Give a Warm Burner Welcome to These New Board Members

Burning Man Project’s Board of Directors is gaining four (!) exciting new members and saying a heartfelt “thank you” to another member who has moved on. Our board represents a wide array of talent, expertise and diverse perspectives, as well as a deep passion for the mission and vision of Burning Man Project. They are long-time Burners who run camps, volunteer, cherish this community, and are committed to the 10 Principles and the culture of Burning Man. Please join us in welcoming the following new members, in alphabetical order:

Photo by Katherine McMahon

Fab 5 Freddy

Hip-hop legend Fab 5 Freddy, born Fred Brathwaite, emerged in the late 1970s as a New York City graffiti artist who was one of the first to exhibit his paintings internationally. Along with friends and contemporaries Futura 2000, Keith Haring, Lee Quiñones and Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fab was a key player in New York’s 1980s downtown cultural scene and was instrumental in elevating graffiti into a disruptive movement that would eventually give birth to street art. 

Born in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, Fab entered pop culture courtesy of a name-check on New Wave group Blondie’s ‘80s pop hit, “Rapture.” In addition to his visual art, he co-produced, starred in and composed the music for the cult classic film, “Wild Style,” and went on to direct music videos for numerous hip-hop stars like Snoop, Nas, Queen Latifah and others. 

From the late ‘80s into the mid-‘90s, he was the original host of “YO! MTV Raps,” the groundbreaking TV show that took hip-hop culture global. Today, he continues to make visual art and produce and direct projects for film and television. His most recent film is a feature length documentary he produced and directed for Netflix titled, “Grass is Greener.” The film examines the history of cannabis, music and criminal justice in America.

“This Burning Man experiment, which has been able to capture and maintain the essence of things born in the change and upheavals of the counterculture movements of the 1960s and ‘70s, has become an experience tantamount to the cultural revolution that happened then,” said Fab. “The power in modern people completely leaving their everyday comfortable existence for an extreme, almost tribal-like environment that then produces transformational change in their lives and outlook is a much needed positive force as thousands more worldwide get the message and clamor to participate. Doing it all in a remote, dusty space where there’s no advertising, sponsorships or exchange of currency, just the voices and creative output of its participants guided by the 10 Principles in this age, at this time, is remarkable and so much fun!”

Hear more from Fab, including how the underground art and hip-hop scenes first met, at the DLD Conference in 2015:

Photo by Ali Matin

Farhad Mohit

Farhad is an entrepreneur, currently working on The Good Party, a nonprofit, open source mobile app and platform with a plan to disrupt the corruption of both major U.S. political parties with a good alternative that isn’t beholden to money and doesn’t waste a single vote. Previously, Farhad was co-founder and CEO of Flipagram, a popular short-form music-video app that was acquired by ByteDance/TikTok in 2017. Prior to that, Farhad co-founded Shopzilla, one of the largest shopping search engines in the world; and, even earlier, BizRate.com, a top 50 worldwide site that pioneered online customer ratings at the dawn of e-commerce.

Farhad’s experience with Burning Man dates back to 2005, when he thought he was going to a rave in the desert, only to find himself truly at Home in the magical dust of the playa. He has since contributed art to the community, volunteered at Arctica, greeted at the gate, served coffee at center camp, and done dishes at Fly Ranch. Throughout, he has been lead organizer at camp YOUniversal, introducing hundreds of Burners each year to Persian hospitality, culture and cuisine. Farhad got married to fellow board member Nushin Sabet at Burning Man in 2009 and is happy to report that all three of their kids — Noor, Alaan, and Sama — became Burners as soon as they could walk. 

I believe in the 10 Principles of Burning Man, and in Burners as the optimistic, playful community of free-loving creators who can help the world transcend past the sad, soulless machinery of unsustainable consumer culture,” he said.

Beyond work, Farhad is a TED Catalyst/Patron and is co-founder and Vice Chairman of Farhang Foundation, an Iranian arts and cultural nonprofit which gifted the Freedom Sculpture to the city of Los Angeles on Independence Day 2017.

Photo by Matthew “Chef” Kwatinetz

Matthew “Chef” Kwatinetz

Matthew “Chef” Kwatinetz has dedicated his career to building communities and works of art that inspire. He supports artists, entrepreneurs and citizens in obtaining appropriate ownership in their own work and in the communities they create and live in. 

