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The Idas

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ECHOING IDA WRITERS, OR IDAS, ARE CHANGE MAKERS.

We’re a growing network of writers, editors, media professionals, organizers, and policy advocates. Click here to book Idas for conferences, speaking engagements or other projects.


BIOS

Views expressed by Echoing Ida writers are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Forward Together.


 

ALICIA WALTERS | FOUNDER

Alicia Walters is the founder of Echoing Ida and leads the program as the Movement Building Director at Forward Together. She began Echoing Ida in 2012 to raise the visibility of Black women’s expertise in the media and our social justice movements. A trained organizer, facilitator, and speaker, Alicia is an expert in the ways society attempts to make Black women invisible as well as the impacts and strategies to address the rampant criminalization of communities of color. Over her 10-year career, Alicia has led coalitions and movement building efforts that center the experiences of women and families of color, authored legislation to prohibit the shackling of pregnant women in California jails and prisons, and co-led and authored the Who Pays research project and report on the family impacts of incarceration. She has been featured on television, radio, and print including CNN, BBC, CBS, NPR, The Washington Post, The Guardian, and EBONY.com, among others. She is a mother who lives and believes in her community of Oakland, California.

Read Alicia’s work

AMBER J. PHILLIPS

Amber J. Phillips is a social justice organizer who works to advance the rights of women, young people, people of color and low-income communities. Amber is deeply committed to galvanizing her skills as a political and digital organizer to identify, train and empower new leaders to spark social change within their own communities.

Previously, Amber was the Field Organizing Director of the Equality and Culture Project at UltraViolet, organizing women across the country to help build and run a strategic national campaign around women’s reproductive rights. Prior to UltraViolet, Amber was the Manager of Campus Organizing at Advocates for Youth where she helped mobilize activists as they fought for sexual health awareness, LGBTQ rights, gender equality and ending the stigma around abortion through the 1 in 3 Campaign. Amber supported dozens of sexual health and reproductive rights organizers throughout the years and has also influenced viral messaging content for Advocates’ “Don’t Be Trich’ed” campaign and the 1 in 3 Campaign Valentines.

Currently, Amber serves on the board of directors of SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. She holds a degree in Social Work and Cultural Studies with a concentration in African-American Studies from Chatham College for Women.

Read Amber’s work | Follow Amber on Twitter

BIANCA CAMPBELL

Bianca Campbell practices and researches full spectrum doula work in Atlanta, GA through a queer reproductive justice lens. Her work also involves supporting the leadership of queer and trans people of color loving in the US south. Her writing has been published in The Root, For Harriet and Flyover Feminism. Her work and commentary have also been highlighted by several media outlets including the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, Washington Post, Colorlines and 3 radio shows on Atlanta’s WRFG. When time allows, she also dives into her side projects: improv comedy, dance and drawing.

Read Bianca’s work | Follow Bianca on Twitter

BRITTANY BRATHWAITE

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.

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CHARMAINE LANG

Charmaine spends her time Chicago-style steppin’ in Milwaukee, daydreaming about love, wellness and what it would be like to have an Ooloi in her life. When not doing that, she is figuring out her life as a creative writer, fifth year doctoral student, and project director for the Reproductive Justice Collective, a project of Wisconsin Voices. She loves reading Afro-futuristic novels, traveling and eating hella yummy food. Her dissertation research examines the self-care and stress management techniques of Black women activists in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She believes that the voices of Black women are essential in pointing to new directions that will help facilitate a balance between activism and self-care. Her own stress management strategies have been tested and expanded as she navigates the conservatism of the academy as a queer Black woman, and the cold of the Midwest as a city of Angels native. She is proud to be a fellow of the Echoing Ida Program and the Ms. Foundation Public Voices Fellowship. Through these avenues, she hopes to explore the intersections of class, and wellness amongst Black women, connecting it to the long tradition of Black women’s activism.

