Initiative 2: Centering Social Justice
Since our beginning, AWBW has been committed to offering art as an equitable tool for supporting marginalized communities, working to break cycles of violence and trauma. Additionally, over the past few years, our curriculum has grown to include culturally responsive workshops, and our trainings continue to expand on racism, oppression, and marginalization as forms of individual and intergenerational trauma.
We acknowledge though that we can — and must — do more.
The voices of social justice already emanate from within every sector we serve. Working together, we can amplify their volume and reach — and bring them to communities across the country. The action items under this initiative will strengthen AWBW’s commitment to equity and inclusion, empowering our network of facilitators to build on meaningful dialogue towards systems change.
- Creation of training scholarships for social justice organizations — members of which will then become thought leaders for AWBW work.
- Development of social justice workshops — focused on antiracism, social change, and potential action items for our communities — all shaped by facilitators who carry specific lived experiences that further understanding of inequity
- Extension of guidance and culturally responsive resources to allies and aspiring allies in our collective promotion of social justice
- A proactive search for BIPOC talent at staff, leadership, and board levels across our organization — drawn, in part, from job boards and community organizations centered in BIPOC communities
I CAN WE CAN Community Art Initiative, 2012
Self-Led Art Worksheets, 2020
Social Justice Fellowships
Applications for our November 2021 Cohort are now closed.
Click here to be notified when the next application is available in February 2022.
Fellows selected in the next cycle will attend our March 24 & 25, 2022 Facilitator Training.
In honor of AWBW’s 30th Anniversary, we are deepening our commitment to community activism and promoting BIPOC voices through the creation of Social Justice Fellowships; full training scholarships supporting individuals who forward the establishment of equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout our society. These fellowships are rooted in AWBW’s history of supporting innovative and community-based solutions through the individual action of our facilitators.
Candidates for a Social Justice Fellowship will demonstrate their commitment to using art as a tool for collective activism, and will engage with other Fellows throughout the year to support and learn from their peers — co-creating collective resources that work to uproot, transform, and eradicate systems that foster inequity, disparity, and injustice in all forms.
By receiving this full training scholarship ($1500 value), Fellows commit to:
• Provide a goal statement for how they intend to use art as a tool for promoting individual activism for collective change
• Submit highlight stories forwarding their leadership as a facilitator and exemplifying the impact of their arts practice
• Attending quarterly “Resource Exchange” with your Fellowship cohort
• Provide a photo and short bio for AWBW’s website
REACH LA, California
Xelestiál Moreno-Luz (she/her/ella) is a Los Angeles-based artist who uses Photography and Cinematography to uplift, empower, and weave solidarity networks that highlight LGBTQIA+ communities of color. Her community work in approach to art production comes from a lack of trans and queer inclusion within institutional art programming. In her efforts to combat art inequity she has led social actions that highlight art production, fostered community spaces through magazine making programs, and curated photography incubators for queer and transgender people in Los Angeles.
As a Social Justice Fellow, Xelestiál plans to tap into a framework of healing to holistically serve and empower LGBTQIA+ clients & staff at her organization, REACH LA, where she currently serves as the Program Manager. She aims to cultivate art incubators free from judgment and harm, tailoring spaces of inclusivity by fostering collaboration, and bridge networks of care between communities of color. Xelestiál’s ultimate goal is to design a framework for queer-trans art education that utilizes affirming mental health practices when engaging in curriculums that center community art production.
Los Angeles Education Partnership, California
Amy Chou is an evolving equity-minded educator at Los Angeles Education Partnership, a nonprofit organization that advances educational equity. Amy is committed to building transformation, resilience, and promise because every voice and contribution matters. She is a dynamic facilitator who uses art and storytelling to nurture the growth and development of those she serves. As a transformative leader and coach, Amy is inspired to co-create an equitable path forward together with the community to increase transformative relationships and systemic change through authentic interconnection.
