Staff

Tarana Burke, Founder & Executive Director (1)

Tarana Burke
Founder & Executive Director

Tarana J. Burke has been working at the intersection of racial justice and gender equity for nearly three decades. Fueled by a commitment to interrupt sexual violence and other systemic issues disproportionately impacting marginalized people- particularly black women and girls- Tarana has created and led campaigns that have brought awareness to the harmful legacies surrounding communities of color. Specifically, her work to end sexual violence has not only exposed the ugly truths of sexism and spoke truth to power, it has also increased access to resources and support for survivors and paved a way forward for everyone to find their place in the movement.

A proud native of the Bronx, NY, Tarana’s passion for community organizing began in the late 1980s; when as a young girl, she joined a youth development organization called 21st Century. She launched initiatives around issues like racial discrimination, housing inequality and economic justice across the city. That work, coupled with a desire to deepen her academic education and organizing skills led her to Alabama State University, a historically black institution. Her organizing and advocacy work continued throughout college and remains a pillar of her professional life.

Her career took an intentional turn toward supporting survivors of sexual violence upon moving to Selma, Alabama to work for 21st Century. She encountered dozens of black girls who were sharing stories of sexual violence and abuse, stories of which she personally identified. Tarana realized too many girls were suffering through abuse without access to resources, safe spaces and support. So in 2007, she created JustBe, Inc., an organization committed to the empowerment and wellness of black girls. The ‘me too.’ Movement was born shortly thereafter as an entry to healing for survivors and a way for young people to share their stories.

In 2017, when ‘me too.’ as a hashtag (#metoo) went viral, Tarana emerged as a global leader in the evolving conversation around sexual violence. She placed the focus back on survivors and the need for survivor-centered, survivor-led solutions. Her theory of empowerment through empathy is changing the way the world thinks and talks about sexual violence, consent and body autonomy. Tarana used her platform to share the longstanding belief that healing isn’t a destination but a journey, which has touched and inspired millions of survivors who previously lived with the pain, shame and trauma of their experience in isolation. Her steadfast commitment is what led her to receive numerous accolades including 2017 TIME Person of the Year, the 2019 Sydney Peace Prize, among many other honors and recognitions.

The Team

Celeste Faison
Chief Strategy Officer

Celeste Faison is a strategist and trainer. As Chief Strategy Officer for the ‘me too.’ Movement, she leads field innovation and political strategy. Additionally, Celeste serves as co-executive director of the Blackout Collective, an organization with a mission to train 10,000 Black direct action strategists and practitioners by 2021.

Danielle Ayers, Chief Operations Officer

Danielle Ayers
Chief Operations Officer

Dani Ayers is an organizational development and board strategy executive. As Chief Operations Officer, she is building ‘me too.’s infrastructure and foundation, leading day-to-day operations and heading up finance, as well as human resources. Dani has spent 15 years developing organizations and boards, from infancy through growth and sustainability, spanning small, grassroots organizations to large, multi-billion dollar enterprises.

Denise Beek, Chief Communications Officer

Denise Beek
Chief Communications Officer

Denise Beek is a communications strategist who has worked in the nonprofit sector for over a decade. As the Chief Communications Officer for ‘me too.’, she leads branding, engagement and media relations for the organization. Denise’s prior experience includes arts administration, philanthropy, and event production, always with a mission to help foster cultural dialogue, organizing and social justice.

Khadijah Austin, Executive Assistant

Khadijah Austin
Executive Assistant

Khadijah Austin has over seven years experience in nonprofit management. She is the Executive Assistant to Tarana Burke and the ‘me too.’ Movement, where she manages everyday operations. Previously, Khadijah served as the SE Youth Program Coordinator at American Friends Service Committee focused on building sustainable black communities.

Portrait photo of brown Filipina with short curly hair wearing a black cardigan in front of greenery.

Luann Tan (Algoso)
Digital Communications Strategist

Luann V. Tan manages digital communication and online visibility with the organization’s communities and partners. She has over six years of cultural organizing, production, and digital strategy within the racial, gender, and economic justice space. Luann is a queer disabled Filipinx daughter of immigrants who grew up in a working-class multigenerational household in Southern California.

Rebecca Litwin, Social Work Fellow

Rebecca Litwin
Social Work Fellow

As social work fellow, Becca works alongside the programs team to support the build out of the organization’s field strategy, including survivor-centered programming, healing, and organizing. Becca is a Licensed Social Worker in New York State who comes from the education and intersectional gender justice space. She is thrilled to be a part of this incredible team visioning a world without sexual violence.

Ryann Holmes
Creative Producer

Ryann’s passion is to create love and space that uplifts and transforms. Over the last 15 years, Ryann has created and produced music festivals, concerts, parties and more. In 2009 Ryann founded the bklyn boihood collective. Now celebrating a decade of events, the collective has grown into a community staple. By creating spaces like the Soul of BK festival, Ryann has been able to empower Black businesses, queer and trans artists and employ local youth. While producing events and spaces, Ryann has also worked in the film industry, serving as talent coordinator and music supervisor for films. In 2016, Ryann was voted one of Brooklyn Magazine’s top 100 cultural innovators and in 2019 was featured in the New York Times article, “The Joy of Queer Parties. In June, Ryann was awarded the 2019 Community Leadership Award from the Brooklyn Pride Center.

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Dr. Elena Ruíz
Principal Researcher, Gender-Based Violence

Dr. Ruíz is a research specialist on gender-based violence and structural oppression. She currently holds a faculty appointment at Michigan State University and has held visiting fellowships at Harvard University, The Graduate Institute in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a former Woodrow Wilson fellow.  A scholar-advocate with nearly two decades of experience in anti-violence research, Dr. Ruíz has worked with human trafficking task forces, defense attorneys, legislative staffers, and survivor advocacy organizations to address structural violence-based institutional practices and biases that asymmetrically impact Indigenous communities and communities of color, especially surrounding sexual violence. Her current work focuses on understanding the impact of structural impunity towards gender-based violence on survivor’s lives across the lifespan.