Contributors to All the Women in My Family Sing

Contributors for the 2018 anthology were selected after submitting works beginning in Spring 2015. The final essays were chosen based on subject matter, cultural content and relevance to today's cultural and political climate.

The anthology includes essays by women from ages 16 to 77. African American, Native American, Asian American, Muslim, Cameroonian, Kenyan, Liberian, Mexican American, Korean, Chinese American and LGBTQI women are represented in the collection. 

 

Nikki Abramson is the author of I Choose Hope—Overcoming Challenges with Faith and Positivity and Hope for Today. Her first book is an inspirational memoir about the challenges she has had and how she is overcoming them as a Korean adoptee and someone living with rare medical challenges and disabilities. Her second book, Hope for Today, is an inspirational coffee-table book that is half inspirational quotes that will inspire someone in times of need and half journal reflections. Abramson is also a contributor to several anthologies, including Women of a Certain Age Answer Seven Questions About Life, Love, and Loss; Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength and Inspiration; and Stories from the Social Side: Advice from Marketing Professionals to Marketing Professionals. She is also an actor, educator and speaker. She holds an M.A. and a B.A. in elementary and K-12 education. Her mission is to inspire others by sharing her story. Abramson also co- authored the one-woman play No Limits and the six-woman play Beyond Limits, about her life journey and how she is overcoming the challenges of being a person of color and having several disabilities.

Samina Ali is an award-winning author, activist and cultural commentator. Her debut novel, Madras on Rainy Days, won France’s prestigious Prix Premier Roman Etranger Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Fiction. Ali’s work is driven by her belief in personal narrative as a force for achieving women’s individual and political freedom. She is the curator of the groundbreaking, critically acclaimed virtual exhibition Muslima: Muslim Women’s Art & Voices. A former cultural ambassador for the U.S. State Department and a regular contributor to the Huffington Post and Daily Beast, Ali has spoken extensively at universities and other institutions worldwide. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Economist, the Guardian and Vogue as well as on National Public Radio (NPR) and elsewhere. She is currently working on a memoir about her near-death experience delivering her firstborn.

Kira Lynne Allen is an Oakland-based author, a four-time Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA) Fellow, a Poetry for the People alumna, and a phenomenal workshop facilitator. Her literary debut, Write This Second, charts her journey from desecration to divinity; from addict and high school dropout to master’s degree recipient, poet, performer, collage artist, activist, and community leader. Ms. Allen’s story is meant to inspire readers to transform their lives by finding and proclaiming their authentic selves. She has a B.A. in creative writing from Mills College and an M.A. in transformative arts from John F. Kennedy University. Check out Write This Second for more information.

Natalie Baszile, whose best-selling novel Queen Sugar was adapted for Oprah’s TV channel by award-winning director Ava DuVernay, has an M.A. in African American Studies from UCLA and is a graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, where she was a Holden Minority Scholar. Queen Sugar was named one of the San Francisco Chronicle’s Best [Books] of 2014, was long-listed for the Crook’s Corner Southern Book Prize and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. She has had residencies at the Ragdale Foundation, where she was awarded the Sylvia Clare Brown fellowship; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; and Hedgebrook. Her nonfiction work has appeared in Lenny Letter; O, The Oprah Magazine; The Rumpus.net; and The Best Women’s Travel Writing, Volume 9. She is a member of the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto. Natalie lives in San Francisco.

Maroula Blades is an  Afro-British poet/writer living in Berlin. The winner of The Caribbean Writer 2014 Flash Fiction competition and Erbacce Prize 2012, her first poetry collection, Blood Orange, is published by Erbacce-press. Her works have been published in Thrice Fiction magazine, Kalyani Magazine, Volume, Abridged O-40 magazine, Words with JAM and Blackberry and by The Latin Heritage Foundation, Peepal Tree and other anthologies and magazines. Her poetry/music program has been presented on several stages in Germany. Her debut EP album, Word Pulse (Havavision Records, UK), can be found on iTunes and Amazon.

Meera Bowman-Johnson entered the publishing world as a magazine art director at the age of twenty-three. She has contributed art direction and graphic design to magazines including Essence, Honey and Code and essays to the Root, the Washington Post and Time Out New York Kids. A Philadelphia-born graduate of Spelman College, she has lived, worked and played on the East and West Coasts of the United States. She now splits the difference, living with her husband, Mat Johnson, and their three children in Houston, Texas. She is currently training for her first 5k.

Charmaine Marie Branch is an incoming M.A. student in modern art: critical and curatorial studies at Columbia University in New York with a B.A. in art history from Vassar College. She plans to specialize in art of the African Diaspora in the Americas. Charmaine is a recipient of a Fulbright scholarship to Argentina and the Weitzel-Barber Art Travel Prize. In pursuit of becoming a curator, Charmaine has interned at institutions including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage.

