Meet our community.
We’re a growing network of writers, editors, media makers, organizers, and policy advocates. To connect with us about writing opportunities, speaking engagements, or other projects, email email@example.com.
Emma Akpan works for Planned Parenthood South Atlantic in Raleigh, North Carolina, as the Triangle Field Organizer. Last year, Emma participated in the Moral Monday protests at the state capitol, offering a closing prayer on Reproductive Rights Advocacy Day. Emma has a master’s degree in divinity from Duke University. She serves on the board of NC Women United as well as the Resource Center for Women in Ministry in the South. In her free time, Emma likes running and starting book clubs. She doesn’t believe a nice day should be wasted inside, and time shouldn’t be wasted eating bad food.
Jamarah Amani is a community midwife who believes in the power of birth and that every baby has a human right to be breastfed/chestfed. Her mission is to do her part to build a movement for Birth Justice locally, nationally and globally. A community organizer from the age of sixteen, Jamarah has worked with several organizations across the United States, the Caribbean and in Africa on various public health issues, including HIV prevention, maternal and infant mortality, access to emergency contraception and access to midwifery care. She is currently the director of Southern Birth Justice Network, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization working to demand dignity for pregnant and parenting people and to make midwifery and doula care accessible to marginalized communities. She is also the co-founder of National Black Midwives Alliance. Jamarah is the 2019 recipient of the Trailblazer Award from the City of Miami.
Renee Bracey Sherman is an award winning reproductive justice activist committed to the visibility and representation of people who have had abortions in media and pop culture. Bracey Sherman is an expert on personal abortion storytelling whose work has been featured on BBC, The Guardian, The Washington Post, EBONY, Salon, Fusion, TIME, and The Atlantic. In 2014, Renee authored Saying Abortion Aloud: Research and Recommendations for Public Abortion Storytellers and Organizations, a guide to abortion storytelling, and in 2015 she co-authored Speak Up & Stay Safe(r), a multi-lingual digital guide on handling online harassment. In 2015, she was named one of Planned Parenthood’s 99 Dream Keepers in honor of Black History Month. Bracey Sherman is the Policy Representative at the National Network of Abortion Funds based in Washington, DC. She holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Cornell University and currently sits on the board of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Brittany Brathwaite is a reproductive justice activist, youth worker and community accountable scholar with a deep-seated commitment for supporting the leadership, organizing, and healing of girls of color. Brittany has worked with several organizations across the United States to achieve this vision including Girls for Gender Equity, Sadie Nash Leadership Project, T.U.F.F. Girls, SOLHOT, Advocates for Youth, and the Young Women’s Initiative of NYC. Brittany has worked to create change in the lives of girls of color through local base building, advocacy, curriculum development, storytelling strategies and participatory action research.
Currently, Brittany is the co-Founder and Creative Director of KIMBRITIVE, a “traphiscated” black girl start-up unapologetically working to educate and empower communities about sexual health, reproductive justice and everything in between. Brittany holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Women’s and Gender Studies and Sociology from Syracuse University. She is currently pursuing a Master of Public Health and a Master of Social Work from Columbia University. Brittany is a 2015-2016 Davis Putter Scholar for her work organizing students for social change. Brittany is a proud Brooklynite, dedicated to celebrating and protecting #blackgirlmagic.
Angela Bronner Helm is a journalist and editor with more than 20 years of experience in media. She began her career at The Source magazine during hip-hop’s golden era and is a founding editor of Honey magazine. She and has held top editorial positions at Uptown and Essence magazines; she also served for six semesters as an adjunct professor of journalism at the City College of New York. Most recently, Angela was an editor at The Root, where her focus was on racial, social and reproductive justice, mental health and culture. She currently is Sr. Editorial Director at Colorlines, a nonprofit news site committed to racial equity and centering the voices of marginalized people. In 2018, she received The Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellowship.
For the last several years, Angela has been an editor with Echoing Ida, a writing project for Black women and nonbinary folks to amplify their voices in media. She has also taught media literacy to 16 and 17-year-olds incarcerated on Riker’s Island and later at Horizons Youth Correctional Center in the Bronx, New York. Angela has a B.A. in women’s and gender studies from Amherst College and an M.A. in journalism and cultural reporting and criticism from New York University. She is a longtime resident of Harlem but has recently made her way to the suburbs, where she often wonders if she’s on another planet.
