The Girl Be Heard Team
- Our Team
- Board of Directors
- Active Performers
- Associate Board Members
- Fairy Godmothers
- Special Advisors
Robin JenkinsInterim Executive Director
Robin Jenkins is an Interim Executive Director who values the ideas and innovative solutions needed to sustain an organization during transition. With nearly 20 years of experience, Robin brings persistence and mindfulness to the decision-making process so that she can maximize resources, reveal obstacles and develop solutions.
Having successfully managed annual budgets ranging from $3 million to $18 million, Robin approaches every assignment with courage in order to prepare the organization for a new Executive Director.
As an Interim Executive Director, Robin has worked with clients whose missions include harm reduction, women’s health, the arts and direct services within communities. Areas of expertise include crisis management, mergers, and real estate transactions.
Prior to starting her own consulting business, Robin spent three and a half years as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of The HOPE Program, where she oversaw the financial merger of two non-profits and a social enterprise, 100% increase in annual budget, 35% growth in staff and 530% increase in government grants. Robin was also a leader during the development of the five-year strategic plan with senior staff and the board. Prior to HOPE, Robin was an Operational and Strategic Project Manager at Freelancers Union. She was also the Director of Growth and Momentum for JustLeadershipUSA, a start-up where she planned and directed strategies that led to exponential growth. Robin also worked at PwC where she managed global software development projects and led strategic projects for global capital markets.
Robin holds a dual-MBA from the Thunderbird School of Global Management and the Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business as well as a B.A. from Smith College. Robin currently serves on the board of the Association of Nonprofit Specialists.
Nella MupierDirector of Programs
Nella has dedicated career to expanding opportunities for young people from historically oppressed communities in her roles as a researcher, technical assistance specialist, performing /teaching artist, educator, and school leader.
Her contributions to youth development include, but are not limited to developing enrichment curricula to enhance educational outcomes for students of color, leading efforts to build strategic school and community partnerships, and creating accessible artivist programming for court-involved youth.
Prior to joining Girl Be Heard, Nella served as the Associate Director of Education at St. Nicks Alliance where she steered the conceptualization, implementation, and evaluation of SNA’s interdisciplinary literacy immersion initiative for 3,000 elementary to high school students throughout North Brooklyn.
Nella is a proud HBCU Alumni, earned her Master’s from Texas A&M University, and is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Education.
Mariann AllisonOperations Coordinator
Mariann Allison is our Operations Coordinator. She is a graduate of The University of Texas at San Antonio with a BA in Psychology.
Mariann enjoys working in Operations and getting to know the staff and performers to ensure their experience runs smoothly. While this is Mariann’s first position with a Non-Profit organization she is hooked.
Niemah BrooksFeminist in Residence
Niemah Brooks is an undergraduate student at Hunter College studying Biology with a concentration in Bioinformatics and minoring in African American Studies.
In her academic pursuits, she plans on becoming a research scientist and studying genetic disorders specifically those impacting minorities on a larger scale.
In her free time, Niemah really enjoys the creative process and uses art, specifically photography, and fashion to express herself. In her free time, she loves to explore NYC although she’s a native, and capture all its glory on both film and digital.
Laia ComasAfterschool Partnerships Co-Program Manager
Eulàlia Comas (they/she) is a multidisciplinary theater artist, educator, and steward of storytelling processes based in Brooklyn, NY with roots in Barcelona and the Susquehanna Valley.She is a founding curator of the website “Staff Picks” which supports shorter-run NYC area shows and promotes the independent, DIY, and Off-Off-(Off-Off-Off-Off-Off) Broadway theater scenes. They are a passionate advocate for the live arts as a necessary part of a healthy society, and their work has been presented or developed at Riverstage Theater Company, STC, The Performing Garage, The Brick Theater, 92 Theater, Wesleyan Center for the Arts, Pear Tree Alley Theater, Mariah’s Garden @ Pear Tree Alley Theater, asynchronously on Zoom, Olin Memorial Library, La Mama Galleria, and The Workshop Theater, and she was a resident artist with Uncool Artists. She received her BA in Religion from Wesleyan University and is deeply excited to continue working with GBH as an Afterschool Partnerships Program Manager with Meagan!
Ashlee DanielleCommunity Partnerships Manager
Ashlee Danielle is an actress, writer, director, teacher and content creator in New York City. A graduate from St. John's University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Ashlee has been performing on stage since 2014. She noticed a lack of work available for young black artists and began writing her own short films and web series content in 2016.
She continues to write and star in her own productions that revolve around social issues, community and black love, while continuously producing content for social media and Tik Tok. Her stage work continues in NYC with her work with the Negro Ensemble Theater Company and writing new plays for festivals and showcases.
As a teaching artist, Ashlee has been teaching and directing since 2017, She has worked with Harlem School of the Arts, Various Charter Schools K-12, Good Shepherd Services, Broadway for Arts Education, Center for Arts Education and is proud to continue her work as an Arts Education Advocate with Girl Be Heard as their Community Partnerships Manager!
Find out more about Ashlee at www.AshleeDanielle.com
Jenifer DiazExecutive Assistant
Jenifer Diaz, an Executive Assistant, is an innovative strategist and forward-thinking with the ability to transform big-picture ideas into detailed action plans that increase employee engagement, mitigate costs, and drive the achievement of objectives.
An articulate motivator; serves as a leader to inspire employees to exceed customer/company expectations and generate both business growth and positive results through leading by example. Jenifer devotes her spare time to outreach programs such as coaching youth sports and as an assistant Den Leader to the Boy Scouts.
Jenifer earned her Bachelors’s in Marketing and her Masters’s in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix. She exhibits success by ascertaining in supervisory roles and simultaneously overseeing multiple processes/locations, and personnel, administering business management functions, and inaugurating policies and procedures.
In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, and animals, and being outdoors. Jenifer is raising 2 future leaders of America by being the epitome of a wonder-working woman.
Bousso DiopPrograms Associate
Bousso Diop is a first-generation Senegalaise-American who is passionate about the practice of artistic mediums and the facilitation of the arts to marginalized communities.
Throughout her participation in social justice and art enrichment programs, Bousso has garnered knowledge about the vastness of representation and advocacy through the means of self-expression and social consciousness.
Career-wise, Bousso aspires to become a graphic designer and attend law school in the future. By being at BGH, she hopes to contribute in providing art-centered spaces to youth to further combat social justice issues.
Laura EnnisArtistic Program Manager
Laura Ennis is an avid theater-goer who has lived in NYC for 10 years. Although she moved to NY from Boston to attend graduate school, she decided to stay because of NYC's amazing theatre scene. She has participated in local improv with The Magnet Theater.
Laura received a Masters of Science in General Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education in 2015, and for the past eleven years, she has been committed to providing high-quality educational experiences for youth.
Between 2016 and 2021, Laura worked as Education Manager at St. Nicks Alliance. She managed logistics, liaised with after-school programs, and coordinated the Brooklyn Story Voyager, a mobile literacy bus that gives youth access to exciting and engaging books.
Laura is excited to work with Girl Be Heard in another area of education – theatre arts programming, one of her own childhood passions. Laura is ready to facilitate workshops, lead a training, write a curriculum guide, or pop into a session as a participant!
Because she hails from Massachusetts, she is ready to have a spirited discussion on the merits of the Boston Red Sox over the Yankees any day. In addition to being pro- Boston sports teams, Laura is a lover of fiction, and an adventurous traveler.
Dr. Angela Fatous GittensArtistic Director
A proud South Carolina Gullah Sea Islands descendant born in Baltimore, MD, Dr. Gittens formerly served as the Executive Artistic Director of Ifetayo Cultural Arts Academy, a nationally-acclaimed Brooklyn-based institution that teaches youth to become agents of social justice in the performing and visual arts.