Randi Bryant-Agenbroad, a graduate of Tuskegee University and The College of William & Mary, has spent her adult life writing training manuals for Fortune 500 companies and denying her dream of writing fiction. Age forty hit and so did her determination to finally go after her dreams. Since that point, she has started a popular blog, Beatnik24.com, writes every day and is in the process of completing a nonfiction book titled Neversays: Things That You Should Never Say, as well as a currently untitled work of fiction. She lives in Marin County, California, with her husband, two sons, two cats and huge black Lab.

Meilan Carter-Gilkey holds a B.A. and an MFA in creative writing and English from Mills College. Her essays have been published in the anthology Who’s Your Mama?: The Unsung Voices of Women and Mothers, Mutha Magazine and the Huffington Post. She is a contributing writer for mater mea and Heart & Soul magazines. Recently, she won a James D. Phelan Literary Award for her family memoir in progress. Meilan lives in the Bay Area.

Want Chyi has taught composition and creative writing across the United States and in Singapore. She has an M.F.A. in fiction from Arizona State University and was the international fiction editor of Hayden’s Ferry Review. Originally from the Midwest, she now lives in the Bay Area and currently reads for Zoetrope: All-Story.

La Rhonda Crosby-Johnson is an educator, writer, certified Integral Coach and founder and CEO of BARUTI Enterprises. She is dedicated to creating and supporting environments for transformation. She was born in Oakland, California, and was a product of Oakland public schools before entering San Francisco State University. She received a bachelor’s degree in social work in the winter of 1984. La Rhonda, a much-sought-after speaker and facilitator, is proud of her nearly thirty-five-year career, which has focused on women’s wellness, providing access to healthcare, reproductive rights, community development and education. She is currently working on a novel and establishing a publishing company.

Belva Davis is the first Black woman to work as a television news reporter in the western United States. During her impressive career of nearly four decades, Belva has been honored with eight local Emmys, a number of lifetime achievement awards including the International Women’s Media Foundation’s, and honorary membership in Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. She is profiled in the Newseum, the world’s first interactive museum of news, and in the HistoryMakers Library of Congress collection, both in Washington, D.C. She was one of the founding directors of the Museum of the African Diaspora in San Francisco. Belva Davis has also received four honorary doctorates, and archives have been named for her at San Francisco State University and the Indiana University Bloomington Black Film Center. Her memoir, Never in My Wildest Dreams: A Black Woman’s Life in Journalism, was published in 2011.

Jennifer De Leon is the editor of Wise Latinas: Writers on Higher Education (University of Nebraska Press, 2014). Selected as a tuition scholar in fiction at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in 2015, De Leon was also named the 2015–2016 writer-in-residence by the Associates of the Boston Public Library. She is using her office space in the Boston Public Library and stipend to work on her young adult novel, Don’t Ask Me Where I’m From. Jennifer’s short story “Home Movie,” originally published in the Briar Cliff Review, was also chosen as the 2015 One City One Story pick as part of the Boston Book Festival. De Leon is now a freelance writer, editor and consultant, as well as a creative writing instructor at Emerson College, GrubStreet creative writing center and elsewhere. She also has an active career as a public speaker on issues of diversity, college access and the power of story.

Denise Diaab is a writer who  is striving to live her life in such a way as to be a channel of God’s grace. Ms. Diaab says her primary legacy is her four children and three grandchildren. She is working on her first book, Buen Camino: Getting to St. Jean Pied de Port, in which she shares stories of personal growth, transformation and synchronicity in preparing for her 500-mile pilgrimage on El Camino de Santiago. She finished her Camino journey on June 22, 2016 after thirty-three days of walking.

Tara Dorabji is a writer, strategist at Youth Speaks, mother and radio journalist at KPFA. Her work is published or forthcoming in TAYO Literary Magazine, Huizache, Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion, Center for Asian American Media, Mutha Magazine and Midwifery Today. Tara is working on novels set in Kashmir and Livermore. Her projects can be viewed at her website.

Marian Wright Edelman,  founder  and president  of the Children’s Defense Fund, has been an advocate for disadvantaged Americans for her entire professional life. A graduate of Spelman College and Yale Law School, Edelman was the first Black woman admitted to the Mississippi Bar and directed the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund office in Jackson, Mississippi. She has received more than a hundred honorary degrees and many awards, including the Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Prize, the Heinz Award, a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the nation’s highest civilian award) and the Robert F. Kennedy Lifetime Achievement Award, for her writings, which include: Families in Peril: An Agenda for Social Change; The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours; Lanterns: A Memoir of Mentors; I’m Your Child, God: Prayers for Our Children; I Can Make a Difference: A Treasury to Inspire Our Children; and The Sea Is So Wide and My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation. She is married to Peter Edelman, a professor at Georgetown University Law Center. They have three sons and four grandchildren.