Jasmine Burnett is a national organizer, writer and strategist in the reproductive justice movement. She currently serves as the field director of New Voices Women of Color for Reproductive Justice where her focus is leading and expanding their work in the “Rustbelt Region,” which is home to the most politically volatile and racially conservative Northern states. She accomplishes this work through supporting Black women, women of color, and LGBTQ people of color with leadership development, policy advocacy and community organizing on issues that address health care provision, reproductive health access as well as systemic and environmental factors that impact the lives, body and labor of Black women and girls.
As a national organizer, she has organized successful grassroots campaigns in New York City through SisterSong NYC and the New York Coalition for Reproductive Justice, leading grassroots women of color coalitions and rapid response campaigns on racist billboard ads and legislation shaming Black women’s lives and reproductive decisions. As a founding member of the Trust Black Women partnership, she wrote and narrated the film, “We Always Resist: Trust Black Women,” the first film of its kind that examines the critical intersections of race, gender, class and the ways in which they exacerbate abortion stigma and limit access in the African American community. As a writer and collaborator with Echoing Ida, Jasmine’s writing centers the voices and experiences of Black women and girls leadership in their families, lives and communities and the very real and transformative impact those have on our society.
In 2012, she received the “Women of Vision” Award presented by the Ms. Foundation for Women and was also honored as a “Champion for Choice” by the New York Abortion Access Fund. Recently, she was honored by Planned Parenthood Action Fund as a “Doer” as one of their 99 Dream Keepers. Jasmine received her B.A. of History and African American Studies from Purdue University. She also completed graduate coursework at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University where she received a scholarship to study abroad at the University of Bologna in Bologna, Italy and the University of Kwa Zulu Natal in Durban, South Africa.
Bianca Campbell is the Movement Building Senior Manager at Forward Together. She started as, and continues to be, a participant of our Echoing Ida program for Black women and gender non-conforming content creators. She has worked in reproductive justice work since 2011 with organizations like SPARK Reproductive Justice Now! and the National Network of Abortion Funds. She has also been a doula for births, abortions and personal transformations. Now, she helps members of our Strong Families Network connect with one another and explore holistic strategies that move us all forward together. She also shares her commitment to holistic mind and body wellness for activists through the Instagram pages @spektrawellness and @caribhealingcollective, the latter co-led with fellow Idas.
Brandi Collins-Calhoun is a radical birth and sex educator in the South that is dedicated to teaching through a reproductive justice lens. She serves as the Director of Reproductive and Maternal Health at the local YWCA where she advocates for adolescent parents, provides perinatal and sexual health education and manages a community doula collective.
Although she was born in Buffalo, NY, Brandi found her passion for both grassroots organizing and reproductive justice in the South while studying African-American history at the North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Brandi was trained as a birth doula while in college and eventually became a full spectrum doula and birth educator. She now facilitates birth and abortion doula trainings for others interested in being trained through a radical framework . As an organizer she is involved in a number of southern grassroots organizations, such as Southerners On New Ground and serves on the board for the Carolina Abortion Fund.
Brandi was also vocal with the #MuteRKelly campaign and Anti-Shackle initiatives across the state over the last year. Of any position or title that Brandi holds, her favorite is Mommy. Brandi parents an amazing teenage daughter who constantly reminds and teaches Brandi that bodily autonomy has space in all that we do and is constantly transforming.
Samantha Daley is a graduate of the University of Central Florida in Orlando. Her major of study was Biomedical Sciences and Health Sciences with a minor in Women’s Studies. Currently, Samantha serves as an -18 Specialist full-time and works with adolescent youth at an emergency shelter. Samantha has helped perform research on bullying and harassment in middle schools in Seminole County and served as an Alumni board member of the Women and Gender Studies Program at the University of Central Florida. Samantha is passionate about all things surrounding reproductive justice and one day hopes to open a women’s clinic to provide sexual and reproductive health programming for girls. In participating as a URGE blogger, she has been able to share her points of view on a number of issues.