Fatou holds a Ph.D. & M. Phil. in Performance Studies with a focus on dance history & sociolinguistics from New York University, she is fluent in six languages and is also a graduate of Oberlin College and Yale University. As a dancer, Dr. Gittens was an apprentice with Le Ballet National du Sénégal during much of her time as a student in Senegal. While in NYC, she spent many key years as a company member and performed internationally with Abdel Salaam’s Forces of Nature Dance Theater and with the Maimouna Keita West African Dance Company under the tutelage of Marie Basse Wiles. She has also performed the work of numerous choreographers including Ron K. Brown, Mikki Davis, Mouminatou Camara, and Alberto Gonzalez Tang (El Conjunto Nuevo Milenio Panamanian Performing Arts Company).
As a singer, Dr. Gittens trained at Oberlin Conservatory and toured with the acclaimed Morgan State University Choir under the direction of the late Dr. Nathaniel Carter. She was also a Capitol Records recording artist in the group Earth Gyrlz and has had the honor of sharing the bill and doing sessions with artists such as Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind & Fire, Faith Evans, Lauryn Hill, and Beyoncé’s technical producer Kevin Ryan.
As a scholar, Dr. Gittens has won awards for her writing & research on the Senegambia region, South Africa, France, and Mexico. Dr. Gittens was a lecturer at Barnard College at Columbia University and is especially known for creating and curating the Brooklyn Arts Council’s Black Brooklyn Renaissance 2010, a year-long series of artist exhibitions, symposia, and performances funded by the Met Life Foundation.
Dr. Gittens resides with her husband and two sons in Brooklyn, NY.
Alice GorelickGrants Writer
Alice Gorelick, Grants Writer, is a development extraordinaire specializing in theater arts, LGBTQ rights, and social justice.
As a grants writer, she’s worked with organizations such as the Bushwick Starr, Brooklyn Book Festival, and the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund.
When she isn’t fundraising, she’s likely playing tennis in Brooklyn, acting in a downtown theater, or volunteering as a teaching artist with incarcerated transgender women. She’s proud and excited to bring her experience to Girl Be Heard’s development team. Alice received her B.A. in Theater and English from Gettysburg College.
Aliya NelsonProgram Expansion Manager
Aliya Nelson is a seasoned youth development professional with over 10 years of experience working in youth-serving nonprofit organizations. Prior to joining Girl Be Heard, Aliya served as a Program Director at Manhattan Youth where she managed all aspects of program operations and served as a strategic leader in the development and execution of program curriculum, special initiatives, marketing and communications.
As a young person, the performing arts positively impacted Aliya’s life by providing the opportunity for self-expression as well as the ability to build leadership skills and self-confidence. Because of these deeply meaningful experiences, Aliya has actively pursued career and personal opportunities to work with and for young people through the performing arts, knowing that it will surely aid in positively shaping their life experiences. She is excited to join Girl Be Heard and continue her legacy of doing just that.
Aliya is a graduate of Northwestern University where she graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She has also earned a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling (Boston College) as well as a Master’s degree in Women’s Health (Suffolk University).
Nell JohnsonArtistic Associate
Nell Johnson, programs associate, is a recent graduate of Baruch College, where she majored in Political Science and Law and Policy. She is passionate about social justice work and community health, specifically where it intersects with law and the arts.
Charlyn JordonOperations Manager
Charlyn Jordon is a business consultant specializing in Operations, Events, and Grant Writing.
Passionate about giving back to the community, she immerses herself with entrepreneurs and companies focused on social justice youth development, arts and culture, the racial wealth gap, and equity. Charlyn earned her Bachelor’s in Financial Economics and a Master’s in Business Administration from Long Island University.
Jacquelynn (Jakki) Kerubo
Jacquelynn (Jakki) Kerubo is a writer and strategic communications leader with over twenty years of experience in health, beauty, publishing, and non-profit.
Early in her career, she worked as a journalist in Nairobi, Kenya, covering business and health and writing features, including profiles, for weekend magazines.
She continues to write freelance for publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Longreads, and others. She more recently worked for a health organization on the strategic communications front, developing strategies, building internal and external communication infrastructure and SOPs, establishing collaborations across multiple related healthcare institutions, and launching critical communications channels. Jacquelynn has been committed to social justice throughout her life and work.
As the mother of a toddler girl, Girl Be Heard’s efforts to amplify the voices of girls and young women inspire her, and she is thrilled to play her part in helping GBH fulfill its mission.
Meagan WoodsAfterschool Partnerships Co-Program Manager
Meagan Woods (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist who works in dance, theatre, and costume design. She is passionate about using art to spark awareness and action around social and environmental justice.
Meagan holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Studies from Simon Fraser University and a BFA in Dance from Rutgers University, where she earned the Margery Turner Award for choreography. Meagan has guest taught at both her alma maters, as well as The New School and Montclair University. Meagan is currently a collaborator for the research project Moving Matter: material-led collaborative choreographies and an artist with Once She Dries: an experimental opera about coral reefs, which will be presented at the International Biennial for Paper Fibre Art at the NTCRI in Taiwan starting November 2023. You can view her TEDx talk that explores how “backwards movement” can mark a daring and progressive act here: Stitching a New Form of Progress- lessons from sewing about making and moving in Reverse. Meagan is thrilled to be a part of Girl Be Heard and is looking forward to the year ahead in her new role as an Afterschool Partnership Programs Manager alongside Laia!
Trinidad and Tobago Office
Akai WebsterGBHTT Program Manager
Akai Webster, Program Manager of Girl Be Heard Trinidad and Tobago is an educator with 15 years of teaching experience and 5 years as a school administrator.
She was a dedicated and hardworking Teacher/ Vice Principal at the Bishop’s Centenary College, a private all-girls Anglican secondary school in Trinidad while being staunchly devoted to her family.
She is one of the women of the modern era who says to the world that it is very possible to have both a successful family life and professional life. Akai is a firm believer in holistic education as she understands that academic pursuits are not the sum total of the complete educational experience. She devoted her time as an educator to the development and empowerment of young girls.
Akai was appointed program manager of GBHTT in 2019. She has successfully managed 7 cohorts totaling approximately 84 participants including 12 migrants. She is also a Director of BE Entertainment a performing arts organization that was founded in 2017 and incorporated as a non-profit organization in 2018. The mission of the organization is to enhance the entertainment industry, to provide opportunities, and to train young professionals by perfecting natural talents, with special emphasis on persons aged 11-18. Its areas of focus include poetry, stagecraft theatre, and music.
Akai’s passion for women’s rights and safety has offered her the position of Vice President of Hopefull Handbags Charity Trinidad and Tobago. Hopefull Handbags Charity Trinidad and Tobago is a nonprofit organization, whose mission is to raise awareness about Domestic Violence and to provide HOPE, help and support to survivors.
Finally, but at the top of her priority, Akai is a devoted wife of 30 years, mother of four and grandmother of two.
Veronique FrancoisTeaching Artist
Niques (Veronique) Francois is a writer, a director, and a teacher. She is passionate about youth work, activism, and writing. Niques began writing short stories and speeches at the age often and plays in 2014.
Her repertoire includes three Acts scripts, short plays, television scripts, poems, songs, fiction novels, non-fiction essays, website articles, musicals, and dramatic plays.
Throughout the years she has worked with various schools, churches, and drama groups to stage productions in Trinidad and Tobago and even in Grenada. In April 2017 she staged a well-received play entitled ‘Where Sarah Gone?’ and in 2022 she is due to publish her debut novel based on that said play.
Through her work she expresses the desire to portray the culture of the Caribbean to the global community. As a native of Trinidad and Tobago, she believes that the Caribbean culture is unique, entertaining, beautiful, and worthy of acknowledgment. Veronique has been a teaching artist with GBHTT since 2019.
Arielle JohnTeaching Artist
Determined to celebrate the West Indian now while designing our shared survival of the future, Arielle John approaches poetry, music and theatre as medicine for Atlantic peoples, their resilient cultures, and the land (and sea) they occupy.
Learning, living and sharing her work in global spaces including South Africa, New York and London, the Sangre Grande ‘Big Blood’ millennial moves beyond the possibilities of art into community-building, eco-theology and decolonization as a lifestyle.
