As a high school student, Kristen Kaza organized a fundraiser gala for a women's rape crisis center, complete with a jazz band and a newspaper ad to spread the word. Since then, she's continued to stay committed to "partying with a purpose, creating social impact and a platform for people who need voices," she said. "We need spaces now more than ever that cultivate joy and comradery"
To continue progressing her love for "bringing people together and cultivating joy," as she put it, while creating a platform for social change, Kaza founded an event planning company No Small Plans Productions.
This year, her company is in its fifth year of presenting Slo 'Mo Jams for Homos ( And Their Fans ), an R&B dance party held every third Thursday of the month at the Whistler in Logan Square that aims to create a space where people "feel like family and like they can be themselves," she said.
As a queer lesbian, Kaza said she now is working to create spaces for other queer women within the community. "We still need to see ourselves reflected. There's so much validation and empowerment in that," she said. "Despite our seemingly growing rights and advances in the LGBTQ movement, we're seeing a diminishing of cultures, too. I know I want those spaces... more spaces that really provide an opportunity for queer-identified women, femme-identified women to really see themselves celebrated."
To bring these plans to fruition, Kaza is working on a series of events that not only bring together queer people in clubs, but also for daytime wellness-based activities. Slo 'Mo Sundays focus on self-care while celebrating R&B music through activities like yoga, fitness classes and DJ workshops.
"That's been the best part of my career: watching people have a good time genuinely and making connections. That's what motivates me to move forward. We have to have all kinds of spaces for exerting our frustrations, our anger, our pain, our sadness. We also have to have spaces for joy as well."
Favorite song/artist: Shaw Day, Mefhelln de Geobello, Mary J. Blige
Hobbies: Collecting colorful vintage clothing, hosting parties for friends and families, spending time with her husky
Three words to describe yourself: "Compassionate, colorful and committed"
Little-known fact: She's a tenth-generation Vermonter whose family members are "hardcore" Vermont, down to making their own maple syrup.