Iresha Picot, M.Ed, BSL (Co-Editor, The Mama that Yelled: Black Mothering Through Depression)

Iresha Picot, M.Ed, LBS is the co-editor of “The Color of Hope: People of Color Mental Health Narratives”. She is a Pennsylvania Licensed Behavior Specialist and Outpatient Therapist. Iresha has a B.A. in African American Studies and Sociology from Virginia Commonwealth University, an M.Ed in Urban Education from Temple University, with a concentration in School to Community Partnerships, and a Post-Graduate certification in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arcadia University. Iresha is currently under supervision to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

Throughout her academic and professional career, Iresha has received a multitude of rewards and honors including two “Black History in the Making Awards” from Virginia Commonwealth University, a “Black Women Rising” award from Black Women’s Blueprint and Leeway’s “Art and Change Grant” in 2011.  Iresha has articles published in the “Research for Teaching English”, “For Harriet”, “Aunt Chloe: Spelman’s Literary Journal”, “Elephant Journal”, “Specter Magazine” and a co-written Black Feminist 12 point platform, “What Sistas Want, What Sistas Need” in Barbara Smith’s “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around”.

Iresha is the creator of the “Summer for the Sisters” project and is also a birth doula. Her website is

Vanessa Hazzard (Co-Editor, A Complicated Normal)
Vanessa Hazzard is an internationally trained massage and bodyworker, writer, and healing arts educator. Over the past twelve years, Vanessa has studied in a variety of areas in the wellness industry including Yoga for Trauma and Addiction with the Transformation Yoga Project and Traditional Thai Massage at International Training Massage School (ITM) in Chiang Mai, Thailand. She has had her poetry and narratives featured in Elephant JournalFor Harriet, Soar, Blavity, Adios Barbie, Recovering Yogi, The Mighty and Apiary Magazine’s The Hive. Vanessa is also a member of the Recovery Advisory Board at Belmont Behavioral Health in Philadelphia, PA.

Living with bipolar disorder, Vanessa aims to educate wellness professionals and the general public on mental illness by developing/facilitating trauma-informed yoga and massage classes. Her goal is to provide the space and tools necessary for participants to develop mindfulness, discipline and strength from the inside out.
Instagram & Twitter: @NessaFromEarth

Rasheedah Phillips, Esq. (Foreward) , Lawyer and Author


Maurice Stevens (The Patient Prisoner)
Maurice is a Poet, Author, Playwright and Entrepreneur. He’s also a member of Living on Vital Emotion writers group, which believes that: “In striving for growth, evolution one must never claim to know what they think, nor claim to think what they know.” Words that he lives by. Maurice is a native of Philadelphia, PA and is currently incarcerate din the Pennsylvania State Correctional system, S.C.I. Fayette. His forthcoming work will include “Clipped Wings” and “Still Walking”, books of poetry as well as a play entitled: “Corner Boy”.
He can be contacted at:
Maurice Stevens
P.O. Box 999
50 Overlook Drive
LaBelle, PA 15450

Yolanda Ayesha (Close to Happy)


Tajsha Lewis (Interview)


Misia Denea (Mind Chatter) 
Misia Denéa has a B.F.A in Dance from Temple University’s Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance, and also graduated from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition and the Raw Food Institute. She is the owner/founder of Hatha Holistic Integrative Wellness. Her mission is to Coach, Heal, and Transform women who want to shift their relationship to themselves and cultivate holistic habits to feel sexy, vibrant, and liberated with yoga, meditation, and mindful eating. She has lead yoga trainings, dance workshops and retreats at yoga studios, Universities & Colleges, throughout the US and in the Caribbean/Latin America.

Ev Reheard (Black and White Rabbits)
Ev discusses what it is like to live with borderline personality disorder with This is My Brave.


Nichole Webb (Interview)

Nathaniel Butler (Mental Health, Pain: Where We Meet Face to Face)
Nathaniel Butler (KZ8135) is a writer, currently incarcerated in one of Pennsylvania’s State Prison.

Lydia Kirkland (Interview)
Lydia Kirkland currently lives in Pine Hill, NJ. She has a Bachelors in Psychology from Rutgers University and is currently working toward her Masters in Admin. of Human Services at Wilmington University. She has been working in the human service field for 19 years. She is the founder of Filling Buckets for Brianna; a NJ Nonprofit Corporation. She is also a single mother and believes that is her most important job.

