that message. He has been with KL for the past 15 years as the program manager and head dance choreographer, and he creates 45 min to 1 hour theater productions with 50 youth from across the city covering social and economic issues in the city and around the world. These productions take months to create because of the heavy research and understanding of the topics that we want to address around toxic masculinity, rape culture, racism, and violence towards black women.
Brenda Butler is a three-term president of NABJ-Chicago and an experienced journalist with more than 35 years in newspapers and magazines. A witness to and participant in the sectionalizing of American newspapers in the 1990s, she held numerous editing positions at the Tribune, including associate managing editor for features, where she was involved in the conception and development of newspaper sections and magazines and co-managed a staff of more than 100 reporters, editors and support staff. In the late 1990s, Butler also wrote, produced and moderated a 13-week series for Chicago cable TV titled “Playback: Views from an African-American Perspective.” She left the Tribune in 2009 after more than 10 years as senior features editor for the Chicago Tribune Magazine. Before joining the Tribune, Butler was an editor at Jet Magazine. Under Brenda’s leadership as president of NABJ-Chicago, the organization was named the 2009 NABJ Chapter of the Year. Butler was most recently executive director of Columbia Links, a journalism, news literacy and leadership development program for underserved youth in Chicago public high schools and for teachers, housed at Columbia College Chicago. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature and creative writing from Knox College, Galesburg, Ill., and graduated from the Maynard Institute for Journalism Education management program at Kellogg’s Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, Evanston.