Monica Raye Simpson Bio
Monica is the Executive Director of SisterSong, the National Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective. She uses an interdisciplinary approach to activism by calling her artistic and healing practices into the implementation of SisterSong’s mission. Based in the historic West End in Atlanta, GA and founded in 1997, SisterSong amplifies and strengthens the collective voices of Indigenous women and women of color and ensures reproductive justice through securing human rights. SisterSong’s headquarters is known as the “MotherHouse” and is a national organizing center for feminists of color.
Monica’s origin story places her in rural North Carolina. From an early age, she was clear about her purpose to educate and uplift her community, and to nurture her voice as an artist. With this clarity Monica attended Johnson C. Smith University, one of the country's historically black universities. Her undergraduate experience of coming out as a same-gender loving woman, was a defining moment in her life and determined the ways in which her activism would be informed by early LGBTQ organizing efforts on and off campus.
Upon graduating, Monica was the first person of color at the Lesbian & Gay Community Center in Charlotte, NC to be offered an executive position. She worked in the capacity of Operations Director. With more experience as a social justice administrator and advocate, she transitioned to Grassroots Leadership Inc. and held the position of Ujamaa Coordinator. As coordinator, Monica developed and trained southern African American youth to understand the landscape of philanthropy, fundraising, and activism. During her five-year tenure at Grassroots Leadership, she also served as Fundraising Coordinator and supported organizing efforts for their national campaign to abolish for-profit prisons, jails and immigrant detention centers. Monica worked extensively on building bridges between the social needs of Black and Brown people, and emphasized awareness concerning the struggles of incarcerated women. Her dynamic and shifting role at Grassroots Leadership was the impetus for her involvement with the Reproductive Justice (RJ) movement and its commitment to eradicating all forms of reproductive oppression.
Throughout the course of two decades, Monica organized against the systematic physical and emotional violence inflicted upon the minds, bodies and spirits of African Americans with an emphasis on African American women and the African American LBGTQ community. Through her activism and organizational work, she has become a nationally sought-after facilitator, organizer and cultural strategist. She’s been called on for high-profile marches and advisory boards, including the March for Black Women where she was a co-chair. She served as a founding board member for Charlotte NC Black Gay Pride and the African American Giving Circle of Charlotte. She currently serves as a board member for the Fund for Southern Communities, Woodhull Freedom Foundation, Advocates for Youth and the legendary Highlander Research and Education Center.
Alongside her proven leadership, Monica has expanded her reach and charged the RJ base through public speaking engagements. She spoke at Women in the World on Black Maternal Mortality and delivered a formal civil society statement before the UN Committee of the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. She was also one of two reproductive justice leaders chosen to testify before the Democratic National Convention Committee’s Platform and summoned to work on the Drafting Committee that decides what should be included in the party’s platform.
Increasingly, Monica’s voice as a writer has surfaced in well-known publications allowing her to bring a broader audience to her feminist concern for marginalized communities. She’s written essays and thinkpieces related to reproductive justice, police violence, LGBTQ issues, philanthropy, activism and artistry. Her writing has appeared in publications such as Rewire, Huff Post Black Voices, Ebony, and Blavity. She was a contributing writer to the critical anthology Radical Reproductive Justice published in 2017 by the Feminist Press.
She continues to use her talents of singing, spoken word and acting in her local community and nationally to address social justice issues. As a performance artist and cultural curator, she’s produced shows at progressive conferences such as Facing Race and Netroots Nation. She performs regularly with her band in Atlanta, and released her first album entitled Revolutionary Love. She also performed in various theatrical productions including, For the Love of Harlem, Words the Isms, Walk Like a Man, The Vagina Monologues and For Colored Girls. A true renaissance woman, Monica embodies the Paul Robeson’s quote, “If the artist does not create, the world suffers.”