Ugochi Egonu is a poet and playwright from Santa Clara, California. Egonu was a finalist in the 2015 Bay Area Teen Poetry Slam and leads spoken word workshops for young women. Her poetry has been featured in BBC’s Africa’s Out radio program and Creative Communication’s quarterly student anthology.

America Ferrera is an award-winning actress and producer who is perhaps best known for her breakthrough role as Betty Suarez on ABC’s hit comedy Ugly Betty, for which she won a Golden Globe®, Emmy® and Screen Actors Guild Award®, as well as ALMA and Imagen Awards. Ferrera currently produces and stars in the NBC workplace comedy Superstore, which was recently picked up for a third season. She recently executive produced Refinery29’s Behind the Headlines and Only Girl. In July 2016, America spoke at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia on behalf of women’s rights and immigration in support of Hillary Clinton. Behind the scenes, America has started her own television and film production company, Take Fountain.

Yessenia Funes is a Latina journalist based in New York. She’s currently the climate justice reporter at Colorlines, but she covers immigration, race and environmental policy. Growing up in a troubled Long Island suburb, far from the stereotypical Hamptons image, Yessenia reports from a place of experience and understanding. Her parents are Salvadoran immigrants who fled to the United States during the brutal Salvadoran Civil War of the ’80s, shaping her lens on international issues.

V.V.  Ganeshananthan’s debut novel, Love Marriage, was long-listed for the Orange Prize and chosen as one of Washington Post Book World’s Best of 2008, as well as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. A recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Radcliffe Institute and the American Academy in Berlin, she has been visiting faculty at the University of Michigan and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and presently teaches in the MFA program at the University of Minnesota. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times, among others. She is at work on a second novel, excerpts of which have appeared in Granta, Ploughshares and Best American Nonrequired Reading.

Dr. K E Garland is native to the West Side of Chicago but has lived in Jacksonville, Florida, for the past twenty years. Her professional background is based in education. She holds a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University of Florida, an M.A.T. in English from Jacksonville University and a B.A. in English education from Western Michigan University. Personally, she aims to motivate through writing. For example, her self-published book, Kwoted, includes original and motivational quotes. Her creative nonfiction has also appeared in For Harriet. She can be followed on Twitter @kegarland  and on Wordpress.

Wanda M. Holland Greene is native New Yorker who has been head of The Hamlin School in San Francisco since July 2008. An experienced leader in education with a powerful voice and presence, Wanda has focused her attention on academic and ethical excellence, teacher evaluation, diversity and inclusion, adolescent health and global citizenship. The daughter of a Pentecostal preacher, she is well known for infusing her inspirational messages with poetry and song. In 2014, she was named one of San Francisco’s Most Influential Women in Bay Area Business, and in 2015 she received a Women Making History Award to honor her leadership in education.

Menen Hailu, originally  from Ethiopia,  is a graduate of Columbia University, with a master’s in human rights studies, concentrating on women’s rights and children’s rights. She has researched women living with HIV/AIDS and street children from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Her documentary film, Young Voices New Dreams, stems from her thesis, “Human Rights of Street Children in Addis Ababa: A Gender Analysis and Perspectives of Street Children.” Hailu has taught human rights in combination with the creative arts to youth at risk, ages twelve to nineteen, in New York City at IMPACT Repertory Theatre. She is also a photographer and poet. To see the film, visit Young Voices New Dreams.

Camille Hayes is an editor and writer working in the publishing industry. She previously worked for 10 years as a public policy advocate in the domestic violence movement. She’s also been a reporter, a food writer, a newspaper columnist, and from 2011-2014, she maintained a blog on feminism, gender violence, and other women’s issues at her website Lady Troubles. Camille holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology and a Master of Arts in English. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and her poodle.

Nira A. Hyman has been copyediting and proofreading for more than fifteen years with publishing companies such as Scholastic, Bloomsbury and Wiley. Well versed in the Chicago Manual of Style, The Gregg Reference Manual and Words into Type and familiar with the AMA Manual of Style, Nira is experienced with rewriting and editing copy; fact-checking; and developing and executing story ideas in magazines and manuscripts and on websites. A novelist in her own right, she currently edits for Bloomsbury Books and individual clients, covering a broad range of fiction and nonfiction.

