Meet the Co-Founders of the
Co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund & the Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium
LaTosha is an award-winning organizer, philanthropic consultant, political strategist and jazz singer with over 25 years of experience working in the non-profit and philanthropy sectors on a wide variety of issues related to political empowerment, social justice, economic development, leadership development, wealth creation and civil rights. As the co-founder of the Black Voters Matter Fund and the BVM Capacity Building Institute, LaTosha is adamant about ensuring that all human beings have access to quality education, safety, security, peace, love and happiness.
Striving daily to hear the voices of women in leadership amplified and supported, she is also working to eliminate human suffering through her vision of the Southern Black Girls & Women’s Consortium. She received the 2018 Bridge Jubilee Award and Liberty Bell Award, the 2010 White House Champion of Change Award and the 2006 Spirit of Democracy Award and the Louis Burnham Award for Human Rights. In addition to being recognized as a well-respected leader in the South who has led numerous initiatives, campaigns and special projects to empower marginalized communities, LaTosha is leading several international efforts to provide training, support and funding for women-led institutions based in Guyana, Senegal, Belize and Tanzania. Transforming culture through her singing and songwriting, this innovative storyteller is shifting the narrative of African-Americans through media, campaigns and nonprofit projects. Featured on CNN, HBO, MSNBC and Fox, to name a few, Latosha also proudly serves as the founder of Saving OurSelves Coalition, a community-led disaster relief organization that helped hundreds of families in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Currently, she serves on the board of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, the Southern Documentary Fund, the U.S. Human Rights Network, and the Congressional Progressive Caucus Center.
Follow her on Twitter and Instagram: @MsLaToshaBrown
Executive Director of ‘me too.’ International
Tarana is fueled by a commitment to the interruption of sexual violence and other systemic issues disproportionately impacting marginalized people — particularly Black women and girls. Tarana has created and led campaigns which have shone a spotlight on the harm perpetrated against communities of color. Specifically, Tarana’s work to end sexual violence has exposed the ugly truths of sexism, has spoken truth to power, has increased access to resources and support for survivors, and has paved the way forward for an expanding and inclusive movement.
A proud native of the Bronx, Tarana’s passion for community organizing began in the late 1980s. As a young girl, she joined a youth development organization called 21st Century. She launched initiatives around issues including racial discrimination, housing inequality and economic justice. That work, coupled with a desire to deepen her academic education and community organizing skills, eventually led her to Alabama State University, a historically black institution. Upon moving to Selma, Alabama, her career took an intentional turn toward supporting survivors of sexual violence. She encountered a Black girl who shared her story of sexual violence and abuse. Soon she found herself meeting dozens more. As a survivor herself, these were the stories with which she identified personally. Tarana faced the realization that too many girls were suffering and surviving abuse without access to resources, safe spaces and support.
Tarana’s theory of “empowerment through empathy” is changing the way the world thinks and talks about sexual violence, consent and body autonomy. Tarana’s steadfast commitment to the cause has led to numerous accolades including 2017 TIME Person of the Year, and the 2019 Sydney Peace Prize, among many other honors.
Follow her on Twitter: @TaranaBurke and Instagram: @tarana.janeen
Fatima Goss Graves
President & CEO of the National Women’s Law Center
Ms. Goss Graves, who has served in numerous roles at NWLC for more than a decade, has spent her career fighting to advance opportunities for women and girls. She has a distinguished track record working across a broad set of issues central to women’s lives, including income security, health and reproductive rights, education access, and workplace fairness. Ms. Goss Graves is among the co-founders of the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. Prior to becoming President, Ms. Goss Graves served as the Center’s Senior Vice President for Program, where she led the organization’s broad program agenda. Prior to that, as the Center’s Vice President for Education and Employment, she led the Center’s anti-discrimination initiatives, including work to promote equal pay, combat harassment and sexual assault at work and at school, and advance equal access to education programs, with a particular focus on outcomes for women and girls of color. Ms. Goss Graves received her B.A. from UCLA in 1998 and her J.D. from Yale Law School in 2001. She is widely recognized for her effectiveness in the complex public policy arena at both the state and federal levels, regularly testifies before Congress and federal agencies, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and other public education forums. Ms. Goss Graves appears often in print and on air as a legal expert on issues core to women’s lives.
