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National NOW Young Feminist Task Force

Former Members

Alexandra Aizen (New York) | Lina Cho (Massachusetts)
Scheherezade Daftary (Louisiana) | Liz Funk (New York)
Beth Hill (Pennsylvania) | Meghan Jobson (Utah)
Ellie Klimas (Florida) | Allendra Letsome (Maryland)
Kathryn Mitchell (Arizona) | Susannah Northart (Tennessee)
Atima Omara-Alwala (Virginia) | Randi Organ (Ohio)
Molly Solomon (Texas) | Alexandra Suich (California)
Scarlett Swerdlow (Maryland)


Alexandra Aizen

Alex Aizen I am from Dallas, Texas, however I am anything but a conventional Southern girl. My beliefs have never coincided with the stereotypical conservative values that hold true for many Texans. Instead, I have always had a more open-minded and liberal spirit. I have my parents to thank for this. My Bolivian father and Colombian mother gave me an education on humanity that could never be learned in a classroom. They taught me how important it is that every person find her voice and that this voice be heard. The voice I embraced was a feminist's voice.

Feminism is a word that intimidates most people as a result of the negative connotations that shadow it. In contrast to this, however, I feel that feminism is a core belief system that requires women and men around the world to come together and fight for equality. I have become very passionate about the need to break down the walls built by individuals whose minds are caged and whose eyes are blind to the call for social and lawful equality among all. There is an unfortunate misconception assumed by many young people today; much of today's youth thinks that the fight for equality is being fought for them and that their involvement is not necessary. However, I think that every voice deserves a platform, and for that reason those who believe in equality should also believe that no action is complete without the presence of each individual voice united. When it comes to young feminists, I am proud to say that many young women and men recognize the need to stand up to the injustices that attempt to darken our visions of equality. But knowing that this is not enough, it is essential that young feminists today work together to spread the word that feminism is a greater, more effective call to action when its foundation is comprised of the alliance of voices. I hope to abolish the fallacy that all the fighting that needed to be had for women's rights was done by our mothers. Instead, I hope to raise awareness regarding the certainty that the torch of feminism must not dwindle in the perils of time; rather it must burn eternally. It is the responsibility of young feminists to carry the torch of feminism in honor of all those before us whose blood, sweat and tears helped to shape this raison d'être.

I have found my place in this movement within NOW. What I am most proud of is that as a delegate to the NOW state council, I can say that I am a part of an organization through which feminists' voices are triumphantly heard. Furthermore, I greatly value the NOW platform—what it stands for, what it aims to accomplish and where it is going. I am currently the Vice President of the NOW-New York University chapter (NOW-NYU) as well as their women of color liaison. Through NOW-NYU I helped organize the campus to the March for Women's Lives, fought and succeeded in the opening of a 24-hour rape crisis hotline for the NYU-Campus, supported efforts of other organizations in fighting for the legalization of same-sex marriage, over the counter emergency contraception, Title IX, cosponsored The Vagina Monologues and Take Back the Night and worked to ensure women-friendly nominees to the Supreme Court. Going forward, in working with the National NOW Young Feminist Task Force I hope to reach out to young people everywhere to stimulate a consciousness of feminism. In addition, I hope to eradicate the negative connotations that haunt the word feminism itself because I feel that this is a factor that contributes to the reservations about today's women's movement that many young adults have internalized. It is time to make certain that no individual, young or old, is content to just sit the bench. This is our future. I believe that through the YFTF we can help today's youth take notice of the NOW platform. As a proud member of the YFTF, I look forward to taking on this mission and all the efforts that work towards a better tomorrow for young feminists. Together our voices will be heard and echo for centuries to come!

Lina (Sang-Youn) Cho

Lina (Sang-Youn) Cho I am from Sok-Cho, South Korea, where my family still lives. I came to the United States alone to study eight years ago, and I am currently a junior at Wellesley College majoring in women's studies. My main interests regarding women's issues lie in the media portrayal of women's body image, gender stereotypes/formations, domestic violence and war rape victims, such as comfort women for the Japanese Army during World War II. As a woman of non-U.S. citizenship, I am also interested in how dominant pop cultures such as those produced in the U.S. affect women around the world and, much credit to my feminist political theory class, often wonder if there can be a single, united, global women's movement despite our various layers of differences.

