Roanna grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She lost her mom to addiction at a young age and struggled to find a sense of self and belonging throughout her youth and young adulthood. As someone who battled her own adversities and was passionate about equality and justice from a young age, Roanna was drawn to working with and supporting other youth, particularly those most marginalized. This led her into many roles over the years as a mentor, friend, educator, and advocate.
In 2010 Roanna organized youth in the Chicago Public Schools around issues of community violence and peace-building, while completing her MSW at the University of Chicago. She then moved out to Northern California, where she helped run a youth empowerment program focused on using food justice and farming as a vehicle to develop youth leadership.
Through these various roles she grew a deep conviction in the power of youth to be the lead in creating a more just, peaceful and oppressive-free future. Roanna has seen youth confidence and resiliency grow significantly when young people are given the opportunity to find power in their voice and see themselves as active change-makers. She sees her work at Challenge Day as a powerful way to open spaces of connection, understanding and healing that promote such transformation, so that young people can break cycles of suffering, hopelessness and oppression and thrive in a more peaceful and loving world.
If you really knew me, you would know…
- I'm very adventurous. I love traveling to new places, meeting new people and having new experiences.
- I'm a very passionate person, especially about social justice. I spend a lot of my time thinking about how to confront systems of oppression and create a more just and peaceful world.
- I LOVE sunshine, heat and swimming in large bodies of water.
- I'm obsessed with books. I have way more books than I have time to read.
- Dancing and music feed my soul.
- I'm constantly inspired by the resiliency of the human spirit.