While IWHC celebrates each and every young person’s vision for the future of sexual rights and reproductive health, we can only select one Grand Prize winner. Here’s how it will work: After nominations close on March 25, 2010, five Young Visionary nominees will become finalists by popular vote, and the IWHC communications team will select five more nominees. Our esteemed panel of guest judges will then select our Grand Prize winner, who will be announced in early April.
Our panel of guest judges is comprised of dedicated and accomplished activists and advocates from all corners of the globe. Read on for their bios!
Marisa Viana-Aitchison joined the International Women’s Health Coalition as Program Associate for the Latin America program in January 2006. Prior to coming to IWHC, she worked at the Bildner Center for Western Hemisphere Studies in New York where she was responsible for researching and organizing conferences on public private partnership and state reform in Brazil. Previous to moving to New York, she worked as an office assistant at Amnesty International in Massachusetts; and interned with local environmental NGOs in Brazil. In 2007, she participated in IWHC’s Advocacy in Practice training in New York City, prior to the 51st Session of the Commission on the Status of Women, and worked with the group of young trainees to effectively advocate for women’s and girls’ health and rights. Originally from Brazil, Marisa speaks Portuguese and Spanish and has a Bachelor’s degree in International Affairs and Environmental Social Justice with a focus in Latin America.
Ishita Chaudhry is the Founder and Managing Trustee of The YP Foundation (TYPF) in New Delhi, a youth led non-profit organization founded in 2002 that develops leadership skills in young people to take action on issues they are passionate about. An advocate for youth rights and SRHR, she has trained youth groups at international, regional and local levels, lobbying at the UN and addressing a US Congressional Briefing. Ishita works with grassroots youth communities in India on accessing comprehensive sexuality education and enabling pro-active citizenship.
Mimi Melles is the Manager of International Youth Speak Out (iYSO)–a project of the International Division at Advocates for Youth. iYSO builds the capacity of youth-driven organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean to empower young people to be powerful advocates within their own countries and at international forums on reproductive and sexual health and rights of youth, especially young women. Previously, Mimi managed Advocates’ Youth Activist Network (YAN), working with youth across the United States to fight for accurate reproductive and sexual health information and services. While attending studies at the University of Maryland (UMD), Mimi was a member of Advocates’ International Youth Leadership Council.
During her undergraduate career, she was nominated to serve on the National Steering Committee of the Student Global AIDS Campaign to oversee the work of over 85 college and high school chapters. Mimi was first nominated as the International Partnerships Coordinator and a year later, earned her position as the National Student Coordinator.
Mimi also worked with faculty at UMD on addressing issues as: NGO networks in fragile environments of West Africa; the cultural context of the use of condoms in adolescent females in Jamaica; and, the vulnerability of HIV infections of women in the context of traditional cultural practices in South Africa. At UMD, Mimi earned her Bachelor’s degree in Spring 2007 in Socio-cultural Anthropology and Public Health, with a minor in International Development & Conflict Management.
Jessica Valenti is the founder and editor of the popular blog and online community, Feministing.com, and the author of three books: Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters, He’s a Stud, She’s a Slut…and 49 Other Double Standards Every Woman Should Know, and The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women. She is also a co-editor of the anthology Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape, which was named one of Publishers Weekly’s Top 100 Books of 2009.
Jessica’s writing has appeared in The Nation, The Guardian (UK), The American Prospect, Ms. magazine, Salon.com and Bitch magazine. She received her Masters degree in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers University, where she is now a part-time lecturer. Jessica speaks at universities and organizations across the country on feminism, blogging, and politics.
Geoffrey Knox founded Geoffrey Knox & Associates in 1993, after 12 years working in non-profit organizations. He created and directed the first communications departments at The Vera Institute of Justice and The New York City Campaign Finance Board. He then became Director of Communications at Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC). He served in the same capacity at the American Foundation for AIDS Research (AmFAR).