After building another one woman show through a generous Artist Residency for black people fed up with capitalism (2022), the CATAPULT grant awardee (2022) continues her work as arts educator and spiritual consultant, re-indigenizing everything as she goes. Arielle became a teaching artist with GBHTT in 2017.
Mikel BTeaching Artist
Mikel is a Brooklyn-based photographer and filmmaker. She started her career as an actor, studying at the Beverly Hills Playhouse and appearing in several independent feature films.
As her interest in photography and filmmaking grew, she threw herself behind the scenes and started working in commercial production for brands including Maybelline, Spotify, and WW. As she entered the ranks of Production Management, Mikel has worked on projects for Disney+, Hulu and the History Channel as a Production Coordinator. Her work as an independent film producer has been a part of the HBO Women in Comedy Film Festival, Queens World Film Festival and Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival.
Katherine Bahena-BenitezTeaching Artist
Katherine Bahena-Benitez (They/She/We) is a Mexican-Indigenous actor, poet, dancer, director and model.
Katherine is based in New York City and is bicoastal with California. Katherine studied at California State University Sacramento and has had the pleasure of performing and training with the American Conservatory Theater, 24 Hour Plays, the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, and Broadway Advocacy Coalition Theater of Change at Columbia University.
Katherine is a Miranda Family Fellow, a LORT/ASPIRE Fellow and recipient of the John Cauble Emerging Arts Leader Award sponsored by Thoms Schumacher. Katherine has had their poems American Dream, La Morena, and Yo Ya No Rezo with Museum Guild and has been featured in Vogue and Apostrophes Digital Magazine ‘De La Tierra’. Katherine says, “Con Mucho Amor y Cariño I do this for Mi Gente, I do this for us.”
Natie Barret-MasTeaching Artist
Natie is an artist from Reunion island, currently based in Brooklyn.
With a looper, violin & vocals, she builds full tracks live, with flavors of Soul, Electronic and World music. After touring with Beyoncé and Jay-Z, she launched her solo career with the release of her single “Sirens” and “HKHT“.
Through her music, Natie aims to share and nurture authentic connections, more dialogue and openness around some of the differences which currently divide us. Her debut EP “In the Key of Fall” came out last Spring, drawing connections between her native land, Réunion, and her new home, NYC.
Essence BrownTeaching Artist
Raised in Miami, FL, Essence maintains light, rhythm, and flow at her core. She is a proud Blackorican actress, storyteller, and teaching artist.
She fell in love for the first time when she had breadcrumbs on mac n’ cheese and the second time when she began doing theatre in her community at 10 years old.
She has been fervently dedicated to both ever since. Essence holds a B.A. in Acting from Pace University’s International Performance Ensemble where her true storytelling powers began to unravel through devising and ensemble building. She has performed Off-Broadway, regionally, and internationally, as well as co-produced and developed original work.
Creative expression has been central to Essence’s journey both professionally and personally. Providing space for young voices to explore, connect with themselves, and create boundlessly has been a full circle opportunity that constantly inspires her.
Zahra BudwaniTeaching Artist
Zahra Budhwani (she/they) is a director, theatremaker, and teaching artist based in NYC.
She has taught theatre and dance with New Victory Theatre, Artists Striving to End Poverty, The Moth, CO/LAB Theatre Group, Broadway Bound Kids, Child’s Play NY, and more. She holds a BFA in Drama from NYU Tisch- Playwrights Horizons Theatre School with a minor in Global and Urban Education. Zahra is passionate about creating community spaces for people of all ages to imagine new worlds and cultivate joy together. In her spare time, she can be found collaging, swimming at Brighton Beach, and trying to find the best mac and cheese in the city.
Candaceia CharlesTeaching Artist
Candaceia Charles is a multi-hyphenate artist and educator from Brooklyn, New York with a BFA in Musical Theatre from Marymount Manhattan College.
She’s performed in various art houses throughout the city including Joe’s Pub and BAM and also has off Broadway and regional credits. With over 5 years of teaching experience, she’s taught at various schools and performing arts institutions across the five boroughs while juggling her artistry. At her core, Candaceia is a leader that encourages her students to be their authentic selves. Her primary goal is to bring forth new stories and work on pieces that provoke deep thought and action.
Megan ChristiansenTeaching Artist
Born in 1989 in Auckland, New Zealand. Megan Christiansen is a Visual artist and educator working in photography, experimental video installation, and performance.
She utilizes analog and digital photography, video art, sonic practices, and performance to explore the performance of gender, race, and sexuality and how these performances are imaged. She is interested in exploring how racism and misogyny infiltrate and structure the pornographic media landscape in particular and contemporary media in general – questioning how these power systems are performed, re-performed, re-articulated, and re-imagined within this circulated visual economy. In particular, she interrogates the construction and currency of white female sexuality by imagining her own participation within these oppressive structures.
She received her MFA in photography at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2021 and her BFA in Spatial Design from the Auckland Institute of Technology in 2013. She lives and works in Harlem, NY.
Alison CottinghamTeaching Assistant
Alison Cottingham (she/her) is a multidisciplinary visual artist working mainly in painting and fibers.
Alison is a recent graduate of Skidmore College where she received a B.S. in Studio Art. She is passionate about storytelling through art. Alison wants to use her art as a means of breaking down traditional Eurocentric art historical perspectives by centrally depicting Black joy.
Natalia Munoz DurangoTeaching Artist
"It's time to reclaim our inherited birthright to embody and tell our personal & collective stories." Natalia is currently a recipient of the 2019 Innovative Cultural Advocacy Fellowship at CCCADI (Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute.)
In addition, Natalia is strongly committed to bringing participant centered arts programming that is inclusive to communities that have been underrepresented and historically oppressed as a tool for healing and social change. Her framework focuses on using the power of Theater in Education, Dance and Storytelling to unlock the potential of young people to develop their creative competencies to collectively connect and find their personal voice to become leaders within their communities.
Natalia has participated in multiple projects using arts as a vehicle for social change and as a powerful tool for healing and self-expression. Some of her community projects include: INSITU Site- Specific Dance Festival/ New York, Iniciativa Colibri/ Nicaragua, Theater of Oppressed/ Guatemala, Imagine action apprenticeship Colombia and Tools of imagine action among others.
Natalia currently teaches literacy through drama, theater in education, creative Movement, bilingual drama classes and storytelling, serving pre-k, elementary, middle and high school students throughout the New York City Public school system.
In addition to her love for arts education Natalia loves riding her bicycle around Brooklyn, taking long walks in nature, and making her favorite food: “arepas” (Colombian corn-cakes).
Marsha GildinTeaching Artist
Marsha Gildin (she/her/her) is passionate about connecting individuals, communities, cultures, and generations through the art of personal story and performance. Through devised theatre making, puppetry, storytelling, sign language and song she has worked with students of all ages, different abilities and disabilities.
Marsha finds joy, power, and meaning in seeing people discover their best selves, give voice to what moves through them, and connect in the community. Her teaching artistry and performance were seeded and developed in Hawaii with Honolulu Theatre for Youth, Kids on the Block Puppet Troupe, Very Special Arts Hawaii, Starving Artists Productions, and the Alliance for Drama Education.
Returning home to the Bronx and Washington Heights, Marsha worked with multiple arts-in-ed organizations, including Marquis Studios (puppetry), Artsgenesis (special education), and most extensively with Elders Share the Arts (ESTA) where, both as a Teaching Artist and as Director of Programs and Training, she produced and directed intergenerational living history theatre projects throughout NYC’s diverse neighborhood communities.
In 2010, invited by Dreamcatchers Foundation (Mumbai) to serve as a program evaluator for their four-year-funded Wave of Life project in the tsunami-affected region of Tamil Nadu, India, Marsha witnessed the impact of a reflective, arts-infused, intergenerational community regeneration program where young girls, women, and elders found voice, value, and capacity for leadership in transforming and healing village life.
Marsha finds celebration in teaching and is thrilled to be part of Girl Be Heard’s cadre of incredible TAs. When Marsha isn’t working she enjoys being an auntie, being a fish (swimming), walking by the river, talking to birds and trees, singing Yiddish melodies, and remembering the kindness of Hawaii. Mni Wiconi. Water is Life. Live Aloha.
