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Young Women's Leadership Council


LANI BLECHMAN

Lani, hails from Miami and lives in Northampton where she thinks about dealing with class privilege and oppression, global feminisms, queer dance parties, dismantling racism, and heat and humidity. She is known for a mean abortion values exploration workshop entitled "Rhymes with schmashmortion...Can you say it?" (Well, it's actually very probing, open, and thoughtful as it draws a lot from an intergroup dialogue-based workshop model.) Most days she can be found at the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program (CLPP) where she works as Operations Assistant. Her past roles at CLPP have included Student Conference Coordinator of the 20th and 21st annual Reproductive Justice Conference, "From Abortion Rights to Social Justice: Building the Movement for Reproductive Freedom" in 2006 and 2007. Lani's other current hats include collective member/trainer/finance chair for Translate Gender, childcare giver/fundraising committee volunteer for the Prison Birth Project, and front-page blogger for Amplify where she is known as love-and-organizing. While much of her current work focuses on operationalizing justice-based values through organizational policies and procedures, she is also particularly proud of coordinating the 2008 Franklin County Community Coalition for Teens conference, "Spark Thought, Create Change!" and other local youth work. Lani hates bananas, but enjoys bike riding, fresh vegetables, road trips, hand-me-downs, and thunderstorms. In 2008, Lani finished her thesis (an oral-history based analysis of The Doula Project and Translate Gender) and graduated from Hampshire College. She is a Board Member of PEP to boot.

NICOLE CLARK

Nicole Clark is a graduate student at Columbia University, studying social work and public health. She is also a graduate of Spelman College and holds a degree in psychology. Nicole has been active with such organizations as Advocates for Youth, Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and Helping Our Teen Girls In Real Life Situations, Inc. (HOTGIRLS). Nicole hopes to one day open a nonprofit organization for young African American and Latina women and girls centering on HIV/STI prevention, reproductive rights, sexuality, gender-based violence, spirituality, activism, youth empowerment, community organizing, and improving the images of Black and Latina women in the media and hip hop culture. After finishing school, Nicole aspires to do more speaking and workshop/presentation engagements at universities, schools, conferences, youth groups, and community events about youth empowerment, adolescent sexuality, media images, and issues affecting women and girls. She also aspires to become a nonprofit consultant for progressive organizations that promote sex education, women's rights, and youth empowerment by assisting nonprofits in strategic planning, grant writing, conducting needs assessments, program development, community organizing, and employee morale and retention. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, Nicole currently lives in New York City.

MYRA DURAN

Myra Duran is a fourth-year undergraduate at UCLA pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Women's Studies with a minor in labor and workplace studies. She began her journey for women's rights as an intern for Gabriela Network, U.S.A. where concerns for Filipina women's health and agency were put at the forefront of critical analysis. She further delved into women's issues and empowerment when she became a campus team intern for the Feminist Majority Foundation. The beginning seed for activism had been planted there and later developed into a heavy love for exposing the truth where she spearheaded FMF's Campaign to Expose Fake Clinics at UCLA with Bruin Feminists for Equality. Serving on the Bruin Feminists' executive board has helped her increase campus and student awareness on women's rights, women's issues, and women's empowerment. While serving as an intern for FMF, Myra was honored with the opportunity to speak at the FMF's 2009 Young Women's Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. where she spoke about her experience in visiting a local crisis pregnancy center and encouraged young college students to take action on their own campuses. Myra was later fortunate enough to have her CPC blog get posted up on many politically progressive websites that included: rhrealitycheck.org, jezebel.com, and thehuffingtonpost.com. Myra is currently interning for Dolores Huerta and her foundation as a media and communications intern. Myra is just really excited to be on the Council that can further foster the love she has for activism, the power of voice, and women's rights. ≠

