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The SPARKteam

One of the most unique, important things about SPARK is that we’re a movement by girls, for girls and girls’ allies (including boys and grownups). We center girls’ experiences and elevate girls’ voices because we know that “protecting them” from sexualization doesn’t work–we need to help girls develop their own strengths and speak out against the forces that harm them. Our SPARKteam is made up of engaged, passionate girls and young women who are building their own solutions and leading a movement against the sexualization, objectification, and violence against women present in the media. Got questions, comments, or want to reach the SPARKteam for a story? Get in touch with us here.
 

Seher Ali, 21, was born in Muscat, Oman and was totally disoriented at a young age by the culture shock of moving to Canada. She now lives in Windsor, Ontario, translating that sustained disorientation into education by completing a double major in English and History with a minor in Political Science at the University of Windsor. Her other outlets of self-education and expression include local organizations such as Engaging Girls Changing Communities, whom she works with to implement programs for young girls interested in civic engagement, as well as activist groups like the Palestinian Solidarity Group. She’s passionate about indigenous studies, diaspora studies, Islamic feminism, race (and is constantly the cause of many eye-rolls in social groups due to this), feminist intersectionality, foreign policy, and colonial/post-colonial studies. Also ridiculously passionate about consuming pizza.

Angela Batuure, 19, lives in Maryland and is a freshman at Columbia University. She went to boarding school in Massachusetts for high school where she was a member of her school’s Model UN team and on Student Council. She was also one of the 12 founders of her schools’ Feminism=Equality movement, which was created to confront issues of equal gender representation in leadership positions. In her free time I enjoy playing soccer and lacrosse and running track and field. She loves spending time with her little sister, baking, and watching Harry Potter movies.

Julia Bluhm, 15, is a 10th grader at Maine Central Institute. She has been involved with SPARK since 8th grade and is also on the girls advisory board of Hardy Girls Healthy Women. She is currently training with hopes of becoming a professional ballet dancer. In addition to her passion for feminism and dealing with issues about sexualization, Julia wishes to someday put an end to the many stereotypes about ballet dancers and also introverts. Julia enjoys fashion, lace, chocolate, and dancing around.

Maya Brown, 19, is a sophomore at Smith College. She has been a part of SPARK for almost four years. She is a graduate of Waterville High school in Maine where she was co-president of the Girls Advisory Board for Hardy Girls Healthy Women and helped to facilitate workshops with women who work with girls. Maya was also the co-chair of her school’s Gay Straight Trans Alliance and developed an Action Kit designed to help communities better serve LGBTQ students (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Transgender, Questioning). She is passionate about feminism, social justice, gender equality, digital art, theater, and working with kids. She is never happier than when she is showing younger girls how to be super awesome activists.

Lux Cuellar, 18, is a freshman at University of North Carolina Charlotte who is passionate about trans-inclusive feminism and body positivity. Tessa is a spoken word poet who works to use poetry as a means of highlighting social inequality. She is continuously working on making her local K-12 public school system a safer and more respectful space for transgender students. When she’s not busy crushing the patriarchy, Tessa enjoys playing videogames such as Pokemon, Animal Crossing, and Super Smash Brothers, and listening to feminist rap.

Bea Delap, 13, is a year 8 who lives online, enjoys making awful puns, and watching endless slam poems on YouTube. She spends a lot of time reading and watching Doctor Who. She is one of the founding members of her school’s Feminist Society. She has assumed the role ‘official BBC botherer’ at school after frequently writing to complain about problematic shows.

Ria Desai, 17, a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, is a dancer, bookworm, aspiring doctor, and of course, a dedicated activist. She’s always been a feminist – from a young age, she pointedly ignored the naysayers who tried to dictate what girls should (and could) do. She believes in the power of speaking out, be it calling out a casually sexist language or pointing out oh-so-prominent female stereotypes in the media. If there’s one word she completely identifies with, it’s assertive.