Mila Jam is an award-winning NYC nightlife recording artist, entertainer and CEO of artist collective THEJAMFAM. From touring internationally with the hit Broadway musical Rent to performing alongside Grammy Award-winning producer Mark Ronson (The Lilly Allen Show), she’s danced for Jody Watley, Lady Miss Kier (Deee-Lite) and the late James Brown and has opened for Natasha Bedingfield. Mila has made candid appearances on MTV News, MTV. com and Perezhilton.com. Mila Jam won Best Music Video (2013) for her single “Masters of the Universe” and Best Dance Entertainer of the Year for the New York City Nightlife GLAM Awards.

Jordan Johnson is a twenty-four-year-old graduate of Ball State University with a bachelor’s degree in creative writing. Writing has been her passion since she learned to read. Now that she is out of college, she has time to focus on developing her writing and putting herself out in the world. Her essay explores her experience with self-harming and depression: how it started, her struggle to overcome and, in the end, her journey to learn more about her self worth.

Lisa A. Jones is a former network news producer and award-winning television documentarian who is writing a memoir about her decade-long journey successfully tackling her young son’s life-threatening illness, including his bone marrow transplant. Her forthcoming book poignantly tells her family’s unique story and draws on her personal journals and her years as a storyteller and a producer for FRONTLINE and ABC News. Jones is also a graduate of Yale and Harvard’s Kennedy School. After her family’s journey through cancer, Jones served in the Obama Administration as the assistant administrator for communications for the Federal Aviation Administration from 2016 to 2017. She lives with her husband, daughter and son in the Boston area.

Soniah Kamal is a Pushcart Prize-nominated essayist and fiction writer. Her novel UnMarriageable: Pride & Prejudice in Pakistan is forthcoming from Penguin Random House. Her debut novel, An Isolated Incident, was a finalist for the Townsend Prize for Fiction and the KLF French Fiction Prize and is an Amazon Rising Star pick. Her short story “Fossils,” judged by Claudia Rankine, won the 2017 Agnes Scott Festival Fiction Award, and her short story “Jelly Beans” was selected for the 2017 The Best Asian Short Stories Anthology. Soniah’s TEDx talk, Redreaming Your Dream, is about regrets, second chances and reinventions. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, Catapult, Chicago Quarterly Review, the Missing Slate, Literary Hub, the Normal School, BuzzFeed, the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Huffington Post and more. Soniah’s website can be found at  soniahkamal.com.

Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro is president and CEO of Global Fund for Women. Born in Kenya, she is an activist for women’s and girls’ health and human rights and promotes the use of philanthropy and technology to drive social change. She holds a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Texas, Austin, and a doctorate in feminist theology from San Francisco Theological Seminary. In 2014, she was named one of the twenty-one women leaders for the twenty-first century by Women’s eNews. In 2015, Forbes magazine named her one of ten women “power brands” working for gender equality.

Porochista Khakpour is the author of the forthcoming memoir Sick (Harper Perennial, May 2018) and the novels The Last Illusion (Bloomsbury, 2014)—a 2014 best book of the year according to NPR, Kirkus, BuzzFeed, PopMatters, Electric Literature and more—and Sons and Other Flammable Objects (Grove, 2007)—the 2007 California Book Award winner in “First Fiction,” a Chicago Tribune “Fall’s Best” and a New York Times “Editor’s Choice.” Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bookforum and Elle, on Al Jazeera America, Slate, Salon, Spin, CNN, and The Daily Beast, and in many other publications around the world. She’s had fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the University of Leipzig (Picador Guest Professorship), Yaddo, Ucross and Northwestern University’s Academy for Alternative Journalism, among others. She was last writer-in-residence at Bard College, adjunct faculty at Columbia University and visiting faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts’s MFA program. Born in Tehran and raised in the Los Angeles area, she lives in New York City’s Harlem.

Nari Kirk earned an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of New Mexico. She has work published or forthcoming in Blue Mesa Review, Hobart and Poetry Northwest. Her writing ponders race, faith, family and gender. During 2015, she read books exclusively by women and plans to devote future years to reading works by other marginalized writers. She lives in the greater Seattle area, close to the mountains and the sea.

Veronica Kugler was born and raised in California, where she studied French despite everyone trying to convince her that Spanish was a wiser choice. She attended the University of California, Santa Cruz, and then graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, with a degree in political economy of industrial societies. She worked in strategic marketing for telecommunication companies in France before heeding the call of motherhood in California, and returned to Paris when her husband set her free. She’s on the board of directors of WICE (an Anglophone educational organization for expats in France) and has written for their blog. She’s currently writing her first book and is grateful for every moment she lives in Paris with her children.

