Sara Trail learned to sew at the young age of 4, and is now a successful author, sewing teacher and pattern and fabric designer. At age 13, she wrote a nationally published book, “Sew with Sara” that teaches teens and tweens how to sew cute clothes and accessories for fun and profit. At 15, she starred in a nationally published DVDs, “Cool stuff to Sew With Sara.” She then designed two fabric collections, Folkheart and Biology 101 a pattern collection with Simplicity, “Designed with Love by Sara.” Her pattern collection features prom dresses, backpack patterns, hoodies and jackets as well as aprons and tote bags. While attending UC Berkeley, Sara created a quilt in memory of Trayvon Martin and her love for sewing and passion for social justice intertwined. After graduating from the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, she founded the Social Justice Sewing Academy (SJSA) to be a platform where youth create art that engages and educates communities.
Lauren Black Director of Operations
As Director of Operations, Lauren is responsible for the overall management of the operational activities of SJSA with includes leasing with stakeholders, supervising and coordinating volunteers, overseeing the development of projects, fiscal management and devising strategies to ensure the growth of the organization. Lauren currently works as a School Psychologist in the Los Angeles Unified School District. She recently completed her Masters in Educational Psychology and is working towards her Education Specialist Degree in School Psychology at Loyola Marymount University. As a researcher, she is passionate about focusing on issues that impact those who, as a result of elements of their identity, are often faced with the erasure of their voice and power due to marginalization, systemic oppression, and underrepresentation. In working with SJSA, Lauren is able to use her passion as the foundation for education, outreach, and collaboration.
Stephanie Valencia Director of Programming
Stephanie Valencia is a director of programming for SJSA that includes planning and scheduling workshops, exhibitions and more. She has her BA in criminal justice from Weber State University and works with probation and parole population in Napa County, CA. She also engages in teaching and leading workshops with young people and facilitated the amazing workshop that created the community quilt entitled 'Reparations.'
Jocelyn Gama Workshop Facilitator
Jocelyn Gama is a 19 year old Latinx, Oakland native who is currently attending UC Berkeley. She intends to major in Legal Studies and Geography, with a minor in Education. Jocelyn is a versatile young woman-- passionate about creativity and philosophy. She is a sister to her community, always advising others to use storytelling as a healing process. As a researcher, Jocelyn has done research around police brutality, in finding ways to decrease violence in disenfranchised communities. She is a sister to her community and has traveled across the nation advocating for humanitarian issues at a policy level as well. She works with SJSA artivists across the nation and believes creativity is essential for the exposure and discovery of humanity
Jeannine La Bate Workshop Facilitator
Jeannine La Bate is a visual art and fashion design educator committed to impacting student’s civic responsibilities and forming curiosities about the many expressions of humanity. . Jeannine learned about SJSA while attending graduate school at Illinois State University and became an embroidery volunteer. During her studies there she also participated in a six-week activism workshop where she learned the significance in assuming the role of active listener, the responsibility in developing the disposition of an ally/accomplice and to embrace a feminist perspective working for racial and gender equality. SJSA provides a unique opportunity for Jeannine to engage in a craft community and social justice activism beyond local/regional experiences to a national/international level.
Nancy Williams Creative Director (Long Arm Quilter)
I began piecing quilts about 30 years ago mostly quilting them on my domestic machine. After purchasing a long-arm quilting machine, I have been honing my art and my skills on personal quilts, donation quilts and quilts of those I am honored to be trusted with. When Sara put out a request for long arm quilters, I said I do that! We connected and, since then, I feel so fortunate to have been trusted to quilt these thoughtful, deeply moving blocks made by students and artfully embellished by a virtual army of talented embroiderers. Take a look at my website for more information about my long arming services.
Kate Godfrey has been designing and producing publications since high school when she feel in love with journalism as a cub reporter for the Arizona Daily Star and saw her first story typeset and published. Her work as a graphic designer has appeared in Parenting, Diablo, PCWorld, and Macworld magazines. Kate loves how design helps stories reach a wider audience while building understanding and hope. She can be found with needle in hand as an SJSA volunteer embroiderer when not designing and producing guides and publications for our organization.
As Education Director for SJSA, Suzanne Schmidt, Ph.D consults on teaching and learning strategies for SJSA workshops and public programs. She is a writer, professor, parent and active community member who teaches in the School of Liberal Arts at Saint Mary's College of California. Suzanne was a 2016-17 Citizenship Fellow at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts and is a member of the Coordinating Committee of Rice and Beans Preschool Cooperative, a social justice preschool in Oakland, CA. She taught drop-in sewing/ESL classes at Southwest Youth and Family Services in Seattle, WA, while completing her Ph.D. in English literature (with a focus on craft!).
Laura Hopper Exhibits Director
Laura McDowell Hopper is a curator, writer, and quilter focused on quilts and textile history. In over 15 years of working in museums, Laura has curated or co-curated over 40 exhibits, many of which have won awards from state and national museum associations. She has a master’s degree in public history and a certificate in textile preservation. Her writing has appeared in Curated Quilts, Quiltfolk, Modern Patchwork, Craft Industry Alliance, and more. Laura serves on the board of directors for the Quilt Alliance and is a Past President of the Chicago Modern Quilt Guild. She believes that museums are not neutral and her curatorial philosophy centers around collaborative approaches to activist exhibits. As Exhibits Director for SJSA, she focuses on curating new traveling exhibits and cataloging the organization’s quilts.
Social Justice Sewing Academy PO Box 2473 Antioch, CA 94531