What we do
IFEP works with with artists, activists, storytellers, innovators, teachers, organizations and people of all types and at all levels of society to encourage creative expression and amplify the message that, if you stand by when someone else is silenced, you too may be silenced one day. IFEP has launched four initiatives to spread the word.
Expression in Action
One Monument, Many Voices
IFEP plans to erect the world’s first iconic work of public art symbolizing free expression. Cutting-edge technologies will enable it to be programmed and reprogrammed from anywhere in the world to appear as almost anything — from original works of art to the faces and stories of people being persecuted for speaking their minds. It also will generate renewable energy. IFEP has partnered in this venture with the Land Art Generator Initiative, an organization that has sponsored competitions around the world to design high-tech public artworks.
A Home for Ideas
IFEP has assembled a high-powered real estate team to develop a “Marketplace of Ideas” in a historic, abandoned newspaper pressroom at the front entrance to the U.S. city of Pittsburgh. This Marketplace will be a unique combination of immersive educational technologies, art installations, musical and theatrical performances, food stands, beverage booths, maker and artist studios, readings and lectures, light and film projections — an explosion of expression. Every activity will have an educational purpose.
A Global Gallery
IFEP supports artists and innovators — especially those at risk or who often go unheard — by commissioning, exhibiting and helping to sell their original works. These will be featured in the “Marketplace of Ideas,” in popup exhibits and online.
Working with artists, technologists and educators, IFEP will invent new tools for creative expression that engage audiences in art and activism, connecting communities in real time to events around the world. Once fine-tuned, these tools will be made available to teachers and advocacy groups around the world.
© Adam Taylor
What does it mean?
Never has there been a more important moment to stand in defense of free expression. Governments across the globe are crushing dissent. Populist movements are organizing or inspiring attacks on journalists, political opponents and those they see as a threat simply because of who they are. Extremists are executing those who hold different beliefs or live different lives. Political polarization, often fed by mis- and disinformation, is spreading intolerance.
Expression comes in many forms — in what you wear, say, sing, draw or invent. In how you walk, talk, listen or raise your eyebrows. In what you stand for and what you tolerate. In who you befriend and who you love. Freedom of expression means you can choose your way of being in the world without fear.
© Martha Rial
What are the challenges?
CEO & FOUNDER
Greg Victor worked as a journalist for 35 years, as publications director and U.N. Correspondents Association liaison for the Committee to Protect Journalists, and as East Asia representative for the American Friends Service Committee before founding IFEP in 2016. He mentored foreign journalists for 20 years through the Alfred Friendly Press Partnership and sits on the partnership’s advisory board. Victor also curated the poetry side of a 2016 art-poetry gallery exhibition and book titled “Verse Envisioned.”
Carly Otte is an artist and nonprofit consultant. Born, raised and educated in Pittsburgh, she received her BFA from Point Park University. As an actor and writer, Carly spent the first decade of her career in New York City working in the Film and Television industry. More recently, she has focused her skills on local activism, working for and consulting with Pittsburgh-based nonprofits. She is thrilled to be a part of the IFEP leadership team, bringing her experience in operations and passion for storytelling.
LEAD ART CONSULTANT
Morgan Overton is an artist and consultant leading the development of IFEP’s art programs. In 2021 Morgan contributed a piece for IFEP’s “There is Black Art in the Future” installation in downtown Pittsburgh. Her work is rooted in reclaiming visual narratives by illustrating the humanity that exists at the intersection of race and gender. She presently serves as the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access Manager for Mayor Ed Gainey’s office. Morgan believes the arts serve as a powerful platform to challenge people to think, and therefore act, differently.
Cynthia Croot is director whose practice-based research explores diverse modalities of immersive theatre, social justice activation through the arts, and intercultural performance. Croot has collaborated on a range of international projects in the UK, South Africa, Argentina, Syria, Palestine, and Israel. She’s worked at dozens of US venues, including Joe’s Pub, Symphony Space, the Stonington Opera House, the Smithsonian American History Museum, the Kennedy Center, and the Guggenheim Museum.
SOCIAL MEDIA DESIGN CONSULTANT
Nathan Manaker is a graphic designer and visual artist currently pursuing a BS in Marketing Communication at Emerson College. He grew up in Orono, Maine where he participated in numerous community arts efforts, including Artsapalooza and Operation Breaking Stereotypes. He currently works in the visual art department of EM Magazine, an arts publication at Emerson College. He is also a member of EmComm, Emerson’s student marketing agency.
MARKETPLACE CREATIVE LEAD
Olga Pogoda is co-founder of KRNLS, a consulting firm that works at the intersection of technology and economic development. She has worked on on high-tech initiatives with cities, states, counties and national organizations, including NASA, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. Olga is also an Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Carnegie Mellon University and is on the board of two nonprofit organizations working towards building equity and equality in the tech industry.
REAL ESTATE MAESTRO
Shawn Amsler has more than 20 years of experience in real estate development, investment and construction management in the United States, Latin America, the Caribbean and Europe. His work has included financial feasibility analysis, preconstruction oversight and strategic advisory services. His projects have included the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Hollywood, Calif. and the Castello di Casole in Tuscany, Italy, which was recognized in 2017 by Travel+Leisure as the Best Resort Hotel in Europe.
DIGITAL MEDIA CONSULTANT
Natalie Bencivenga is an award-winning journalist, media personality and entrepreneur who uses her platforms to promote a more equitable society. Her articles appear in various publications, and she writes the nationally syndicated "Ask Natalie" advice column for Universal Press Syndicate. Her YouTube show “Heating Up” explores the intersection between plant-based recipes, social justice and climate change. Since 2016, she has provided digital media consultation to clients across the U.S.
MAKERSPACE & ARTIST STUDIO ADVISOR
Alex Bandar is an engineer, materials scientist, founder of Columbus Idea Foundry in Ohio, and international evangelist for the Maker Movement. He describes the Foundry makerspace as “a machine shop with a maitre d' ... a place where people can feel warm and welcome to learn how to use novel equipment to explore new hobbies or businesses.” He previously worked for a software company as a "computational metallurgist" writing computer programs that simulate manufacturing processes.
MARKETPLACE OF IDEAS DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANT
Amir Zwickel is co-founder of and chief real estate officer for SHOWFIELDS, an immersive retail experience with locations in New York and Miami. Like the proposed Marketplace of Ideas, Showfields combines mission-driven retail, pop-up shops, art exhibitions, theatrical experiences, food and drink, community and charitable events and robust online sales. Showfields is an expression of Zwickel’s concept of "C" Commerce, which encompasses Convenience, Curation, Content, Community and Connection.
EXHIBIT CURATION AND DESIGN
Juliandra Jones is an artist, muralist and proprietor of PBJ Customs, which “creates custom art for custom people.” She is a self-taught artist and began to explore social justice through her artwork after moving to Pittsburgh. Her pieces have been exhibited in prominent local venues such as the Canvas of Words series. Jones also paints live while interacting with audiences, participating in performances such as The Black Student Unions’ Sip & Paint (Binghamton, NY).
Social Media Intern
Jorie Meil is a rising public relations and marketing professional from Pittsburgh, PA. She is pursuing a BA in communications and and MA in strategic communications from Chatham University. She has a particular interest in journalism and content marketing, and is currently the digital and social media editor for the Communiqué, Chatham’s independent student media outlet. She also serves as the VP of community relations and social responsibility for Chatham Marketing Association and has won awards for her work in the organization.