Youth Development

Ivy has spent decades teaching in after school programs with the aim to offer elements of education that are too often excluded from the regular school day curriculum. 

She received a degree in Education with a minor in Creative Writing from the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, where she absorbed the teachings of thinkers such as Paolo Freire, bell hooks, Carol Gilligan, Drucilla Cornell, Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Myles Horton, and a host of radical education pioneers who steadfastly developed methodologies and student-centered learning techniques. She also began a Masters Degree Program in Cultural Anthropology and Social Transformation at CIIS, where she learned about Participatory Action Research Methods that now inform her work.

Ivy employs the power of small group work to usher communities towards a safer world for girls, women, and people of all gender identities and expressions to do their work and to walk without fear in freedom, creativity and love.

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Girls Sit Screaming

Screening the “Girls Sit Screaming” music video in middle schools, high schools, libraries and community centers around the country has been a dream come true for me, as Youth Development, Girls' Empowerment, Community Organizing & Music have been my passions for the last 20 years, and through this project, they all come together under one umbrella!

Screening the video serves as a catalyst for conversations about how to foster girls’ empowerment and gender equity and create community-specific after school programs.

Ivy’s music video, Ivy’s teaching, and Ivy herself are all amazing. She presented to our Women’s Studies class and the students immediately connected to her. They were deeply engaged, sharing personal stories, feelings, and insights. She asked targeted questions to allow the students to develop ideas about sexism and gender stereotyping themselves. And they did! Ivy’s lesson brought out the highest levels of thoughtful participation we saw that semester. Months later they are still reflecting about how great an experience it was.”
— Lauryl Grimes, Trillium Charter School, Portland Oregon
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Keepers of wonder

After years of teaching after-school programs designed to foster and encourage art, music, literacy, girls’ empowerment, yoga, and anti-bullying at well-established after-school organizations like the Boys’ and Girls’ Club and the YMCA, I started organizing youth to invent independent after-school programs that would be custom tailored to their needs as they expressed them. 

This is how The Keepers of Wonder was born. As a result of teaching body image and songwriting workshops at the WEB (Women’s Empowerment Breakthrough) Conference in Prescott, Arizona in Yavapai County, I came to understand that it was a community struggling with high numbers of unwanted teen pregnancy and drug abuse.  So I organized a town meeting for girls ages 10-17. 

Based on the ideas and needs of the girls who showed up, we created The Keepers of Wonder.  KOW met weekly after school and collaboratively designed site-specific performances and installations around Prescott with the idea of sparking critical thinking and little glimmers of magic, hope, and wonder in the community.

K.O.W. has helped me return to looking through the eyes of possibility and see wonder everywhere, in everything I do.
— Kayla Mueller
After a long agonizing week at high school KOW is like the lighthouse. It replenishes my creativity and leads me to my creative center, to last the rest of the week.
— Chloe
The Keepers of Wonder has helped me to be more creative inside and outside of the group. The whole idea of the group is just so imaginative that it sparked some of my artistic abilities again and I’m very grateful for that.
— Soyun
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body image workshops

Who decides what is beautiful and why? These are among the questions I ask young women ages 10-18 to fire up the critical thinking process that is so necessary to move beyond damaging mainstream constructs of beauty.

Since 2003, I have been conducting body image workshops for girls and women in a variety of settings. Using powerful and effective experiential activities and small group work, I aim to cultivate creative critical thought and profound self-love to move beyond limiting standards of beauty in order to forge ahead and create a world in which girls and women are not objectified, but rather respected, heard, believed, and valued for their unique contributions.  I imagine a world in which we all can find refuge from harmful images and practices in mainstream media within a culture of vibrant and caring adults who embody self-love and acceptance.

Your approach to helping our females realize their true beauty and full potential is something our female members extremely needed. Our pre-teen and teen female club members are more often than not negatively influenced from peers, media, and images they see everyday. It was refreshing to see you come in and inspire and motivate our young ladies.
— Olivia Fernandez, Program Director Treasure Island Unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of San Francisco, 2005
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