Toni Blackman is an award-winning artist and social entrepreneur, and her steadfast work and commitment to hip hop led the U.S. State Department to invite her to serve as the first Cultural Ambassador for Hip Hop. She has traveled to 42 different countries performing, speaking and teaching. Toni was recognized as a DOVE Real Woman in 2012 and became part of the campaign in the United States and Canada to help women and girls develop self-confidence and self-love. A recognized Echoing Green Fellow and Open Society Institute Fellow, Toni is a teaching artist and rap performance specialist for Carnegie Hall, and founded Freestyle Union, a Motown-like training ground for MCs. As creator of the Cypher Workshop and Rhyme like a Girl, Toni facilitates improvisational and empowerment workshops, leadership development, lyrical mediation and sacred healing circles for schools, universities and corporations. The world’s leading expert on Cyphers, Toni is the author of The Wisdom of Cypher (Red Sky Presents) and co-creator of the Meditation Mixtape Series, a hip-hop meditation project. She also regularly hosts her signature Cypher workshops for MCs, as well as, her offering for non-artists. A prolific teacher, Toni has held workshops and taught at a variety of institutions including the Kennedy Center, Harvard, NBC Universal, Hallmark, Coca Cola, the World Social Forum, Spelman College, Julliard School and the Smithsonian. She lives between Brooklyn, NY, California’s Bay Area and Dakar, Senegal in West Africa. A multi-faceted hip-hop professional, Toni has been recognized as a pioneer in both hip-hop education and hip-hop theater, but she is also poet whose first book, Inner-Course, a collection of poetry and inspirational prose, was released on Villard/Random House and is available on her website.