Each Hollaback! site is run by local folks who are fed up with street harassment. We love Baltimore, and that is why we want to make it better. Join the team and help make Baltimore safe for all.
Shawna Potter, Founder, Safer Space Coordinator, and Advisory Board Member
Shawna is the only child of a single mother, therefore, a feminist. She is the founder of the Baltimore chapter of Hollaback! and ran it from 2011-2015, before stepping back as an Advisory Board Member to pursue other interests and encourage other young feminists to take a leadership role. Shawna’s proudest moments have been as a member of the Transgender Response Team, by assisting in planning Transgender Day of Remembrance, organizing and participating in the Stand With Us video PSA series, and co-creating Best Practices Bulletin #1 – Survivor Services and Transgender Clients. She also co-wrote the Street Harassment Fact Sheet for MCASA with Holly Kearl of Stop Street Harassment. After organizing the first Baltimore Slutwalk in 2011, Shawna has learned much about creating spaces more welcoming for women of color, and has made a personal pledge to keep checking her privileges and to keep doing better.
In 2012, Shawna became a Worldwide Visionaries Contributing Member and participated in a panel for The Global Women’s Institute at George Washington University in DC regarding “The Role of Social Media in Ending Violence Against Women.” In 2013 she was awarded a Pollination Project grant to develop an art-empowerment program for youth in Baltimore. As a board member, she will continue to run workshops, speak on panels, and train venues for our Safer Spaces Campaign, which won a Research Associates Grant in 2014. She’s been interviewed about our Safer Spaces Program (which she co-created) in the Washington Post, New Noise, PunkNews.org, and countless blogs. She was also named a Woman to Watch in 2016 by the Baltimore Sun. Currently, Shawna screams for War On Women, is ordained to perform wedding ceremonies and runs Big Crunch Amp & Guitar Repair. TV watcher, book reader, and compulsive straightener-upper, Shawna is not satisfied waiting for the world to change.
Brittany T. Oliver is an advocate, educator, public speaker, movement connector and communicator who uses an equity lens to approach her interests within the arts, social justice and the environment. Brittany is the Digital Communications and Advocacy Manager at the Democratic Party of Maryland. Previously, she was the Police Accountability Program Coordinator and Communications Associate for four years at American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, a nonpartisan, non-profit organization dedicated to defending civil rights and liberties.
Brittany’s passion for social justice began at the age of 15, when she petitioned her high school to offer African-American classes so students like herself could learn about more about their history. A native of West Baltimore, Brittany studied visual art intensively until she went off to college to earn a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication from Towson University to use her skills to bring people together with an impetus for social change. Raised by her mother and grandmother, she grew up witnessing how society treated single Black women of inner city communities, which led to investigate the intersections of race, class and gender as the theoretical and political framework for understanding the Black woman’s condition and struggle for liberation.
Leah Michaels, Advisory Board Member
An artist, activist, and Baltimore native, Leah believes in the power of communities and art as activism, whether subtle or explicit, for creating positive change. She is currently working towards her MFA in Intermedia and Digital Art. Leah was one of the co-directors of Hollaback Baltimore! for two years and she was honored to work with so many amazing women to create safe spaces to discuss street harassment and the other ISMs plaguing our communities. As an advisory board member, Leah is happy to help anyone with event planning, social media strategies, or just grab coffee or pizza to chat. If you want to check out a feature length documentary that Leah and friend made called Rock, Rage & Self Defense, you can watch it for free here. #HexThePatriarchy
Mel has experienced street harassment since middle school and joining the movement to end it has become a therapeutic way for her to deal. She joined the Baltimore team as a volunteer in 2012 and became Director in 2013. Mel is excited to pass leadership on to two amazing activists and fulfill her new position as an Advisory Board Member while she lives abroad for the next year.
Mel has worked as an advocate and crisis counselor for victims of sexual assault, stalking, domestic violence and human trafficking in both Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD. She’s been happy to bring her professional experience and expertise to Hollaback! projects like the Safer Spaces Campaign. She has also worked closely with the Baltimore-based art activist group FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture on their project The Monument Quilt, which is a public healing space by and for survivors of rape and abuse. A survivor of rape herself, Mel has been quoted in several pieces citing the importance of the project and connecting its mission to Hollaback’s of ending street harassment. Mel completed a 65-hour Human Trafficking Assessment & Emergency Response training with the Polaris Project and a 32-hour Sexual Assault Victim Advocate Training with MCASA, as well as training courses discussing Suicide Assessment & Management (Dr. Ali Khadivi, Ph.D.), Self-Harm (RAINN), Survivors of Incest (RAINN), Trauma-Informed Care (SARC Maryland) and Mediation practices (Harford County Department of Community Services). She is also a certified Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Hospital Companion.
Mel’s latest project will be writing about feminism, social issues and her experiences as a mixed race woman. In the past, she produced and ran a podcast called The FAP Cast as a fun way to initiate feminist dialogue. Mel was also a core member of the Visions in Feminism Collective in DC from 2011 to 2013. Mel learned a lot about the difficulties of mobilizing people for direct action when she was part of Unite Women Maryland and organized the Rally Against the War On Women on April 28th, 2012. One of the coolest things to happen was having her portrait (alongside former Director Brittany Oliver) featured in Baltimore’s first mural for Stop Telling Women To Smile and to have it recently plastered on a wall in New York City. You can contact her at melanietkeller[at]gmail.com and follow her on Twitter @TheFAPCast.
Joyell Arvella, Advisory Board Member
Joyell is a racial and gender justice strategist, doula, and womanist who works with grassroots efforts and organizations to advocate with underrepresented communities. Part of her story as a survivor of sexual assault and harassment motivates her to show up for other women and girls of color. She previously worked at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, where she strategized with global NGOs and grassroots activists for effective judicial remedies to address violence against women and girls. She has volunteered with various women’s rights and racial justice organizations in Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Egypt, and Palestine. She utilizes her legal and public interest skills to address the intersections of race/ethnicity, equity, violence against women and girls, incarceration, mental health, and environmental justice. Joyell received her Bachelor of Arts degree, with a concentration in Black Studies, from Washington College and her Juris Doctor degree from New England Law | Boston, where she focused on civil rights and international human rights law.
Wanna bring Hollaback! Baltimore to your campus, group, or conference? Email us at [email protected].
Shawna Potter, founder and board member of Hollaback! Bmore, has been speaking publicly about street harassment, bystander intervention, and safer spaces all over the east coast. Check out what others have been saying:
- “…it was fantastic to receive more information from someone on the front lines. We greatly appreciate you taking the time out to come talk to us. ” – Rebecca, Sexual Assault Peer Educator at Towson University
- “It was such a wonderful presentation and I think everyone got a lot out of it.” – Melissa, Counseling Center Graduate Assistant, Towson University
- “[Our] volunteers spent a good 5-10 minutes talking about how much they loved your presentation & discussion after we re-convened, and how they want to get involved in projects that Hollaback! is facilitating going forward” – Alex, Site Director, Notre Dame-AmeriCorps Program
- “Thanks SO much for coming out to talk with us. LOVED the part about how men can be allies as well.” – Jodie, Director, Repair the World: Baltimore