MIA GIARDINA

Mia is a senior at Smith College, majoring in the Study of Women and Gender with a focus on Queer Studies and Women, Race and Culture. She identifies as a gender-queer activist and feminist dedicated to anti-racism, the reproductive rights movement and equal access to work, food, education, love and all of those things which make life worth living. Mia is co-chair of Smith Collegeís transgender organization Transcending Gender, and has worked as a hotline operator for Fenway Community Health Centerís LGBT hotline, as a receptionist for the AIDS Support Group of Cape Cod, and is currently student programmer for the Smith College Resource Center for Sexuality and Gender. Mia received a RRASC grant from the Civil Liberties and Public Policy Program this summer  and worked for Justice Now in Oakland, California as a prison abolitionist legal advocate. She lives in a co-op at Smith College and has become passionate about intentional communities, and hopes to be able to make a trip to Womanshare in Oregon after graduating this spring. Her other passions include children, whom she hopes to raise someday in a way which does justice to their innate individuality, cooking, being goofy, and listening to people tell their stories.

COURTNEY HOOKS

Courtney Hooks, a junior at Hampshire College, studies Human Rights and Social Justice with a focus on Reproductive and Gender Justice. She has worked at HIPS (Helping Individual Prostitutes Survive) in Washington, DC, as an Outreach Service and Syringe Exchange Specialist (a.k.a. syringe exchange ninja) and at Justice Now in Oakland, California as a Legal Advocate and Human Rights Documenter, Researcher, and Writer. She is currently training to become a birth doula for low-income women and pregnant and parenting people inside prison. Her goal is to focus on their wishes, needs, and health.

Her hope is to offer helping hands and kind, reassuring words in the midst of an often harsh and isolating environment. She has traveled to Cuba, where she created a multi-media documentary deconstructing restrictive and racist beauty ideals and exploring black Cuban women's racial identity through their relationship with hair. It is her life's mission to continue work that turns the tides, empowers people, and builds a better, happier, and more just world. She likes making jokes, laughing a lot, and cart-wheeling, and loves theater, bellydance, the night sky, good food, watching old Daria episodes online, and her big family full of really cool people with really cool names.

TIFFANY JULES

Tiffany is a native of Brooklyn, but currently lives in the Washington Heights section of New York City. She is a second-year graduate student at Columbia University, where she is pursuing a master's degree in public health with a concentration in sexuality and health. Tiffany also holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry and master's degree in social work. After college, she worked for several non-profit organizations in the areas of sexual health and youth development. Tiffany is a consultant for Love Heals, a non-profit that empowers young people in New York to make informed choices by educating them about HIV/AIDS. Her interests include colorism, racism, youth development, Black sexuality, sexually transmitted infections, and research. In the future, she hopes to work for an organization focused on reproductive justice and continue to advocate for people of color and sexual health.

JADE FAIR

Jade Fair, a born-and-raised California girl, spends her time thinking about people of color centered feminism and self-determination for children. She works part time as a preschool teacher at a community-based co-operative school, and is also a full time student pursuing a degree in anthropology at Reed College in Portland, OR. She juggles a variety of activist projects, working with the Feminist Student Union at her college, organizing consent and domestic partner violence workshops in her community, and volunteering with In Other Words, the local feminist bookstore. She comes to the reproductive justice movement excited to work on issues of ensuring accessible contraceptives, sex-positive sexual education, and how these issues relate to women of color. She hopes to eventually pursue a Masters in Social Work and open up a sliding-scale therapy practice with friends to serve the needs of queer and transgender youth of color. She loves riding her bike, making art, writing spoken word poetry, finding fabulous junk jewelry, dancing, and good pastries.

NONDACE GARRETT

Nondace "Nondi" Garrett is 26 years old and has been a member of the Young Women's Leadership Council since the summer of 2005. Nondi is a Florida girl at heart. She's originally from Tampa, Fl and then moved to Boca Raton in 2001. There she earned her Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Florida Atlantic University and worked on the beach as an ocean lifeguard before deciding she needed a change of pace. She is currently living in New York City where she is in her first year of law school at New York Law. Nondi's passion for reproductive justice sparked while taking an undergraduate course in women's studies. Since, she has worked with various reproductive and feminist organizations. One of her most rewarding experiences was working with several others to create a women's student organization on FAU's campus. It proved that hard work really can bring about big results! She's hoping to bring a little bit of RJ to New York Law as well as learn how to be a better activist and advocate. She hopes to one-day use her law degree to work for and on behalf of women.

