Founded in 2003, A Long Walk Home, Inc. (ALWH) is a Chicago-based national non-profit that uses art to educate, inspire, and mobilize young people to end violence against girls and women.
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 Foundation’s Move to End Violence initiative to end violence against girls and women in the United States. In 2013, she was nominated by Gloria Steinem for Chicago Foundation for Women’s Impact Awards. 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 documentaries, “NO! The Rape Documentary” and “Rape Is…” As Executive Director of A Long Walk Home, she also 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 is currently working on national photography project about Black Girlhood.
Scheherazade earned a Master of Art Therapy from the prestigious School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2003. Later, she began working as an art therapist at Chicagoʼs leading organization to end sexual violence, the YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago. Scheherazade was the only rape crisis counselor in the Westside of Chicago Lawndale area. Scheherazadeʼs creative community solutions earned her the prestigious Face History and Ourselves “Upstanders” Award, the Moxie Award for Excellence and Creativity from Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ICASA) and recently, she the Bright Promise Foundation’s The Ed Marciniak Bright Star Award for her long-time work in the area of childhood trauma.
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.
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 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.
Marline Johnson, is an art therapy intern at A Long Walk Home’s 2014-2015 Girl/Friends Leadership Institute. She is currently an art therapy graduate student at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In 2008, she was a POSSE Scholarship Award recipient, which funded her undergraduate studies to Connecticut College, where she received her bachelors in Psychology. To grow stronger in the face of the obstacles in her life, she used drawing and poetry to help her conceptualize and cope with these experiences. She is interested in applying her personal experiences and skills in poetry and performance to enhance to her work at ALWH. Marline is passionate about helping marginalized and underserved communities empower themselves by providing opportunities for self-expression. Her art therapy internship experiences include co-facilitating SPARCS (Structured Psychotherapy for Adolescents Responding to Chronic Stress) group in public schools on Chicago’s South and Westside with adolescents living with complex trauma.
Cassie Snyder, a graduate student at DePaul University studying Relational Communication and Women & Gender Studies, is an Girl/Friends Program Assistant at A Long Walk Home. A proud Chicago resident for the past 5 years, Cassie attended DePaul University for her undergraduate degree as well, where she found much strength and healing through being involved with The Vagina Monologues. During her time performing and directing The Vagina Monologues, Cassie was able to became an advocate for the power of healing and creating systemic change through the arts. Ever since then, she has integrated practices of theater, spoken word, yoga and slam poetry as a medium to help survivors take ownership of their past, present and future. She has worked at The Women's Center at DePaul for over 2 years, which is an office that helps put on events that raise awareness on transnational and intersectional feminist issues. Cassie is also currently DePaul's Sexual Health and Violence Prevention Intern, which allows her to present to different student organizations about STD testing, consent, bystander intervention, healthy relationships, and how to identify relationship violence and sexual assault. While specializing in Feminist theorizing in Romantic Communication during graduate school, Cassie also is an Ozanam Scholar, which allows her to accompany her graduate studies with 300 hours of service each year to help support survivors of sexual violence in the Chicago community. Her passion is to continue performing in theater productions that raise awareness on issues of domestic violence and sexual abuse, as well as continue to support survivors and allies through teaching, listening, social activism, writing, and the arts to help end violence against women.
Brittani Jordan, NLCP Alumni, is a photographer and creative writer and is currently a sophomore at Harold Washington College studying journalism in Chicago, IL. Since 2010, She has been a youth leader in A Long Walk Home’s Girl/Friends Leadership Institute, an art based leadership program that trains teen girls to leaders in their school and community to end violence against women and girls. She is a survivor of child sexual abuse. Originally, she joined Girl/Friends’ at the age of 15 years old in order to help her teen friend who is a survivor of sexual assault. Since that time, Brittani has educated her family and involved her parents in the Parent Leadership Institute to institute systematic change in her community. She has spoken at conferences, schools, documentaries and radio shows about ending violence for women and girls. Her work In 2012, she organized an anti-street harassment march for teens in her North Lawndale, Chicago community and has been featured in Holly Kearl’s “50 Stories about Stopping Harassers”. She is currently working with on a collaborative project between A Long Walk Home, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), and NPR to create a citywide campaign anti-street harassment on public transportation. She is also the chair of the Girl/Friends Alumni program, a national network of Girl/Friends alum, who are working to create gender equity and end sexual assault on their college campuses.
Johannil Napoleon, MAAT is currently the art therapy intern for A Long Walk Home’s 2012-2013 Girl/Friends Leadership Institute. She is finishing her master’s degree in art therapy at School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) and is also student member of the American Art Therapy Association. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Art from Berea College in Berea, KY. Her service to communities has focused on justice, education, and volunteer work. As a multicultural woman of color (Haitian and Dominican) Johannil is determined to grow the Art Therapy field by producing work by and about people of color. She has worked in the Expressive Therapies department at Loretto Hospital, offering art therapy to adult men and women with diverse histories of trauma, behavioral issues, and mental disorders.
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