Elizabeth Dawes Gay believes that health is a human right and has devoted her life’s work to helping create a world where all people have the necessary tools, resources, and opportunities to live well and healthy lives. She has a particular passion for maternal, reproductive, and sexual well-being.
Elizabeth works as a reproductive health, rights and justice advocate in Washington, DC. She is also an active member of the Women’s Information Network and served as co-chair of both the Women’s Health Policy and Women of Color sub-networks where, among other activities, she helped plan and implement the network’s first political leadership training to address issues specific to women of color. Learn more about her work at elizabethdawesgay.com.
Dr. Cynthia R. Greenlee is a writer and historian. A native Southerner, Cynthia has a master’s in journalism from the University of North Carolina and a doctorate in American history at Duke University. She specializes in African-American women’s and legal history of the late nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. She began her writing career with an unintelligible picture book at age 5, worked as a newspaper journalist and editor, and later in communications for international health organizations. Today, she is a senior editor at Rewire.News. In her other work, she writes historically informed pieces that connect the contemporary (and sometimes the personal) with current events and policies related to race, the arts and reproductive issues. Her writing has been published at American Prospect, Dissent, EBONY.com, Elle, Longreads, Ms. Magazine, Munchies, Narratively, Rewire.News, Salon, Smithsonian, and the Washington Post, among other outlets. She is currently at work on two projects: a manuscript about black girls and the law, and a second book about African-Americans and abortion.
Yamani is the Executive Director of the National Network of Abortion Funds and has been a tireless leader and spokesperson in the Reproductive Justice movement, making appearances on MSNBC Shift with Krystal Ball and sharing her story as part of the 1 in 3 Campaign. As Executive Director and spokesperson for the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Yamani has written articles and been heavily quoted on abortion access for young people in RH Reality Check, Progress Illinois, The Reader, EBONY and The Nation. She was awarded the 2012 Margaret Carr Wiley Bright Horizons Award by Planned Parenthood of Illinois, honored as an AmeriCorps National Alumni Leader, and presented with the Visionary Leader Award in 2012 by her own staff.
More broadly, Yamani is a staunch advocate for the equity, self-determination and empowerment of all people, including youth. She has over fifteen years of experience in asset-based approach program design, implementation, management and evaluation of non-profit organizations and public institutions in Chicago. She holds a B.S. from Cornell University where she independently studied the intersections of politics and place and an M.Arch from University of Washington where she studied and developed a framework for activist architectural practice. Outside of school, she has studied leadership, community organizing, social entrepreneurship and non-violent communication. Throughout her inter-disciplinary work history, she has worked with diverse populations of people ranging from girls and women who are homeless to men who are incarcerated in maximum-security prisons, on topics ranging from art and culture to personal and community development, social change, work-force development, civic participation and philanthropy. She firmly believes in the inter-related nature of social justice issues and uses both a creative and analytical skill set to tackle some of the most critical challenges of our time.
Yamani lives in Chicago where she co-parents her 14- and 9-year-old children. In her spare time she runs, practices yoga and volunteers as a provisionally certified ICTC doula with Chicago Volunteer Doulas.
Morgan Holmes is a Black, Mexican-American, multimedia journalist and womanist from South Texas and Southwest Louisiana working towards racial equality, workers’ rights, reproductive justice, LGBTQ rights, immigrant justice and environmental justice through storytelling. She began writing about racism, sexism and homophobia on her University’s campus and as she entered the workforce, she continued her focus on producing content that worked towards shifting the dehumanizing, mainstream narrative of communities of color.
Morgan’s experience as a Black woman in the South and in TX-Mexico border communities has fueled her confidence and passion for addressing anti-blackness as well as organizing in Black immigrant justice spaces to engage in spreading the truth that ‘immigration is not a Latinx issue.’ Her immigrant justice work at Neta RGV, a multimedia platform in the Rio Grande Valley, consists of writing, video production, photojournalism and organizing practical support for Black people seeking asylum on U.S. ports of entry and in detention centers.
