Below are some of the brief photos and biographies of some of Advice to My Thirteen-Year-Old Self’s contributors. We are still continuing to add names. Please be patient! Note – Contributors have been listed in alphabetical order by LAST NAME.
Lola Akinmade Åkerström
Travel consultant and acclaimed photographer represented by National Geographic Creative
Nigerian-born Lola Akinmade Åkerström is an award-winning writer and photographer whose work is characterized by vibrancy and hope. Her work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, BBC, CNN, The Guardian, Lonely Planet, New York Times Online, San Francisco Chronicle, Travel + Leisure, New York Magazine, Travel Channel, Fodors.com and National Geographic Channel, amongst others.
Read Lola's letter.
Saudi Arabian photographer who participates in the recent feminist conversation in her country
Nouf AlhimiaryNouf Alhimiary is an emerging Contemporary Photographer based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Fascinated by both the Saudi feminist movement and photography’s ability to deliver statements in a peaceful way, her work goes to explore women’s lives in documentary/conceptual style. Nouf was awarded the Most Creative Youth Art Prize 2012 for her work The Sacrifice, later displayed in the British Museum exhibition, Hajj: A Journey To The Heart of Islam.
Noura Al Noman
Author of children’s and young adult science fiction books from the United Arab Emirates
With a Bachelor in English Literature (1986) and a Masters in Translation Studies (2004), Noura Al Noman had studied language for many years; but never expected to become a writer, let alone an author of books for Arab children. In 2010, she published her first two picture books for toddlers. “Cotton the Kitten” and “Kiwi the Hedgehog” were published by Kalimat in Arabic, and aimed to contrast how children deal with pets and wild animals. Noting the huge deficit in books for young Arabs (aged 15+), she wrote her first novel, “Ajwan”, one of a handful of science fiction novels in the Arab world.
Co-founder and Executive Director of GWED-G
Born and raised in Northern Uganda, Pamela saw first-hand how the Lord's Resistance Army insurgency had terrorized her country. Not content to simply let the violence continue, she met with a group of women under a mango tree to strategize solutions. With this, GWED-G was born. Today, the organization serves over 150,000 women, youth, child mothers, orphans, and vulnerable men, children, and community leaders who were impacted by war.
British explorer, the first and only woman in the world to ski across Antarctica alone
British explorer, Felicity Aston, is the first and only woman in the world to ski across Antarctica alone. The 1084-mile, 59-day journey completed in January 2012 also made her the first person in the world to do so purely by muscle power without the aid of kites or machines. ‘Outside Magazine’ – the most popular adventure sport magazine in the US – named her a 2012 Adventurer of the Year.
Former Miss Black Deaf America (2011-2013), and mentor to the black deaf community across America
Ericka Baylor recently completed her two-year term (2011-2013) as Miss Black Deaf America 2011-2013. A passionate role model and leader, Ericka, a fourth-year student of Social Work at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC, is working with other students to create the Sisters of Color Organization (SOC) at Gallaudet University, and is involved with several non-profits and diversity organizations including Keeping the Promise (KTP) for black and Latin students, District of Columbia Area Black Deaf Advocates (DCABDA) and the Black Deaf Student Union (BDSU).
Program Director of Women for Afghan Women (WAW) in New York City*
Naheed Bahram was born and raised in Kabul, Afghanistan. Her family migrated to Peshawar, Pakistan after the loss of her mother in a bomb explosion in Kabul. After graduating high school at the age of 18, she taught ESL to Afghan refugee women and girls in Peshawar. In 2006 she moved to the United States as an international student.
Ms. Bahram has worked for Women for Afghan Women (WAW) since 2007, starting off as a volunteer and moving up to case worker, program manager, and now program director running WAW New York. She is also on the board of Queen Interfaith Council.
*Advice Project Media is proud to have led workshops for youth at WAW.
Writer and Program Fellow at the Paris American Academy Creative Writing Program
Writer, entrepreneur, nomad, roadschooling mom to global hungry kids, Powell Berger is one of those people who always takes the “other” path. She grew up in Mississippi but, having had an interest in politics and Washington DC since middle school, planned her exit strategy at the age of sixteen when she applied to be a Page in the United States House of Representatives. Congressman Whitten’s rejection letter, explaining to Powell that young women didn’t belong in politics, lit the feminist fire. When Powell eventually made it to Washington DC a year later (working on the Senate floor for then majority-leader Senator Howard Baker), she marched into Congressman Whitten’s office and introduced herself.
