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Merna Ann Hecht

Board Member

Meet Merna Ann Hecht, a nationally recognized storyteller, social justice advocate, and expressive arts educator whose transformative work spans the realms of poetry, essay writing, and youth empowerment. With a passion for amplifying marginalized voices and fostering healing through storytelling, Merna's impact reverberates across communities and generations.

Merna's dedication to using poetry as a tool for healing is evident in her work with young people who have faced trauma, loss, or difficult transitions. Through arts residencies in juvenile detention centers, homeless teen shelters, and cancer research schools, she creates safe spaces for self-expression and exploration, empowering youth to reclaim their narratives and find strength in their stories.

From 2008 to 2022, Merna spearheaded the Stories of Arrival project at Foster High School, giving refugee and immigrant youth a platform to share their experiences through poetry. This initiative has since evolved into WORD TRAVELS, a dynamic program that continues to uplift refugee and immigrant voices through community partnerships and creative expression.

Merna's years of experience working with youth in major life transitions infuse her writing, teaching, and activism with a profound sense of empathy and understanding. She believes that by honoring each person's lived experience and providing them with the space to tell their stories, we can cultivate greater compassion and drive meaningful change.

Ultimately, Merna holds the hope that the deeply humane stories and poems born from these experiences will serve as catalysts for action and policy reform, promoting human rights and dignity for all. Through her tireless advocacy and unwavering commitment to amplifying voices that often go unheard, Merna continues to inspire and empower others to embrace the power of storytelling as a force for positive transformation.

Merna Ann Hecht
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