Jennifer Pagán, Co-Director
Jennifer Pagán is a yoga practitioner, healing artist, educator, facilitator and movement builder from Chicago, IL. Jennifer is a co-founder of the #LetUsBreathe Collective and currently directs the #BreathingRoom Space, the organization’s movement building community center and liberation oasis on the South Side of Chicago. Pagán taught Middle School Literacy at Village Leadership Academy from 2018-2020 and coordinated a historic student-led grassroots campaign that changed the name of Douglas Park, originally named after infamous slaveholder and slavery advocate Stephen Douglas, to Anna & Frederick Douglass Park, honoring the abolitionist freedom fighters. Pagán co-created Black Abolitionist Network (BAN) and launched the #DefundCPD Campaign where she led arts & propaganda efforts and facilitated grounding & centering work for the wider campaign. She believes in healing as a vehicle for transformative change.
Kwamena Jackson, Co-Director
Kwamena Jackson is a freelancing farmer and chef striving to restore harmony between people and its ecosystem by establishing sovereign food spaces and being a responsible land steward. She has been stewarding the #BreathingRoom Gardens & Farm, a green healing and liberation oasis operated by the #LetUsBreatheCollective and Su Casa Catholic Worker. As a Co-Director of the #LetUsBreathe Collective’s #EverybodyEats program, Kwamena has grown and cooked countless meals to nourish people’s bodies and souls through local community events and citywide mutual aid efforts like the Farm. Food. Familias program.
Kristiana Rae Colón, Co-Founder
Kristiana Rae Colón is a poet, playwright, actor, educator, producer, curator, creator of #BlackSexMatters, co-director of the #LetUsBreathe Collective, the inaugural Sam Roberson Fellow at Congo Square Theater, and writer on seasons 4 and 5 of The Chi.
Kristiana’s writing, producing, and organizing work to radically reimagine power structures, our complicity in them, and visions for liberation. Her current work explores Afrofuturist media as a catalyst for social change. A foundational premise of her organizing is that artists are the vanguard of revolution, that it is the social duty of creatives to envision, imagine, rehearse, design, and embody our liberated future; we cannot achieve alternatives to the existing harmful, violent systems and institutions if we can’t first imagine them. Liberation is a curatorial act, a creative act; revolution is inherently speculative in nature. Through science fiction, Afrofuturism, and speculative media, we create opportunities to rehearse the future together.
Damon A. Williams, Co-Founder
Damon A. Williams is a movement builder, organizer, hip-hop performing artist, educator and media maker from the South Side of Chicago. Following the Ferguson uprising, Williams wanted to transplant the experiences from the front lines of the resistance, continuing to organize direct actions and community enrichment events throughout Chicago. In the summer of 2020, Damon co-created the Black Abolitionist Network (BAN) and launched #DefundCPD, a mass redistributive campaign aiming to redirect power and resources away from the Chicago Police Department. Damon is also the co-host of AirGo, a radio show and podcast showcasing culture workers reshaping Chicago and beyond.
Alexy is a full time garden educator and Full time photojournalist. As a garden educator, she works with cps students and After School Matters to educate the youth on how to tend to their school gardens. As a photojournalist, she captures stills of nature and nature based portraiture with intentions to bring nature inside a home or gallery. She recognizes that there is healing involved when you work with the land when you're stewarding it or even viewing it. And it’s her intention to inspire others to embrace that healing and get the opportunity to get their hands dirty because it has changed her life.
Xiomara Rodriguez, Tribe Volunteer
I am a community journalist, organizer, artist, and ever evolving human being born and raised in Humboldt Park. What initially drew me to #LetUsBreathe Collective was my passion for imagining a world without prisons and police, and the yearning I had to be in community with people who were truly committed to creating that world together. I love being able to connect with community members to have conversations about what a world without prisons and police would look like, and getting to talk about what we do at the #BreathingRoom space as an example. What has made this collective a home/family for me is the model/values behind all the organizing work we do that centers community, healing, creating, and the leadership/empowerment of Black and indigenous folks. In my work organizing specifically against U.S. colonialism in Puerto Rico we talk a lot about how cultural affirmation is our resistance. With #LetUsBreathe collective whether we’re doing food distributions, holding events, creating art, connecting in the garden, etc. everything is an affirmation that we are what we need, and together we can build a liberated world. I love organizing with #LetUsBreathe collective, because of the emphasis we put on presence as a way to actively co-create a world where prisons, police, anti-Blackness, colonialism, patriarchy and all systems of oppression are eradicated/obsolete.