First ordained woman priest by the Church of England
Angela Berners-WilsonAfter 16 years campaigning for the Church of England to allow women to become priests, Angela technically became the first woman to be ordained. She is currently a chaplain at the University of Bath, and in 2009 was appointed a prebendary of Wells Cathedral. Angela has conducted live interviews for local and national radio/TV, appeared on Al Jazeerah television, took a month’s sabbatical in China, and, in 1987, was married to Andrew Sillett.
Grammy-nominated singer, DJ, songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, humanitarian and mother
Sister CarolSister Carol was born Carol Theresa East, January 15 1959 in Kingston Jamaica. Also known as the “Black Cinderella” and “Mother Culture,” she is a Grammy nominated singer, DJ, songwriter, actress, entrepreneur, educator and humanitarian. Her odyssey began in the ghetto of Denham Town, Kingston in the midst of the exploding Jamaican music scene and she has grown to become one of Jamaica’s top entertainers and a global icon.
Sangduen "Lek" Chailert
Founder of the Save Elephant Foundation, named a ‘Women Hero of Global Conservation’ by Hillary Clinton
With a love and respect for her country’s national symbol, and the knowledge that they were becoming endangered, Lek began advocating for the rights and welfare of the Asian elephants in Thailand. In an industry steeped in tradition, advocating for positive change in the ways domestic and wild Asian elephants are treated has not been an easy battle. However, with hard work and determination her voice is now internationally recognized. In addition to several documentaries produced by National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet and the BBC, Lek has also won many honorary awards.
Yvonne Chaka Chaka
Bio coming soon.
Founder of Breaking the Silence, Journalist, and Gender Rights/Menstruation Awareness Activist
Urmila Chanam is a social development professional working in HIV/AIDS and public health, and is a gender rights activist and journalist from the small state of Manipur in north-eastern India. She single-handedly heads a campaign called Breaking the Silence in the rural parts of her country, and was recognized as a recipient of the Laadli Media and Advertising Awards for Gender Sensitivity for her efforts to bring forth issues revolving around women in India.
Sat on the first board of directors of UNAIDS – the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
In 1995, Martina Clark became part of the first five-member non-governmental delegation ever to sit on the board of a United Nations (UN) organization – UNAIDS – as a representative of the International Community of Women Living with HIV. This was the first time in the history of the UN that non-governmental organizations had full rights as members of a governing body within the UN structure. Since then, she went on to work full-time for the UN, first for UNAIDS and more recently for UNICEF. She was also a part of the team that created award-winning UN Cares, the UN System-wide Workplace Programme on HIV, which, incidentally, was also the first ever interactive, inter-agency training program ever created within the UN. She has traveled to 90 countries – so far – and done condom demonstrations in at least 50 of them.
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill
Bio coming soon.
Bio coming soon.
Halla “Ms. Moon” Frimannsdottir
Healer and therapist who gives pro bono treatment to children all over the world
Based in Iceland, Halla (“Ms. Moon”) has been working as a healer over 20 years. She is a certified Reiki master, Hypnosis Therapist, Astrology Reader, Bowen therapist, and loves to practice meditation. One of her specialties is hypnosis by healing the inner child with a focus on rejection, improving the self-image, and building up more confidence, success, increase love and happiness within oneself. Since 1996, Halla’s interest in reading western astrology has flourished. She was an Assistant Schoolmaster at the Icelandic Astrology School from 2009 to 2011. Halla worked as a social support counselor in Iceland for eight years with an emphasis on empowering family ties and working with youth at risk.
Rita Golden Gelman
Author of more than 70 books for children and a memoir about her nomadic life
When Rita Golden Gelman divorced in 1986, she left an elegant life in Los Angeles, gave away everything she owned, packed a backpack with a few changes of clothes, and took off to live her dream of connecting with people in other cultures around the world.. She still has no home and almost no possessions….and she’s still connecting through laughter, food, song, and dance. She is the author of more than 70 books for children and a memoir for adults about the first 15 years of her nomadic life, Tales of a Female Nomad.