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DR. CYNTHIA R. GREENLEE

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 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. She fundamentally believes that it is possible – and imperative – for academics to be socially and politically engaged. She is a founding board member of the Carolina Abortion Fund, a board member of NARAL Pro-Choice NC, and also on the board of National Advocates for Pregnant Women. Her writing has been published at the now-defunct Africana.com, American Prospect, Dissent, EBONY.com, The Independent Weekly, Ms. Magazine, and RH Reality Check, among other outlets. She consults with reproductive health organizations and foundations, and 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.

Read Cynthia’s work | Follow Cynthia on Twitter

ELIZABETH DAWES GAY

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.

Read Elizabeth’s work | Follow Elizabeth on Twitter

EMMA AKPAN

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.

Read Emma’s work | Follow Emma on Twitter

GLORIA MALONE

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 Times and 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.com and realteenagefamilies.tumblr.com.

Read Gloria’s workFollow Gloria on Twitter

JASMINE BURNETT

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.

Read Jasmine’s work | Follow Jasmine on Twitter

JORDAN SCRUGGS

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 rights 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 and a board membership with Nooga Diversity Center. Recently, their activism was highlighted by Organizing for Action which led to the honor of introducing President Barack Obama. Today, Jordan’s writing fights for comprehensive reproductive education and justice in Tennessee. This passion comes from past work and leadership involving SPARK Reproductive Justice.

You can find Jordan talking about all things Shonda Rhimes television, music, life, and food here.

Read Jordan’s workFollow Jordan on Twitter 

QUITA TINSLEY

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.

Read Quita’s work | Follow Quita on Twitter

RAQUEL WILLIS

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.

Read Raquel’s workFollow Raquel on Twitter

RENEE BRACEY SHERMAN

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.

Read Renee’s work | Follow Renee on Twitter

RUTH JEANNOEL

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.

Read Ruth’s work | Follow Ruth on Twitter

SAMANTHA DALEY

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.

Read Samantha’s work | Follow Samantha on Twitter

SHANELLE MATTHEWS

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.

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SHANTAE JOHNSON

Shantae Johnson has gained a solid background in community organizing. She began her humble beginnings as an International Center for Traditional Childbearing Full Circle Doula and ICTC Oregon State representative 10 years ago , which fueled her love for maternal and child health.

She is a graduate of Portland State University with a bachelor’s degree in Social
Science.

Shantae has worked at WIC as a Breastfeeding Peer Counselor for the past 3 ½ years, and helped to create Oregon’s first African American Breastfeeding group during her time there. She is a Healthy Birth Initiative mom alumni and served as HBI Consortium Chair.

She helped to advocate for community health care workers by sitting on the Traditional Community Health Care workers steering committee through Oregon Health Authority. Member of ORCHWA Oregon Community Health Care Workers Association, member of MCHD CHW coordination team, currently a CHW Research Intern.

Shantae has participated in the Braave (Building Reproductive Autonomy and Voices for Equity) reproductive justice co-hort, Former Board member of Backline and a member of the African American Breastfeeding Coalition of Oregon.

Shantae is very passionate about public health, social justice and, engaging the community in regards to eliminating health disparities and inequities. She is currently working for Multnomah County Health Department Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program The REACH program is looking to end health inequalities in chronic diseases for African American’s in Multnomah County. She enjoys taking a 5 minute shower by herself in her spare time, writing when she has a free moment, camping, hiking, and having dance battles with my kiddos in the living room.

At the end of the day she is a parent, healer, chef and referee to 6 beautiful children.

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SUNSHINE MUSE

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.

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TAJA LINDLEY

Taja Lindley is a courageous, truth-telling creatress; an unapologetically proud queer femme feminist; daughter of a single mother; 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. For over a decade she has worked in 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.

As an artist activist, she uses creativity and imagination to shift culture and move people to action. Her artwork has been featured at 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. 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. Her writing has appeared in Rewire, EBONY, Feministe and Salon.

Read Taja’s work | Follow Taja on Twitter

YAMANI HERNANDEZ

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.

Read Yamani’s work | Follow Yamani on Twitter