Ruth Jeannoel is a mother, wife and lead organizer with the Power U Center for Social change in Miami, FL. Ruth was born and raised in Cambridge, MA by her Haitian mom who emphasized education in her life. Ruth studied Social Thought-Political Economy & Women’s studies at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst where she built her political consciousness and got involved in on campus organizing.
As a breastfeeding mother, parent and black woman, reproductive justice is central to Ruth’s daily life through both her personal and organizing work. She continues her organizing work in spaces were it relates to uplifting the stories of Black and Brown youth voices against the school-to-prison pipeline and highlighting the gender justice components around school push-out.
Ruth is a believer in the personal being political and has a strong commitment to developing new leaders to fight for the sake of Black liberation and self-determination.
Sophia Kerby is the Deputy Director of Reproductive Rights at State Innovation Exchange. In this role, she supports state legislators across the country in advancing and defending progressive reproductive health policy. Most recently, she served as the Senior Manager of State and Local Campaigns at Advocates for Youth, where she worked with state-based organizations and youth activists to advocate for cultural and policy changes that improved young people’s reproductive and sexual health. Sophia brings experience in racial equality, criminal justice, gender and economic justice policy to State Innovation Exchange, having worked on these issues at the Brennan Center for Justice and Center for American Progress. Since 2017, she has served on the board of Reproductive Health Access Project (RHAP). Her work has been published in Feministing, Huffington Post, Mic, and, the National Journal. Sophia is based in Washington, DC, holds a B.A in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland-College Park, and is pursuing a Masters in Business Administration at Georgetown University. You can follow Sophia on Twitter at @SophiaKerby.
Charmaine, an OG Ida, joins our newest cohort. As a North Carolina based writer and researcher, Charmaine Lang’s work focuses on the intersections of race, gender and wellness. Charmaine is a doctoral candidate at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her dissertation research examines the social and economic determinants of self-care among Black women activists in Milwaukee. It specifically focuses on how activism affects gendered roles, stress management and sexual desire. With her leisure time, Charmaine enjoys playing Singing Bowls, reading the stories of Black women, traveling domestically and internationally and pursuing new food experiences.
Jasmine Leeward is a communications strategist committed to the delicate work of culture shifting towards Black and Brown liberation, particularly in the US south. She currently serves as the Social Media Manager for the Women’s March, Inc. She has worked on campaigns to expand access to affordable healthcare, voting rights restoration, and increasing state-funding for public education. One of Jasmine’s primary goals as a writer is to translate complex policy into accessible stories that inspire people to action. She sees her writing as a reflection of Audre Lorde’s definition of survival: learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish.
Taja Lindley is a courageous, truth-telling creatress; an unapologetically proud queer femme feminist; daughter of a single mot her; eldest of three sisters; committed to the wellness, creativity and bodily autonomy of women and girls of color.
An 80’s baby born in New York and raised in the South, she currently lives in Brooklyn, New York working as the Managing Member of Colored Girls Hustle. In 2007 she received her B.A. from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study where she designed her own major, concentrating in public policy and knowledge production with a focus on health and women of color. Lindley is actively engaged in social movements as a writer, consultant, and facilitator. For over a decade she has worked with non-profits, research institutes and government on policies and programming that impact women and girls, communities of color, low/no/fixed-income families, queer people, youth and immigrants. Her writing has appeared in Rewire, YES! Magazine, Feministe, Salon and EBONY.
As an artist activist, she uses creativity and imagination to shift culture and move people to action. Her artwork has been featured at Spring/Break Art Show, Brooklyn Museum, Hammer Museum, New York Live Arts, the Movement Research at Judson Church series, Brooklyn Arts Exchange (BAX), the Gallatin Arts Festival at New York University, WOW Café Theater, La Mama Theater, in living rooms, classrooms, conferences and public spaces. She has received coverage in the New York Times, VICE, Blouin Art Info, Afropunk, and Colorlines. In 2014 she was a Create Change Fellow with the Laundromat Project and a participant in EMERGENYC, an artist activist program of the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics at New York University. In 2015 she was a Fall space grantee at BAX. She is currently an Artist in Residence at Dixon Place culminating in the world premiere her one-woman show “The Bag Lady Manifesta” in Fall 2017.