During her time as a Social Justice Fellow, Amy plans to develop a project that will focus on an interdisciplinary experience that infuses the arts in equity-focused leadership development. The end goal is to create more equitable schools for underserved and historically marginalized students by exploring ways, through art, to identify and process emotions with the school community for healing and prevent distortion of LAEP’s work.
Prism Youth, Kansas
Allison Knier created Prism Youth - A first-of-its-kind program of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney County Kansas. Prism Youth caters to LGBTQIIA+ youth and allies in grades 5-8, providing a safe space where they can be themselves, weaving in education about safe relationships, mental health, first aid, bystander options, how to access resources, and how to support their peers. Allison is an LGBTQIIA+ parent who aims to create a ripple effect of mental health awareness, resource awareness, and relationship safety for her group participants and their peers.
As a Social Justice Fellow, Allison will provide an outlet that currently isn't available to LGBTQIIA+ youth in rural southwest Kansas. A Window Between Worlds gives Prism Youth an amazing opportunity to create an environment where the students feel safe and supported using art to build community and establish safety within a population especially vulnerable in rural Kansas. That feeling of belonging is one of the most important elements of safety and empowerment. Art is one of the most requested activities, and the resources and training are of great value to the mission of Prism Youth.
East Bay Sanctuary, California
Esmeralda Mendoza currently works in Berkeley, CA at East Bay Sanctuary, an organization that provides legal and social services, community organizing, and transformative education to support low-income, undocumented immigrants. Esmeralda facilitates a group of indigenous Maya Mam women coming together to share their needs and experiences with trauma.
As a Social Justice Fellow, Emeralda intends to use art as part of a model of training, empowerment and support for Mam Maya women to become advocates in their own lives and in their communities and build on this model to create similar groups for other marginalized low-income immigrants in the community. Esmeralda’s goal is to use art and stories as part of the Amplifying Sanctuary Voices oral history project to help educate the broader community about immigrant rights.
Rialto Unified School District, California
Carlos Mares is head counselor of High School Foster and Homeless Youth at Rialto Unified School District. His goal is to transform the lives of youth dealing with trauma through healing and connection. He works to provide a collective space to high school students of all sub-populations through the use of support groups and restorative community circles where students have a voice as far as their disparities, direct trauma, vicarious trauma, victims of systematic oppressions and building opportunities for awareness in the community.
As a Social Justice Fellow, Carlos will utilize his role and platform at Rialto to facilitate a creative way for students from marginalized communities to express trauma and healing and most importantly, voice. He will use the Windows art program to create an open and inclusive space for students and families to come together collectively. This safe space of voice and belonging will then allow for his school site to develop advocacy work, inviting the community to join Rialto Unified to empower community voice and choice in educational needs and community needs.
S.P.E.A.K. OUT LOUD, California
Michelle Daniels-Holloway is Founder/Executive Director at S.P.E.A.K. OUT LOUD, a Los Angeles-based organization that serves as a voice for the voiceless. S.P.E.A.K. OUT LOUD is dedicated to serving underserved & at-risk youth through advocacy, initiatives and ongoing support to create positive change and catapult them into long term success.
As a Social Justice Fellow, Michelle will establish a bi-weekly art program for youth and innovate Windows practices that serve S.P.E.A.K. OUT LOUD’s ongoing community outreach. By helping youth to find their own unique voice and speak out, Michelle aims to positively develop their leadership in the areas of social justice and racial equality, with an ultimate goal to positively impact system change. S.P.E.A.K. OUT LOUD understands that working to create positive change in these areas is not an easy task and requires confronting factual decades of ongoing trauma of racial inequality, social injustice, and the systems currently in place that negatively impact our youth today. Michelle aims to be a beacon of light within these communities. She believes that there is indeed hope to create better systems for a better future, and as a Social Justice Fellow, she will innovate with youth the role creative healing can play in birthing positive change.
