Jamaica Gilmer is a strategist, storyteller, photographer, and curator who has a fifteen-year background in creating and implementing curricula. She is the founder and director of The Beautiful Project (TBP), an arts collective that centers Black women and girls as the authority over their own narratives. Her work as a storyteller and photographer allows her to capture realities that are often overlooked and misunderstood.
Jamaica helms TBP's’ curating and organizing efforts in partnership with families, organizations, and institutions. A graduate of Howard University’s John H. Johnson School of Communications, she is a highly influential speaker sharing insight across the nation as a guest lecturer, keynote, and panelist. She is the lead curator of TBP’s most recent exhibition at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Pens, Lens, and Soul: The Story of The Beautiful Project. The range of her visual storytelling can be found at www.jamaicagilmer.com. Jamaica is a passionate, bold, thought leader and one to watch as a champion for Black girls everywhere.
Erin M. Stephens is a Black feminist sociologist and educator who engages an intersectional analysis in her work and in her research. She brings her experience in program development, gender justice, youth development, research and assessment to her role as the Program Director for The Beautiful Project, an arts-based collective in North Carolina that uses photography, writing, and care to advance the wellness and representational justice of Black women and girls. She has 17 years of experience advocating for social and institutional change to better meet the needs of marginalized populations, particularly women and youth of color. Alongside her commitment to social justice, her expertise in research, education, and facilitation has provided her the opportunity to contribute to a wide range of projects, such as designing programs to support the varied experiences of women students in higher education, writing and implementing curriculum to support youth development, researching gender pay inequity, and working on various health initiatives.
Erin has a Ph.D. in Sociology from George Mason University, an MPH in Health Education and Health Behavior from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned her B.A. in Anthropology at Davidson College. Her most recent research used social media ethnography and network analysis to examine the emotional demands and consequences of Black online activism in the Movement for Black Lives. Her work can be found in the edited volumes Gender in the Twenty-First Century: The Stalled Revolution and the Road to Equality (2017; edited by Shannon N. Davis, S. Winslow and D.J. Maume) and Women, War, and Violence: Topography, Resistance, and Hope (2015; edited by Mariam R. Kurtz and Lester R. Kurtz). Erin's interests include participatory research, emotional labor, youth activism, healing, and representational justice.
As a graduate of The University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill with joint degrees in Public Policy and African American Studies, Khayla seeks work that is heavily rooted in the movement of social change for Black communities. Before she joined The Beautiful Project, Khayla implemented new ways to bridge community needs and action through her work as a Consultant at Frontline Solutions, a national Black owned consulting firm that strategically bridges philanthropy and grassroots organizations through the lens of race, gender, and place. She also served as a community outreach consultant for Doc Society’s Good Pitch Local where she helped catalyze powerful local coalitions between media-makers and social justice organizations in the state of North Carolina. In her free time, she is an arts writer and creator of culturenotesbykhayla.com, which features published articles and personal essays about music, art and life.