The Taskforce is coordinated by Claudia Garcia-Rojas and Mariame Kaba.

It was founded by two leaders in the fields of organizing and violence against women & girls.

Mariame Kaba is the founding director of  Project NIA, an organization dedicated to addressing the needs of youth in conflict with the law.  Mariame has been active in the anti-violence against women and girls movement since 1989. Her experience includes coordinating emergency shelter services at Sanctuary for Families in New York City, serving as the co-chair of the Women of Color Committee at the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network, working as the prevention and education manager at Friends of Battered Women and their Children, serving on the founding advisory board of the Women and Girls Collective Action Network and being a member of Incite! Women of Color against Violence.  Mariame was also a member of the editorial board of the journal Violence against Women from January 2003-December 2008.  She is the co-editor (along with Michelle VanNatta) of a special issue of the journal about teen girls’ experiences of and resistance to violence published in December 2007.   Mariame is a founding member of the Chicago Freedom School and served as its founding board chair until December 2010.  Mariame has been honored with several awards including the Moxie Award from Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Community Advocate of the Year Award from the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network.

Melissa Spatz, who serves as the staffperson for the Taskforce, is a writer, trainer and consultant, who has focused her work on ending violence against women and girls.  From 2004 – early 2010, Melissa served as the founding Executive Director of the Women & Girls Collective Action Network, an organization that focuses on issues of violence against women and girls, and which served as the primary sponsor of the Status of Girls in Illinois report.  She brings 20 years experience in the area of violence against women, as a legal services attorney, community organizer, trainer and writer.   In Chicago, she has worked as an attorney at the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago and at LifeSpan, specializing in cases of domestic violence.  She also worked as a community organizer and co-Executive Director at Blocks Together, a grassroots organization in West Humboldt Park.  She was a founding board member of the Chicago Freedom School, a founding member of the  Chicago Alliance for Racial Equity, and is currently a founding advisory board member for Project NIA.  She is the author of At a Crossroads: Youth Organizing in the Midwest, and co-author of Communities Engaged in Resisting Violence, a guide to innovative grassroots anti-violence strategies in Chicago.  You can contact Melissa at chitaskforce@gmail.com.

Together, Melissa and Mariame coordinated the Status of Girls in Illinois report, and served as two of the report’s three authors, together with Michelle VanNatta.

EDITORIAL COMMITTEE:  The Occasional Papers series is led and reviewed by the following members of the Editorial Committee:

  • Veronica Precious Bohanan, co-Founder, Aqua Moon
  • Mariame Kaba, Executive Director, Project NIA; co-founder, Chicago Taskforce
  • Sharmili Majmudar, Executive Director, Rape Victim Advocates
  • Melissa Spatz, Consultant; co-founder & coordinator, Chicago Taskforce
  • Michelle VanNatta, Director of Criminology, Dominican University

RESEARCH TEAM: A team of researchers reviewed laws and policies, and conducted interviews with institutional representatives, to help inform the policy recommendations of the Taskforce.

  • Michelle Borman, Loyola University Law School
  • Claudia Garcia-Rojas, Advisory Board member, AREA Chicago
  • Tess Feldman, Loyola University Law School
  • Matt Graham, Board Member, National Organization of Women, Chicago Chapter
  • Jane Hereth, YWCA of Metropolitan Chicago
  • Emily Magnuson, Loyola University Law School