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, is one of the rising feminist activists and leader of her generation. At the age of twenty-four years old, she co-founded A Long Walk Home, Inc. (ALWH). She is currently Executive Director of the organization and a movement leader in the NoVo Foundationʼs Move to End Violence initiative to end violence against girls and women in the United States. 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 and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in 2000, Scheherazade began Story of a Rape Survivor (SOARS). Scheherazadeʼs SOARS photographs are featured in two award-winning human rights documentaries, “NO! The Rape Documentary” and “Rape Is…” Scheherazade earned a Master of Art Therapy from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2005. Later, she began working as an art therapist at Chicagoʼs leading organization to end sexual violence, the YWCA Metropolitan of Chicago. Scheherazadeʼs creative community solutions earned her the prestigious Face History and Ourselves “Upstanders” Award, Chicago Foundation for Women’s Impact Award and the Moxie Award for Excellence and Creativity from Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Along with her sister, Salamishah, she was a finalist for Glamour Magazineʼs “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, an HIV prevention organization in Chicago and is co- founder of African-American Art Therapy Forum. She is currently working on a photography projects, “This is What a Feminist Looks Like” in Chicago.
Dr. Salamishah Tillet, As a rape survivor, scholar, and writer, Dr. Salamishah Tillet has spent her career championing the rights and voices of our most vulnerable citizens. Nominated by Glamour magazine as a “Women of the Year” and named as one of the “Top 50 Global Leaders Ending Violence Against Children” by the Together for Girls’ Safe magazine and America’s “Top Leaders Under 30” by Ebony, she has appeared on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and NPR, written for The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, and The Root and guest blogs for The Nation. Currently, she is an associate professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania and has faculty appointments in the Africana Studies and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. In 2003, Salamishah and her sister, Scheherazade Tillet, co-founded A Long Walk Home, Inc., a non-profit that uses art therapy and the visual and performing arts to end violence against all girls and women – which Gloria Steinem describes as “a gift” that “beautifully blends art, policy, and grassroots organizing to empower our most vulnerable and voiceless Americans.” Salamishah was also an associate producer of Aishah Shahidah Simmons’s groundbreaking “NO! The Rape Documentary” and featured in the award-winning “Rape Is...” by Cambridge Documentary Films. She is the author of Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination (Duke University Press, 2012), a book that Henry Louis Gates, Jr. calls “an original contribution” and “a dazzling analysis of the many ways slavery lives in the contemporary imagination and colors our past, present, and future.” In 2011, she wrote the liner notes for the three-time Grammy-award winning album, Wake Up!, by John Legend and The Roots. In 2013, she published “Gloria Steinem: The Kindle Singles Interview” with Amazon and she is currently working on a book on the Civil Rights icon, Nina Simone. She earned her Ph.D. in the History of American Civilization and A.M. in English and American Literature from Harvard University and her Masters in the Art of Teaching from Brown University. She has her B.A. in English and African American Studies from the University of Pennsylvania, from which she graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. In 2010, she was awarded the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for Distinguished Teaching by an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania. In 2010-11, she was the recipient of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Fellow for Career Enhancement and served as a visiting fellow at the Center of African American Studies at Princeton University. In 2013-14, she was invited to be an inaugural member of the Project of the Advancement of Our Common Humanity, a think tank at New York University to focus on our crisis of connection and creating a more just and humane world. She is also a Scholar-in-Residence at the New York Public Library’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
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.
Sangeetha Ravichandran, Girl/Friends Program Coordinator. Sangeetha is 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. Here she envisioned and co-created the “Redrawing Resistance”, an art show that traveled through United States, India and Canada starting from Queen's Museum, NY showcasing the resilience of South Asian survivors of Domestic Violence. Through this she learned culturally sensitive ways of translating her western education into the community that she was serving. From this emerged her research and bilingual thesis on examining empowerment and resilience through an intersectional analysis with survivors of Domestic Violence in India. She has presented on the topic in multiple conferences in the United States, India and Canada. 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.
Johannil Napoleón, MAAT, is the Executive Assistant of A Long Walk Home. As a Black multicultural woman (Dominican Haitian), she moved to Chicago in 2011 to purse her Masters Degree in Art Therapy at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). During her studies there, she was the Art Therapy intern at Loretto Hospital, offering art therapy to adult men and women with diverse histories of trauma, behavioral issues, and mental disorder. Her interests in women's health, women's rights, intersectionality, trauma, and working with survivors of sexual violence led her to work at A Long Walk Home in 2012. She has worked as the Art Therapy intern and the Girl/ Friends Assistance Coordinator. Upon graduating, in 2013, she became the Executive Assistant of A Long Walk Home. Also, during her time at SAIC, she founded SPEAK: Empowering Students to Use Their Voice- a student run organization of artists and leaders who create projects to educate and bring awareness about sexual violence to the community of SAIC. Her passion is to specifically continue to advocate for survivors of sexual violence through education, community engagement, counseling, social activism, and the arts.
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.
Sarah Colomè, M.S., is the SOARS Booking Director for A Long Walk Home, Inc., and a passionate advocate whose areas of interest include violence risk-reduction, community and sexual health, education, and identity. Currently, Sarah serves on the Chicago Women's Health Center's Board of Directors, the Volunteer Committee for Rape Victim Advocates, and as a volunteer Medical Advocate offering crisis counseling to sexual assault survivors at Chicagoland hospitals. Graduating in 2012 with her M.S. in Public Service Management, Sarah's research focused on sexual assault education, which included conducting the first cumulative assessment of sexual violence rates at DePaul, and simultaneously analyzing the risk factors specifically related to first-generation students. Sarah previously served 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 she 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, debater, and conference presenter. 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.
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 is a Broadway entertainer, mentor & choreographer. Since 2006, Hettie has cast member is in SOARS. Currently recording her debut album titled "Stories of Vy Dixon", her single "Rock Out" is available for digital download. Hettie was last seen performing in the production "Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark" on Broadway. She debuted on Broadway three years ago as an original cast member in the three time Tony Award winning production of "FELA!", a musical directed and choreographed by Bill T. Jones and book by Jim Lewis, based on the life and music of the late Nigerian singer Fela Kuti. Her second original cast Broadway show was the Tony Award nominated production "Leap Of Faith". A musical based on the 1992 movie "Leap of Faith" starring Steve Martin. Directed by Christopher Ashley and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, with music by Alan Menken. Off stage, Hettie uses her art as therapy for people in need. She also volunteers her time through organizations such as Broadway Serves, an organization devoted to providing opportunities for community service to Broadway and theater professionals, and Wonder Women, whose mission is to raise awareness and provide women with opportunities for professional, personal and community development. Hettie is a recurring featured professional at The Mohonk Mountain House, A National Historic Landmark in Upstate NY. During a themed Couples Romantic Getaway hosted by Mohonk she uses the art of dance to improve communication within couples, keeping the flame bright as well as providing evening entertainment.
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
Elizabeth Méndez Berry, Program Officer, Surdna Foundation
Michael Eric Dyson, Ph.D., University Professor, Georgetown University
Corey Harris¸ MBA, Engagement Manger/Consultant, Booz & Company
Solomon Steplight IV, MSE, Financial Director, City of Hoboken
Scheherazade Tillet, M.A.A.T., Executive Director,
A Long Walk Home, Inc.
Chloe Wayne, Manager of Finance and Planning, The Museum of Modern Art
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