Marsha holds a Master of Science in Education from CUNY Queens College and served on its Graduate School of Education faculty with focus on arts-infused curriculum design. She has also served as Masters Thesis Reader for the Applied Theatre Program at CUNY School of Professional Studies. You can find some of her writings in the Harvard Educational Review (Spring 2013) and The Reflexive Teaching Artist: Collected Wisdom from the Drama/Theatre Field by Kathryn Dawson and Daniel A. Kelin (2014).
Jamie LowensteinTeaching Artist
Jamie Lowenstein (she/they) is a New York based teaching artist and performer from New Jersey. Jamie specializes in devising practices, gender performance, poetry/heightened text, and solo performance.
Her work as both a solo performer & ensemble member has been seen at The Tank, Dixon Place, WOW Café Theatre, The Wild Project, and abroad at the Institue of Arts: Barcelona. They also teach with Queens Theatre, where she devises with seniors! Jamie is committed to decolonizing theatre education and helping students to liberate themselves both within and outside the classroom. BA International Performance Ensemble (Acting), Pace University.
Luopu MalakpaTeaching Artist
Luopu (she/her) is an artist who works across various genres and uses multimedia to tell stories. She was a 2022 Hurston/Wright Foundation Fellow at Rutgers University and a Sundress Publications Summer 2022 Residency Fellow at Firefly Farms. She sees her art as a form of activism and a way for her to practice radical self-love/self-care and community building.
She was a 2022 Hurston/Wright Foundation Fellow at Rutgers University and a Sundress Publications Summer 2022 Residency Fellow at Firefly Farms. She sees her art as a form of activism and a way for her to practice radical self-love/self-care and community building.
Jessica MountTeaching Artist
Jess Mount (she/her) is a multi-disciplinary artist and educator living in New York City and is filled with gratitude to join the Girl Be Heard team as an Afterschool TA.
She believes the arts are essential to the emotional and cognitive growth of all people and accessibility is her driving force. Jess holds a BA in Theatre and Psychology with a minor in Social Justice from Bucknell University. She values empathy, celebration, collaboration, exploration, consent, and belonging within and beyond the classroom. Jess is drawn towards work that cultivates limitless, neuro-inclusive arts opportunities and community access points.
She recently served as the Summer Programs Coordinator with Theatre Aspen where she Choreographed Bright Star and creatively directed “Storytime.” As an Education Apprentice with Portland Stage Company, in addition to supporting education programming, she performed and taught with the Director’s Lab educational tour of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Currently, Jess works with New York City Children’s Theater, Actionplay, and is a member of the Atlantic’s Evening Conservatory.
Kara Laurene PernicanoTeaching Artist
Kara Laurene Pernicano (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist and poet-critic. Kara routinely works in hybrid image-text forms like collage, erasure, comics, and poetic monologue.
Through her art practice, she seeks to awaken an interpersonal approach to trauma, grief, talk therapy, and mental wellness. Kara is pursuing her PhD in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Stony Brook. She has a MFA from Queens College and a MA from the University of Cincinnati. Her creative work has been included in various literary magazines and gallery exhibitions, including Snapdragon, Waccamaw, The Humanities in Transition, Full Stop, the winnow magazine, ang(st), Passengers Journal, Newtown Literary, the Whitney Staff Art Show and LIC Artists’ Plaxall Gallery.
She has performed for New York Theatre Workshop, Poetic Theater Productions and the Poetry Society of New York. When not writing or drawing, Kara serves as a Voice Actor for Passengers Journal.
Briani QuestellesTeaching Artist
Briani (Bri) Questelles is a teaching artist hailing from Queens, NY. Born in an American and Vincentian family, she holds a strong love for traveling, languages, and cultures which she utilizes while she explores her many visual arts interests.
She started her art education journey early on in life studying fine art and illustration for most of her adolescence and has spent multiple years working for galleries and production companies.
She is a graduate of SUNY Purchase School of Journalism and has spent time in Spain earning a degree in Spanish Language in culture. Often working on multiple projects at a time, she utilizes what she has learned throughout the years to help her students develop as well-rounded artists.
Amalia Oliva RojasTeaching Artist
Amalia Oliva Rojas is a Mexican poet, performer, theater artivist and educator based in Nueva York. She is a proud alumnus of the Vassar College Powerhouse Theater Apprentice Program and CUNY Lehman College. Recent credits include LEO AND FRIENDS (Theater Accident and The Exposition Review).
Residencies Include Pen America’s DREAMING OUT LOUD writing workshop, New Perspectives Theater Company Women’s Work Short and Full-Length Play Lab, NYU Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, EmergeNYC Program, and most recently, Beam’s Center Lighthouse Artist Residency. In addition to her playwriting, Amalia has contributed to several online magazines such as City limits, Popula, La Revista De La Universidad De México. Prior to joining Girl Be Heard, as program coordinator, Amalia helped develop, assess, and structure the Hostos Academic Learning Center and the Title V initiative at Hostos Community College located in the South Bronx.
Amalia brings to GBH extensive experience as a higher education specialist, community organizer, and working artist. She is excited to join the Girl Be Heard team as the Community Partnerships Program Manager!
Veraalba SantaTeaching Artist
Veraalba Santa (She/Her/Ella) is a bilingual stage and screen actor, dance artist and choreographer from Gurabo, Puerto Rico based in Brooklyn, NY. She recently played the lead role in FAUNA by Argentinian multi-hyphenate Romina Paula, at the iconic Torn Page Theater. Selected Collaborations: Caborca Theater (Hamlet, Zoetrope, Floridita, My Love); Talking Band (City of No Illusions; La MaMa Theater); Sally Silvers & Dancers (If you Try, Bonobo Milkshake); Lynne Sachs (The Washing Society, Your Day is my Night)
Choreography: FFT Saint Marks Church; La MaMa Moves; Work Up 3.2 Gibney Dance.
Television: Law and Order: SVU; Bull; Law and Order: Organized Crime; The Endgame.
Selected Festivals & Tours: BAM Film Festival; Hemispheric Institute; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Festival Iberoamericano, Cadiz; Spain; Theater Pigs Troupe; Düsseldorf Germany; Pueblos-Escena; Camagüey and Ciego de Avila, Cuba; Encuentro Festival; LA, California
Graduate of The Neighborhood Playhouse, Meisner Technique. BA in Drama: University of Puerto Rico. Actor in Residence at The Actors Center. She also loves reading Sci-Fi, thrifting/clothes swapping and mopping the house while listening to Shakira and Bad Bunny.
Amare SymonéTeaching Artist
Amare Symoné (she/they) is a singer-songwriter turned copywriter that makes copy sing.
As a performing artist and creative, Amare utilizes her unique background to create a song about almost anything. With a B.A in Music Business Management & Entrepreneurship and a recent advertising graduate of the ONE School US, Amare is currently a Jr. Creative at Spotify and working on her fourth EP, to be announced in Winter 2023.
To stay updated with all things Amare Symoné, check out her website: www.AmareSymone.com, and follow her on socials @AmareSymone.
Monica TorresTeaching Artist
Monica is a painter and sculptor. Her work illustrates aspects of her Caribbean culture.
She uses sculpture to preserve the memory of places around the world. From caves in the Dominican Republic to coasts in Hawaii, Torres creates collectible art jewelry that relates to her research work on women and land rights. Monica has interned with The United States Department of Agriculture, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and worked as a fieldworker with The Middlesex County Office of Arts and History.
Kerry WarrenTeaching Artist
Kerry Warren (she/her) is a biracial New York based actor and teaching artist. She strives to create a classroom of joy and deep practice.
She is a member of the Arts In Education Roundtable, Teaching Artist Project alumni, Actors Equity Union, and SAG AFTRA. She received the President Polisi Prize for Artist as Citizen for her educational outreach at The Juilliard School where she received her BFA in Acting.
She has taught theater in Botswana, Guatemala, and all five boroughs of NYC with Harlem Children’s Zone, Hunts Point Alliance, Project Art, Lincoln Center Education, 52nd Street Project, and Arts Connection.
