Founded in 2003, A Long Walk Home, Inc. (ALWH) is a 501 (c) non-profit that uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to end violence against girls and women. ALWH features the testimonies and art by survivors and their allies in order to provide safe and entertaining forums through which the public can learn about healing from and preventing gender violence.
In 1997, Scheherazade Tillet learned that her older sister, Salamishah, was a rape survivor. Seeking to help Salamishah heal from sexual violence, Scheherazade turned to photography and began documenting the various stages of Salamishah's recovery. At the end of the project, Salamishah and Scheherazade decided to team up to write and direct, Story of a Rape Survivor (SOARS), a multimedia performance that stars a diverse cast of musicians, dancers, and stage performers, who bring Scheherazade's photographs and Salamishah's story to life.
In 2003, the Tillet sisters co-founded A Long Walk Home, Inc. (ALWH), the only organization in the country that uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to end violence against women and girls. The vision of Scheherazade Tillet, a professional art therapist and rape crisis counselor, and Salamishah Tillet, an Ivy-League feminist professor, ALWH partners with rape crisis centers, universities, high schools, and state coalitions to provide innovative and inclusive programs for underserved communities.
Through our national and local programs, multimedia performances, summer and after school youth institutes, campus trainings and workshops, ALWH has educated over 100,000 survivors and their allies to build safe communities and end gender violence.
Scheherazade Tillet, MAAT, is the co-founder and executive director of A Long Walk Home, Inc. (ALWH). Since 1998, she has been committed to creating a national platform that speaks out against sexual violence against women and girls. Upon graduating from Tufts University with her B.A. in Child Psychology and a minor in Fine Arts from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2000, Scheherazade began Story of a Rape Survivor (SOARS), the first of its kind and award wining multi-media performance which intimately examines her sister’s healing from sexual assault. In 2003, SOARS became the flagship program for A Long Walk Home, Inc., and Scheherazade has toured SOARS at over 150 colleges and universities. Moreover, Scheherazade’s SOARS photographs are featured in two award-winning human rights documentaries, “NO! The Rape Documentary” and “Rape Is…”
After establishing her reputation as a young feminist leader through SOARS, Scheherazade earned her Masters in Art Therapy from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) in 2003. When Scheherazade graduated from SAIC, she began working as an art therapist at Chicago’s leading organization to end sexual violence, the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. Scheherazade was the only rape crisis counselor in the Westside of Chicago, serving neighborhoods that have the third highest sexual assaults and homicide rates in Illinois.
Currently, A Long Walk Home, Inc., has SOARS College Initiatives and the Girl/Friends Leadership Institutes, a year-long art-based programs to empower teen girls to find their own voices, advocate for other girls, and lead campaigns in their schools and communities dedicating to ending violence and achieving gender equality. Scheherazade’s creative community solutions earned her the prestigious Moxie Award for Excellence and Creativity from Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) in 2007, and 2010, Scheherazade was nominated as Glamour Magazine’s “Woman of the Year Award” for her work to end to violence against girls and women. Currently, Scheherazade is a board member of Prevention Forces, a HIV prevention organization in Chicago and is the Chair of Community Outreach for the Illinois Art Therapy Association. She is currently working on two photography projects, “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” and “Cabrini-Green” a social documentary project on gentrification and the Cabrini Green public housing development in Chicago.
Salamishah Tillet, Ph.D., is one of the rising feminist activists and academics of her generation. In 2003, Salamishah and her sister, Scheherazade Tillet, co-founded A Long Walk Home, Inc. She is the writer of Story of a Rape Survivor (SOARS), an award-winning multimedia performance that tells her own story of reclaiming her body, sexuality, and self-esteem after being sexually assaulted in college. She co-created The Girl/Friends Leadership Institutes, arts-based programs that empower adolescent girls in Chicago to advocate for themselves and end violence against girls and women in their schools and communities. She was an associate producer for Aishah Shahidah Simmons’s groundbreaking documentary, "NO! A Rape Documentary" and is in the Cambridge Documentary’s short film, "Rape Is…" In 2006, Ebony Magazine named her one of America’s top 30 Black leaders under 30 years old. In 2010, Salamishah and Scheherazade were finalists for Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year” award for their work to end violence against girls and women.
Salamishah has appeared on CNN, MSNBC, NPR and written for The Chicago Tribune, The Nation, and Washington Post magazine, The Root.com. In 2011, she interviewed Gloria Steinem on the future of the feminist movement at TedxWomen. She is an Assistant Professor of English, Africana Studies, and Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies at the University of Pennsylvania and earned her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization from Harvard University. She is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship, Racial Democracy, and the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (2012) and is currently working on a book on the Civil Rights icon, Nina Simone.