As far as I can remember, my interests in feminism grew in high school, mainly because it was a single-sex school that emphasized women's independence, courage, and resourcefulness, and celebrated cultural diversity. My parents have also consistently encouraged my younger sister and me in every aspect of what we did and what we wanted to do, which is generally less expected from South Korean parents. Growing up both in South Korea and the U.S. therefore gives me a unique standpoint in understanding current women's and, to a greater extent, minority issues not only by enabling me to embrace both U.S. and Korean feminist perspectives but also by allowing me to think about women's issues in a global framework.

This past summer, I started my internship at the Greater Boston NOW with a bunch of other amazing high school and college students. One of the greatest experiences was attending the National NOW Conference in Arlington, Virginia where many of us gathered and changed the bylaw in demands of this Young Feminist Task Force! After the summer vacation, I am still interning for Greater Boston NOW, closely working with the Political Action Committees in its endorsement process, and of course, other general office work

My other hobbies include writing journals/blogs, walking in Boston downtown, and traveling. Strongly influenced by my mom who is a lover of trees and flowers, I have also come to appreciate nature and try my best to be informed about the many environmental issues we are facing today. I hope that this task force really and effectively addresses issues that we, as young women, encounter either at school or at home across nations of boundaries. I also hope that our work precipitates positive changes in young women's lives as well as in our grandmothers, mothers and daughters. And, in so doing, I hope that we all can learn from the process and from each other.

Liz Funk

Liz Funk What does a feminist look like?
Empowered, gorgeous, and only a touch narcissistic.

I am a seventeen year old from Albany, New York, currently finishing my last year of high school at Hudson Valley Community College. Although I have espoused feminist views my entire life (at age five, I thought the Little Mermaid was a shallow and boring, and by middle school, made fun of the high school cheerleaders who were five years my senior and could have easily clawed me to death), my grand assent into feminist activism was after recovering from anorexia at age fourteen and realizing that something had to be done about how the media portrays women.

Thus, the majority of my activism has been based around pop culture and media activism. One of the most successful protests I've organized (and proudest moments of my life) was a protest of MTV last October for its sexual exploitation of women, misogynistic hip-hop music, setting unrealistic and dangerous standards of beauty for young women, and reinforcing outdated gender roles. Activists crowded the sidewalk outside Times Square to protest, and we had great press coverage. In the summer of 2005, when my NOW chapter organized our first MTV protest on a Friday afternoon with similar greivances, our protest was actually captured on TRL for a split second before the camera operators inside the MTV studios realized that the screaming blondes outside the studio had posters that read "MTV is sexist" and "I Don't Want my MTV!" and were chanting "Our bodies, our lives, we won't be objectified!"

My involvement in NOW has centered around my forming of a chapter in Albany, New York, for high school and college aged feminists. At first, I was impressed by NOW's ability to influence our national government on women's issues. After attending my first conference in Nashville last summer, I was floored by the feminist spirit and all-around fun in the organization (my girlfriends and I were on "NOW withdrawal" for a good month after the conference). I was proud to have supported the ACT for NOW slate, and had almost a little too much fun campaigning for them.

I am now most excited about my participation in the Young Feminist Task Force. Although I was originally nervous about being one of the youngest in a group of hyper-ambitious, brilliant feminist women, I was pleasantly surprised to find out at the first meeting of the 2006 Young Feminist Task Force that we mesh quite nicely.

I am a freelance writer, and have written for magazines and newspapers around the country, on topics ranging from the archaic nature of beauty pageants, to the inequity in teenagers' sex lives, to the misogyny within fraternity life. Last year I had a piece published in Newsday on female genital mutilation, and last summer I worked with Teen People editors on a piece about my struggle with eating disorders. I have written two books; one of which is in negotiation for publication with a publishing house and is a fictionalization of my own experience with eating disorders. The other, Young Republicans are Bad in Bed, and Everything Else a Young Woman Needs to Know... is my first non-fiction work on young women and feminism, which is currently being reviewed by publishers.