Michelle Mush Lee, Ed.M., is a poet, educator and arts and culture advocate who uses poetry to preserve the water of her story in this American desert. She moves from the intersec- tion of mind, heart and spirit, and is propelled by what learners do know. Mush’s presentations and storytelling have been featured on HBO, PBS and AfroPop, and at the National Asian American Theater Festival, the New Works Theater Festival and the Brave New Voices Festival. She holds a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Ed.M. from San Francisco State University with a focus on equity and social justice. Mush is a former Compasspoint Next Generation Leaders of Color Fellow and is frequently a featured speaker on racial literacy, spoken word pedagogies and contemporary youth poetry movements. Mush currently serves as an advisory board member for the Alameda County Department of Education’s Integrated Learning Specialist Program and as a senior advisor of pedagogy at Youth Speaks, Inc. She is the founding CEO of Whole Story Group, Inc., a creative consulting firm specializing in story-rich strategies for social change.

Nashormeh Lindo, artist/educator, is a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She earned an M.S. in education from the Bank Street College Graduate School of Education, and a B.A. in art from Pennsylvania State University. Ms. Lindo’s work in the arts is multidimensional. She works as a practicing visual artist/designer and as an educator/curator. Her professional background includes teaching, program planning, curriculum development and educational training at such institutions as the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Oakland Museum of California. Lindo was appointed to the California Arts Council by Governor Jerry Brown. She serves as vice chair of the Council. She lives and works in the Bay Area and New Jersey.

Jaime Leon Lin-Yu earned her MFA at Mills College, where she received the Marion Hood Boess Haworth Prize for YA fiction. She was twice a resident fellow at Hedgebrook, accepted as a fiction candidate at Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA) and attended Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference on the prestigious work-study-waiter scholar- ship. She was also a part of the Emmy-winning writers’ team at One Life to Live. Her work has appeared in the anthology Philly Fiction, Seattle Weekly and MetroKids magazine, and on SoapNet.com, ABC.com, York Daily Dispatch, AsianAve.com and haveuheard.com. She lives in Seattle with her husband and two sons.

Miriam Ching Yoon Louie is a Korean Chinese American writer whose works feature kick-butt heroines and their movements. A former member of the Third World Women’s Alliance, Louie was co-founder of the Women of Color Resource Center, Oakland, and served as media coordinator for Asian Immigrant Women Advocates and Fuerza Unida. Voices of Our Nations Arts schooled her in fiction and poetry; and Jamaesori, SisterSound and the Korean Youth Cultural Center taught her farmers’-style drumming. Check out her books, including Not Contagious—Only Cancer and Sweatshop Warriors: Immigrant Women Workers Take On the Global Factory, at Rabbit Roar. Louie is working on a tale of men of color who build a road through Burmese jungles as they fight enemies, both foreign and homegrown.

Charina Lumley is the COO of Movemeant Foundation,  a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides life-changing health and fitness programs to young women so that they may learn self-esteem, self-confidence and positive body image. Charina has been a senior-level publishing executive with nearly two decades of successful sales, marketing and business development experience at such titles as Dwell; Backpacker; Climbing; O, The Oprah Magazine; Men’s Health; and Martha Stewart Living. While she spends most of her time chasing social impact, Charina also chases the bike in front of her, the latest food truck and her adventuresome son.

Shyla Margaret Machanda is a musician and writer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She divides her time among writing and performing music, working in the nonprofit sector and reading as many books as possible during her daily commute. Shyla graduated from Trinity College, University of Toronto, with an HBA in English and fine art history, and attended the Independent Music Production program at Seneca College at York University in Toronto. Sometime in the next five to seven years, she hopes to prove to all the naysayers that unicorns really do exist.

Sara Marchant received her master of fine arts in creative writing and writing for the performing arts from the University of California, Riverside/Palm Desert and her bachelor of arts in history from the University of California, San Diego. Her work has been published on the Manifest-Station, Every Writer’s Resource and the blog Excuse Me, I’m Writing. She lives with her husband in the high desert of Southern California.

Deborah J. McDuffie is a multi-award winner with an impressive forty-five-year career combining talents in produc- tion, composing, teaching and artist development. She is credited with being the first female jingle composer/ producer in the music industry. A “behind the scenes” legend, so to speak. McDuffie has composed and produced music for a wide variety of advertising agencies and record companies. She also received critical acclaim for restructuring and producing Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night. McDuffie currently teaches chorus, musical theater and dance techniques at Atlantic Coast High School, privately trains new artists and heads the music department at Unity Church of Jacksonville.