She has also performed as an actor on Broadway, Off Broadway, and regionally. Catch her performance as Nurse Varene in New Amsterdam on NBC.
Jahnavi ZondervanTeaching Artist
Jahnavi Zondervan is a self-taught visual artist and recent graduate of Columbia University.
Jahnavi is committed to bringing mental health awareness and curriculum to all kids of all backgrounds in creative way. Jahnavi is passionate about accessibility and making sure all students have resources to anything they may need. In her free time, she can be found asking someone if she can pet their dog, crocheting, or on a set of swings listening to music.
Board of Directors
Board Members are selected because of their deep commitment to our mission and social justice values, and because they exemplify these values in their professional and public lives. Members of the Board of Directors work in partnership with staff to expand Girl Be Heard’s reach, skills, perspectives, financial capability, and over-all resources, and maintain a Board that is diverse in age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation and national origin. Learn more about each of our Board Members below.
Charlotte FraibergBoard Chair
Head of US Rates Exotics Trading, Credit Suisse Charlotte Fraiberg is a director at Credit Suisse where she trades Interest Rates and FX derivatives products.
Since joining the firm in 2010, Charlotte has been regularly engaging with its charity partners. She even sailed to the Arctic for FareShare! The expedition raised enough to provide over 85,000 meals for vulnerable people in the UK.
As a former chess player and a trader – two fields with only few women – she believes rebalancing the gender gap starts by empowering women and developing their leadership. Therefore, she is thrilled to serve on the board of Girl Be Heard, helping young women and girls find their voice and impact the world for social change.
Charlotte is also an enthusiastic traveler, having visited all seven continents, and is passionate about photography. She loves telling her travel stories through photos that celebrate humanity, raise awareness, and promote diversity. Charlotte holds a Master’s in Management from ESCP Business School and Bachelor’s in Applied Mathematics from Paris 6 University. She recently relocated from London and lives with her husband Mehdi in Manhattan, NY.
Nigel MatuBoard Treasurer
Senior Manager, Andersen Tax (Girl Be Heard Board Treasurer) Nigel Matu has over 12 years of tax experience in providing tax services to businesses. He focuses on corporations including large to closely-held, partnerships and S corporations.
His primary practice areas include federal, state and local, international tax compliance as well as ASC 740. Nigel’s industry experiences include start-ups, technology, real estate and investment partnerships. Before joining Andersen Tax, Nigel was at PwC, KPMG and Grant Thornton.
Nigel is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and The New York State Society of CPAs. He is a graduate of Seton Hall University (BA) and Fordham University (MA).
Sarah is a social impact leader with business, non-profit, policy and advocacy experience at the intersection of gender, race and technology.
She is currently engaged at CEO Action for Racial Equity pushing CEOs and the business community to do more to end systemic racism in the United States.
Sarah leads a team focused on how to narrow the Digital Divide for Black students and families addressing issues with broadband infrastructure, affordability, access, and adoption. Over the last decade, Sarah has led digital innovation teams and supported philanthropic efforts at IBM, PwC Digital, and Microsoft-Accenture joint venture, Avanade.
Sarah’s policy and advocacy experience started with Plan International’s ‘Because I am a Girl’ campaign in 2012. The campaign raised hundreds of millions in funding, changed laws in numerous countries, and, most importantly, supported millions of girls to get an education.
Sarah has a Bachelor of Commerce and Master in International Relations from Curtin University and a Master in Social Innovation from the University of Cambridge.
As part of her first Master’s degree, Sarah examined the role of women in Pakistani society with a case study on the narratives that led up to the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and Nobel Peace Prize laureate. As part of her second Master’s degree, Sarah researched how artificial intelligence and machine learning can perpetuate gender bias.
Sarah is currently a Practice Fellow at the Cambridge Center for Social Innovation. Sarah is Kashmiri-Australian and has worked in Australia, Asia, London, and the United States. She is currently based in New York City.
Jessica Pfeiffenberger Bohn is passionate about advancing women and girls. She plays an active role in developing and mentoring women in the workplace and firmly believes building foundational skills of confidence, leadership, and finding one’s voice will help girls succeed in whatever path they choose in the future. Thus, Jessica is thrilled to be part of the Girl Be Heard family.
Jessica has nearly 20 years of financial services experience. She currently is Vice President and Chief of Staff to the President & CEO of AllianceBernstein, a global asset management firm. She previously was an Executive Director at J.P. Morgan Private Bank where she spent 16 years working in a variety of portfolio management, business management, and product management roles. Jessica was the Co-Chair of the Tri-State chapter of J.P. Morgan’s women’s network. She holds a Bachelor of Business Administration from Ohio University. Jessica currently resides in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children.
Aruna CadambiBusiness Planning & Operations Lead, Social Impact, Meta
Aruna is a well-rounded social impact professional with over 12 years of experience working with domestic and global players across the public and private sectors.
Leveraging her roles as a trusted advisor to leaders within corporations, the U.S. government, foreign governments, multilateral institutions, nonprofits, and social enterprises, Aruna possesses a deep understanding of the intricacies of different social impact actors and excels at aligning their incentives to foster large-scale collaboration. Aruna is skilled at working cross-functionally within organizations to develop and implement shared strategies, programs, and projects. Featuring both depth and breadth, her portfolio of social impact work features tackling challenges in gender equality, racial justice, economic empowerment, education, civic engagement, and health. Aruna’s strong management consulting toolkit allows her to bring clear strategy, metrics, process, tools, technologies, and rigor to the intersection of scaleable social impact and innovation.
Enriched by her global experiences across industries and sectors, Aruna is keen to foster diverse perspectives in all that she does. Her strong belief in the importance of holding space for others and of allowing diverse voices to be heard brought her to Girl Be Heard.
Aruna earned a Master of Science in Public Policy & Management from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz College. She also graduated Phi Beta Kappa with a Bachelor of Arts in International Development Studies with minors in Public Policy and South Asian Studies from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She is a lover of Carnatic music, nature, and traveling. Aruna lives in Brooklyn with her husband where they enjoy exploring NYC restaurant by restaurant.
Karen FairbanksFounding partner of Marble Fairbanks Architects
Karen Fairbanks is a founding partner of Marble Fairbanks Architects where she has focused on the design and planning for both public and private educational and cultural clients. Marble Fairbanks Architects is a design-driven, research-based practice located in New York City and recognized for their work with cultural and institutional clients. Recent projects include the Greenpoint Library and Environmental Education Center and The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
Karen has been an active member of the AIA, most recently serving on the Board of Directors of the New York Chapter.
Throughout the development of her practice, Karen has simultaneously built the architecture department at Barnard College, Columbia University, where she is the Claire Tow Chair Professor of Professional Practice and Chair of the Architecture Department.
Karen received an M.Arch from Columbia University and a B.S. in Architecture from the University of Michigan where she was also honored as the 2013 Distinguished Alumna of Taubman College of Architecture. Karen was recognized with the Oculus Award by the Beverly Willis Foundation in 2018 and as the Educator of the Year by the AIA New York State in 2015.
Marble Fairbanks is the recipient of over 50 local, national, and international design awards and their work is regularly published in books, journals, and magazines. Their work has been exhibited in galleries and museums around the world including the Architectural Association in London, the Nara Prefectural Museum of Art in Japan, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York where their drawings are part of the museum’s permanent collection.
Anna FigueroaPhoto & Video Producer, M.M. LaFleur
Social responsibility and social impact are of great importance to Anna. After attending her first Girl Be Heard theater performance, she was compelled to be a part of the organization, and she's thrilled to have become a Board Member.
Anna has a wealth of experience leading digital content production and art direction for brands in the luxury space. Her career spans over 15 years with extensive experience providing vision and leadership that creates compelling visual content across various digital platforms. Anna is most in her element bridging business strategy and creative concepts.
She previously served as the Editorial Creative Director at saks.com where she effectively assembled and led a best-in-class editorial team, elevating and pioneering dynamic content through editorial campaigns that consistently achieved growth and profitability. Currently, Anna is freelancing, providing creative consulting services for brands and talent agencies. Anna is actively blending her skills as a curator, image-making visionary and talent manager to build a different career path that incorporates social responsibility and social action.