Between Friends is a nonprofit agency dedicated to breaking the cycle of domestic violence and building a community free of abuse.
Loyola University Chicago's Center for Urban Research and Learning (CURL) is a non-traditional interdisciplinary university research center that develops that develop equal partnerships between the university and community-based organizations across metropolitan Chicago. CURL is currently partnered with A Long Walk Home to develop a multi-year evaluation, dissemination, and replication plan for The Girl/Friends Leadership Institute.
North Lawndale College Preparatory Charter High School (NLCP) is a Chicago public high school that prepares young people from under-resourced communities for graduation with the academic skills and personal resilience necessary for successful completion of college. NLCP provides the students, facilities, and technical support for the Girl/Friends Leadership Institute.
Rape Victims Advocates is an Illinois not-for-profit organization made up of many individuals with two primary goals: to assure that survivors of sexual assault are treated with dignity and compassion; and to affect changes in the way the legal system, medical institutions and society as a whole respond to survivors.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Master of Arts in Art Therapy (MAAT) Program provides a comprehensive art therapy education that emphasizes development of the artist/art therapist, prepares graduates to function as art therapists in a variety of settings, and fosters critical engagement within social and cultural contexts. The MAAT program provides art therapist interns and staff for the Girl/Friends Leadership Institute.
Sarah Colomè, M.S., is the SOARS Booking Director for A Long Walk Home, Inc. Graduating in 2012 with her M.S. in Public Service Management, Sarah is a passionate advocate whose areas of interest include violence risk-reduction, community and sexual health, education, and identity. While in school, Sarah's research involved conducting the first cumulative assessment of sexual violence rates at DePaul, while simultaneously analyzing the risk factors specifically related to first-generation students. Currently serving as a board member for the Chicago Women's Health Center, Sarah also occasionally serves as a volunteer Restorative Justice Peer Council Trainer with Alternatives, Inc., working with Chicago Public School students to implement inclusive and restorative alternatives to suspension and expulsion. In 2012 Sarah also spent time as one of the inaugural DePaul University Peacemakers, collaborating with Chicago Public Schools in developing and implementing anti-violence curriculum. Sarah has traveled both nationally and internationally as a competitive collegiate public speaker and debater. Her teaching experience includes working with Wheaton College, Concordia University, DePaul University, and various Chicagoland high schools teaching topics related to social justice and diversity, health education, race and gender constructions, advocacy, and persuasive speaking.
Sangeetha Ravichandran, MAAT, LPC, is the Girl/Friends Leadership Institute program coordinator. Born and raised in India, moved to Chicago to pursue her fine art career. During this time, she was inspired by the A Long Walk Home Inc’ SOARS performance which transformed her career. She moved on to be trained in an art therapy career at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago where she received her Masters Degree in Art Therapy in 2011. She chose to adhere her training to ending violence against women and therefore, interned at Apna Ghar, a Domestic violence shelter in uptown Chicago. Aside from her work in Chicago during the school year, she spent her breaks in India, working at International Center for Crime Prevention and Victim Care, Chennai, India, with survivors of Domestic Violence there. Through this she learned culturally sensitive ways of translating her western education into the community that she was serving. From this emerged her research on examining empowerment and resilience through an intersectional analysis with survivors of Domestic Violence in India. Sangeetha seeks to serve women and girls in marginalized communities by acknowledging their resilience, helping them heal and gain a stronger voice against violence, She particularly would like to continue advocating for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence through education, art and collaboration.
Nicole Oxendine has served two years as the summer program coordinator for A Long Walk Home’s Girl/Friends Leadership Institute summer training component. She recently completed her Masters degree in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling from Columbia College Chicago. Her thesis research is developing a program that addresses sexuality among adolescents with Developmental Disabilities. Her educational background is BA in Cognitive Psychology and a minor in Dance. Nicole is passionate about working with teenagers. She has taught dance in a high school for five years. As a teacher her experiences with the issues of teenagers have led her to the field of dance/movement therapy. She has led dance/movement therapy groups in a psychiatric unit with adolescents and children. Nicole has begun to develop her thesis work on sexuality in the developmentally disabled population through her yearlong internship with the special education department in a high school. Nicole has also taught weekly psychoeducational classes on relaxation and stress management techniques at a community health center in Chicago. She is a member of American Dance Therapy Association and has served as research coordinator for the Dance/Movement Therapy department at Columbia College. Through this work she is discovering a new element of work by examining sexuality through the lens of a dance/movement therapist. Nicole’s therapeutic philosophy is based on connecting the mind and body. She believes that through an understanding of your body you can begin to address psychological issues. Learning about yourself through your unique movement choices directly links to the psychological implications of who you are. Nicole believes that connection between the mind and body leads to a more enriched life.
