Monica Simpson, Executive Director
Monica Raye Simpson, a queer, black, NC native, has organized extensively against human rights abuse, the prison industry, racism, and systemic violence against Southern black women and LBGTQ people. A proud graduate of the historically black Johnson C. Smith University, she earned a bachelor’s in Communications and organized for LGBTQ rights on and off campus. She then became the Operations Director and the first person of color at the Charlotte Lesbian & Gay Community Center. Next, she trained black youth in activism, philanthropy, and fundraising as the Ujamaa Coordinator for Grassroots Leadership. In 2010, she moved to GA to be our Development Coordinator; she was promoted to Deputy Coordinator in 2011, Interim Executive Director in 2012, and Executive Director in 2013.
Monica is a nationally sought-after facilitator, speaker, and organizer, constantly called upon to travel the country for appearances. She is the only woman among the 4 founders of Charlotte, NC's Black Gay Pride Celebration, the first in the Bible Belt, which received awards from the National Black Justice Coalition and the Human Rights Coalition for its incredible launch with 7,000 participants. She has been featured in many publications for her activism, and has written many articles on LGBTQ issues, RJ, over-policing of black/brown communities, philanthropy, and Southern activism. In 2014 she was named a New Civil Rights Leader by Essence Magazine, and in 2015 was chosen as a panelist for the Women of the World Summit. Also a full circle doula certified through the International Center for Traditional Childbirth, she serves on the boards of the Fund for Southern Communities and the legendary Highlander Center.
A singer and spoken word artist who infuses art into her activism, Monica has appeared in theatrical productions such as For the Love of Harlem, Words the Isms, Walk Like a Man, The Vagina Monologues, and For Colored Girls. She released her first solo album, Revolutionary Love, in 2015, and she has performed at events across the country, including singing the National Anthem and the National Black Anthem for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. march and rally in Atlanta, GA. Monica created Artists United for Reproductive Justice as a project of SisterSong in order to create a platform for artists to collaborate on replicable artwork that furthers the Reproductive Justice movement.
Leah Jones, Deputy director
Leah Jones is a visual artist and native to Louisville, Kentucky. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Broadcasting and Electronic Media from Eastern Kentucky University, with a background in broadcast journalism. Before joining SisterSong, Leah organized to increase wages and benefits for higher education adjunct professors in Georgia. Leah knew in 2014 after joining the team as a consultant during the SisterSong “Standing Our Ground” national protest, she had found her movement home. To her, reproductive justice was not just a framework, but a lived experience she could relate to. Before becoming our Executive Administrator in 2015, Leah had six years’ previous experience in wealth management for a team of Vice Presidents at Goldman Sachs. There she worked with diverse teams to shape company strategy, culture, and brand. After receiving a certification in Nonprofit Human Resources Management from Emory University, Leah was promoted to Deputy Director in 2017. As Deputy Director, Leah works to facilitate a productive and cohesive environment for the staff, board members, interns and volunteers, using the SisterSong Mission, Principles of Unity and the Self-Help process as the guiding vision for change.
Ash Williams, NC Organizer
Ash Williams is a trans non-binary femme from Fayetteville, NC. As a Black Lives Matter organizer, Ash has educated the NC community about state-sanctioned violence as it relates to trans and queer people of color. Since 2013, this work has included leading rapid response/ guerilla actions, building solidarity and coalitions across differences, developing press strategies, designing campaigns, educating and mobilizing people on social media, and training other organizers. As campaign manager for a NC Representative, Ash has also managed donations and calendars, facilitated training for volunteers and interns, supervised all campaign communications, conducted research, and planned and implemented campaign strategies. Ash is a 2016 Human Rights Advocacy Fellow in Residence and Ignite NC Fellow (working against voter suppression), and won the Cyrus M. Johnson Award for Peace and Social Justice in 2014 and the Charlotte Pride Young Catalyst Award in 2016. They hold a master’s in Ethics and Applied Philosophy and a bachelor’s in Philosophy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. Ash is also a dancer, choreographer, and dance teacher.
Swechhya Pant, Program Coordinator Pronouns: she/her
Ms Pant is a Program Coordinator at SisterSong and her commitment to Reproductive Justice stems from her own cultural roots where talking about reproduction is still a taboo. Having raised not to talk about sex, menstruation, birth, and abortion she was surrounded by young girls and grown women who often felt ashamed of addressing any issues concerning their own body. The reproductive barriers faced by women in her own community and the constant policing of her own bodily autonomy from a young age shaped the path of her life to continue the fight for women of color and children. She knew her destination is to tirelessly advocate for herself first and for those who may not have a voice. She has never apologized for making her own choices for her body since embarking on this journey which has led her to complete a Bachelor’s degree in Women and Gender studies from city college of New York (Hunter College) and take on various jobs in the nonprofit field.
