Melissa Lozada-Oliva

Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a nationally-recognized poet and educator living in Queens. Her poetry–as the 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion who is widely known for her viral take down of the speech police and author of Peluda (Button Poetry)–explores, interrogates, and redefines the intersections of Latina identity, feminism, misogyny, nihilistic humor, and what it means to belong. “My poems are all about being a Latino child of immigrants, never having enough money, and the way my sadness for boys and my sadness for the world collides,” she told Vulture. “I want to say that I’m trying to make myself (and other millenials of color) feel less like an alien, but really, I’m trying to say that it’s okay to be an alien.”

Melissa’s work has been featured in REMEZCLA, Glamour, Maudlin House, Washington Square News, Luna Luna Magazine, The Kenyon Review, Fierce by Mitu, and Herstory. She is currently an MFA candidate at New York University, where she will start teaching in Spring 2019. Melissa has also spoken at Tufts, Johns Hopkins, and Harvard universities along with The Bell House, Brooklyn Bazaar, and Smith College. She facilitates and teaches workshops on slam poetry, the basics of storytelling and how to access humor through poetry.

Read/see/listen to her:
Her website, her twitter, her Instagram, watch her slam poetry especially Like Totally Whatever and Bitches

Five Questions with Melissa

Favorite book:
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Carmen Maria Machado
Favorite feminist anthem: Killer by Palehound
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: twitter
Perfect day (in one sentence): I get a package. Inside the package is endless socks. Inside the socks is wads of cash. Then I get a phone call from Mark Ruffalo. He says “I love you Melissa & I always have” I say “I am taken.” He says “That is too bad but I thought I would take a chance.”

Julie Zeilinger

Originally from the small town of Pepper Pike, Ohio, Julie Zeilinger had a big, bold idea to share with the world: what if feminism wasn’t a dirty word anymore? Julie is the founder and editor of The FBomb, a feminist blog and online community for teens and young adults, which she created when she was just 16 years old. Since then, she’s become a leading voice for teen feminists everywhere. It’s no surprise she was named one of Newsweek’s “150 Women Who Shake The World”, one of the “Eight most influential bloggers under 21” by Women’s Day Magazine, and one of Forbes Magazine’s “2016 30 Under 30”. Her writing has appeared in various publications including Forbes, Huffington Post, and CNN, and she managed to author two books before the age of 20: A Little F’d Up: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word (2012) and College 101: A Girl’s Guide to Freshman Year (2014). She is currently the content Strategist at Supermajority. She speaks often and to many. Her Twitter.

Five Questions with Julie Zeilinger

Favorite book: Everything Zadie Smith writes
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Favorite feminist anthem: Formation (Beyonce)
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant:  Twitter 
Perfect day (in one sentence): Sleeping in, eating a lot, and reading a good book.
How are you making a ruckus? By using my voice as a storyteller to tell truth to power.

Gabby Rivera

Through a grant with the Maine Humanities Council we were able to invite Gabby Rivera (she/hers) to videochat into one of our GAB meetings. Here is her bio:

Gabby Rivera is a queer Latinx writer living in Oakland, CA. She is currently writing AMERICA, America Chavez’s solo series, for Marvel. America is Marvel’s first Latina lesbian superhero. Gabby’s critically acclaimed debut novel Juliet Takes a Breath was listed by Mic as one of the 25 essential books to read for women’s history month, and it was called the “dopest LGBTQA YA book ever” by Latina. Put simply by Roxane Gay, it’s “F***ing outstanding.”

Five Questions with Gabby Rivera

Favorite book: Flaming Iguanas by Erika Lopez
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Sylvia Rivera
Favorite feminist anthem: Freedom – Various Artists (Panther Soundtrack 1996)
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: Alicia’s kitchen in Harlem
Perfect day (in one sentence): Strong coffee, a black t-shirt, and laughing so hard all I can do is wheeze.

Soraya Membreno

Through a grant with the Maine Humanities Council we were able to invite Soraya Membreno, from Bitch Media, to videochat into one of our GAB meetings. Here is her bio:

Soraya Membreno is Bitch Media’s director of community. She is the daughter of Nicaraguan immigrants and a pre-Lebron Miami native. She writes about issues of accessibility, representation, and culture-straddling/identity building in literature and academia. Her writing has appeared in Catapult, Post No Ills, and The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind.

Five Questions with Soraya Membreno

Favorite book: That changes every few months but I will forever have a soft spot for Moby Dick by Herman Melville
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Claudia Rankine
Favorite feminist anthem: Bad Reputation by Joan Jett
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: A nice, long, all-caps group text
Perfect day (in one sentence): A beach, a book, many baked goods, and friends.

Hebh Jamal


Hebh Jamal, 2019
Girls Rock! Awards keynote

Hebh Jamal delivered the keynote at our 2019 Girls Rock! Awards on March 22, 2019. Hebh Jamal is a muslim, Palestinian-American activist and current college student at City University of New York. In 2017, while Jamal was still in high school, the 17-year-old established herself as a leader in the fight against bigotry by organizing a New York City high school walkout. She’s also a leader of Integrate New York City, a student-run organization focusing on school segregation, and works as a youth policy fellow at New York Appleseed, a nonprofit fighting for equal access and resources in New York City schools. You can follow her on Twitter.

Five Questions with Hebh Jamal

Favorite book: Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Angela Davis
Favorite feminist anthem: Survivor by Destiny’s Child
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: On Facebook
Perfect day (in one sentence): An intellectual conversation about contemporary issues over tea in a cafe in Istanbul 🙂

Amanda Gorman

Amanda Gorman delivered a BRILLIANT keynote at our 2018 Girls Rock! Awards. From her website, here is her bio:

Called the ‘next great figure of poetry in the US’, at 19-years-old Amanda Gorman is a published author and the first ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States of America. She’s spoken around the country from the UN to the Library of Congress, alongside the likes of Lin-Manuel Miranda and Hillary Clinton Her first poetry book, “The One For Whom Food Is Not Enough”, was published in 2015 by Pemanship Books. She is Founder and Executive Director of One Pen One Page, which promotes literacy through free creative writing programming for underserved youth. She is a Harvard junior in the top of her class, and writes for the New York Times student newsletter The Edit.

Five Questions with Amanda Gorman

Favorite book: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Maya Angelou
Favorite feminist anthem: The Combahee River Collective Statement
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: Outside the dorm room door of my best friend
Perfect day (in one sentence): A day with the ones I love doing what I love.

Roxane Gay

Through a grant with the Maine Humanities Council we were able to invite Roxane Gay to videochat into one of our GAB meetings. She shared her thoughts on self confidence (a tricky thing), standing up for yourself, and writing as a woman. From her website, here is her bio:

Roxane Gay’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women and the New York Times bestselling Hunger. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel. She has several books forthcoming and is also at work on television and film projects.

Five Questions with Roxane Gay

Favorite book: The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
Woman (dead or alive) to have dinner with: Beyonce
Favorite feminist anthem: Money by Cardi B
Favorite place to go on a feminist rant: Twitter
Perfect day (in one sentence): Spending time with my person, doing anything, anywhere.