From 2014 to 2019, he was the Executive Vice President of NYC’s Economic Development Corporation, where he managed one of the largest portfolios of double bottom line real estate and infrastructure assets in the world. In that role, he oversaw the largest expansion of passenger ferry service in U.S. history and executed on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s promise to deliver 500 affordable artist work-spaces in NYC, the largest such program in the country. 

Prior to NYC, Chef worked for Mayor Deke Copenhavor in Augusta, GA, where he reinvigorated long-stalled projects in cultural workspace, affordable and workforce housing, and commercial development. He is the co-author of “Thriving in Place,” a report commissioned by the City of Austin, the National Endowment for the Arts and Artplace America, on the role of culture in economic development. 

Chef is also a theater producer and most recently produced the off-Broadway hit “Ernest Shackleton Loves Me.” From 2002-2008, he lived in Seattle, where he ran the cultural incubator Capitol Hill Arts Center (home to the legendary Burner bar Lower Level). He’s proudly produced multiple seasons of theater, music and spoken word, and Seattle Mayor Nickels named him a “Seattle City Artist.” 

In the dust, Chef is the, well, how-shall-we-say, CHEF of Sacred Cow. From serving the Temple Kitchen in 2015 to “Feed the Artist” programs and multiple course sunset dinner cruises on their art car, Sacred Cow has been serving up food and sassy service in unexpected ways for the last 10 years in Black Rock City.

“There’s one network in the world that is strong and diverse enough to weigh in on the battle that is going on right now between globalism, populism, and localism. That’s us. It’s crazy, but it is true,” explained Chef. “I believe that Burning Man is the organization most poised to propel the world into a new consciousness. There’s never been a movement like us before.”

Photo by Stephanie Kleinman

Nushin Sabet

Nushin sees herself most authentically as a creative being and nurturing mother to three little Burners. She is also an artist, entrepreneur and philanthropist.  

Nushin is co-founder and creative director of Anar Center, a Persian language and cultural center in Los Angeles, where she creates workshops for kids and adults seeking to learn about Iranian culture.

As a hands-on philanthropist, Nushin volunteers in a variety of organizations that educate, serve and empower underprivileged women and children.  She’s also a big advocate of natural home-birth and has contributed to several media projects on the subject.

In a prior life, Nushin founded Mortganizer, a startup that helped thousands of mortgage professionals become more organized and efficient at their job. She bootstrapped Mortganizer into a profitable business, before deciding to give it up to follow her heart, returning back to school in her thirties to earn a degree in Fine Art.

Burning Man played a pivotal role in Nushin’s creative rebirth. Her first visit to the playa in 2007 left her transformed, connecting her to her inner child and to a shared communal creative experience that made her feel fully alive.  She realized that, for her, bliss is infusing connection, community and creativity into her daily life.

“I believe that authentic and deep connections, rich communities and tribes are at risk and this is what we need in order to thrive and create,” Nushin said. “We are social animals and now we’ve become social-media animals. Living in a digital age, isolation, screens and meaningless connections are the new norm. Human connection is imperative to keep us alive. Burning Man is an example of a harmonious world where people are connecting deeply to themselves and those around them. It’s what humanity needs now, more than ever.” 

Thank you, Chip 

Lastly, we would like to extend a heartfelt thanks to Chip Conley for his tremendous service to our board and his vibrant contributions to our community. Serving since 2011, Chip was a founding board member of Burning Man Project and provided invaluable insight, guidance, and leadership through a truly transformative time in the organization’s history. As a leader in business, Chip helped Burning Man Project and its founders and executive team evolve and professionalize, and as a lover of philosophy and culture, Chip honored and celebrated the 10 Principles. Burning Man Project would not be where it is now without Chip. We wish him well in all of his endeavors, and we know that we will be forever connected by this profound experience that is Burning Man. 

For a full list of all the current members of the board, head on over here.


Top photo by John Curley

About the author: Burning Man Project

Burning Man Project

The official voice of the Burning Man organization, managed by Burning Man's Communications Team.

20 Comments on “Give a Warm Burner Welcome to These New Board Members

  • Really? says:

    Because what Burning Man really needs to direct us into the future is a serial tech entrepreneur.

