12 Female & Non-Binary Activists Crusading For Social Change In 2018

Activists you should know
PHOTO: @WINONALADUKE AND @SARAHHERRON ON INSTAGRAM

The future isn't just female — it's femme and non-binary, too. 

Read on for brief introductions to a dozen activists and activist groups who are working in various fields on behalf of diverse representation, environmental justice, care for survivors, and beyond.

Tashmica Torok
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Tashmica Torok

Torok is the founder and executive director of The Firecracker Foundation, a nonprofit that aids survivors of abuse (specifically childhood sexual trauma). A survivor herself, Torok and her team provide yoga, advocacy, and therapy while welcoming those who are hurting into a supportive community of mentors.

Mindi Messmer

Mindi Messmer

Messmer, a trained scientist, "never expected to become a politician," she writes on her website. But after discovering that several towns in her New Hampshire community had unusually high rates of pediatric cancer — an issue that the state did little to amend — she decided to run for office. 

In 2016, Messmer was elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives with a platform centered around cancer prevention and has since helped launch the New Hampshire Safe Water Alliance to protect local drinking water. 

Oh, and she's running for Congress this year. (HELL YES.)

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Bluelaces Theater Company

Founded by five women and non-binary people, Bluelaces puts on theatrical productions for individuals with autism and other developmental differences (as well as their caregivers) that create “immersive, multi-sensory environments.” All productions are donation-based, so no one is ever turned away.  

Sarah Herron

Sarah Herron

Herron is using her newfound reality show fame — "Bachelor in Paradise," anyone? — to organize outdoor retreats for those with physical differences and disabilities. That’s what her nonprofit SheLift is all about: Empowering women to surpass their mental and physical boundaries and conquer their goals together in nature. Through this organization, Herron's showing young women with disabilities that there’s no mountain they can’t face. (Literally.)

Dhonielle Clayton (pictured) and Ellen Oh

Dhonielle Clayton (pictured) and Ellen Oh

These incredible ladies, both of whom are authors, have started a much-needed movement with We Need Diverse Books, a grassroots organization that's pushing for more diverse characters in children's books. 

Jess Jacobs (pictured) and Audrey Rosenberg

Jess Jacobs (pictured) and Audrey Rosenberg

Jacobs and Rosenberg, a philanthropist/actor and Emmy-nominated producer (respectively), are committed to bringing stories of underrepresented people and groups to the forefront of film and TV via Invisible Pictures. While it's still a young production company, Jacobs and Rosernberg already got some major projects in the works, including a movie about Rosa Parks' early activism.

Winona LaDuke

Winona LaDuke

LaDuke is the founder of White Earth Land Recovery Project and program director of Honor The Earth. Working within indigenous communities, she's been at the forefront of many Native environmental issues — including the Dakota Access Pipeline — and aims to empower Native communities to make strong, sustainable choices about development and renewable energy.

Abolish Article 153
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Abolish Article 153

Alanoud Alsharek, Lulu M Al Sabah, Sheikha Al Nafisi, Amira Behbehani and Sundus Hamza are leading a campaign against article 153, a section of Kuwait's penal code that essentially allows men to regulate women in their life as they see fit, often violently. 

"Ultimately our goal is to create a safe environment where mothers, daughters, sisters and wives are protected from all forms of violence, to raise awareness of these violent practices and the legislation that sanctions them, and ensure the creation of safe houses for women under threat of violence, which are lacking in Kuwait," they write on their website.

Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart
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Rev. Naomi Washington-Leapheart

Washington-Leapheart is a spiritual leader and the Faith Work Director for the National LGBTQ Task Force, the country's oldest LGBTQ equality group, where she's advocated for LGBTQ rights and helped create a faith-led movement for everyone regardless of sexuality or gender. Washington-Leapheart is also shaping the next generation of activists as an adjunct faculty member at Villanova University.

Dr. Nicole McGrath
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Dr. Nicole McGrath

In 2007, McGrath founded the KinderSmile Foundation to provide free dental care to underserved children and make sure dental care is included in Early Childhood Services programs. As of 2014, she's given more than 8,000 kids something to smile about.

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