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SPARK’s leadership team creates the scaffolding for SPARK girls’ activism, working closely with the SPARKteam to develop and carry out activist campaigns.


Dana Edell, PhD. Executive Director, SPARK  Dana is an activist-scholar-artist and has been the executive director of SPARK since May 2011. From 2002-2012, she was co-founder/executive director of viBe Theater Experience.  Since 1998, Dana has produced and co-directed more than 60 plays, 7 CDs of original music, 8 music videos and 3 radio episodes all written and performed by girls. She has over 15 years of experience as a teacher and leader in arts and advocacy programs with teenage girls. Before moving to New York City, she co-founded and directed Inside/Out Performing Arts, a theater-making program for girls affected by the juvenile justice system in San Francisco and worked for three years as a theater artist-in-residence in NYC public elementary and middle schools. She is also the Co-Chair of the Girls’ Participation Task Force in the Working Group on Girls at the United Nations. She has spoken as an expert on girls’ issues on ABC’s 20/20, Al Jazeera, Fox News, Fox & Friends, BBC and NPR. Dana teaches education, qualitative research methods, and theater and social change courses at New York University and the City University of New York. She has a BA with honors in Classics/Ancient Greek from Brown University, an MFA in Theater Directing from Columbia University and a PhD in Educational Theater from NYU.

Melissa Campbell, SPARK Program Coordinator, got her start in feminist activism with About-Face, a non-profit dedicated to helping girls understand and reject harmful media messages that negatively affect their self-esteem. Since then, she’s managed and edited blogs, organized protests, led media literacy workshops, spoken on panels about activism and the Internet, designed and delivered workshops on healthy relationships on and off line, and lots of other cool things that make her feel real good about her life. She joined SPARK in 2010 and is a SPARKteam alum; you can read her SPARK blogs here. Melissa graduated from The New School in May 2011 and jokes about going to grad school to study trauma in YA literature and/or the relationships between boybands, capitalism, and teen sexuality, but might not actually be joking.

Candice Iloh, SPARK Program Associate, is a poet and educator residing in Brooklyn, New York. She is the author of three independent collections of poetry and a Voices of our Nation Arts Foundation alum, where she studied poetry under Ruth Forman at the University of Berkeley in California. She is published in various arts magazines such as Insight Magazine and Fjords Review. When not writing, reading or working with young people and women of all ages, she dances.



Jamia Wilson is a feminist media activist, organizer, and storyteller. Currently the executive director of YTH, Jamia Wilson believes in galvanizing the power of people and communities. She is a feminist media activist, organizer, and storyteller passionate about creatively using digital and mobile media to help new voices be heard. Before joining YTH in 2013, Jamia was the TED Prize Storyteller, leading TED Conference’s editorial strategy for the $1 million prize. Her previous roles include vice president of programs at Women’s Media Center, youth outreach manager at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and communications specialist at People for the American Way.

Jamia has been recognized as a next generation leader in advocacy movements, including as one of Refinery29’s “17 Faces of the Future of Feminism” and as a #SmartFeministofTwitter by Ms. Magazine blog. Jamia’s words and works have been featured in CBS NewsC-SPAN,, SlateSalonNew York MagazineRookie Magazine, the TODAY Show, theWashington Post, several anthologies, and more. She is also a frequent speaker at events like Netroots, the Civil Liberties and Public Policy’s conference, Facing Race, Women!Action! Media, and the National Conference for Media Reform.

Lyn Mikel Brown, Ed.D. is a community activist, professor, and SPARK co-founder.  She is co-author, with Carol Gilligan, of Meeting at the Crossroads: Women’s Psychology and Girl’s Development, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year that helped spark an international debate the lives of girls and redefined our understanding of female development.  Lyn has written four other books in which she investigates the relationship between girls’ anger and social class, examines the cultural phenomenon of “girlfighting,” and critiques the messages that media and marketers direct at both girls and boys.  Her most recent work focuses on scaffolding girls’ resistance and activism.  She co-founded Hardy Girls Healthy Women, a nonprofit that educates about and supports girls as social change agents, and in collaboration with HGHW’s Girls Advisory Board, created Powered By Girl (PBG), a media activism website for teen girls. Lyn received her doctorate from Harvard University in Human Development and Psychology and was a founding member of the Harvard Project on Women’s Psychology and Girl’s Development.  She is Professor of Education at Colby College in Maine. She’s super proud that her daughter, Maya, is a SPARKTeam blogger.

Deborah L. Tolman, Ed.D. is Professor of Social Welfare and Psychology at the Hunter College School of Social Work and the CUNY Graduate Center. A developmental psychologist, she studies construction of gender and experiences of sexuality among adolescent girls and boys in the USA. Her research has been funded by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Department of Health and Human Services, the Ford Foundation, and the Spencer Foundation.   Before joining CUNY, Tolman was founding director of the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality at San Francisco State University. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Association, co-author of the APA’s Task Force Report on the Sexualization of Girls, and author of Dilemmas of Desire: Teenage Girls Talk about Sexuality, which won the 2003 Distinguished Book Award from the Association for Women in Psychology. Tolman earned her Ed.D. in Human Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1992.