Chicago native Kristin Leavy Miller is a freelance writer and blogger, currently based in Baltimore. She devotes her time to writing about her firsthand experience in managing a food-allergic family—complete with stories, allergy-safety tips, recipes and the daily life of her food-allergic preschooler. When not writing, Kristin’s busy in her kitchen experimenting with allergy-safe ingredients, making delicious treats for all to enjoy. You can find Jet magazine articles written by Kristin at JetMag.com or at Kristin’s blog.

Fabiana Monteiro, age twenty, is passionate about knowing people’s stories. Her greatest motivation is her family. She dreams about going to university and becoming a writer in the future.

Nayomi Munaweera is an award-winning author. Her debut novel, Island of a Thousand Mirrors, was shortlisted for the Northern California Book Prize and the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature. It won the Commonwealth Book Prize for Asia. Her second novel, What Lies Between Us, was considered one of the most exciting releases of 2016 in publications from Elle magazine to Buzzfeed and won the Sri Lanka State Literary Prize. The New York Times has called Nayomi’s writing “luminous,” and her voice has been compared with that of Jhumpha Lahiri, Michael Ondaatje and Louise Erdrich. Her work has been widely anthologized in both fiction and non-fiction collections. Nayomi lives in Oakland, California, and is at work on her third novel. Find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Roshila Nair was born and grew up in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. She is a descendent of Hindu Indian indentured laborers on the Natal sugar plantations and Malay slaves in the Cape, also Khoikhoi, San and Irish. She self-identifies as Black, as accorded by Black Consciousness anti-apartheid struggle politics. Ms. Nair is a feminist and social activist. After twenty-one years working as a professional editor and public educationist in civil society, she has taken up studying for a master’s degree in creative writing at the University of Cape Town’s Centre for Creative Writing. 

Robtel Neajai Pailey is a Liberian academic, activist and author with fifteen years of combined professional experience in Africa, Europe and North America. Her scholarly research and popular writing have been published in academic journals, edited book volumes, newspapers and magazines. Robtel is the author of Gbagba, an anti-corruption children’s book published in 2013 to critical acclaim and subsequently placed on the list of supplemental readers for third- to fifth-graders in Liberia and for Primary 3 in Ghana. A sequel of the book is forthcoming in 2018.

Marti Paschal is a longtime member of Temescal Writers, a Voices of Our Nations alumna and a recipient of residencies at Hedgebrook and Blue Mountain Center. Her writing reflects her Southern upbringing and fascination with conflicts in urban settings and between cultures. A graduate of Stanford Law School, she works in local government and is currently writing her first novel.

Phiroozeh Petigara is a writer and educator based in Oakland. Her work appears in Good Girls Marry Doctors: South Asian American Daughters on Obedience and Rebellion, Yoga International and VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. She teaches a variety of classes to older adults, including creative nonfiction, Bollywood dance, yoga and meditation. She is currently working on her memoir. Read more at bharosa.co.

Deborah  L. Plummer,  Ph.D., is  the editor of the Handbook of Diversity Management (Rowman & Littlefield) and author of Racing Across the Lines: Changing Race Relations through Friendship (Pilgrim Press), which received the publisher’s Mayflower Award for best publication in the category of church and society. As a psychologist, university professor and chief diversity officer, she has also authored several book chapters and  published numerous journal articles for the academic community. She has written for Diversity Executive and Globe Magazine and is a proud board member of GrubStreet, one of the nation’s leading creative writing centers, located in Boston. You can find more information at her website.

Eliana Ramage is a writer, teacher and Cherokee Nation citizen. She is completing an MFA in fiction at the University of Iowa, and her stories have appeared in the Baltimore Review, the Beloit Fiction Journal and the YA anthology (RE)Sisters.

Sridevi Ramanathan is devoted to empowering girls and women through relevant and revealing education that speaks to the mind and the soul. She founded Story Digs, through which she conducts talks and workshops based on her scholarly research on mythology and folklore. She holds a master’s in teaching and is currently pursuing a doctorate in philosophy and religion with a concentration in women’s spirituality. For years, she has actively participated in programs and events that empower girls and women, including One Billion Rising and Take Back the Night. She is a writer, dancer and artist. She is profiled in the book Birthing God: Women’s Experiences of the Divine.

Maria Ramos-Chertok grew up in Hackensack, New Jersey, in a purple house that her mother opened as a shelter for battered women and children in the 1970s. Her early life was filled with political activism and exposure to social justice issues. An avid writer, she published her first article for teens on dating violence in 1993 and continues to write and publish in a variety of genres, including fiction, nonfiction and poetry. She leads The Butterfly Series, a writing and creative arts workshop for women who want to explore what’s next in their lives.

Rita Roberts-Turner is a former trial lawyer and served as the first African American female chief of staff for the Nashville and Davidson County Mayor’s Office. She currently serves in executive leadership in the public transit industry and recently published her first novel, God’s Daughters and Their Almost Happily Ever Afters.