Participatory Justice, Washington
Kristina Jorgensen (they/them) is the Founder and Director at Participatory Justice, a grassroots media justice and networking group inspired by reducing disparities and creating equity through participatory defense, working with families of incarcerated loved ones or the individuals themselves that are facing charges in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Participatory Justice implements participatory defense strategies, healing methods, restorative and transformative practices. They believe that families and communities can be even more powerful when taking the role of organizer and agent of change, rather than service recipient, and they turn cases into campaigns to impact policy change driven by community and grassroots organizing. Kristina comes to this work as a directly impacted person of various legal systems and as a survivor of various forms of violence and trauma.
As a Social Justice Fellow, Kristina will build the following practices at Participatory Justice: 1) Ongoing art sessions with BIPOC domestic violence and sexual assault survivors as a safe space for healing, connection and relationship building; 2) Sessions for incarcerated survivors (in-person or via art worksheets and supplies) supporting them to facilitate working together inside; 3) Partnership with local programs serving BIPOC youth foster children to bring art sessions to help them work through trauma of being removed from their parents and build a safe space for trusting and healthy relationships; and 4) Art sessions with parents navigating the child welfare system and working towards reunification.
Out North, Alaska
Anne Hillman is Mental Health Mosaics Project Director and Lead Reporter at Out North, an Alaska-based organization which has focused for 35+ years on amplifying the voices of underrepresented communities with an initial focus on the LGBTQ+ community. Anne leads their new project Mental Health Mosaics, a journalism, arts, and community engagement project focused on destigmatizing mental health.
As a Social Justice Fellow Anne will develop Windows workshops that engage community members, especially those who have experienced oppression, in immersive experiences that help them process trauma and discuss mental health in healing rather than damaging ways. These sessions, in conjunction with Out North’s podcast episode releases, will build art as an entry point for deeper conversations about individual and community health including discussions of solutions for systemic problems. This is especially relevant in Alaska where the effects of colonization are vivid and evident in all systems and in the high rates of intergenerational trauma and abuse. Anne believes that the Windows program will help her listen to people and understand these issues in new ways, connecting with others—and with herself—through avenues that help her see people more clearly. Anne’s goal is to make the reporting/podcast aspects of Mosaics more effective in sparking community change.
Just Detention International, South Africa
Unathi Mahlati is a Programme Officer at Just Detention International-South Africa (JDI-SA) — a health and human rights organisation that seeks to end sexual violence in all forms of detention. She is passionate about protecting and advancing the rights of marginalised and vulnerable populations. She is equally passionate about storytelling as a tool for reflection, healing, and shining a spotlight on contested issues. She conducts research, provides technical support to the Department of Correctional Services’ (DCS) officials, manages JDI-SA’s communications, and ensures that survivors of sexual violence in detention get the psychosocial support they need and deserve.
As a Social Justice Fellow, Unathi is pairing the Windows art program with discussions with currently and formerly incarcerated women aimed at better understanding the health and safety needs of women behind bars — the majority of whom have suffered sequential gender-based violence. The Window workshops are a valuable tool for reflection, healing, and creative expression, enabling participants to find the language to articulate their trauma, and reflect on meaningful ways of self-care and healing, in a safer, non-judgmental space.
The inward-looking process of creating art allows participants to acknowledge their needs for healing. This awareness of both individual and collective healing has led to participants expressing a need for counseling, something that JDI-SA has been facilitating through its counseling partner organization. This is a crucial step towards ensuring participants’ well-being and processing of trauma ahead of their leadership roles in our advocacy work to end sexual violence in detention. Moving forward, the participants’ counseling needs underscore the necessity for the DCS to make the Windows art program and counseling services available to all incarcerated persons; JDI-SA is currently working to make this a reality.
The Daughters Den, Ohio
Chavaughn Gibson is Chief Operating Officer and Co-founder of The Daughter’s Den, a non-profit based in Cleveland Ohio whose sole mission is to cultivate intergenerational healing in the lives of Black women and girls, while reducing the effects of intergenerational trauma in their communities. Chavaughn has 13 years of non-profit leadership experience and continuously contributes to furthering the advancement of health, technology, education, economics, and government affairs. She is a graduate of The University of Toledo, a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., the National Association of Health Service executives, and currently serves on the National Board of the African American Employee Resource Group at McKesson Pharmaceuticals. She was named one of Northeast Ohio’s Top 20 under 30 and received American College Healthcare Executive’s North East Ohio Regent Award for Future Healthcare Executives. Inter-connectivity and holistic approaches to life encompass mind, body, and spirit which led to her yoga practice and most recently, 1st place in a national physique competition. As a homeschooling mom, mentor, content contributor, and speaker, she is dedicated to developing future leaders as they discover their passions and create paths to transcend barriers while changing the world for the better.
