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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? Hit us up here.
 

Seher Ali, 20, 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, 18, is a freshman 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.

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, 15, 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, 14, 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).

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. She works at a Fair Trade store which economically and socially empowers female artisans in developing nations. Her favorite topics of discussion include politics, feminism, current events, and of course, Beyoncé.

Montgomery Jones, 20, is a sophomore at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI.  She is proud to be half black and half Irish and discussing it with others so as to keep an open dialogue about interracial families.  She loves talking and making new friends.  Her passions include God, reading, feminism, traveling, all things social media, and volunteering.  She enjoys participating in school clubs in her spare time.  Although she grew up in the suburbs, Detroit holds a special place in her heart and she loves being involved in different movements to revive the city.

Anya Josephs, 19, 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.

Shanzeh Khurram, 19, was born in Karachi, Pakistan and moved to California last year, where she now lives. A feminist since age 10, she is committed to erasing gender stereotypes and putting a stop to the objectification of women. She’s especially interested in intersectional feminism, shade-ism, body positivity and the relationship between religion and feminism. She is an on-call breaking news writer for PolicyMic and a blogger for the Huffington Post. She spends most of her free time reading crazy amounts of books and trying to write the next “Great American Novel.”

Izzy Labbe, 15, is a Sophomore at Waterville Senior High School in Waterville, Maine. Constantly disturbed by the way the media, including popular magazines and their advertisers, portrays women and girls, Izzy joined SPARK as a blogger when she was in eighth grade. A year later she became a member of the Girls Advisory Board for Hardy Girls Healthy Women, a parent organization of SPARK. Izzy is also the secretary of her high school’s Gay Straight Trans Alliance, working to make her school a safer place for LGBTQ students and staff. Theatre is another huge part of Izzy’s life- she plans on attending a performing arts college in New York after high school. When she’s not blogging/working/speaking/living for SPARK, Izzy can be found watching British Romantic Comedies, listening to musicals, reading classic literature, competitively swimming, or, of course, singing in the shower. You can find her on twitter (@izzythelabbe) where she complains about the patriarchy and publicly delights on cute internet cats and such. 

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.

Annemarie McDaniel, 18,  is a sophomore at Yale University double majoring in Political Science and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Through SPARK Movement, she spoke at the United Nations 57th Commission on the Status of Women and worked on the National Eating Disorder Association’s 2012 Proud2bMe campaign. Annemarie’s involvement with other women’s organizations includes serving as a U By Kotex “Generation Know” Ambassador and Special Events Coordinator for the Yale Women’s Center. Outside of feminist activism, she is a Twitter fanatic (@AnnemarieMcDan) and Yale Media Tech filmmaking novice.

Shavon L. McKinstry, 20, is an illustration student at Syracuse University who hails from Olympia, WA. She was a head writer on her high school’s newspaper, which, in combination with the teachers and curriculum at the school, inspired her to learn more about issues of equality and civil rights. As a consumer of popular media and entertainment, namely television, comics, video games and movies, her main goal is to see true, honest improvement in the portrayals of women, minorities, queer people and all others who are misrepresented in the entertainment industry. Ask her about her pug or the latest sci-fi blockbuster if you want to kill some time. She runs a personal feminism blog about geek culture, the Feminist Gaze, and can be tweeted at from @SLMcKinstry.

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.

Yas Necati, 16,  is an activist from London. She likes cats, plays guitar and is an extensive reader of books, comic-books and poetry. Yas writes for the school magazine and runs two independent blogs: one about equality in general and one about feminist cats. She enjoys sparking discussions about activism in her school and is a super-duper nerd! She spends most of her spare time writing and is hoping to finally finish her novel about a very cool feminist with blue hair. She is also a volunteer at the charity Be More Heroic UK. You will be able to find her on a regular basis outside the News International headquarters, singing and dancing in a rather dodgy fashion in order to put an end to Page 3.

Madeleine Nesbitt, 15, is in 9th 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.

Joneka Percentie, 18, is a freshman at the University of North Carolina Charlotte and is passionate about intersectional feminism and positive representation of black women in the media. Joneka served as copy editor on her high school newspaper giving her the opportunity to write articles on topics like street harassment and racism. In 2012 Joneka had the opportunity to perform in one of the nation’s first high school production of The Color Purple, which showed her the importance of strong female leads and feminism in theatre. When she is not writing about her feelings, Joneka enjoys participating in theatrical productions, dancing to Beyoncé, and painting her nails.

Riyandini Putri, 19, 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

Tyanna Slobe, 22, is a first year graduate student in Linguistics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. She is concentrating on studying sociolinguistics because she thinks that language is a somewhat consistently concrete way to analyze society and culture, and is focused on analyzing gender construction (namely transgender gender construction) in the media. As an undergraduate she studied English, Spanish, and Anthropology and lived in Santiago, Chile for a year learning Spanish and taking part in student protests for education reform. More recently, Ty has been getting involved with sexual assault prevention actions and collaborations on college campuses. On the weekends she gives guided tours of breweries around Boulder, travels, and hula hoops.

Emma Stydahar, 18, attends high school in downtown Manhattan. She is a young feminist activist and is passionate about issues including Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) and equal work equal pay.

 

Cheyenne Tobias, 17, 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.

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 freshman 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.