Follow her on Twitter: @FGossGraves and Instagram: @fatimagossgraves
Ed.D., President & CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color
Monique Couvson, Ed.D. is an award-winning author and social justice scholar with three decades of experience in the areas of education, civil rights, juvenile and criminal justice. Dr. Couvson is the President and CEO of Grantmakers for Girls of Color, the nation’s only philanthropic intermediary explicitly focused on resourcing movements and organizations led by, and in support of, cis and trans girls and femmes of color.
Dr. Couvson is the author of two forthcoming books, Cultivating Joyful Learning Spaces for Black Girls: Insights into Interrupting School Pushout (ASCD, 2022) and Charisma’s Turn (The New Press, 2023), a graphic novel about supporting Black girls who stand in their gifts. She is an Executive Producer and co-writer of the documentary film, “PUSHOUT: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools,” which is based upon two of her books, Sing A Rhythm, Dance A Blues: Education for the Liberation of Black and Brown Girls (The New Press, 2019) and Pushout: The Criminalization of Black Girls in Schools (The New Press, 2016). She has written dozens of articles, book chapters, and other publications on social justice issues and lectured widely on research, policies, and practices associated with improving juvenile/criminal justice, educational, and socioeconomic conditions for girls and women of Color. Her 2018 TED talk on how to stop the criminalization of Black girls in schools has received nearly 2 million views and been translated into 20 languages.
The founder and Board Chair for the National Black Women's Justice Institute, Dr. Couvson’s work has been profiled by MSNBC, CSPAN2, The Washington Post, The New York Times, NPR, USA Today, and PBS, among other national and local print, radio, and television media.
Follow her on Twitter: @MoniqueCouvson and Instagram: @drmoniquecouvson and Facebook: @MoniqueWMorrisEdD | website: drmoniquecouvson.com
Joanne N. Smith, MSW
Founding President & CEO of Girls for Gender Equity (GGE)
Joanne Smith moves GGE closer to its mission through strategic advocacy, development, and leadership cultivation. Ms. Smith is a Haitian-American social worker born in NY. A staunch human rights advocate, Smith co-chaired the nation’s first Young Women’s Initiative, a cross-sector Initiative coordinating government, philanthropic, and community efforts to create the conditions for cis, trans girls of color and GNC youth to thrive. Smith’s leadership helped to facilitate a $30M commitment from government and philanthropy to invest in community-driven recommendations. Smith is the co-founder of the #1Billion4BlackGirls Campaign, a 10-year initiative to invest 1 billion dollars into the advancement of Black girls. Smith is a steering committee member of Black Girl Movement and member of Move to End Violence - an initiative designed to strengthen the collective capacity to end gender-based violence in the United States. Smith is featured on the cover of YES! Magazine, Gender Justice issue Summer 2016, sharing her experience of intersectional feminism.
Joanne is an alumna of Hunter Graduate School of Social Work and Columbia Institute for Nonprofit Management. She has co-authored Hey Shorty: A Guide to Combating Sexual Harassment and Violence in Schools and on the Streets. Girls for Gender Equity’s work to combat sexual harassment in schools is featured in the 2014 documentary, Anita: Speak Truth to Power. Smith has received many awards including the Ms. Foundation 2018 Gloria Award as a Woman of Vision, a Commendation from NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies − Local Women Leading Change award. Smith resides in Brooklyn.
