Diana Pletts, MA, since 2006 has directed and coordinated The Phoenix Project, which provides a time, space, and place for cult survivors to present their cult and recovery related artwork. Diana is working, herself, to regain and work out her own artistic vision, which was abandoned when she became a member of the Path, a charismatic End-Times group. Diana went to Wellspring for post-cult counseling help in 1999. She then returned to college to complete her cult interrupted undergraduate degree and a master’s in communication, writing a thesis project for a cult education information campaign. Diana has spoken on cults at colleges and churches, on the radio, and at Chautauqua Institution in New York State. She also edits the Arts and Literary section of ICSA Today. She has worked as a writer and adjunct college professor. Diana has four adult children and enjoys photography, flowers, and her family and friends.
Nori Muster, MS, is the author of Betrayal of the Spirit: My Life Behind the Headlines of the Hare Krishna Movement (University of Illinois Press, 1997), Cult Survivors Handbook: Seven Paths to an Authentic Life (2000), and Child of the Cult (2010). She was an ISKCON member from 1978 – 1988, then earned her master’s degree at Western Oregon University in 1992 doing art therapy with juvenile sex offenders. She is currently an adjunct professor at Mesa Community College, in Mesa, Arizona.
April Marten is a multimedia artist whose current body of work encompasses performance art, sculpture, book arts and collage. Born into a high control religious group, in Miami, Florida, much of her young adult life was spent escaping religious indoctrination and oppression. She studied at Kennesaw State University’s School of Art and Design, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a BFA concentration in Painting and Drawing. Through a full time social and studio art practice, Marten explores religious culture and identity, using art as a catalyst for dialogue and healing. She pushes the boundaries of media while developing her unique visual and conceptual vocabulary. Elements of sacred text and universal themes relating to patriarchy, religious extremism, and social control appear throughout her body of work.
Joseph Szimhart began research into cultic influence in 1980, after ending his two-year devotion to a New Age sect called Church Universal and Triumphant. He began to work professionally as an intervention specialist and exit counselor in 1986 on an international scale. From 1985 through 1992, he was chairman of an interdenominational, cult information organization in New Mexico. Since 1998 he has worked in the crisis department of a psychiatric emergency hospital in Pennsylvania. He continues to assist families with interventions and former members in recovery, including consultations via phone and Internet. He maintains a cult informational website, lectures, consults for the media, and has published articles, book reviews, and papers related to the cult problem. His first novel, Mushroom Satori: The Cult Diary, was released in 2013 through Aperture Press.
Katharina Sengfelder Meredith has a BA in Psychology, training as a support group facilitator for domestic violence, and experience with outreach and community awareness. She grew up in a small new age cult from age 10-20, where she was cut off from the outside world, taken to three different countries, and helped build a time machine. Her mother is still involved in the cult today. For the last 12 years she has been reading up on cults, talking to other people who have been exposed to mind control, and has been exchanging ideas with people studying the phenomena. In early 2015 she created the website www.mindcontrolandcults.com in an attempt combine academic knowledge with personal experiences. The website has a section specifically for people who were born and raised in cults, as well as information regarding recovery for everyone who has experienced thought reform, no matter in what setting.
Carolyn Jervis is an Art History Masters student at the University of British Columbia in the Critical and Curatorial Studies Program. Her research interests include the visual and material culture of cult and alternative religious groups, particularly of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as contemporary video art that explores the place of the everyday in a techno-global capitalist world. Professionally, Carolyn is a curator, creative consultant, and freelance art writer who has worked in the visual arts community in Edmonton, Alberta for many years. Her curatorial projects include a nationally-exhibited participatory art installation and her consulting work includes assisting the creation of exhibition space for an art therapy and creative arts-focused college.