Jessica Danforth is the founder of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network, the first and only organization of its kind by and for Indigenous youth working across issues of sexual and reproductive health, rights, and justice throughout the United States and Canada. She has spent more than half her life mobilizing individuals, families, and communities alike to reclaim their ancestral rights to self-determine decisions over their own bodies and spaces.
Jessica is currently serving as the Youth Coordinator for the National Indigenous Youth Council on HIV/AIDS, and she is the most recent past co-chair for the North America region for the Global Indigenous Youth Caucus at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. She is a member of a number of national and international boards and collectives including SisterSong Women of Color for Reproductive Justice Collective, Youth RISE International Harm Reduction Network, and Critical Ethnic Studies Steering Committee as well as member of their Alternatives to the Academic Industrial Complex sub-committee.
She is a strong believer in the power of youth voice and agency, and you can see her writing on sites like Racialicious, or watch her monologues about activism and justice on TV Ontario. She is the editor of two books; "Sex Ed and Youth: Colonization, Communities of Color, and Sexuality" and "Feminism For Real: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism." She is also currently writing sexual health articles for Indian Country Today.
Jessica is passionate about restoring rites of passage and coming of age ceremonies, and building alternatives to increased youth criminalization and incarceration.
Contact Jessica Danforth at:
Awards and recognitions:
Jessica is a recipient of the YWCA Young Woman of Distinction award, a National Aboriginal Role Model for the National Aboriginal Health Organization, named one of 20 International Women's Health Heroes by Our Bodies/Our Blog, the recipient of the national Harmony Movement award for her work in anti-oppression and equity, and awarded the Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Youth Entrepreneur Award for her founding of the Native Youth Sexual Health Network. She was the 10th anniversary "Distinguished Visitor" to Women's Studies at the University of Windsor and the youngest person to ever be appointed in this role. She is the recipient of the National Youth Advocacy award from the Assembly of First Nations - National Indigenous Youth Council, Young Eagles award for Youth Leadership in Indigenous HIV/AIDS activism, and was most recently the recipient of the Native Leadership and Community Service Award.