Bri. M (ze/zir) is a Black, Jamaican-American, queer, non-binary, disabled alien-prince from The Bronx. Ze is a podcaster and political agitator with a fierce desire to change the way disabled people are seen in mass media. Ze is the host, producer and editor of POWER NOT PITY, a podcast about the lived experiences of disabled people of color. Bri’s episodes serve as a vehicle for amplifying and preserving the voices of disabled people of color. Ze is committed to interjecting disability justice in any conversation zir has and loves to cultivate collaborative energy with writers, artists and storytellers within zir community.
Gloria Malone is an outspoken and unapologetic proud teenage mother and advocate in New York City. She has been featured in major news publications like the New York Timesand on the O’Reily Factor discussing teenage pregnancy prevention through comprehensive sex education and supporting teenage families, not abstinence only sex education and stigma.
Politics, policy and people are her passions, and she hopes to further pursue them with her public affairs degree from Baruch College. Gloria also writes for several online publications and blogs regularly on her personal blog teenmomnyc.comand realteenagefamilies.tumblr.com.
Shanelle Matthews is an award-winning communications strategist with eight years of experience in journalism, legislative, litigation, rapid response, and campaign communications. She formerly worked as a strategist for the ACLU and Forward Together where she engineered the development, implementation, and evaluation of comprehensive strategic communications plans aimed at internally and externally communicating the organizations goals. She believes in using communications both as a tool for social change and to win. As an alumna of Progressive Women’s Voices, the Women’s Media Center’s premier media and leadership training program for women, Shanelle has executed her training as a spokesperson in outlets like Al Jazeera and NPR. Her writing can be found in the San Francisco Chronicle, Sacramento Bee, EBONY Magazine, The Root (Washington Post affiliate), Women’s eNews, Women’s Media Center, Colorlines, and Clutch Magazine among others. She holds a degree in Journalism and New and Online Media from the Manship School of Mass Communications at Louisiana State University. She is a lover of cheese, Miles Davis, and full-bodied Spanish wines. She lives and plays in Oakland.
Tamika Middleton has been organizing in social movements for 17 years, serving at every level of organizations from volunteer to interim executive director to board vice chair. She is from the SC Sea Islands (St. Helena Island) which nurtured her love for community and connection to Black people, and was politicized in the movement for the abolition of the prison industrial complex in New Orleans. She is an organizer, birthworker, writer, and unschooling mama who is passionate about and active in struggles that affect Black women’s lives. She has organized in the abolition movement, the reproductive justice movement, and the movement for domestic worker rights. She has facilitated trainings, staff retreats, conflict resolution sessions, and strategic planning efforts, conducted organizational evaluations and restructuring, and written curricula and reports of various types.
Tamika is one of the founders of the Anna Julia Cooper Learning and Liberation Center, a cooperative, learner-centered, and self-directed community rooted in a radical Black queer feminist politic. Currently, Tamika serves as the Black Organizing Co-coordinator for the National Domestic Workers Alliance, where she previously served as the Georgia State Director. Tamika also serves as a Community Advisory Board member of Critical Resistance (formerly Southern Regional Coordinator), a Leadership Team member of Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective (formerly Coordinator), and as treasurer of the board of the Organization for Human Rights and Democracy. Tamika has been published in Creative Loafing Atlanta, Colorlines, Talk Poverty, Voices for Human Needs blog, MomsRising.org, CommunityChange.org, Black Women Birthing Justice blog, and BlackGirlNerds.com.
Carla Murphy is a social justice journalist and editorial consultant. Her struggle as a reporter to cover news for, not about, marginalized or low-income communities fuels her current focus on journalism reform. Through the News Integrity Initiative, she leads or co-leads data-driven diversity projects for student and working journalists of color and newsroom management. She is editor of the Lewis Raven Wallace podcast, The View from Somewhere and has been commissioned by the Center for Community Media to research and write, The State of Black News Media in the U.S. (forthcoming).