Interfaith/social justice activist, member of the Executive Board of the Better Together Team, President of the Sikh Student Association
Balpreet Kaur is a student from West Chester, Ohio studying both Neuroscience and International Development Studies at Ohio State University (OSU). She aspires to continue onto medical school to become a neurosurgeon and simultaneously, to pursue a life dedicated to social justice non-profit work. At OSU, she is a part of the executive board of the Better Together team, president of the Sikh Student Association, and a Humanities Scholar. She has had the opportunity to travel around North America giving talks on the importance of interfaith work for today’s generation, and volunteering as a guest speaker to youth camps and retreats.
Bio coming soon.
Chi Yvonne Leina
Journalist and founder of Gender Danger*, an organization that exposes gender-based violence in Cameroon
Chi Yvonne Leina, founder of Gender Danger, is a Cameroonian journalist, community leader, and digital media change agent dedicated to shining a light on the unheard voices of ordinary women in Africa and transforming their fate. After years of discrimination working as a woman in traditional print and broadcast media in Cameroon, Chi Yvonne Leina broke with the status quo and began to use her journalism experience to expose negative cultural practices, such as breast ironing, which affects 3-4 million girls in Africa.
*Advice Project Media is proud to have partnered with Gender Danger in Cameroon.
Leader for the rights and education of Cambodian children – Ponheary Ly Foundation
After surviving the Khmer Rouge regime, Ponheary Ly returned to Siem Reap, Cambodia with what was left of her family. They had lost everything, including her father, an educator. Her family was thrown into a post-genocidal poverty that lasted a decade. During the time of the Vietnamese installed regime, Ponheary became a teacher and in secret learned how to speak French and English. She was sent to Moscow to learn Russian during the occupation.
Read Ponheary's letter.
Founder/CEO of In BOLD Rebirth and human rights activist
Dayanara Marte, founder and CEO of In BOLD Rebirth, partners nationally with a wide array of social justice organizations and focuses on preventative and post-trauma healing work to achieve extraordinary results that allow access to personal and collective power. As a human rights activist, Dayanara has been actively involved in the fight against sexual assault and violence, and has been a part of the mental and reproductive health movement for over 15 years.
Award-Winning Novelist and Poet
Donna Masini is the author of two collections of poems — Turning to Fiction ( W.W. Norton and Co. 2004), and That Kind of Danger (Beacon Press, 1994), which was selected by Mona Van Duyn for the Barnard Women Poet’s Prize — and a novel, About Yvonne, (WW Norton and Co. 1998.) A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, a Pushcart Prize, et al, she is a Professor of English at Hunter College where she teaches in the MFA Creative Writing program. She lives in New York City and has just finished a new novel, The Good Enough Mother.
Bio coming soon.
Bio coming soon.
Writer/Founder of the Edventure Project
Jenn is a traveling mama to four wild adventurer children growing up with the world as their classroom. The Miller Family is in their eigth year of an open-ended world tour that has taken them through about thirty countries. They’ve journeyed across Europe and North Africa on bicycles, the length and breadth of North and Central America, deep instead of wide for six months in Guatemala, seven months across mountains and rivers across Southeast Asia and the islands of Indonesia and Oceania.
Director of the Community Health Partnerships at the University of Rochester, New York
Gail L. Newton is the Director of Community Health Partnerships at the Center for Community Health, University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC). Since 1996, Gail has worked to build community-academic partnerships to improve health in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Rochester, New York. She currently lives in Rochester with her husband, Alan, and has two adult children (Melissa and David), and four grandchildren (Trey, Anevay, Quentin, and Keira).
Advocate for people who have suffered genocide and emotional torture, defender of women’s rights and author
Consolee Nishimwe is a survivor of the 1994 genocide against Tutsis in Rwanda. Born in Western Province, she lived through the horrors of genocide at age 14. She was at her home in Rubengera, Kibuye with her parents and four siblings when the genocide started on April 6, forcing them to leave their home and go into hiding. Unfortunately, her father and three young brothers were murdered along with many other close relatives. Consolee was physically tortured during her three months in hiding which included being viciously raped and infected with HIV. Miraculously, she survived along with her mother and younger sister, while the loss of their other family members was insurmountable.
*Advice Project Media was proud to have Consolee as the guest of honor at our first Food of Liberation community dinner.