Terezita Romo is a lecturer and affiliate faculty in the Chicana/o Studies Department at the University of California, Davis. An art historian, she has published extensively on Chicana/o art and is the author of the artist monograph Malaquias Montoya. An independent curator, she also served as the arts project coordinator at the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center (CSRC). Romo was the curator of Art Along the Hyphen: The Mexican American Generation, one of four exhibitions in the CSRC’s “LA Xicano” collaborative project within the Getty Foundation’s regional initiative, Pacific Standard Time: Art in LA 1945–1980.

Deborah Santana is an author, business leader, and activist for peace and social justice. She founded Do A Little, a non-profit that serves women and girls in the areas of health, education, and happiness. In 2005, she published a memoir: Space Between the Stars. Ms. Santana has produced five short documentary films, four with Emmy-award winning director Barbara Rick: Road to Ingwavuma, Girls of Daraja, School of My Dreams, and Powerful Beyond Measure. Deborah is married to actor Carl Lumbly and mother to four beloved adult children: Salvador Santana, a songwriter and instrumental artist, Stella Santana, a singer/songwriter, Angelica Santana, an archivist and film producer and Brandon Lumbly, a filmmaker and actor.  A leadership donor to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, she advocates for the rights and advancement of people of color.

Shizue Seigel is a San Francisco writer and visual artist who explores marginalization, displacement and cross-cultural social justice through memoir, poetry and essay, as well as photography, painting, mixed media and cartography. Her books include In Good Conscience: Supporting Japanese Americans during the Internment, A Century of Change: The Memoirs of Nellie Nakamura and Distillations: Meditations on the Japanese American Experience. She is finishing her memoir, Miss Goody-Good Grows Up, with support from a San Francisco Arts Commission grant. As a largely self-taught writer, she leads community-based freewrites and her work has been published in several anthologies.

Janine Shiota has a varied background in theater arts, production, fundraising, community outreach, real estate and hospitality. She currently serves as a commissioner for the San Francisco Arts Commission and is a founding board member of ArtCare. She lives in San Francisco with her handsome hubby, continues to work on a script called Legacy and hopes to finish it…one day…soon…really. After she gets home from work, she picks up her four-legged child from doggy day care and does another load of laundry. She is beyond thrilled to be included in this anthology.

Ethel Morgan Smith is the author of two books: From Whence Cometh My Help: The African American Community at Hollins College and Reflections of the Other: Being Black in Germany. She has also published in the New York Times, Callaloo, African American Review, and other national and international outlets. Smith has received a Fulbright Scholar–Germany, Rockefeller Fellowship–Bellagio, Italy, Visiting Artist–The American Academy in Rome, DuPont Fellow–Randolph Macon Women’s College, Visiting Scholar–Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Bread Loaf Fellowship. She is an associate professor of English at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

Matilda Smith has a bachelor’s of social science and bachelor’s of laws and is an admitted attorney of the High Court (CPD) who currently practices and teaches law in the Law Clinic of the University of Cape Town. She has worked with poor urban and rural communities in South Africa, taught and practiced inter alia human rights law, legal practice and poor law with barefoot lawyers (community-based paralegals), law students, lawyers, court officials, oppressed and oppressors and anyone willing to teach and learn.

Lalita Tademy is the New York Times best-selling author of three historical novels. Her debut, Cane River, was Oprah’s summer Book Pick in 2001, was translated into eleven languages and became San Francisco’s One City One Book selection in 2007. In 2015, Stanford University selected Cane River as assigned reading for all incoming freshmen. She has written two other novels, each released to critical acclaim—Red River, published in 2007, and Citizens Creek, published in 2014.

Emma McElvaney Talbott is a Louisville, Kentucky, native. She is an educator, author, freelance writer and genealogist. She participated in civil rights demonstrations, including the 1963 March on Washington, and is driven by a desire to write and speak truth to power and fulfill the dreams of her ancestors. Talbott holds state certifications in administration, supervision and reading. A former adjunct professor at the University of Louisville, Clark Atlanta University and Spalding University, she founded the David C. & Emma W. Miles McElvaney Memorial Scholarship for African American students. A graduate of Central High School, Kentucky State University and Indiana University, she has extensive post- graduate studies at three additional universities. Her first book was The Joy and Challenge of Raising African American Children, and for seven years she served as parenting editor for Family Digest magazine and Family Digest Baby magazine and wrote two columns, “Ask Emma” and “Child Builders.”