She is a new essayist on class, race and power in media, supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project (EHRP). A long-time freelancer, she is also formerly a staff reporter for Colorlines.com and a contributing editor and investigative reporter at the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute now, Type. She has reported in Haiti and on the Haitian diaspora in the wake of the 2010 earthquake and covered criminal justice reform and police violence in Baltimore, New York City and Chicago. Educated in New York City and London, she is a sometimes Spanish-speaker, an immigrant from the rural Caribbean, and a first-generation college student.
Sunshine Muse is a renaissance woman using her training, passion and creative genius to help in the movement to end health disparities. Muse has a special interest in improving maternal and infant health outcomes, along with a knack for pushing the envelope using her strong written and spoken voice. Muse credits her voice to her matriarchal line. To learn more about Sunshine, visit Sunnymuse.com.
Jamila Perritt MD MPH FACOG is a fellowship trained, board-certified Obstetrician and Gynecologist with a comprehensive background in Family Planning and Reproductive Health. Dr. Perritt provides, on the ground, community-based care focusing primarily on the intersection of sexual health, reproductive rights and social justice. In addition to her work as a clinical provider in Washington, DC, Maryland and Virginia, she serves as a reproductive health care consultant where she develops, organizes and facilitates health education workshops and outreach events to diverse communities and community partners. Her topics include, but are not limited to, health equity, reproductive justice, adolescent health, contraception and family planning.
Dr. Perritt collaborates with various organizations to provide ongoing support and subject matter expertise on sexual and reproductive health, family planning and reproductive justice. Dr. Perritt is a graduate of Howard University College of Medicine and completed her residency training in Obstetrics and Gynecology at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, PA. She completed a Family Planning Fellowship at The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. During her fellowship training, Dr. Perritt received a Masters Degree in Public Health from The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. After completion of her fellowship, she returned to her hometown of Washington, DC where she served as the Medical Director at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington DC, Inc. from 2011-2016.
Dr. Perritt is a passionate advocate for reproductive health, rights and justice. She has worked closely with the Physicians for Reproductive Health, Advocates for Youth, Reproductive Health Technologies Project, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and other organizations in support of access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Dr. Perritt is a Fellow of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), a member of The Association of Reproductive Health Professionals and the Society of Family Planning. She serves as Vice Chair on the ACOG Committee for the Health Care for Underserved Women and as liaison to the ACOG Committee on Gynecologic Practice.
Known as the High Priestesses of Black Joy, Amber J. Phillips is a writer, social justice organizer, digital strategist, and multimedia creative whose work has been featured on ESSENCE, The Breakfast Club, Huffington Post, and NPR’s 1A. Amber believes in writing stories, creating culture, and building campaigns that envision Black women and our communities in the future while telling the truth about our world as it is.
You can find her on Instagram and addressing subtle racism and patriarchy on Twitter.
Mandisa Routheni is blessed to be a mother and a wife; and to be apart of a larger village working for justice and peace for black folk, children, and the greater human family. In line with the writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Mandisa believes “the well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established. Mandisa comes from adventurers, scholars, artists, entrepreneurs, and matriarchs. She is a 6th generation Black New Mexican (yes, we’re here!). Mandisa is proud of her work in developing curriculum, events and professional development that explores equity and policy. Mandisa is interested in economic empowerment; communications putting the public in policy; and how the sociology of organizations contributes to groups being solutionaries (or not).
Mandisa currently works at the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children, where she supports Early Childhood Professionals to soar. Mandisa is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children’s Affiliate Advisory Council, Friends of Africana Studies Advisory Team and the New Mexico Women of Color Nonprofit Leadership Initiative. Mandisa is an Institute for Policy Studies’ New Mexico Fellow. She served as Vice President of Africana Leadership Opportunity Team—a hybrid organization providing Africana based PD & programming. Mandisa also worked within the University of New Mexico Community Engagement Center, and completed three AmeriCorps terms. Mandisa is a recipient of the Ella Baker Leadership & Service Award and Sara Belle Brown Community Service Award. She is a published poet; McNair Scholar; Ankh Maat Wedjau Honor Society Member; and University of New Mexico Africana Studies alum. Mandisa gathers strength from words—poetry, lyrics—and the Sandia Mountains. Mandisa finds the most joy in expressing and living her own self; AND with her husband and daughter, who remind her that the universe bends towards justice/love.