I hope to attend college in New York City this fall, and earn my degree in English. I intend on continuing to write, be it for the New Yorker, my dream job, or writing more books. Although I have dreams of continuing the work of Catharine MacKinnon, I am having an immense amount of trouble passing Business Law I; thus, I have a feeling that arguing cases before John Roberts and his high-benched friends is not in my future. When not writing, protesting, or stroking my own ego, I enjoy publicly humiliating Young Republicans and buying unreasonable and excessive amounts of shoes. One day, I hope to marry a man with political beliefs akin to Eliot Spitzer, and looks akin to John Mayer.

Welcome to the Third Wave!

Beth Hill

Beth Hill

This is my first year on the Young Feminist Task Force, and I am extremely excited to have place where my feminist ideas can be heard with respect, support, and enthusiasm. While I have always felt very strongly about feminist issues, I was not as lucky as some other women who had continual support and like-minds surrounding them through adolescence and young-womanhood.

I grew up in a small town in Colorado where feminist issues were rarely discussed and almost never taken seriously. I now live in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where I have been for almost six years now. I am very proud of living in such a progressive city, where I see young women coming together in hopes of doing something positive and powerful. I feel very fortunate to be exposed to so many intelligent, strong, and supportive women everyday that I've met through the task force, my local NOW chapter, my community, and college.

Currently I attend the Community College of Philadelphia where I am a Liberal Arts major and am obtaining a Certificate in Women's Studies. Here, I am also the president of the Student's for Women's Equality Club, which works closely with our Philadelphia NOW Chapter. I hope transfer to a four year university in the fall where I will to continue my education in Gender and Women's Studies.

Being a part of this task force is tremendously important to me because it not only allows me the opportunity for my voice to be heard, but the opportunity to interact and hear from other young women. Realizing that there were still young women out there who wanted to come together in order to make our generation responsible on a social and political level was extremely empowering for me. Though I have only been involved with the feminist movement for a short time, a day has not passed that I didn't feel a devotion to the fight against inequality among women and men. I am committed to fighting for the issues that affect women and working towards solutions that can really change how our society thinks.

Ellie Klimas

Ellie Klimas

I have been a feminist from the beginning, thanks to my fabulous feminist family. My parents instilled in me a few core values that have been invaluable to get me to where I am today.

Where am I today? I am an uprooted Miami, Fla. native braving the cold in Massachusetts. I am a junior at Smith College, double majoring in Government and Economics. Currently, I am trying to figure out what to do next in my life, i.e. I have to get a job or extend my education. I am still proud to call myself a feminist, a term that has sadly fallen out of use even among some very fabulous women. I hope that the Young Feminist Task Force can help show them that feminism is not only still around, but at a critical period and just waiting for young women to get involved.

As a lifetime member of the organization, I have been involved with NOW more or less since I was born. Because of this I have learned some valuable tools of the trade; how to sell merchandise, signs should have writing on the front AND the back, nothing is too dumb to be chanted, bring a snack, etc. Once I left the cute phase of my childhood I was promoted to leading workshops, specifically on Body Image and Campus Organizing. I have spent a significant part of my life at NOW conferences, chanting, protesting, marching, picketing, and just generally raising hell.

Besides being a feminist and a student, I am also an avid reader, horse back rider and ::cough:: head social chair of my house at Smith. Who said a feminist couldn't multitask?

Allendra Letsome

Allendra Letsome

I was born in 1979, six years after the Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, thus making me a feminist by birth. It seems really odd for me to try and pinpoint my early feminist influences, although I do distinctly remember repeatedly watching Marlo Thomas's "Free To Be You and Me" at my aunt's house, so I guess that's one. I was raised in a household where a girl should always believe that she can do anything and anyone telling me different was just wrong. I had an amazing Girl Scout leader who reinforced the principles that I had learned at home, which were independence, inner strength, compassion and understanding and allowed all of us, my entire troop, to become the women that we would be without any interference. My high school and college years were fairly uneventful, in terms of activism, until my senior year at St. Mary's College of Maryland. That year, I joined the Feminist Group on campus, and I can take credit for creating a continuing Valentine's Day fundraiser of condom-grams.