As a Social Justice Fellow, Chavaughn will be utilizing and customizing the Windows offerings to support the Daughter’s Den national community of leadership, many of whom are grandmothers, Black women in their 50’s, coming together with the personal aim of not passing along intergenerational trauma. Chavaughn will explore how art expression can deepen and serve the impact of three primary programs: 1) "Den Talks" which occur monthly with a Black female therapist; 2) “Zen in the Den” which offers meditation, yoga and healing art activities; and 3) Mother/Daughter and Father/Daughter cohorts, which offer 5-session transformative journeys including peer-group cohorts. She also envisions the art offerings potentially serving the Daughter's Den road shows and allyship program, such as "Men in the Den" which is focused on mental wellness for Black men.
Tamara Jackson, LMSW, MBA, CA
Tamara Jackson, LMSW, MBA, CA
Tamara Jackson is a powerful force in the cultural and social justice spheres of New Orleans. As volunteer President of the Social Aid and Pleasure Club Task Force, Tamara has achieved reforms on behalf of all local parading social aid and pleasure clubs. A victim-survivor of violence herself, Tamara joined SilenceIsViolence in 2009 as a volunteer consultant pertaining to victim services. She took over management of the SilenceIsViolence Victim Allies Project in 2010, and accepted responsibility over all SilenceIsViolence programs when the Board of Directors appointed her Executive Director in 2011.
Tamara holds a Bachelor's Degree in Health Care Administration from the University of Phoenix, as well as a Master’s in Business Administration, and a Master's of Social Work from the University of Southern California. Tamara received her national certification as a Comprehensive Victim Intervention Specialist in 2014. She is a certified law enforcement elder abuse instructor and a member of the Sexual Assault Response Team in New Orleans. She has conducted victim assistance and cultural diversity trainings for the New Orleans Police Department and has facilitated seminars and workshops on victim services, domestic violence, and cultural diversity at numerous organizations throughout New Orleans and nationally. Tamara worked for the State of Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Office of Mental Health for 17 years as a Medical Specialist.
Shanika Rucker, LCSW
Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, Connecticut
Shanika Rucker, LCSW
Shanika Rucker is the Clinical Program Manager of Survivor Services at Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI) and has a part-time private practice where she provides arts-based psychotherapy. At CIRI, she supervises the program Case Manager and Staff Attorney, who provide direct services to torture survivors. In addition, she offers clinical support to agency staff, coordinates the Mental Health Evaluator Network, and conducts statewide presentations to raise awareness on the only torture survivor program in Connecticut.
At the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, services are provided to arriving refugees, unaccompanied minors, and survivors of torture and/or human trafficking through comprehensive case management, advocacy, immigration legal aid, and community referrals. These services are complemented with a focus on building client’s economic independence and security through workforce readiness and job placement services as well as financial literacy education.
As a Social Justice Fellow, Shanika will use the Windows program to serve CIRI’s work as it spans from the personal to the systemic levels of change. On the personal level, a key area of focus will be self-care, which can be extremely difficult to cultivate amidst the crisis circumstances and multi-layered trauma CIRI's clients navigate. There is almost no language to anchor actions of self-care. Shanika will develop Windows workshops to support CIRI’s clients to conceptualize self-care and create their own resources and road map navigating the dimensions of well-being: physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, environmental, occupational. On the systemic level, Shanika will explore how art can enable legislators to not only see and hear but literally carry the voices of refugees and immigrants in their policy development. As part of the National Consortium of Torture Treatment Programs that meets to lobby in March every year, Shanika will explore art-based tools to leverage collective impact.