Motorsports racing champion, designer/artist, fashion model, author, anti-bullying advocate
Terri O'ConnellTerri O’Connell (born J.T. Hayes) has won national championships on motor speedways in go-kart, midget car and sprint car competitions across America, winning more than 500 auto races in The World of Outlaw Sprint Cars to Sports Cars and even competed in NASCAR’s premier series, the Sprint Cup. Born with a rare biological disorder called ‘Disorders of Sexual Development’, Terri made waves across the male-dominated world of auto racing for coming out with her story after receiving long-needed corrective surgery in 1994.
Bio coming soon.
Bio coming soon.
Rocket scientist, explorer and advocate for women in technology
Natalie PanekAs a Mission Systems Engineer at MDA Space Missions, Natalie works on the next generation of Canadian space robotics and other Canadian space exploration programs. Her love of space and aviation led her to obtain a private pilot’s license to fly a single-engine aircraft, as well as build and drive a solar-powered car across North America. Natalie has participated in internships at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center and at NASA’s Ames Research Center, where she worked on a mission to Mars.
Tarcila Rivera Zea
Executive Director of The Center for Indigenous Peoples’ Cultures of Peru (CHIRAPAQ)
Tarcila Rivera ZeaTarcila Rivera Zea is a Quechuan activist from Ayacucho, Peru who has devoted over 20 years of her life to defend and seek recognition of Peruvian indigenous peoples and cultures. Although Tarcila initially founded CHIRAPAQ to assist Quechua children whose parents had been murdered by Shining Path guerillas, the center has become one of South America’s most influential organizations representing indigenous people.
Bio coming soon.
Dese’Rae L. Stage
Photographer, writer and suicide awareness advocate who created the Live Through This project
Dese'Rae StageDese’Rae L. Stage is a photographer, occasional writer, and suicide awareness advocate. She is a survivor of nine years of self-injury, as well as a suicide attempt catalyzed by an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. In 2004, after years of misdiagnoses and bad experiences with medication, she was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder. Portraiture is the main focus of her photographic work, and it was her personal experiences that spurred the creation of the Live Through This project in Fall 2010.
Bio coming soon.
Author, performer, speaker and founder of the You’re Not Pretty Enough Project
Jennifer Tress is an author, performer and speaker based in Washington, DC. In 2012 she founded the You’re Not Pretty Enough Project, a movement aimed at permanently improving self-esteem that came from a very personal place.
Bio coming soon.
Leader of the Red Brigade and combatant against sexual violence
As a response against a growing number of sexual attacks against women in the city of Lucknow, India, Usha took power into her own hands by forming the Red Brigade. The brigade (whose membership is comprised of a group of female victims of sexual crimes from the ages of 11 to 25) fights for equality and humiliates anyone who makes unwanted sexual advances against women. Wearing what has come to be recognized as their trademark red and black salwar kameez, the brigade, which trains in various martial arts, takes action against their tormentors first by peaceful means.
Dr. Jessica (“Jessie”) Voigts
Writer/Publisher in International Education – Wandering Educators
Dr. Jessica VoigtsJessie is a mother who loves sharing the world with her daughter. She has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids. She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She directs the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program, and believes it’s one of the best things she’s ever done.
American conceptual artist and photographer
Recently, Wallace received critical acclaim and viral exposure for “CLITERACY,” a project addressing citizenship and body sovereignty using the medium of text-based objects, unauthorized street installation and interactive sculptural forms. Wallace has presented her work in major exhibitions in the U.S. and abroad, including Kunsthalle Wien Museum, Art Basel Miami, Scope NY, Taschen Gallery and Aperture Gallery among others.
Actress, professional standup comedian, writer, and humanitarian
Maysoon Zayid is the co-founder and co-executive producer of the New York Arab American Comedy Festival. She was a full-time On Air Contributor to Countdown with Keith Olbermann, and has most recently appeared on The Melissa Harris-Perry Show and Huffington Post Live. Maysoon is a recurring columnist at The Daily Beast and was a speaker at TEDWomen 2013. She has appeared on Comedy Central’s The Watch List, PBS’s America at a Crossroads: Muslim Comics Stand Up, CNN, HBO, As the World Turns, MTV, 20/20, BBC’s The Doha Debates, and had a feature role in Adam Sandler’s You Don’t Mess With the Zohan.