Leah Gipson, MAAT, LPC, has been with A Long Walk Home since the inception of Girl/Friends Leadership Institute in 2009. Her current role in the organization, as Girl/Friends Outreach Coordinator, is to expand the reach of the Girl/Friends curriculum to audiences throughout Chicago, including Girl/Friends at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls. Leah also works with individuals to eliminate the risk of HIV infection and transmission by caring for adults in medication assisted substance abuse treatment at Access Community Health Network. She is an advocate for the arts and social justice, and strongly believes in the use of everyday objects and materials for individual and social transformation. As an art therapist, her outlook has been shaped by her experiences in health care and community settings with populations ranging from adolescent survivors of sexual assault to adults in psychiatric care. Leah serves as a board member for the Illinois Art Therapy Association on the Governmental Affairs Committee and hopes to increase opportunities for art therapist to change the status quo of care in mental health and social service systems.
Brittani Jordan, age 19, is the alumni director at Girl/Friends Leadership Institute and has been a part of Girl/Friends for 4 years now. She is finishing her freshman year at Chicago State University. She became intrigued with ending dating and sexual violence when she discovered that there were more teens affected by it than any other group and her friend in fact was a survivor. Brittani uses writing and photography as her primary art forms to advocate against gender violence. Brittani has used her voice throughout her 5 years at A Long Walk Home through conferences, events, documentaries and radio shows where she has spoken to increase awareness and help people to end gender violence. Brittani has also educated her family and involved her parent in the Parent Leadership Institute instituting systematic change in her community. She continues to work for A Long Walk Home as part time staff and through her work, she is working to build the alumni program, mentor Girl/Friends youth leaders and contribute to change in North Lawndale community.
Régine Michelle Jean-Charles, Ph.D., is the program coordinator of the Fi/Zanmi Summer Institute for Haitian teenage girls. As a foremost Haitian-American feminist scholar and activist, Regine is trained rape crisis counselor and an active member of the Boston's Haitian community through her work with AFAB the Haitian Women's Association of Boston and Women Beyond Mountains, a group she co-founded to address the needs of Haitian women in the aftermath of the recent earthquake. Regine is also an actress who tours with the Story of a Rape Survivor (SOARS) and has been a board member of A Long Walk Home, Inc. since 2004. Régine has starred in the groundbreaking plays “VENUS” and “For Colored Girls who have Considered Suicide/When the Rainbow Isn't Enuf.” She received her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and Literatures from Harvard University in 2006 and her B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000. Her current book project, Conflict Bodies: The Politics of Rape in the Francophone Imaginary discusses the representations of sexual violence in francophone literary and cultural studies. She is an Assistant Professor of African and African Diaspora Studies and Romance Languages and Literatures at Boston College.
Maia Hubbard is an art therapy intern with the Girl/Friends Leadership Institute. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Art in Art Therapy at the School of the Art Institute Chicago. She has a passion for art and creating spaces that foster health and wellness. Realizing that she has an interest in personal narratives, Maia began honing her counseling skills through conversation with the everyday-people that she encountered. Developing her art, Maia received her undergraduate education in photography and studio art with a minor in Black World Studies at Loyola University Chicago. She was drawn to Girl/Friends because of it's arts-based platform in advocating against violence against women in an underserved community. She is learning the link between trauma and mental health, and how those two inform daily life. Using these skills, she would like to develop arts-based programming that explores collective trauma in communities of color.
Allison Ancel is an art therapy intern at A Long Walk Home’s 2013-2014 Girl/Friends Leadership Institute. She is currently an art therapy graduate student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is a 2013-2014 Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellow. In 2008, she received her BFA in Fibers from Savannah College of Art and Design. Prior to studying art therapy, Allison worked in Los Angeles and Philadelphia designing women’s tops and dresses with a focus in surface design. She is interested in applying her personal experiences and skills in fashion and textile design to her work at ALWH. Allison is passionate about helping marginalized and underserved communities empower themselves by providing opportunities for creative self-expression. Her art therapy intern experience includes working with older adults in an assisted living community, working in a community setting with adults affected by HIV/AIDs, and working with men and women in a dual diagnostic unit at a substance use treatment facility. She has also volunteered doing art-based work with various homeless shelters and mentoring programs throughout the country. At a young age, Allison began using art and poetry as a therapeutic means in her own life and believes that the process of creating art can serve as a new perspective for communication, healing, and understanding.