Ms Pant has ten years of extensive experience in training, youth program management, fundraising, advocacy, community building, and curriculum building. Ms Pant began her career working in a Human Rights agency Adhikaar in 2007 where she founded Adhikaar Youth Group. After moving to Georgia, Ms Pant initially served as a Legal Advocate at Raksha from 2009-2010 and later on served as a Community Support Individual in 2011 for Family Intervention Specialist (FIS) engaging in community outreach with refugee settlement agencies on behalf of the organization. Ms Pant has also worked as a Social Adjustment Specialist for Catholic Charities and as a Program Manager for Georgia Law Center for the Homeless from 2012-2014. Ms Pant re-joined Raksha, Inc in 2015 as a Youth Program Coordinator where she oversaw the Youth Group Program and managed the monthly Raksha Youth Group meetings, and she transitioned out in 2018 to join SisterSong.
In her free time, Ms Pant likes to read about various forms of energy healing, travel, socialize with her peers, and learn new vegan meals. Ms Pant is also a certified Reiki Healer and hopes to make a positive difference in the world with her compassionate nature and her love for a social change.
Jalessah jackson, georgia coordinator
Jalessah Jackson is a mother, womanist, and interdisciplinary scholar of training whose research explores the connections between popular culture and critical theories of race, gender, sexualities, and social inequity.
She is the Georgia Coordinator at SisterSong, and in this role, Jalessah marries her lived experiences with her education background to advance reproductive justice work in the state of Georgia. In addition to her role at SisterSong, she has been an educator in both community-based and formal settings and is a Lecturer of Gender and Women's Studies and African and African Diaspora Studies at Kennesaw State University. As an educator, trainer, and public speaker, she has addressed countless audiences at schools, conferences and cultural events.
Jalessah was a 2018 Errin J. Vuley Fellow at the Feminist Women’s Health Center, and won the 2018 Distinguished Recent Alumna Award from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts where she earned her master’s degree in Gender and Cultural Studies. Jalessah also holds a bachelor’s degree in African and African Diaspora Studies from Kennesaw State University. She currently serves on the Executive Board for the Southeastern Women’s Studies Association (SEWSA), a major regional arm of the National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA).
Jalessah lives in Atlanta with her partner Jason, and their daughter, Semyra.
Christian Adams, Membership and Development Coordinator
Christian Adams is a native of North Carolina and comes to SisterSong with over 14 years of social work experience which includes grant management, community organizing, clinical therapy, program implementation, and parent education. A lifelong advocate for women and children, Christian stands out as a skilled facilitator with a real-life understanding of social and organizational change that is grounded in social work best practices. She combines both her clinical and community engagement skills to help others understand the multiple layers of social influence on people’s lives. Her education and career have always focused on her passion to help individuals indirectly by investigating social issues, advocating for populations in need, and working to develop macro-level initiatives to address large scale social problems. She has achieved building strong relationships with community stakeholders and practitioners across multiple disciplines in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. Christian is dedicated to contributing to the field of macro level social work, while fighting for reproductive justice for all people of color.
Christians’ educational background includes a Master of Social Work and a Bachelor of Social Work both from East Carolina University, in Greenville, North Carolina. She is the proud mother of four children Brian, Antonio, Christopher, and Alicia.
Oreoluwa (Oreo) Adegboyega, Administrative Assistant
Oreo is a cisgender male, Brooklyn, NY native and Atlanta, GA transplant. Oreo graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelors in Finance and Hospitality. His exposure to the Reproductive Justice and Black Feminist movement made it easy to make the shift to SisterSong from corporate. In 2016, he began with SisterSong as a volunteer during our Trust Black Women Resource Days. His interest quickly grew, and he then joined SisterSong as an intern. In 2017, he became SisterSong’s Administrative Assistant and the first male to join our staff, in our 20 years of existence. His time in the RJ movement has inspired him to create the RJ For Black Men training under SisterSong’s Reproductive Justice training programming. He believes in bringing awareness to relevant issues such as racism and toxic masculinity within his community to aid breaking down barriers that deny human rights.