In 2017, she founded Rising4PR, a charitable grassroots movement with one mission: to help rebuild Puerto Rico after the disastrous effects of Hurricane Maria. Having deep roots in Puerto Rico, Anna felt inspired to help repair the spirits of the Puerto Rican youth after the catastrophic damage caused by the storm. With her ability to cultivate, curate, and connect with people, as well as her network of creatives, she commissioned designers, artists, and other talents to produce a curated shopping fundraising event. The event raised over $10,000, which was used to purchase learning tools and toys for SER De Puerto Rico, a nonprofit org that serves kids and young adults with learning disabilities. She traveled to Puerto Rico to make the delivery and meet with the school staff and kids. She counts this as one of her most rewarding memories.
Anna holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication and Arts. She is inspired by art, which she sees in people, places, and things, but mostly in her two young nephews, Demi and Liam. They are her motivating factors for empowering youth!
Born in Ethiopia, raised in the Cote d'Ivoire, and educated in the UK + New York City, Hiywet Mimi Girma's origins and exposure to textile and craftsmanship in Africa ignited a passion for textile innovation, fashion design, and a strong sense of entrepreneurship.
Over a successful 25-year fashion design career in New York City, Mimi has led and been an integral part of successful brands at Armani, BCBG Max Azria, and Vivienne Tam.
Mimi saw first-hand the waste of resources that results from favoring the speed and never-ending cycle of fashion over the wellness of people and the planet.
As a designer and a mother, Mimi knew the only way to forward is to create responsibly and hence founded YESAET, marrying Artisanal luxury with local production, choosing to make a positive impact through ethical production and sustainability whilst empowering and supporting artisans in Africa and local businesses in New York.
In Amharic, YESAET means ‘a woman’s work’ and the brand’s sustainable practices and priorities are designed to capture and reflect women’s strength, focus, and resilience.
Yesaet is based in Dumbo, Brooklyn, where Mimi resides with her husband and son.
Florence HutnerGeneral Counsel, NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner
Florence Hutner’s strong commitment to public service is reflected in both her thirty-year career with the City of New York and her work with community and nonprofit organizations. Her positions in City government have allowed her to help people facing difficult circumstances, not only in her current role but also in prior executive positions with the Mayor’s Office to Combat Domestic Violence and the Departments of Correction and Probation.
She also participated in relief efforts in the aftermath of September 11, 2001, and of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Florence’s volunteer work includes board service with the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music, a community music school where she served as board chair and secretary as well as chair of the governance committee. She has also held leadership positions on boards in her faith community and for an environmental organization, and she has engaged in direct service activities in New York City and in Haiti.
Florence holds a JD from Columbia Law School, an MFA from NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, and an AB from Princeton University. She is a lifelong New Yorker and has lived in Brooklyn for the past thirty years.
Ana PatelSenior Consultant, Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding
Ana Cutter Patel offers 25 years of experience in international peace building, development and human rights, most recently as the Executive Director of the Outward Bound Center for Peacebuilding (2010-June 2019). Her background spans from building a gravity water system as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in the Dominican Republic; to teaching international conflict issues at Columbia University; to training governments on human rights and the demobilization of ex-combatants in Colombia and West Africa
Ana is a Rotary International Peace Fellow, a 2016 Visionary of the Hearts on Fire Foundation, and a Global Peace Index Ambassador. She has published two co-edited volumes, Disarming the Past: Transitional Justice and Ex-combatants (January 2010), and Experiential Peacebuilding (September 2019). Ana currently serves as Board Member with Girl Be Heard, the Washington Office on Latin America (NYC Council) and International Medical Response. Ana graduated from Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon and received a Master of International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University in New York. She holds a graduate Certificate in Peacebuilding from Chulalongkorn University in Thailand.
Jamilah Rosemond is a junior at New York University majoring in drama with a concentration in musical theater. She is also minoring in business in entertainment, media, and technology.
She is the co-president of Artists in Action and was a performer and writer in NYU’s main stage production, INTER//STELLAR, which was in collaboration with the National Black Theatre. Jamilah will be portraying Dorie Ladner in the upcoming Netflix film, Rustin, directed by George C. Wolfe and produced by Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company, Higher Grounds. Jamilah has also appeared in Power Book III: Raising Kanan, Bel Air, and can be seen in the upcoming limited series The Best Man: The Final Chapters, where she plays Regina Hall’s daughter.
Jamilah is the founder of Girls with Beauty & Brains, which is a girl empowerment blog created to encourage young women and provide them with resources to empower and motivate them to reach their highest potential. Jamilah created Girls with Beauty & Brains because of her personal experiences in middle school. She noticed that girls were always competing with each other as opposed to building each other up, and noticed many girls including herself, lacked confidence because they were trying to fit into society’s standards of beauty.
Jamilah also has a series on her blog called, Fabulous Confabulation, which is a one-on-one chat with inspiring women and girls in different career fields to provide viewers with insight on how to reach their dreams.
Some women she has interviewed include the following: Grammy-award-winning Performance Coach, KJ Rose; Emmy-award-winning NBC reporter, Joelle Garguilo; Visual journalist/writer, Liza Donnelly; Be More Chill producer, Jennifer Tepper; casting director, Tracey Moore; and New Jersey Congresswoman Mrs. Bonnie Watson Coleman.
Some awards she has received in recognition of her blog are the following: “In Recognition and Appreciation of Your Ability to be an Inspiration and Visionary Leader” awarded by Rays of Hope and “Empowerment Through Self-Actualization” awarded by the Donald & Alease Hilliard-Chapman Foundation.
amilah is very active in her community and constantly speaks up about racial equality. She organized two Black Lives Matter rallies that were in collaboration with the Movement for Black Lives and Rays of Hope. Both rallies were to amplify Black voices and talents and provide educational resources to the community.
Jamilah also had the opportunity to give back through performances when she was cast in Girl Be Heard’s (GBH) MainStage Show, 2030: The Future Is Ours. She has now been in a number of their MainStage shows and has written pieces such as, “Don’t Leave Us a Loan” as well as “No Justice, No Peace,” a monologue about her experiences with racism, which was also featured in Downtown Magazine. In 2020, Jamilah had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Viola Davis for GBH’s Gala.
Jamilah is currently a teaching artist with the Children’s Theatre Company. She works with children between the ages of 5-16 years old and has worked with the program in Flint, Mi Michigan; Brooklyn, and Manhattan, NY. Through CTC, Jamilah was also in the equity show, Henry Box Brown (HBB), which has recently been optioned for a Broadway production. They have performed in New York City, Savannah, GA, and Jackson, TN.
Jamilah was a production assistant at BET Networks, working with Connie Orlando, and a production assistant for the Black Girls Rock Award Show. Jamilah was also one of two girls selected from over 500 to host the American Girl’s web series, AG Life and she was a consultant for American Girl’s book, Love your Look. Jamilah also was the red carpet correspondent for the Celebrity Kids Fashion Show in Newark, NJ, where she interviewed influential people like Power actress, Donshea Hopkins and award-winning celebrity stylist, Pilar Scratch.
Jamilah also had the opportunity to organize a girl empowerment conference at Princeton University called The Celebration of Womanhood. Jamilah’s key role as one of the organizers was to market the event and manage the transportation to ensure that all of the over 200 registered girls were able to attend.
Lauren RiederManaging Director, Operational Risk, Morgan Stanley
Lauren has spent over 20 years of her career as a risk manager in the Financial Industry. Her current role in Morgan Stanley focuses on ensuring that the Firm does not suffer material losses due to human errors, system failures, or poorly designed processes. She focuses on building comprehensive frameworks which enable risk mitigation and actively challenges business practices which might put the firm at risk.
In addition, Lauren is Head of Risk for the Investment Management Business. As a member of the Firm’s Risk Management Committee, Lauren is active in setting the strategy for diversity and inclusion and provides active leadership in the Women of Risk initiatives.