Nia Austin-Edwards began her dance training in Atlanta, GA at Total Dance/Dancical Productions, Inc. She majored in dance at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. She is a member of ASE Dance Theater Collective under the direction of Adia Whitaker and Jamal Jackson Dance Company. Joining A Long Walk Home, Inc. in 2009, Nia performs to Nina Simone's “Four Women” and Aretha Franklin's “Spirit in the Dark” in SOARS.
Hettie Barnhill performs for the Tony Award winning Broadway Musical FELA! as well as for her Company, The Just Movement Collective. She received her degree in Dance from Columbia College in Chicago and has received several dance scholarships, including the Young Artist Scholarship (American Dance Festival); The Wiesman Grant for her choreographic piece (Homegrown). Joining A Long Walk Home, Inc. in 2007, Hettie performs to Nina Simone's "Four Women" and Aretha Franklin's "Spirit in the Dark" in SOARS.
Logan Vaughn is a Chicago based casting director and director. Currently the Casting Associate at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, Logan has worked with several companies including Lookingglass Theatre, Court Theatre, Second City Theatre, The Cardinal Stage and Notre Dame Shakespeare Festival. Logan received her degree in Film from Columbia College Chicago and in 2008 was awarded the Goodman Theatre's prestigious Joyce Arts Fellowship in Casting. Joining A Long Walk Home, Inc. in 2004, Logan performs her self-choreographed dance to Nina Simone's “Four Women” in SOARS.
Ugochi is singer/songwriter from Chicago and Nigeria. Critics described her debut album, “African Buttafly,” as “lively, energetic music that makes your feet move and heart think.” She recently released her second album, A.S.E. (Afro Soul Effect), a riveting blend of Afrobeat, hip hop, R&B, and classic soul. She has shared the stage with established artists such as Common, Eric Benet, John Legend, and Femi Kuti. Joining A Long Walk Home, Inc. in 2003, she performs “Strange Fruit” and her own “African Buttafly” for SOARS.
Board of Directors
President, Salamishah Tillet, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Pennsylvania
Vice President, Chair of the Communication Committee, Connie Harvey, M.F.A., Senior Manager, Design Sapient
Administrative Director, Chair of the Program Committee, Regine Jean-Charles, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Boston College
Finance Director, Co-Chair of the Fundraising, Maureen Jackson, Director of Finance and Operations, Carl Stahl GmbH Worldwide Group
Co-Chair of the Fundraising Committee, Solomon Steplight IV, MSE, Founder of My Ivy Parent
LaNesha Baldwin, College Student, Illinois University Carbondale
Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D., University Professor, Georgetown University
Corey Harris¸ MBA, Engagement Manger/Consultant, Booz & Company
Scheherazade Tillet, M.A.A.T., Executive Director,
A Long Walk Home, Inc.
American Association of University Women (AAUW)
Chicago Foundation for Women
Columbia College-Center for Community Arts Partnerships
Franczek Radelet Law Firm
Ford Foundation Giving Program
The John Legend Show Me Foundation
Houlihan Smith & Company Inc.
Hewlett-Packard Corporate Giving Program
Leo S. Guthman Fund
Steans Family Foundation
Richard Donald Rodgers Charitable Foundation
The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
The Greater Tacoma Community Foundation
The Third Wave Foundation
US Cellular Corporation
Woods Funds Chicago
Dr. Cathy Cohen
Dr. Michael Eric Dyson
Dr. Melissa V. Harris-Perry
Dr. Tera W. Hunter
Dean C. Morris
Dr. Marisa Parham
Dr. Aliyyah Abdur-Rahman
Dr. Beth Ritchie
The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship
Broader Urban Involvement and Leadership Development (BUILD)
Chaturanga Holistic Fitness
Chicago Abortion Fund
Chicago Department of Public Health
Chicago Women’s Health Center
The Dream Catcher Foundation
Girl Up/United Nations Foundation
Illinois Attorney General/Office of Internet Safety
Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health
Men Can Stop Rape
Mercy Home for Boys and Girls
Moksha Yoga Studio
New York City National Organization for Women
Oak Park River Forest High School
Office of the Illinois Attorney General
Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law
The Second City Outreach & Diversity Program
Students Active for Ending Rape SAFER
Zen & Mediation Center of Chicago