My association with NOW has been very much like a line from Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman, "gradually, then suddenly". In the time that I have been with Maryland NOW, I have taken on the positions of Legislative Intern, Executive Vice-President, and Chairperson of the Maryland Young Feminist Task Force. Upon graduating from law school in May, and passing the bar in July, I will continue to represent the rights and ideas of women.

Kathryn Mitchell

Kathryn Mitchell

Hello! My name is Kathryn Mitchell. I was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona. I am a third generation Arizonan. My heritage began three generations ago from Scotland on my mom's side of the family. In contrast to my mom's side of the family, I am a Daughter of the American Revolution from my dad's family, migrating from Ireland. I did love living in Ireland while attending graduate classes, YET, I completely understand why both sides of my family prefer the climate in the North American Southwest. With mention of that, I must express that I love and am thrilled to be representing our Southwest Region on the National Board.

I also dig being part of the groove to mobilize & empower our youth advocating for NOW's issues with the YFTF. I strongly believe that the greatest under utilized resource in our country is our youth. My current career is teaching adolescent special education students which I have done for over ten years. It is my goal to be a meaningful, vibrant and playful addition to the YFTF.

At the turn of the century I attended Trinity University in Dublin Ireland on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship. While there I earned a Certificate of Attendance with the Masters of Philosophy program in Gender and Women's Studies. It was there I began deconstructing societies/cultures around the world through a European lens. This experience gave birth to the feminist in me. Empowered with that education I studied the naked and harsh reality of patriarchy. I felt shocked when the roles I have played in and been oppressed by came into focus. In the reconstruction of my identity and negotiating a place for myself in the universe I discovered NOW.

I became a NOW member within a year after returning to the states in 2001. Bush was just beginning to cut funding for reproductive rights, which I found so unacceptable I changed political parties and have been an active member of my local NOW chapter and state board ever since. Recently I returned to the Pro-Choice branch of the Republican Party. It is my own observation and insight that I am myself when I experience life as a paradox.

I am committed to environmental issues so much, I drive a hybrid car (yet I can't seem to quit using my toxic cell phone). I am so committed to electing feminists into public office in 2002 I ran for the state senate as a clean elections (publicly funded) candidate as a Democrat.

I hope to graduate with my Masters in Education Administration and Supervision this spring. I hope to step away from schools altogether and move into policy making arena of education.

I love technology and candy but my secret indulgence is writing poetry and chick lit. Thank you for reading my bio! Cheers!

Susannah Northart

My name is Susannah Northart, and I am 28 years old. I was born in Santa Barbara, Calif., but Oxford, Miss., is my hometown. My mom and I moved there when I was eight, and it was only last November, after graduating from the University of Mississippi with a master's degree in English that I moved from there. I now live in Memphis, Tenn.

I firmly believe that my feminist consciousness would not have emerged quite as substantially were it not for two things: growing up in Mississippi and my mom. Living in a small town in the south (albeit allegedly the most progressive one in Mississippi), the need for activism—specifically feminist activism—was obvious. My mom and some her of friends saw that, and in 1990, they began the first-ever NOW chapter in Oxford. I am extremely proud of her for being one of the people responsible for that. With her encouragement—and not a little bit of my own interest—I began going to NOW meetings and became a member when I was 15. But my involvement was gradual. I knew the issues of reproductive rights, gay and lesbian rights, and fighting racism were important to me, but it took time for me to become aware of what my own opinions were and in what other areas my interests were.