Lilinaz Evans, 16, is a girl from London, UK who is trying to pass her GCSE’s and smash the patriarchy. She shares a blog, jellypop, with her best friend, is Admin Queen of the Twitter Youth Feminist Army, feminist crafter extraordinaire, writes about politics and social issues for Mirrors Magazine and plays the Viola and the Bassoon. Lili aims to educate young people about feminism and intersectionality through the medium of social media and the internet. Lili is particularly passionate about body image and body hair, she has been known to dye her leg hair interesting colours as a protest.

Cori Fulcher, 15, is a sophomore in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  She loves comics, film, and children’s books.  She is passionate about combating sexualization in comics as a medium and an industry, intersectional feminism, and ending rape culture.  When not writing for SPARK she is a member of her school’s feminist club, runs Cross-Country, frets over her Girl Scout Gold Award, and works on her zine (readership of one).

 

Elisabed Gedevanishvili, 16, is from a small country in Eurasia, Georgia. At the moment she is spending a year in the United States as an exchange student through the Future Leaders Exchange Program- FLEX. Her first feminist realization was at the age of eleven, when she was told for the first time that it was ok for her not to try to receive the best education as the main goal for all girls in life was to marry. As a student of International Baccalaureate she enjoys being called a nerd. Elisabed actively participates in events planned by organizations such as the European Youth Parliament, through these events she rocks the world with speeches about prostitution and debates about advertisements. In ten years she aims to have acquired a diploma in Journalism and to have conquered the world with her satirical articles (of course about patriarchic illusions)!

Brenda Guesnet, 20, lives in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where she goes to college and majors in Art History. She has moved around all her life, from Germany to England to Switzerland to Argentina, getting to know new languages and cultures along the way. She is obsessed with all things Beyoncé and committed to breaking down the distinctions between “high” and “low” art. Her feminist passions include body positivity, advocating against girl hate, and sex criticality, while her less-feminist passions are eating sandwiches and binge-watching TV series. Brenda is also a volunteer at the organization Voices of Women Media, which provides girls and women from marginalized communities with the media tools to tell their own stories.

Mehar Gujral, 17, was born in India, raised in Canada, and has lived in suburban NJ for almost half her life. She is currently a senior at Middlesex County Academy in Edison, NJ and is fascinated by intersection of feminism, religion, and politics in the 21st century. When she isn’t reading a book or consuming copious amounts of tea, Mehar is a dedicated Girl Scout, columnist on her school’s newspaper, an avid Model UN-er, and an ardent advocate for underprivileged girls around the world as Teen Advisor for the Girl Up Campaign. Mehar is passionate about global affairs and hopes to see a world without poverty and gender inequality in her lifetime.

Sam Holmes, 18, is a feminist and environmentalist. She has been a Global Population and Environment Fellow at the Sierra Club. She also profiled Senator Jeff Wentworth for his controversial opposition for an anti-abortion bill. This essay won second place in the 2013 John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Essay Contest. She has written articles about everything from hydraulic fracturing to sexism in advocacy movements. However, Sam’s main interests include challenging societal ills such as sexism, racism, and overall bigotry. Sam has loved writing ever since she could hold a pencil and you will rarely find her without a pad of paper and a writing implement. Her favorite topics of discussion include politics, feminism, current events, and of course, Beyoncé.

Ambar Johnson, 20, is a fourth year student studying environmental engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. With her STEM state of mind and her liberal arts heart, everything she does is with zeal, grace, and zest. Ambar devotes her time to volunteering towards youth development programs, learning about Black history and culture, and bringing more girls into STEM fields. One of her biggest concerns are dismantling the harmful images and feedback of black women in the media. When she’s not digging to find the root of most societal problems, she spends a lot of time wondering if she’ll upgrade her Spotify account. You can find her on Twitter sparing no mercy for masplaining, the ingrained entitlement of women’s bodies, respectability politics, and cultural appropriation. She embraces fierce challenges and new opportunities to meet people, boldly.

