YahNé’s lifetime of activism began in grade two, when she supported 4th-6th grade special-education students. She tutored as an adolescent and teen, and dismantled her neighborhood drug corner, introducing the boys to educational and work opportunities. While in Temple University’s undergraduate honors program, she volunteered at William Penn High for two years.
She began her professional life at 18, working with at-risk students, then coaching and empowering people with limited resources, running programs funded by The William Penn Foundation, The Philadelphia Foundation, and The School District of Philadelphia among others. She began volunteer programs in local schools, including in her Germantown community, where she initiated the community development corporation Germantown United after leading the protest of an unwanted development.
YahNé worked with local elected officials and organizations to increase constituent empowerment, worked as the Outreach Coordinator of a State Representative, and helped reinvigorate Vernon Park, transforming a once dangerous local park, into one that hosts a Black Writer’s Museum and a plethora of activities, and that received over $1M in renovations.
At this time YahNé conceived Ubuntu Ubuntu. Technology being central to the project, she moved to Amsterdam to learn to write code. She returned to the US and, using her experience volunteering on campaigns including Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, stomped for Bernie Sanders, representing his supporters on CNN and MSNBC, touring the country with his surrogates. She was later a surrogate of Jill Stein, the Green Party’s Presidential Candidate. She then managed poverty activist Cheri Honkala’s special election run.
YahNé has been flown around the country to speak at marches, rallies and on panels. She spent three weeks at Standing Rock where she saw her Ubuntu vision represented. She exposed herself to activists from around the world. This enabled her to bring together the impressive array of power-bearing light workers that are building Ubuntu Nation.
YahNé discovered her passion for writing at age 6 and by grade 5 was winning competitions against seniors at Masterman, one of the nation’s top public schools. She began performing her poetry at age 10. By 19 her peers included her performance of her poetry at almost every Black college event in Philadelphia. She often worked as a writer-in-residence and eventually obtained her MFA in Literary Nonfiction from Bennington College.
YahNé began singing much later, and has performed in and produced hundreds of shows over the last twenty years predominantly in Philadelphia and New York, but also in Chicago, DC, New Jersey, Atlanta, Vermont, California and Delaware. She was an original Black Lilly performer, on stage in Wetlands in New York weekly and then again with regularity when it came to Philadelphia. She has performed with notable artists including but not limited to Jill Scott, The Roots, India Airie, Erykah Badu, and Ursula Rucker, and graced the stage with literary artists including, but also not limited to Philadelphia’s first Poet Laureate Sonia Sanchez, the late Lucille Clifton, the late Amiri Baraka, Philip Lopate, Erica Hunt, Major Jackson, and Thomas Sayers Ellis.
At Bennington College YahNé convened an initiative that culturally expanded the curriculum, brought in a diversity of faculty and students, and developed the highest scholarship in the program’s history, explicitly for a student of color. YahNé then took The Leap, founded by author-activist Naomi Klein, through a highly-valued Anti-Oppression training. She is now sought for Anti-Oppression work nationally. Her work has included advocating at the Mexican/US border, visiting Indigenous reservations such as Oak Flat and Standing Rock to work, occupy and advocate for the protection of the land, standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter in Los Angeles as they demand the termination of the police chief overseeing the most murderous police district in the nation, and working in solidarity with the fight for clean water in Flint. She is also vocal about our electoral political reality and is working with thousands to break the duopoly and return the power to the people. YahNé owns Deep Blu Womyn Company, the boutique consulting firm through which she provides anti-oppression training and liberation coaching–helping individuals forge a path of purpose and passion.
In her work with Deep Blu Womyn Company, YahNé specializes in:
Community Development, Projects, & Campaigns
Branding, Language, & Presentation
Anti-Oppression Consulting & Training
See her speak, hear her music, read her writing.