I kept my involvement in NOW local until 1997 when I was asked to be part of the Young Feminist Conference Implementation Committee (CIC). The committee, I am extremely proud to say, played a major role in the planning of the 1997 Young Feminist Summit held in Washington, D.C. It was there that I able to develop my interest in intergenerational communication when I co-facilitated a group discussion with NOW activist (and former officer) Lois Reckitt. Having come up in NOW among seasoned feminist women who were eager to mentor me, I found it extremely important to encourage the same sort of relationships between other young feminists and the experienced feminists in their chapters. It was eye-opening for me because I realized that such relationships were not as common among women as I had thought they were. I have been very happy to see this issue of the importance of intergenerational dialogue develop in the organization. Indeed, I worried when this task force was formed that placing an age limit on young feminism would create a barrier between older and younger women in the organization. I think (and hope), however, that our work will not form obstacles for us; rather, it will make a place for us—provide both young feminists and non-young feminists with a common ground on which to work.

For many years, NOW has been my boon. Right now I work in an environment dominated by men. I am an executive assistant in the corporate office of a company that has virtually no women. I see sexism and classism and a fair amount of racism every day, and I have to constantly walk a fine line between staying true to what I believe as a feminist and not acting in a way that will jeopardize my job. It is my involvement in organizations like NOW, the work of being a feminist, and the knowledge that that work will change the face of that office one day soon that allow me to go back to my job every day without going completely insane. I stumbled upon an explanation one day while I was telling a friend about NOW and my place in it: with the people I know from NOW, I am more myself and more the person I want to be than any other time.

Atima Omara-Alwala

I am 22 years old and I live currently south of the city of Richmond, Va. In May I graduated from the University of Virginia, a formerly all-white male Southern institution, that went fully co-ed officially in 1970.It's an irony that now that same university has a very vibrant feminist community. At the moment, I work on the staff of the Governor of Virginia.

I bring a diverse background to the board. My parents are both African immigrants from Uganda. I grew up in a household that was very international. I was used to my parents and their friends chatting in dialects and languages not taught in classrooms. I always ate food that wasn't American or really Western for that matter. American events and holidays were important in my household but often they were mixed in with important African/Uganda events, traditions, and holidays. So between growing up black in America and having African parents, I can place international politics and policy in a framework with my eye on how the Western world views everyone else, and how everyone else views it.

I didn't grow up in a household that deliberately encouraged me to be a feminist per se. I grew up with a father and mother who constantly encouraged me to succeed, be independent, and never apologize for who or what I was. I became a feminist, because I didn't think having estrogen should determine my lot in life or anybody else's for that matter. This led to my work as an officer for two years in my university's chapter of NOW. Also for three years, I organized and managed a series of speakers panels for young college women who sought specific career paths that are still male-dominated. I worked at my university's women's center. I founded and organized my university's first ever Women of Color Week during Women's History Month. I also co-founded and led a leadership alliance of women's groups at UVA called the Women's Advocacy Group. The hope was to bring different ideologies and politics to the table in the genuine interest of furthering women's rights.

My specific interests in feminism are: how feminism relates to women of color, media portrayal of women, global feminism, education, leadership and/or mentorship initiatives for pre-teens, and equality in the workplace. I am also dedicated to raising the percentage of women in elected offices. I believe that women need to hold more power in politics before effective change in society can take place. I wonder if one day feminism will truly become a movement in which ALL women can participate. Being part of this task force is my conscious step in that direction.

I am currently vice president of publishing for Virginia NOW. I volunteer with a domestic violence shelter, do some work with Virginia Young Democrats, and I am currently working with others to develop a women of color conference for Virginia.

Randi Organ

Randi Organ I'm a 22 year-old senior at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. In May 2005 I will graduate with a degree in Political Science, with a minor in English Literature. I am the President of the Capital chapter of NOW, the Secretary of the Columbus chapter, and the Young Feminist Task Force Chair for Ohio, and to top it all off, I also serve as the Ohio NOW intern. My plans were to attend law school after graduation, but I have recently changed my mind and would like to earn my master's degree in Women's Studies (after taking a year off to refocus my mind and body).

I grew up in a liberal household, where I was constantly told that I can do anything that I wanted to do, and I believe that. I was able to freely explore new ideas, and was encouraged to form and express my own opinions, even if they were different from those that I grew up with.

My main interest in feminism is with marriage equality. I have researched the topic of same-sex marriages on the international level, and I have presented this information at various conferences. I am also concerned with the over-all theme of diversity. I believe that society is much more valuable when there is a celebration of diversity and tolerance.