Jodi-Ann Johnson, 18,  was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica her entire life. She likes everything. Find her a topic, and she’ll discuss it for hours! She has always been someone who needed to find out more and wasn’t afraid to voice, sometimes much to the displeasure of teachers and friends. Her constant interest in discovering more and striving for social equality amongst alll citizens has led her to feminism. Along with SPARKteam, she hopes to advance her platform of social equality as millenials in her country now face the conflict between the conservative viewpoints of days past and the more liberal mindset resulting from a new world.

Montgomery Jones, 21, is an activist from Metro Detroit.  She loves talking and making new friends.  Her passions include God, reading, feminism, traveling,netflix, all things social media, and volunteering.  She aspires to work in the public relations field when she “grows up”.  Battling a debilitating muscle disease andwants to shed light on what it truly is to be a young person with a chronic illness as well as the lasting mental effects being the “sick kid” can have.  Short term and long term dreams include: study abroad, write a book, join City Year for 1-2 years after university, and live in the Northwestern part of the U.S. some day.

Anya Josephs, 20, is is a sophomore at Columbia University in New York City, where she is (probably) majoring in English. She grew up in Chapel Hill, NC. She especially enjoys writing about LGBTQ issues, eating disorders, and body positivity. Her proudest SPARK-related accomplishment to date is being called a “humorless feminazi” on reddit. When not angrily blogging, she is passionately involved with theatre, especially Shakespeare, reading, and failing to finish writing a play.

Julia Khan, 15,  was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is currently in 11th grade at Los Altos High School, where she founded the Club for Gender Equality. Julia is particularly passionate about gender equality and representation in the media. Coming from a biracial and multireligious family, Julia understands the significance of cultural identity and the complications behind having multiple. In her free time, she enjoys debating politics, biking, spending way too much time on Twitter, and long walks on the beach (preferably with a friend or family member who enjoys smashing the patriarchy as much as she does).

Michelle Lee, 16, lives in Singapore. She’s passionate about feminism and messing with people’s ideas of what gender is. When she’s not on the Internet, she doodles, tries to learn how to juggle, and reads. In the future, she hopes to become a writer of fiction, and to continue working for women’s rights.

Georgia Luckhurst, 14, is an activist with especially interested in encouragingpositive body image in girls across the world.  After interviewing model Jennie Runk, Georgia is particularly intrigued by the ins and outs of the modelling industry and the rising trend of plus-size modelling. Georgia has written previously for the Huffington Post and is also part of the Brave Girls Alliance, which is campaigning for a world where girls are taught that courage, kindness and compassion are worthier attributes than being conventionally beautiful. As a young activist, Georgia hopes to promote alternative forms of activism such as creating works of art, writing poetry and making the most of social media.  Georgia discusses what being a teenager today is like on her personal blog http://teenagegleam.blogspot.co.uk/.

Katy Ma, 17, is a senior at Central Bucks High School West in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. Besides being active in leadership roles at school, she is passionate about girls’ education and interns at Givology, a nonprofit that funds education for children in 26 countries all over the world. She founded I Am Proud, a diversity and self-esteem campaign for girls, which placed in the top 60 out of 422 projects in the World Summit Youth Award competition. In 2013 she was finalist in the Distinguished Young Women of PA scholarship program, placing in the top 5. In her free time she enjoys making art and music. She has played piano for 12 years and enjoys playing ukelele and singing. She participated in the Congressional Art Competition and Pennsylvania Art & Writing, where her paintings have won several awards. She is excited to inspire and be inspired by other girl activists.

Janelly Martinez, 14, is a high school sophomore at Desert Mirage High School. She is from Coachella, CA and no, she’s never been to the music festival because she can’t afford it. Janelly is a professional boxer in the making or so she hopes and when she’s not involved in various clubs at her local Boys and Girls club she volunteers helping out her community in whatever way possible. She was introduced to feminism by her cool older sister (hi Jazmin!) but really got to practice it when she joined the Global Girl Media Coachella Academy in winter of 2014, where she produced a short film about her mother and community.