    Report comment

  • Alex Jones says:

    Dr. Dre was found to write a letter about monitizing burning man in 1995. Doctor Dre was a host on Yo MTV Raps with Ed Lover. Fab 5 Freddy was the weekend host of the show. This is just more proof there is a conspiracy to move control of the event from the particpants to the Illuminati.

    On that note. HELL YEAH FAB 5 FREDDY!!!

    Report comment

  • Dan A. Baker says:

    I’m a big outcomes guy. The board members that BM has involved have produced the best organized and conceptualized event I have ever seen, year after year. The outreach that BM has pursued globally is unparalleled and has brought this cluster of ideas to a human race starved for expression and inclusion. I’ll take that outcome in a New York minute. Welcome to the Burning Man nation. You’ll like it here.

    Report comment

  • Rusty Pineapple says:

    Welcome! Thank you for all the work you have already done and the tons you will be doing!

    Report comment

  • Wovoka says:

    Board members took my breath away. Attended as a “virgin” last year & amazingly, lovingly inspirational is 1/10th or maybe 1/5th my overall impression. Travel a great deal and am already anxious about having access to my computer when whatever signup date, hour, minute and second you decide on arrive, so I can click, click, click, etc. until I’m on board again!

    Report comment

    • Protean says:

      Why do “the board members” get the credit for the city and event that the rest of us built and put together? Asking for myself.

      Loved your work on the Ghost Dance. Are you really Paiute?

      Report comment

  • Nick Heyming says:

    Congrats y’all! Solid additions, welcome aboard the crazy train!

    I’ve always thought hip hop and burning man share so many elements. Fab Five Freddy’s inclusion makes so much sense, excited to see the direction he takes the community.

    Report comment

  • Poor Richard says:

    Great! Now would love to hear their ideas on how to execute our cultural course correction. I think most burners would and should be apprehensive about having a serial entrepreneur but I think we should really first hear some of their ideas for helping preserve our culture and principles against the many forces that corrode it. Including the plug and play camp, including Instagram/social media (and it’s effect on the thought put into art), including commodification of the event, and the declining level of inclusivity (across class). I think all burners deserve to hear each of our board members thoughts on this AND that it should be a basic requirement of being a board member to have your ideas published. We thank y’all for the work you’ll put in. But let’s fix these issues.

    Report comment

  • Poor Richard says:

    Great! Now would love to hear their ideas on how to execute our cultural course correction. I think most burners would and should be apprehensive about having a serial entrepreneur but I think we should really first hear some of their ideas for helping preserve our culture and principles against the many forces that corrode it. Including the plug and play camp, including Instagram/social media (and it’s effect on the thought put into art), including commodification of the event, and the declining level of inclusivity (across class). I think all burners deserve to hear each of our board members thoughts on this AND that it should be a basic requirement of being a board member to have your ideas published. We thank y’all for the work you’ll put in. But let’s fix these issues before it’s too late (if it isn’t already).

    Report comment

  • Alyx says:

    It’s hard to truly be congratulatory without knowing what they do and their impact on Burning Man. Please tell us more. It would be very interesting to know more about what the board is involved in and the issues covered.

    Report comment

  • Scott Geller says:

    Congrats “Chef”, et al……..

    Report comment

  • CuriousMind says:

    I’m just a little puzzled why 2 of the the new board-members named here were among major donors to
    buy Fly Ranch. There is nothing wrong with that, but in this era of “quid for quo” I can’t help to question! We thank them for their contribution, but was there a reason? here is the article naming the donors: https://www.rgj.com/story/life/arts/burning-man/2016/07/21/airbnb-exec-helped-burning-man-purchase-fly-ranch/87394028/

    Report comment

  • Mrs Ferguson says:

    Will sadly miss Chip but certainly he did more than chip he chopped his mark in our culture. Welcome to the new folks. We are so lucky to have new disruptive, creative and solid additions to the board.

    Report comment

  • Protean says:

    What do these people actually do, and why do we need more board members? Would you please explain? Do they get a salary for being on the board? If so, how much? Please explain the purpose of the board and how these members fit into it.

    Report comment

  • Very interesting , Sucking it all in……………the dust I mean . A three year burner, learning about this , community , my new family. excited about 2020 vision.

    Report comment

  • Leave a Reply to Mrs Ferguson Cancel reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.