I hope that I can bring something useful to the YFTF. I have experience planning conferences (I planned and hosted the 2004 Ohio NOW Conference). I work well in groups, although I tend to be quiet. I am great to bounce ideas off of. I listen well and can usually follow directions without a problem.

Molly Solomon

Molly SolomonMy name is Molly Solomon and I am 17. In two months I graduate from high school in Kerrville, Texas, having completed my junior and senior years concurrently. Any day now I should hear to which colleges I have been accepted. I plan on studying psychology and getting a doctorate. This is a very exciting time for me.

Born to an activist mom, the youngest of three, my middle name should have been "bizarre" to match the course my life would take. Two months before I was born, my ten-year-old sister, three-year-old brother, and 33-year-old mom, Martha, lost their housing. Twenty-four hours after I was born the doctors still had not let my mother hold me or see me, because she refused to allow them to perform an unnecessary medical procedure on me. The next day, the doctors kicked us out of the hospital. Very bizarre.

When I was 18-days old, dressed in a one-piece romper emblazoned with the words "Baby Woman Warrior" across the front, snuggled to my mother's chest in an Indonesian serape as she stood on a downtown street curb, I attended my first big political rally. My paternal grandfather, Sidney, founder and president of Long Beach Area Citizen's Involved, was the Grand Marshall for the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day parade. As my mother stood there watching the parade, an old woman approached her to have a look at the new baby. The stranger, upon learning I was a girl, began to tell my mother about a special children's book she should get to read to me about a Russian immigrant girl, named Molly. My mother's jaw dropped and she looked wide-eyed at the stranger. She told the stranger my name was Molly and that I was named after my grandfather Sidney's mother, herself, a young Russian girl who immigrated to the US in the year 1912. Even more bizarre.

The first few years of my life I was hauled around on my mother's hip as she attended city council meetings, spoke at hunger conferences, and met with legislators about affordable housing, subsidized childcare and other poverty issues. Then, we began to move. And, we continued to relocate to a new state every two years until I entered high school three years ago. Her motto was then, and is still: All who wander are not lost. My mother promised me in 7th grade that we would move to where I could attend high school all in one place. After being robbed at gunpoint in Baltimore, Maryland we kind of needed to detox from city life. So, she picked Kerrville, Texas, a little town of, with few exceptions, 20,000 bonafide, rednecked, bigoted, "bubbas" located two hours from Austin. We didn't exactly fit in, but the air is clean, the river refreshingly glorious, live music abounds, and after always being a loner as the new girl in town, I've finally made a couple of friends.

Living in Texas, I've found fertile ground for my "genetically" passed-on activism. Upon learning of hundreds of women being murdered over the past eight years in Juarez, Mexico across the border from El Paso, I found a call to arms. Most of the women murdered worked in factories owned by American companies, called maquilladoras just over the US/Mexico border. I attended the international march and rally in El Paso as a NOW member to call media attention to this horrific situation.

The Texas Legislature and their evil shenanigans is another arena that has drawn my attention. When the House State Affairs committee held hearings last year on several bills concerning access to emergency contraception and putting tougher constraints on parental consent to abortion, I felt compelled to step up to the plate and be a voice for teens in rural Texas.

I have lived in big cities and very small towns, and from coast to coast. I've seen a lot of things that alarm me. Literacy is a huge problem everywhere. Access to healthcare, poverty and hunger are rampant, and human and civil rights are constantly endangered. Not to mention the fight must continue in the areas of pay equity, reproductive freedom, affordable housing, and affordable, quality, daycare. My grandmother and mother, as women warriors of the "old guard" deserve and need to know a "new guard" is up and coming. My life so far has shown me that there is a lot of work to be done, and my mother has raised me to know I have the ethical responsibility to stand up and fight injustice. I am young and do not yet know where I will make my mark. I only know I want to make a difference in the world. My journey began with the fights my mother took on while pregnant and giving me birth. I am destined to follow the voice I inherited from her. I may never become the first woman president of the U.S. — as my mother has always jokingly predicted — (she is joking, right?) — but, I am preparing to take my first steps as an adult. I feel honored to be serving on the Young Feminists Task Force, as it marks a great "new beginning" for me.