Jazmin Martinez, 20, is from the Eastern Coachella Valley, an immigrant agricultural working community. When she was 16, she discovered her passion for being an outspoken feminist and activist when her senior year English Teacher, Mr.Katz, introduced her to feminism. Now attending Santa Monica College as a Women Studies major, she has been involved with the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance club on her campus, where she served as President for a year. She has blogged for Proud 2B Me and has a fashion blog that focuses on her community members and how she thinks fashion and feminism play nice together. Jazmin also recently was intern for the Brave Girls Alliance. Apart from being a feminist 24/7, Jazmin is trying to figure life out. She’s the first in her family to attend any form of higher education and knows her choosing to be a Women Studies major makes her parents worry….but she’s not worried, and feels totally confident that she’ll be okay but just doesn’t know how that will exactly look like.

Annemarie McDaniel, 20,  is a junior at Yale University double majoring in Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, originally from San Diego, CA. Through SPARK, she spoke at the United Nations 57th Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) and worked the next year as a Facilitator for the 58th CSW Teen Orientation the next year. Outside of SPARK, she is proud to serve as the Public Relations Coordinator for the Women’s Center, and previously was a U By Kotex Generation Know Ambassador. In her free time, you will likely find her on Twitter (@AnnemarieMcDan) or singing Disney songs with friends in her dorm.

Celeste Montaño, 20, is a reader, musical fangirl, and TV junkie. Because she is an avid consumer of television, Celeste spends a lot of time analyzing erasure and stereotypes in the media. She is especially intrigued by representations of Latin@s and how they affect sense of self in younger kids.  Celeste began expressing her feminist critiques while being part of her high school newspaper, and joined SPARK a few years later in July 2012. She has long been interested in exploring how the Internet influences both activism and the way people build communities. As part of this ongoing exploration, Celeste dedicates much of her days to scrolling through tumblr while also navigating a double major in English and Spanish during her third year of college.

Luci Navas, 17, is a senior at Wakefield High in Arlington, Virginia, where she serves as head of costumes for the Wakefield Players and president of the International Thespian Society. She hopes to study mechanical engineering in college, and is passionate about the involvement of girls in STEM fields. In her free time, she enjoys jammin’ on her planner and watching standup comedy.

Madeleine Nesbitt, 15, is in 10th grade in York, Pennsylvania.  She writes for the teen program at her local newspaper.  She is particularly interested in how changes in fashion correlate with changes in society and views of how society should be.  She is interested in activism working through creative writing such as novels and poetry, and has been an Anglophile from an early age.

Shrima Pandey, 20, is a junior in college studying Anthropology and International Studies. She is a perpetually and unintentionally thin woman who likes to confuse people who think being body positive is bashing skinny girls. She’s also passionate about being open and blunt about menstruation and sex. SPARK is her first foray into being opinionated and passionate beyond her personal journal and private conversations. Shrima also enjoys grocery shopping, trying new chapsticks, and riding public transportation in new places.

Alisha Pavelities, 19, is finishing an associate’s degree from Pensacola State College. She is a passionate feminist and most passionate about ending violence against women. When she is not on the Internet, she divides her time between walks, writing music for the piano, planning gardens and reading all sorts of books. A great lover of drinks that are supposed to be hot with ice instead, cats, and Sherlock Holmes, Alisha is most at home in the library or at the piano, her first love.

Joneka Percentie, 19, is at sophomore at the University of North Carolina Charlotte and is passionate about intersectional feminism and the representation of Black women in the media. She has worked as a court advocate for victims of domestic violence in her county and contributes to SPARK’s Black Women Create series. When she is not writing, Joneka enjoys singing, dancing to Beyoncé, reading, and sleeping.