Lauren is a big believer that a women’s key to achieving success in the workforce starts with cultivating her voice and being heard. It was therefore so exciting to join Girl Be Heard, which works on instilling these capabilities in young women today. Lauren holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from New York University, Stern School of Business, and is a Certified Public Accountant. She lives in Greenwich, CT with her husband and 9-year-old daughter, Zoe, who is always being heard.
Sharon celebrates a career of over 30 years as an actor on stage and in film and television including featured roles in Joker, The Kitchen, On The Basis of Sex, Power Book III, For Life, Madam Secretary, Michael Clayton, Die Hard With A Vengeance, Law & Order and Law & Order:SVU among many others.
You may also recognize her voice as the narrator of several documentary series for Animal Planet, Discovery, NOVA, and TV One. On Broadway, Sharon appeared in The Scottsboro Boys and her Off-Broadway credits include performances at The Public/NYSF, The Vineyard, Roundabout, Lincoln Center/LCT3, Manhattan Theatre Club, and Primary Stages. She has also appeared at award-winning regional theaters around the country and workshopped numerous new plays at The O’Neill, Sundance, Powerhouse at Vassar, and New York Theater Workshop. Sharon made her debut as a playwright in 2016 performing in the world premiere of her solo play Feeding The Dragon which subsequently opened Off-Broadway at Primary Stages where she was nominated for an Outer Critics Circle Award, a Lucille Lortel Award and won an Audelco Award. She was Primary Stages 2017-18 Tow Foundation Playwright-in-Residence.
Feeding the Dragon is now available as a best-selling Audible Original audio play, has been published by Oberon Books and the script is currently being adapted into a children’s picture book and in development as an animated series.
She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Yale School of Drama. Sharon is thrilled to bring her passion for the art of storytelling in its many forms and her belief in its ability to change lives to Girl Be Heard.
Becky AlexActive Performer
Becky Alex is a freshman at NYU Tisch studying Drama. Becky has been singing and dancing from a young age, and her love for performance has stayed constant as she has gotten older.
Becky has been in several musicals and plays including Peter and the Starcatcher (Molly), Hair (Dionne), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Marcy). Becky is also a songwriter, and has released some songs on most music streaming services, with hopes to release more in the future. She hopes to highlight the POC experience through her art, and specifically to create more representation for and honest stories about South Asian Americans. Combining her love for performance with social justice is something so special and important, and Becky is ecstatic to be able to create impactful work with young women who are so dedicated, creative, and talented.
Ava BalesActive Performer
Ava Bales is 17 years old and is a junior drama major at the Professional Performing Arts School (PPAS) in New York City. She is so excited to be joining the Girl Be Heard cast for the 2022-2023 year.
As a second generation Holocaust survivor, Ava is committed to being an active and loud voice for those who are unable to have one, especially in the Jewish community. Ava’s last work was seen in the play ROE written by Lisa Loomer where she played Linda Coffee. She was also seen starring in the First Last, with the NYU Theatre Youth Ensemble. Ava is extremely grateful to be a part of this amazing community and movement and hope others feel inspired from watching this creative work. Ava hopes to pursue her passion of performing theater throughout college and the rest of her life.
Amélie BertoniActive Performer
Katie DietrichActive Performer
Katie is a 19 year-old actress, singer, visual artist, and aspiring change-maker.
She is currently based in Manhattan, NY, attending NYU Tisch Drama Undergrad. Previously, Katie has always loved performing in plays and musicals, and is now focusing her art on self expression and social justice. Combining her passion for the arts and activism, Katie is thrilled to be a part of Girl Be Heard and work with others to grow young female voices!
- Sawyer Evans Active Performer
Sawyer EvansActive Performer
New York University Tisch Student Sawyer Evans is very passionate about theatre and creating with others. Her first love is Musical theatre as she is a first year at The New Studio On Broadway at Tisch School of the Arts.
A bigger passion of hers however is social justice and enacting change. Invoking reform for her community, and of all minorities around her, is a top priority of hers. She is extremely grateful and excited to be a part of such a forward thinking and actively working Theatre company like Girl be Heard. It is not everyday one has the opportunity to collaborate with people who are passionate about social change and theatre, and this means everything to Sawyer. She one day plans to create theatre that inspires others but also makes active change for humanity, as that is the greatest gift and blessing she could receive from her art. Sawyer just finished her first Regional theatre credit with The Encore Theatre Company (Dexter MI) this summer in their performance of Mamma Mia. This performance was nominated by the Michigan Regional Broadway World Awards for Best Ensemble, and Sawyer is very grateful and honored to have been a part of it. She is right now enjoying learning and performing at Tisch. She wants to thank her family, friends, and teachers for always supporting her.
Fiona GrandActive Performer
Fiona Grand is currently a 16-year-old junior at the Professional Performing Arts School (PPAS), majoring in Drama. She has been performing since the age of 6, and plans to pursue acting and directing in college.
Chinese American and based in NYC, she is deeply passionate about expressing social justice issues through performance, which prompted her to join Girl Be Heard. Some of her recent projects at PPAS include: ROE (Judy, TV news reporter, Assistant Stage Manager), The Love of the Nightingale (Philomele), Indecent (crew), Motel Andromeda (run crew), and The Lightning Thief (Lighting board operator). She is currently Assistant Stage Manager for PPAS’ Royal Blood, and will be the Assistant Stage Manager and Assistant Director for the upcoming PPAS production of Henry IV, Part 1.
Kai Diata GiovanniActive Performer
Kai Diata Giovanni is a 16 year old poet and performer who published “The Words that Need to be Heard,” their first book of poetry, at 13 years old.
At 15, Kai won first place in the Brooklyn Public Library’s high school writing competition, and was a finalist in the New York Teen Poetry Slam. She has also organized and performed as an artivist (artist-activist) with A New Black Arts Movement, ARTE, and Bridges: A Pan African Arts Movement. Kai has also been a featured performer at the Blue Note, the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, and a variety of other venues in NYC.
Chynna HolderActive Performer
Chynna Holder is a student at New York University, Tisch School of the Arts, majoring in drama with a minor in dance. She is also minoring in business in entertainment, media, and technology.
She currently trains at Stonestreet Studios for Film and television where she is training in on-screen acting technique, as well as is working with a commercial agent, Rebecca Yarsin. She also trains in method with world-renowned teacher Sheila Gray. She’s trained at the New Studio on Broadway under top professionals such as Kent Gash and Byron Easly. She also trained in the Stella Adler Studio of Acting with teachers Elizabeth Parrish and Alithea Phillips. She most recently just studied abroad in the Commedia dell’Arte Nyu Florence program where she was immersed in professional comedic and improv training. She’s been training in dance for 8 years in programs such as the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance, Broadway Dance Center, and Steps on Broadway. She’s well versed in genres such as ballet, jazz, modern, hip hop, and contemporary and musical theater. She is also a gymnast/acrobat and has trained competitively for 8 years in Freehold Elite Gymnastics Academy, in addition to being a first-degree black belt in karate. She has been cast in several short films as well as a lead in the Tisch Drama Main Stage production of Everyman. She was also invited by Director/Producer Joy Kigin to do a featured reading for the character Faith, the Supporting Lead role of the HighwayMen’s upcoming documentation series.
Chynna is currently one of the 5 reps of the Victoria’s Secret Pink Nyubrand ambassador program. She has the role of Community Partnership Outreach, where she seeks out partnerships and local Nyc brands as well as businesses that fit within Pink’s mission statement of self-care, girl empowerment, and purpose/passion. Chynna is also a member of the Girls Be Heard Artistic company where she has a chance to give back to her community and radiate her activist voice through her performances. You can watch her perform in the upcoming 2022 GBH Gala (Evolution) event, where she will be showcasing multiple pieces including a poem, in which she wrote called Graceful Storm. She’s also most recently had the outstanding opportunity to interview Gina Torres.
Haley LopesActive Performer
I am a Cape Verdean photographer born in Boston, MA currently based in Brooklyn, New York. My practice is mostly based in photography but my passion for performance art has led me in the direction of film.