NINA JACINTO

Nina Jacinto graduated from Pomona College in 2008 with a B.A. in English and a minor in Women's Studies. During her four years, she was active in student of color community leadership. Based in the Bay Area, Nina is a racial justice blogger for WireTap Magazine, contributing bi-weekly posts on issues that specifically affect people of color in the United States, on topics varying from healthcare and the economy to Oprah's collaboration with KFC. Her posts have been republished at RaceWire or have circulated on websites including The Nation, YO! Youth Outlook, Feministing and Think MTV. In addition, Nina is a sexual and reproductive health blogger for EmpowHer Women's Health Online. When she isn't blogging, Nina interns at nonprofit organizations as a development associate or grantwriter and is a freelance book consultant and fact checker. Always eager to take on new projects and opportunities, she's excited to be a part of the YWLC team!

LAUREN MITCHELL

Lauren Mitchell is a recent graduate of Hampshire College, and is currently a freelance everything-- mostly in the realm of teaching, writing, and women's reproductive health. But, as an avid collector of life experiences, she'll probably do most anything interesting that comes her way. She comes from an interdisciplinary background with a degree in Literature/Critical Theory and Biological Anthropology, and is often asked, "What exactly will you do with all that?" And here it is:

First, she is a Gynecological Teaching Associate, which means that she teaches medical students to do comprehensive, patient-friendly, well-woman exams, using her own body as a tool. Added to this, she has spoken across the country, teaching women to do their own speculum self-exams. It all adds up to mean that she could probably give you a better pelvic exam than your doctor, and is happy to take anyone up on that bet. She is also a labor doula and a birth assistant at the Brooklyn Birthing Center, and is starting an Abortion Doula Network with several other trained labor doulas. If you are curious about the network, shoot her an email at LaurenM@protectchoice.org. She is a freelance writer and general "go-to girl" for several up-and-coming magazines, which will all hopefully one day reach a shelf near you, and her work can be seen on the occasional Off-Off (Off) Broadway stages of New York and in the anthology We Don't Need Another Wave: Dispatches from the Next Generation of Feminists. As a former PEP intern, she is very proud to be on the council.

LINDSAY SWISHER

Lindsay Swisher is a recent graduate of Indiana University where she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and International Business with a minor in French. She is currently living in Chicago working with an organization as a year long volunteer through the AmeriCorps program. She began her interest in the sexual health field by working with Project T.R.U.S.T. (Teaching Responsibility and Understanding of Sexuality and Teen Development), a cutting-edge teen peer education program through Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan. In college, Lindsay helped to plan many educational and activist events around women's rights and health. Two of her main projects included Take Back the Night and the annual campus production of The Vagina Monologues. Lindsay is excited to continue serving as a strong voice for women through her involvement with the Young Women's Leadership Council and hopes to find many other ways to further her involvement in Chicago.

WILLO RADGENS

Willo Radgens discovered her life's passion in working with teens and reproductive health issues. After obtaining her master's, Willo began working for Planned Parenthood of South Central Michigan as the Youth Program Coordinator. Willo's life has now taken another big turn to that of a stay-at-home mother. She now enjoys the challenge of raising her children and continuing her activism through volunteer opportunities such as the Young Women's Leadership Council.

SHELBY KNOX

Shelby Knox is nationally known as the subject of the Sundance award-winning film, The Education of Shelby Knox, a 2005 documentary chronicling her teenage activism for comprehensive sex education and gay rights in her Southern Baptist community. After the film's release, Shelby became a national advocate for comprehensive sex ed, testifying before the House of Representatives and sitting down with both Al Franken and Dr. Phil to discuss the ills of abstinence-only and her varying states of virginity. A freelance consultant and writer, Shelby also travels to colleges and communities across the country as an itinerant feminist organizer, doing trainings, workshops and civil disobedience in the name of reproductive justice and sexual health. She likes handstands, sweet tea, and coaxing the other YWLC members to do karaoke and other things they might not otherwise be inclined to do. She spends countless hours on Twitter.


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