Follow her on Twitter: @JoanneNSmith and Instagram: @joannen.smith
Dr. Salamishah Tillet
Co-founder of A Long Walk Home, author of In Search of the Color Purple, and co-host of Becoming Anita podcast
Salamishah is an award-winning critic, scholar, activist. She is the Henry Rutgers Professor of African American Studies and Creative Writing at Rutgers University - Newark and is the director of New Arts Justice at Express Newark. As a writer, she is contributing critic-at-large at the New York Times and the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in Post-Civil Rights America and her newest book, In Search of The Color Purple: The Story of Alice Walker’s Masterpiece blends cultural criticism, literary history, biography, and memoir to tell the story of Walker’s groundbreaking novel and its continued influence on American culture.
Salamishah recently was awarded the Creative Nonfiction Grant from the Whiting Foundation to complete All The Rage: Mississippi Goddam and the World Nina Simone. With her sister Scheherazade Tillet, she co-founded A Long Walk Home, an art organization that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women. A consultant for Lifetime’s documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” she was an associate producer of Aishah Shahidah Simmons’ “NO! The Rape Documentary” and is currently producing the documentary, “Story Of Rape Survivor: A Healing Documentary.” She received her Ph.D. in American Studies and A.M. in American and British Literature from Harvard University, a M.A.T. from Brown University, and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, where she graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa.
Follow her on Twitter: @salamishah and Instagram @salamishah
Co-founder & Executive Director of A Long Walk Home
Scheherazade is a photographer, and the Co-founder and Executive Director of A Long Walk Home, an art organization that empowers young people to end violence against girls and women. She was a consultant for Lifetime’s documentary, “Surviving R. Kelly,” lead organizer of #MuteRKelly campaign in Chicago, and curator of the #SayHerName Rekia Boyd memorial project. Her art and activism have been featured in Gagosian Journal, New York Times, Teen Vogue, The Chicago Tribune, and on MSNBC and NPR. In Spring 2016, she was awarded the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s first artist-in-residence in Homan Square in North Lawndale, Chicago. Currently, Scheherazade is 3Arts artist working on a photography project, Prom Send Off: The Rites of Passage for Chicago’s African American Girls. In 2018 - 2020, Tillet is the inaugural artist in residence for the joint initiative between Shine Portrait Studio and New Arts Justice and is developing her first solo show Let Her Be Born & Handled Warmly: A Retrospective on Black Girl/Hood to be exhibited in Newark in Spring 2022. She received her Masters of Art Therapy from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and a B.A. from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She studied at Rutgers University’s Mason School of Fine Arts.
Follow her on Twitter: @shertillet and Instagram: @sherphotographs
Teresa C. Younger
President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women
Teresa C. Younger is an activist, advocate, renowned public-speaker, organizational strategist, and a proven leader in the philanthropic and policy sectors. Having spent over 20 years on the frontlines of some of the most critical battles for comprehensive equity and the elimination of institutionalized oppression, she now serves as the President and CEO of the Ms. Foundation for Women. Prior to joining the Ms. Foundation for Women, Younger served as the executive director of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Permanent Commission on the Status of Women and as executive director of the ACLU of Connecticut -- the first African American and the first woman to hold that position. Younger is a thought leader at the critical intersections of gender and race. Within the philanthropic sector she serves on initiatives to shape and change the narrative of women and girls, including Grantmakers for Girls of Color, Funders for Reproductive Equity, Philanthropy New York and Black Funders for Social Justice. Additionally, Younger serves on a number of boards including the Ethel Walker School and Essie Justice Group. She has appeared on MSNBC’s UP with David Gura, NBC News, NPR Radio, Elle Magazine, Cosmopolitan, SiriusXM, and in USA Today, AP, Rewire, BadassWomenLeaders.com podcast and the New York Times. Teresa is a graduate of the University of North Dakota and in 2018 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters in Humanities from the University of New Haven. She is also a proud lifetime Girl Scout and Gold Award recipient.
Follow her on Twitter: @MsTeresaYounger and Instagram: @MsTeresaYounger