The type of work that influences me is socially aware and honest in their experiences. I like to create work that I know is true to my experience, meaning-making something that feels authentic and not scripted. Much of it is self-reflective in the sense that I want to portray sincere feelings. I try to speak on and create things that will always have veracity to me in the hopes of making distinctive work. In doing this almost helps me overcome my experiences with anxiety.
Nicole MercedesActive Performer
Nicole Mercedes is currently a junior double majoring in Drama and Media and Communications at the Tisch School of the Arts and NYU Steinhardt.
She’s received most of her acting training at the Stella Adler Studio of Acting, and has well-versed experience in the art of performance through theater, song, as well as spoken word poetry. She aspires to use her creativity in all three forms of these artistic disciplines to be a well-rounded storyteller in entertainment as well as a voice for change. She’s also interested in the business side of film, such as creative marketing and producing. Her passion for social justice runs deep, from POC representation to racial and environmental justice, and she admires how pursuing both media and film/TV nurtures her creativity and impactful relationships with audiences. At Girl Be Heard, she is actively driven by this passion.
Angel SharmaActive Performer
Angel Sharma is a senior at Stuyvesant High School and hopes to increase civic engagement within teens and high school students. She encourages community discussions on prominent civic topics, and uplifts various backgrounds to share their narratives.
She uses her spoken voice, poetry, and musical inclinations to promote the use of “artivism.” Angel is interested in researching and studying mental disorders, diseases, and injuries: impacts and manifestations on physical health. In the future, she aims to assist youth and elderly regain their mobility. Angel is currently working on the restoration and recreation of the “Alice on the Wall” mural on Chambers Street. She has also worked alongside Former Mayor Deblasio and Representative Yuh-Line Niou to compile data related to voter information outreach. She has participated in further research related to PCB contamination at the Gowanus Canal.
Bree WebsterActive Performer
I am an author, poet, photographer, digital artist, fashion designer, singer, and actor who relates most of my work to activism that fights for all rights deserved by humans.
I was born and raised on a small island called Anguilla and moved to New York during my Freshman year of high school to pursue my dream of fashion which transitioned into many opportunities that bloomed my hidden talents. I have worked with my school too many times to count on helping support various topics my fellow peers fought for. I am even well-versed in publishing and writing books since I wrote, drew, edited, and published my very own Poetry book called Demeanor. A book that helps readers relate to trauma and show my experiences through life or others in the position of the one who was wronged.
Associate Board Members
The Associate Board amplifies Girl Be Heard’s message and mission. In addition to fundraising and profile-raising, the Associate Board works to build a community of supporters closer in age and outlook to our participants.
Shayla BurnhamPrivate Equity Associate, Advent International
Shayla is currently a Private Equity Associate at Advent International in New York, focusing on investments in the technology sector.
Previously, she was a management consultant at Bain & Company in San Francisco and New York and a corporate strategy manager at ServiceNow in Santa Clara. Shayla graduated with a BA in Public Policy & Leadership with highest distinction and Phi Beta Kappa honors from the University of Virginia, where she was a drill instructor in the Cavalier Marching Band. Shayla is originally from Central Pennsylvania where she grew up with her four younger sisters as a theatre kid herself! In her spare time, Shayla enjoys traveling, fitness, and Broadway musicals (her favorite is Phantom!).
Becky DavinoRates Sales Analyst, Credit Suisse
Becky Davino is a rates sales analyst, acting as a liaison between institutional clients in need of hedging their interest rate exposure, and the trading desk at Credit Suisse involved in a variety of G-10 interest rate products.
She is an alum of Bucknell University, in which she led the financial management for a local organization, as well as aided the local community by volunteering at the Small Business Development Center in the nearby town. After living in central France for some time, she continues her French interests through her involvement at the French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) in NYC. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, skiing, and spending time with friends and family at the Jersey shore.
Allie MaierTreasury Director, Investment Banking
Allie Maier works in Treasury at an Investment Bank where she helps manage the Bank’s Investment Portfolio investing into fixed income securities while managing market & liquidity risk.
She graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University Honors Program at George Washington University where she majored in Math & Economics. In college, she also served as the President/Finance Director of one of the largest student-theatre organization.
Allie is originally from Englewood, New Jersey. In her spare time, Allie enjoys Broadway, traveling, and exploring NYC’s restaurant scene.
Elizabeth MasucciActress, Producer, Writer, & Director
Elizabeth Masucci is a NYC based actor, producer, writer and director.
She started her career as an actor working a number of TV productions (Most notably, she starred as a series regular alongside Edward Burns on the TV series PUBLIC MORALS (TNT) produced by Steven Spielberg.) and film productions (SHAME, THE BROOKLYN BANKER). She also starred in several theater productions; one being an Off Broadway production by Neil Labute, a Tony Nominated playwright, called UNLIKELY JAPAN.
Recently, Elizabeth co-produced a feature film, THE GOD COMMITTEE starring Kelsey Grammer and Julia Stiles, which got accepted to the Tribeca Film Festival 2020. She started her own production company with a colleague called In The Meantime Productions in which she produces her own TV & film projects, a few of which are in post production and in development.
Elizabeth got her B.A. from Fordham University. She’s on the associate boards of two non profits, Urban Arts Partnerships and Girl Be Heard. And most importantly, she is a mother to a daughter.
Danai GuriraFairy Godmother
Lin-Manuel MirandaFairy Godmother
Luis MirandaFairy Godmother
Jackie ShapiroFairy Godmother
Patti DoykosFairy Godmother
Dame PamelaFairy Godmother
Leymah GboweeFairy Godmother
Mandy GonzalezFairy Godmother
Sayu BhojwaniFairy Godmother
- P.S. 79 Horan School
- Humanities Preparatory Academy
- Susan McKinney Middle School/High School
- M.S. 88
- Andries Hudde Junior High School
- I.S. 381
- Brooklyn Prep High School
- Girls Prep
- Phipps Neighborhood Sonia Sotomayor Cornerstone
- NIA Community Services Network
- P.S. 179 Beacon
- Sixth Street Community Center
- Wyckoff Community Center
- El Puente
- New Settlement Community Center
- Cornerstone Woodside Houses
- Children’s Arts and Science Workshops @ Dyckman Community Center
- Consolidated Edison
- Two Trees Management
- 1834 Project
- Annabelle Foundation
- Anna Maria and Stephen Kellen Foundation
- Axe-Houghton Foundation
- Brooklyn Community Foundation
- The Black Seed Fund
- Chicago Community Foundation
- Common Sense Fund
- Emily and Joseph S Kornfeld Foundation
- Entrepreneur Foundation
- Find Your Light Foundation
- Grantmakers for Girls of Color
- Hyde & Watson Foundation
- Michael Jordan and the Jordan Brand
- Keith Haring Foundation
- New York Community Trust
- Pierre and Tana Matisse Foundation
- Pinkerton Foundation
- The Starry Night Fund
- South Wind Foundation
- Tides Foundation
- Youth Inc
- National Endowment for the Arts
- New York City Department of Cultural Affairs
- New York State Council on the Arts
- US Embassy to Trinidad and Tobago
District Council Members
- Lincoln Restler - Council District 33
- Erik Bottcher - Council District 3
- Farah Louis - Council District 45
- Alexa Aviles - Council District 38
- Vanessa Gibson - Council District 16
- Crystal Hudson - Council District 35
- Kristin Richardson Jordan - Council District 75
- Althea Stevens - Council District 13
- Shahana Hanif - Council District 39
- Brian Kavanagh - District 26
- Maddy Arnstein
- Monique Coleman
- Monroe Freeman
- Katy de la Garza
- Kambale Musavuli
- Temmie Nora Thames
- Gloria Steinem
- Gina Reiss Wilchins
- Toni Blackman
- Ileany Fields
- Yana Landowne
- Rachel Lerner-Ley
- Yael Lubetzsky
- Winter Miller
- Mia Morgan
- Gil Sperling
Job OpeningsJoin Our Team
We always seek co-stewards interested in applying the arts and activism to transform the lives of girls, young women, and gender-expansive youth.Explore Our Job Openings