FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Contact: Maria Winters DiMarco
firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 222-4475
#NYCCouncil #WomensCaucus #JessProclamation
Girl Be Heard’s Executive Director and Co-Founder, Jessica Greer Morris Honored by City Council with a Proclamation and Written into NYC History
New York, NY, July 30, 2019 — The Executive Director and Co-Founder of Girl Be Heard was recognized and written into New York City history for her tireless service developing, amplifying, and celebrating the voices of NYC youth via socially conscious theatre making, locally and globally. Council Majority Leader Laurie Cumbo presented the proclamation at their stated meeting on July 23rd, 2019 at 1pm, at City Hall.
“It is humbling to see the work that Jessica has done and the rippling effect it has had on the City. When she comes to City Hall, Jess always has the youth in the program speak for the organization. The greatest accomplishment is when those that are participating in your program can speak volumes louder than the Executive Director.”
— Laurie Cumbo, NYC Council Majority Leader
“I share this honor with my beloved Co-Founder and Artistic Director Emeritus Ashley Marinaccio who auditioned and nurtured the first 12 members of our theatre collective. It has been an honor beyond words to have built this organization with Ashley, alongside countless, deeply committed and exponentially talented youth, staff, community partners, and board members.”
— Jessica Greer Morris, Girl Be Heard Executive Director and Co-Founder
“With a little bit of miracle grow and a lot of love, Jessica helped transform a small theater company of 12 young women into a powerhouse social justice, women-led, racially diverse, and inclusive organization — intent on developing bright and confident community leaders and fearless artist/activists who are determined to be heard.”
— Kim Sykes, Girl Be Heard Artistic Director
- Presentation of the Proclamation by Laurie Cumbo
- Thank You/Gratitude Remarks by Jessica Greer Morris
- Girl Be Heard Performance by Jamillah (18), Jayde (16), and Relwende (14)
- Invocation by Rev. Jacqueline J. Lewis, Middle Collegiate Church
Quotes from Girl Be Heard Youth Artist/Activists
“Girl Be Heard has helped me grow as person, both artistically and making me aware of constant issues in our world. GBH also exposed me to many powerful women who not only have huge voices but put in work for social justice, Jessica being one of them. Having the opportunity to share Jessica’s special moment with her was a blessing and made me want to do more for the community. She has done so much for me in and outside of the organization, and I will forever be grateful for that!”
— Jamilah, Girl Be Heard Member Since 2017
“As one of the founding theatre company members from 2008, Jessica taught us about global issues. While writing the Congo show which we brought to the Obama White House, Jessica shared interviews her fellow Congolese activists conducted with sexual assault survivors of war and rape with colectomy bags hanging next to them. Wanting to make a hands-on change in their lives, I decided to become a doctor at age 14.”
— Alexandra, Girl Be Heard Member Since 2008
“Jess, you hold a special place in my heart because you are an overall fantabulous person with many talents. You really helped Girl Be Heard become what it is today, and I can’t wait to see where your committed activism leads you next.”
— Jayde, Girl Be Heard Member Since 2010
“Girl Be Heard has helped transform me into a great performer and an even better person. The support and love from my second family, and the opportunities I’ve been granted have been incredible. Through Girl Be Heard, the voice in me that has always felt like a whisper has turned into a roar. I will be eternally grateful to Ashley, Jess, and everyone part of this incredible group.”
— Halle, Girl Be Heard Member Since 2012
For almost ten years, Jessica’s leadership, dedication, and fierce loyalty to Girl Be Heard leaves a legacy of action, inclusion, empathy, and the determination of countless youth empowered to find their own voice. She leaves a financially sound organization with a strong curriculum, and dedicated staff who believes, with her guidance, in the transformative power of the theater.
Jessica has been a relentless social justice activist, working to make our City and the world a better place. With a public health and strategic management background, Jessica dedicated her skills and moxy during her public service career. She worked for NYC government from 1991-2005:
- Addressing the AIDS crisis and homelessness with the District Manager of Manhattan Community Board 4
- Opening up syringe exchange programs at the NYC Health Dept
- Creating alternative sentencing at the Manhattan DA’s Office, to get New Yorkers into drug treatment and access to social services, instead of incarcerating our citizens
- Working as a 1st responder during the World Trade Center disaster
Jessica has always worked locally but incorporates a global vision in all aspects of her work. She believes we are all citizens of this world beyond the borders that all too often divide and rob us of our humanity. She has done extensive global work to address the AIDS crisis in Africa via her alma mater, Columbia’s School of Public Health, and was a principal at Man Up which engaged 100 young activists from 25 countries that collaboratively launched a global, youth-led campaign to stop violence against women at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. She has brought this global perspective to Girl Be Heard, an official United Nations NGO, with a sister program in Trinidad and Tobago where so many of our young people have family.
Jessica has been listed in Newsweek as one of the 150 Fearless Women who “shake up the world” for her innovative leadership at Girl Be Heard and was awarded SELF Magazine’s Women Doing Good Award. Jessica also wrote and starred in a New York Times-acclaimed one-woman show, Searching For A Mensch. She has produced theatrical work for the White House, the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women conferences, TED Women, the NYC Fringe Festival, and the EstroGenious Festival.
For more information, please contact Maria Winters DiMarco at email@example.com or call 718-222-4475.
@NYCCouncil @GirlBeHeard @CoreyinNYC @CMLaurieCumbo @VanessaLGibson @CarlinaRivera @Helen Rosenthal @CMKoslowitz @CM_MargaretChin @WomensCaucusNYC
ABOUT GIRL BE HEARD:
The idea for Girl Be Heard started when 12 teen girls wrote a show inspired by their stories at the EstroGenius Theatre Festival in 2008. Today, the renowned theater company supports thousands of performers ages 12-21, and is dedicated to empowering youth through creative expression. Their performances of their original work educate, empower, and engage audiences about issues ranging from bullying and body image to sex trafficking and systemic racism. It is a global movement that has performed at the White House, United Nations, State Department, TED conferences, and in underserved communities in New York and around the world.
When Girl Be Heard was first launched, Latina and African American voices were rarely heard on Broadway stages. Incessant typecasting and racism in the media has and continues to plague our youth who try to break into the business. Jessica’s selfless commitment to community-building in NYC’s most diverse neighborhoods inspires youth as they stage the revolution to end inequity in the arts and beyond. As playwrights, performers, activists, and advocates, it is impossible to describe the deep and meaningful impact Girl Be Heard has had on our New York City art and activism.