Nuris Terrero is a Black Latina of Dominican descent who grew up in the Bronx. She obtained her B.A. in sociology and political science in 2007 and earned her master’s in social work in 2009 at Lehman College. Nuris has worked with young people in foster care, with pregnant teens and teen-aged parents, with victims of violence and with children in the child welfare system. She has great passion for social justice issues, reading and children. Nuris resides in East Harlem with her thirteen-year-old son, Jayden.

Tammy Thea is a sixty-five-year-old Cambodian woman. She survived the Cambodian killing fields in the 1970s and escaped through multiple refugee camps to San Francisco, where she became a cosmetologist and eventually a business owner in Marin County (now Tam Valley Salon in Mill Valley, California). Tammy lives with her husband, Lee, and their younger son, Danny, in Hercules, California. Her older son, Navi, is a systems administrator living in Oakland. Tammy hopes to go back to school to study writing and literature. Her pride for her sons and her desire to never stop learning are what keep Tammy motivated.

Blaire Topash-Caldwell is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico and an enrolled member of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians (Pokégnek Bodéwadmik). She is working on her dissertation about how natural resource management policy affects tribes in the Great Lakes area. Blaire is also a jingle dress dancer (a traditional healing dance originating from the Great Lakes area) and artist—making all of her own regalia, from sewing to beadwork. She is passionate about raising consciousness regarding Indigenous issues within and outside of academia.

Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari is a poet, essayist and fiction writer who finds inspiration from being a Bronx-bred Afro- Latina, Honduran and Garifuna, of Jamaican descent. She is a Callaloo Fellow, and has performed at the Bronx Library Center, the Bowery Poetry Club, the Nuyorican Poets Café and for the Caribbean Cultural Theatre. She is currently writing her first novel through the MFA creative writing program at the College of New Rochelle. An excerpt of her novel can be found in Issue 33, the Winter/Spring 2017 issue of African Voices. Mercy can be found at mercytullisbukhari.com.

Rhonda Turpin calls Cleveland, Ohio, home. She is a grant writer by trade, with more than thirty years of experience. She started her own publishing company, World Books Etc. She is currently in prison at FMC—Satellite Camp and has been incarcerated since October 18, 2004. She was once housed with Martha Stewart, who mentored her in writing her first book. Turpin’s background is in assisting women and men with barriers to success. Her blog depicts the facts of daily prison life. She lives by the quote, “You are only as imprisoned as your thoughts and dreams.”

Hope Wabuke is a contributing editor at the Root and a contributing writer for Kirkus. Her work has also been featured in Guernica, Ms. magazine, Salamander, Fjords Review, Ruminate, NonBinary Review, and the North American Review and on The Daily Beast, Salon, Ozy, DAME, The Hairpin, Gawker, Literary Mama, and many more. Her work has also been featured in the anthology All About Skin, and her chapbook, Movement No. 1: Trains, was published in 2015. Wabuke was also a finalist for the 2015 Brunel International University African Poetry Prize.

Vicki L. Ward is an author and publisher of several award-winning books, including Life’s Spices from Seasoned Sistahs: A Collection of Life Stories from Mature Women of Color; Savvy, Sassy and Bold after 50! A Midlife Rebirth and More of Life’s Spices, Seasoned Sistahs Keepin’ It Real. Her latest book, Supercharge Your Life after 60: 10 Tips to Navigate a Dynamic Decade, was released in 2016. She publishes books that help educate, inspire and illuminate women’s lives and that highlight and enrich their journey. She believes in empowering women to become motivated self-advocates, both to seek and exceed their needs—to dream bigger dreams and learn how to achieve them.

Dera R. Williams lives, works and plays in the San Francisco Bay Area. A retiree of a local community college, she now mentors students in family history research. This Cali girl with Southern roots is a freelance writer and contributor to anthologies, journals and academic encyclopedias and is her family historian. Dera is co-author of the fiction book Mother Wit: Stories of Mothers and Daughters. She is completing a story collection about growing up in Oakland and a children’s book about Alzheimer’s disease. Her most recent publication can be found in the anthology Our Black Mothers, Brave, Bold and Beautiful.

Kelly Woolfolk is an attorney (LL.M., Berkeley Law) with a variety of work and life experiences. After her initial foray into the entertainment industry as an actor in Spike Lee’s School Daze, she began her career in the legal department of Virgin Records in Beverly Hills, a stint that led her to pursue her first law degree. Upon earning her J.D. from Howard Law, she worked first for the federal government and later represented private employers and clients in real estate and commercial transactions. Her favorite work as an attorney to date is as counsel for a television production company in Los Angeles, where her creative interests flourish. Kelly also consults with a community college in the San Francisco Bay Area and is looking forward to sharing her knowledge and experiences as an adjunct professor in the years ahead. Kelly lives in Oakland, California, with her son, Andrew.