Alexandra Suich

Alexandra Suich I grew up in San Francisco, an area supportive of progressive activism but still very much in need of it. Realizing how much change needed to occur in San Francisco, one of the most liberal and accepting cities in the world, inspired me to try to affect change outside of my high school.

I actually became involved with NOW by default—no student at my high school stepped up to take over the NOW club's leadership, so my friend and I obliged. Knowing little about women's issues, we were only aware that there were gender inequities in our high school and the world around us, and we sought to raise awareness of these realities through the club. However, research and experience quickly prepared us leading the club, and we were holding bi-weekly meetings and bringing in members of both sexes who had never before considered themselves interested in women's issues. It was through my research and soliciting of support from local activists that I met the President of San Francisco NOW, and she gave me the opportunity to become involved with women's issues on a larger level as Co-Secretary of San Francisco NOW's Executive Board.

My interest in women's rights is both national and international in scope. I have been very involved with anti-sweatshop issues, touring Bay Area high schools with a former sweatshop worker, Chie Abad, to talk about the opportunities to be involved with anti-sweatshop activism in high school. I have also done work on teen health, teaching a Health class to underclassmen at my high school and helping to plan the Young Women's Health Conference. While I am invested in trying to guarantee reproductive rights to America's women, I am also interested in reproductive health on the international level. Since coming to Yale, I have started to learn Swahili, and I will be going to Kenya this summer to develop my Swahili and work in a reproductive rights non-profit.

I am on the Editorial Board for Yale's international affairs publication, The Yale Globalist, I am currently working for Yale's Center for Interdisciplinary Research on AIDS and the Yale Psychology Department, where I am doing research on obesity and access to food. As a college student, I see the strained relationship which many women have with food and their bodies, and I am trying to help raise awareness of eating disorders and body image issues. I currently sit on the Advisory Board of the San Francisco-based non-profit Find Your Voice, which deals with empowerment and body image issues.

Scarlett Swerdlow

Scarlett Swerdlow

I serve as the executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, a national organization of more than 100 chapters committed to an open, honest, and inclusive dialogue on alternatives to our country's current drug laws and policies. SSDP believes that education and treatment are more appropriate approaches to drug abuse than punitive policies and imprisonment. Moreover, SSDP believes that students should not lose access to education due to past or present drug use. Please visit for more information on SSDP.

Before I moved to Washington, D.C. to serve as SSDP's executive director, I served on the SSDP Board of Directors and acted as the president of the SSDP chapter at my alma mater. Due to my activism at all levels of SSDP, I have a unique understanding of what it takes to be a leader on the top who plans a program as well as an activist on the ground who implements a program.

I have worked with a handful of organizations committed to reform of our country's current drug laws and policies. As a high school student, I volunteered at the Marijuana Policy Project. The Washington Post ran a profile of me and my work with MPP on the front page of the Style section that appeared in hundreds of papers across the country. I have also worked with Americans for Safe Access, the Alliance of Berkeley Patients, and the Patients' Care Collective. I have appeared on Court TV, Fox News, Channel One, and MTV.

I am an alumna of the University of California at Berkeley where I studied history. I have a special interest in the history of Africa, and I crafted a thesis on the evolution of law in apartheid South Africa. One of my favorite philosophers and political figures is Nelson Mandela. He sparked my interest in nonviolence, and so I studied the teachings of Gandhi and King too.

My interest in and commitment to feminism is as old as I am. As a teenager, I founded a feminist organization to ensure school was a safe place for people regardless of their sex or sexual orientation. I was a member of NOW, and brought my mother to her first NOW meeting. At university, I continued to work with feminist organizations.

Our prison population exceeded two million in 2000, and women are the fastest-growing segment of the prison population. Most women who are behind bars are there due to a non-violent drug offense. Our current approach to drug use is harmful to women, children, families, and communities. I hope women will become leaders in the movement to end the Drug War.

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