Sonya Passi is the founder and CEO of FreeFrom, a national organization on a mission to create pathways to financial security and long-term safety for survivors of gender-based violence. Sonya has been a domestic violence activist since she was 16 years old. Before founding FreeFrom, she launched the Family Violence Appellate Project while earning her law degree at UC Berkeley. For her work with in the field, Sonya was listed in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Class of 2017 For Law and Policy is an Ashoka, Roddenberry and New America CA Fellow.
Amy Irvin is the executive director of the New Orleans Abortion Fund and served as the first intake coordinator. She has worked at abortion clinics in New Orleans and Atlanta and earned her Master of Science in Social Work at the University of Louisville where she researched the impact of parental consent laws for minors at the ACLU of Kentucky Reproductive Freedom Project.
Dr. Yaba Blay is a New Orleans native, distinguished homegirl, content creator, cultural worker, professor and producer of Professional Black Girl. As a researcher and ethnographer, Dr. Blay uses personal and social narratives to disrupt fundamental assumptions about cultures and identities. As a cultural worker, she uses image to inform consciousness, incite dialogue, and inspire others into action and transformation. Dr. Blay spoke about the beginnings and evolution of the Professional Black Girl hashtag, community, and web series; her recent tour to Historically Black Colleges and Universities with friend, colleague, and #metoo founder Tarana Burke; the persistent harm of white supremacy and the power of Black culture, creation, and community in New Orleans.
Thousands of minutes of audio and hundreds of images.
During the course of the last few months, The MATRIARCHITECTS on the road covered vast terrain. And not just the earth crossed over, not just the broad canvas of sky. I’m speaking of hours of conversation—traversing the expansive landscape of the work, art, intelligence, and power of 19 change-makers who are building a world that respects, values, and celebrates women.
For those of you that have been following The Matriarchitects on Instagram, you’ve seen in posts and stories the amazing change-makers I’ve talked to. In the coming months, their voices will be featured on podcast episodes. I cannot wait for you to hear from these amazing people who are making our communities better; to listen to their vision, inspiration, and laughter; to find out about both the arduous moments on their path and the comfort, solidarity, and joy they’ve found in the community of others engaged in justice work.
These Matriarchitects aren’t stopping because of all the obstacles thrown in their path or the trees deliberately felled in front of them. They are finding ways across. They are hopping over. They are cutting through–the hatred, the isms and phobias of all kinds, the noise that says that those in power abusing power will always be there and we just have to deal. The Matriarchitects are here for our collective liberation. They are remaking our world. They are doing so with grace and beauty and art and kindness and stunning intellect and emotional brilliance and righteous anger and tremendous compassion. Every single conversation I’ve been so honored to participate in has reminded me of what is inside us, who we can be, and what is possible together. I have endless gratitude for these change-makers, their work in the world, and their willingness to share with us.
Our collective work is far from over but we can find light, hope, and inspiration from all those leading the way.