Born and raised in Tennessee, Jordan Scruggs is a communicator and activist specializing in reproductive justice and LGBTQ rights.
Their passion comes from being raised by Black women and men who stressed the importance of change through community action. Jordan began advocating for LGBTQ in Tennessee through an anti-bullying campaign for LGBTQ youth in schools. For this work, they were honored with MTV’s Logo Youth Trailblazer Award. Their work also expands to leadership and work involving in the past SPARK Reproductive Justice and current work with Healthy and Free Tennessee, and other local and nationwide non-profit organizations.
Today, Jordan’s writing expands to fights for comprehensive reproductive education and justice in Tennessee as well as the life of being Black, Queer, and non-binary.
You can find Jordan talking about all things music, life, food, and their love for Whitney Houston here.
Hunter Ashleigh is a Black fat cultural producer, multidisciplinary artist, nonbinary shapeshifter, and data futurist based in Atlanta, Georgia, with roots in Richmond, Virginia. She is the creator and director of a Southern body liberation organization, Free Figure Revolution, that centers decolonizing antiblack body violence. Hunter loves twerking, uncrustables, and writing children’s books. Currently, they are working as the Artist-in-Residence at Solutions Not Punishment Collaborative, an organization dedicated to creating Black trans futures in Atlanta.
Vanessa Taylor is a writer based out of Philadelphia, although the Midwest will always be home. Originally getting her start as an organizer in Minneapolis, she uses writing as an extension of community work. Through articles, essays, fiction, and more, she focuses on exploring the intersections of Black Muslim womanhood and the taboo. Her articles have appeared in outlets such as Teen Vogue, Al Jazeera English, and The Intercept. Her essays and fiction have appeared in Catapult, as Editor’s Pick in Barren Magazine, and in Belt Magazine — where she received a Pushcart Prize nomination. In 2017, she was a fellow with Muslim Wellness‘ inaugural Deeply Rooted Emerging Leaders class.
Quita Tinsley is a self-described “city femme with small town roots.” She is a Black, queer feminist that writes, organizes, and overall is working to build sustainable change in the South. She holds a B.A. in Journalism with a minor in Sociology from Georgia State University, and she is currently pursuing an M.A. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from her alma mater. Quita serves as the Youth Activist Network Organizer at SPARK Reproductive Justice NOW. She is also a member on the board of directors of Access Reproductive Care – Southeast, and is a former content creator for the The Body Is Not An Apology.
As a femme, feminist, and queer Black woman, it is through her lived experiences and complex identities that Quita has come to believe in the power of storytelling and the validation of lived experiences. Through her work, in all of its forms, she hopes to continue fighting oppression and uplifting the voices of silenced and marginalized young queer and trans folks.
Raquel Willis is a writer, activist, public speaker and media maven based in Atlanta, GA. Originally from Augusta, GA, she graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in journalism in 2013 and hasn’t stopped writing since. Since graduation, she’s worked in media through newspapers and online publications.
Her writing has been featured on The Huffington Post, Buzzfeed, Autostraddle, Medium’s Cuepoint and For Harriet. She really wants to use her voice and talents to inspire and uplift marginalized individuals, particularly trans women of color. Her local activism work includes trans advocacy and working with the Solutions Not Punishments Coalition to alleviate the issues of mass incarceration and police brutality in Atlanta.
Janna A. Zinzi (also known as jaz) is a strategist and storyteller using language and performance to uplift the voices and stories of people of color, especially women and gender non-conforming people. She has over a decade of experience in strategic communications and public relations working with social justice organizations and advocates, artists and entrepreneurs.
Janna has returned to her creative love of writing covering arts, culture and spirituality from a travel lens. Her work has appeared in Teen Vogue, The Daily Beast and The Root; and she also writes for the Marguerite Casey Foundation’s Equal Voices News. She uses dance to challenge stereotypes and explore themes of artistic expression, race and feminism, and will be leading sensual movement workshops based on her studies of burlesque as a liberatory practice.