Natasha C. Davis (Sleeping Beauty, Watch Me, What’s It Like?)
Natasha was diagnosed with learning disabilities when she was 3 years old. She has had difficulties with struggling with depression and narcolepsy. As a teenager, she was diagnosed with Aspergers (Autism).

Rosa Clemente (Not Ready to Die But Wanting to Die: Depression, Hip Hop and the Death of Chris Lighty)

Rosa Clemente, a native of the South Bronx, is one of the most raw, honest, political, social, and cultural voices in the country. From Harvard to prisons, Rosa has spent her life dedicated to scholar activism. She is currently a doctoral student in the W.E.B. Dubois department of UMASS-Amherst. Throughout her scholarly career, Rosa has been a constant on the ground presence through the many political struggles facing Black and Latinx people in the 21st century.

Rosa is the president and founder of Know Thy Self Productions, which has produced four major community activism tours and consults on issues such as Hip-Hop activism, media justice, voter engagement among youth of color, third party politics, intercultural relations between Black and Latinx, immigrants’ rights as an extension of human rights, and universal healthcare. She is a frequent guest on television, radio and online media, as her opinion on critical current events is widely sought after.

Rosa is a leading scholar on the issues of Afro-Latinx identity. Her groundbreaking article, Who is Black?, published in 2001, was the catalyst for many discussions regarding Blackness in the Latinx culture. She continues to discuss cultural identity, political identity and racial identity in and out of the academy.

Rosa has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships. She has written forEbony, Clamor Magazine, The Black World Today, The Final Call, The Ave. Magazine, and numerous websites.

She has been the subject of articles in The New York Times, The Nation, The Progressive, The Village Voice, Urban Latino, Essence, Latina, Vibe, The Huffington Post,and many other publications.

Rosa ran for Green Party Vice President in the 2008 U.S. election. Along with Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, the pair became the first women of color ticket in American History.

Khalil Bennett (My Story)
While incarcerated, Khalil went through a world/self-analysis very similar to Malcolm X, Kody “Monster” Scott, and Stanley “Tooki” Williams though the process of reading, writing, observing, but most importantly from extremely influential mentors from strong movements that fought for freedom. Due to his transformation; He suffered numerous physical, mental and spiritual attacks by facility staff members if the Department of Corrections. Subsequently, he has been in several control units (segregated units) around the state spending over 12 years in isolation units altogether. Khalil is now a devoted and dedicated member/minister of the Nation of Islam. He organizes prisoners regularly, gives lectures, and holds legal seminars from time to time, authored a group pamphlets, and last but not least the founder of “Bulletin Response Squad” newsletter.
To contact Bro Khalil:
Khalil Bennett #DX-9353
P.O. Box 1000
Houtzdale, PA 16698

Pierre Pinson (Stripped)
Pierre Pierson is a native from Pittsburgh, PA. He is a writer and is currently working on several poetry books with the group Living On Vital Emotion Writers Group at SCI-Fayette.
He can be contact at:
Pierre Pinson #EK2844
P.O. Box 999
50 Overlook Drive
LaBelle, PA 15450

Shanda Mickens (Interview)
Shanda is a massage therapist born and raised in Philadelphia. She’s a graduate of Roxborough High School and the National Massage Therapy Institute. She’s a lover of love, life and the pursuit of the perfect order of buffalo wings. She’s an avid music and movie lover, and enjoys spending time with her 4-year-old daughter Kyra Rose. Shanda also lives with bipolar disorder.

Marie Kanu (Me)

Debra Powell-Wright (Love Letter to Mom)
[from Love Letter to Mom] “1963: I was nine years old when my mother, Corrine Brown Powell, was hospitalized for nine months at Bellevue State Hospital in Pennsylvania, after having been diagnosed with schizophrenia.  I couldn’t visit her in the place that performed lobotomies, couldn’t tell anyone because I didn’t know anyone who had a sometimes crazy mother who had to take Lithium, or Haldol, or Thorazine, or Mellaril.   In August 2001, I was forty-four when mom was diagnosed with cancer of the duodenum.  She died that October.  Six years later, I wrote her this love letter.”