Riyandini Putri, 21, goes by Dee and lives in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. She studies Veterinary Medicine at Gadjah Mada University, but sometimes isn’t sure about it. She finds her life on the Internet and lives the way she wants. She wishes to be like Wednesday Addams, but it’s tough. In her real boring life, she just tries to survive. She’s moody, and created Spark Zine (not affiliated with SPARK!) in 2012. You can read it here,

 

Aviv Rau, 17, is a senior from Atlanta, Georgia and the co-founder of the Feminist Youth Coalition of Atlanta (FYCA). Through FYCA, Aviv connects with over 80 Metro Atlanta teens who share her goal of bettering the lives of women, both locally and worldwide. When she is not planning the next FYCA event, Aviv is a participant in Model UN and an active member of a local interfaith club and her school’s literary magazine. Aviv is also the co-founder and editor of a satirical newspaper, “The Etrog.” Aviv enjoys travelling, writing films and plays, drawing, and arguing passionately about social issues. You can typically find Aviv fawning over nice eyebrows and/or listening to M.I.A.

Ajaita Saini, 14, is a sophomore at Middlesex Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Technologies in Edison, New Jersey. As an avid feminist, she’s currently Treasurer in her school’s Girl Up club, and prides her advocacy in girl’s education, passionately fighting against the stereotype that women don’t belong in the STEM field. While one of her favorite mediums of expression is technology, she is also enraptured by the power of colors that she captures in her works as an aspiring artist. A Nerdfighter and a Potterhead, she feels a sense of fulfillment in being a “nerd” and encourages others to be confident in their quirks. As part of SPARK, Ajaita strives to get younger girls involved in what they find passionate rather than what society demands they be passionate about.

Cheyenne Tobias, 18, was born and raised in a brownstone in Bed Stuy (Brooklyn, NY). She was a curious child with an infinite amount of questions and an extravagant passion for imagination. She’s often inspired by the little nuances of life, so she takes pictures, sketches and writes about everything she experiences living in NYC. She grew up in a diverse family with diverse interests and has always craved the ability to do something and to make an impact on society. For this reason, amongst others, she’s wildly excited to be a part of SPARK and its community of leaders.

Lande Watson, 17, lives in Washington D.C. where she is a freshman and prospective Political Science and Women’s Studies double major at The George Washington University. She is a graduate of Palo Alto High School where she loved to debate and legislate on the floor of the California Assembly Chamber through the YMCA’s Youth & Government program. Here, she found her passion for female empowerment, when she started a women’s mentorship program to combat inequality within elected positions and encourage girls to seek out leadership roles. She considers herself a pantsuit aficionado and is passionate about politics, feminism and reading autobiographies.

Ocean Watson, 14, is a ninth grader in Louisville, KY. She is a hairy social justice blogger with a passion for feminism and Harry Potter. She studies intersectionality and smashes the patriarchy in her spare time. She is passionate about more diverse representation in the media and in leadership of all realms, especially through her own works as a writer. She intends to eradicate the awful violence against marginalized groups in the media and in the world. She also wants to get inside the classrooms and abolish dress-codes and the extremely white-washed, male-centric version of history that is taught to children in the U.S. Alternatively, as a standard part of education, she wants to instill the knowledge and awareness that no means no, and of the diversity and fluidity in sexuality and gender so that the younger generation can decide for themselves who they are and pass that understanding along to the world.

Alice Wilder, 18, is from Charlotte, North Carolina and is in her first year at UNC-Chapel Hill. She has been an activist for SPARK summit since June 2012. Alice works with U by Kotex and Girls for a Change’s “Generation Know” campaign. Her work has been featured on Upworthy, the Charlotte Observer and Rookie magazine. Alice is particularly interested in reproductive justice, media literacy and comprehensive sex education. You can follow her on Twitter @Alice_Wilder. Once Alice made a rude guy run away from her with a single glance. This is her proudest moment.

Calliope Wong, 18, is a sophomore at the UConn Honors program. She is a member of the GLSEN Connecticut Students of Color Organizing Team and has interned for GLAAD NY, with a focus on trans rights issues in the media. When she’s not thinking and writing about civil and human rights (you might remember her name from her Tumblr and media campaign promoting transwoman-inclusivity at Smith College and other women’s colleges), she’s not there. Or else she’s analyzing (overthinking to the point of dissection) popular anime from intersecting feminist perspectives, painting, or playing improvisational piano. She may also be found editing the run-on sentences (with too many parenthetical remarks) in her writing.