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Kayla Smith

President, Harambee: Students of African Descent

Kayla J. Smith (she/her) is a proud Memphis, TN native and Southern womanist. Her Orange Mound, TN roots have led her to a passion for thinking and dreaming big, restorative and transformative justice work, legacy building, and a love for Black people and Black culture(s). She humbly serves as President of Harambee: Students of African Descent at HDS this year. Kayla is a Master of Divinity candidate for the class of 2021. She is a 2018 B.A. graduate from Birmingham-Southern College in Alabama, where she self-contracted a major in Human Rights and Justice, received a distinction in Leadership Studies, and founded the annual Black History Month Gala on campus. After graduating from the Harvard Divinity School, Kayla J. plans to immerse herself in community work in her hometown. She loves her supportive village, dancing, Tupac, Beyoncé, and brownies.

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lesedi graveline

Vice-President, Harambee: Students of African Descent

Lesedi (she/her) will graduate from Harvard Divinity School with a Master of Theological Studies in May 2021. At Harvard, she explores the history and narratives of the African diaspora, womanist spiritual activism, and transformative justice. The creation of tangible solutions is most poignant to her at this time, thus her interest in fostering spaces of resistance to systemic oppression with the goal of liberating Black bodies. Lesedi is on a path to a career in social justice and human rights work. A graduate of the University of Connecticut, she is passionate about expanding her leadership through mentoring and empowering young people. Lesedi's most urgent tasks included embodying ethical leadership and navigating the connection between personal transformation and social change.

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Conference Co-Chair, Harambee: Students of African Descent

Nadia Milad Issa (they/them) will graduate from Harvard Divinity School with a Master of Theological Studies, with an Area of Focus in African and African American Religious Studies, in May 2022. They are a Research Associate at The Pluralism Project, contributing their research experiences in Afro-Caribbean spiritual-religious traditions. At HDS, they continue their work on Spiritual Reparations in Regla de Ocha-Ifá and other Black Caribbean Diasporic traditions and on Black Cuban Womxn Akpwón/Apwanlás. Nadia spent over three years in Cuba and México pursuing fieldwork and dance study for both research projects that take form as Auto-Ethnographies and dance choreographies expanding Reparation politics and politics of being an Akpwón in Cuba and its diaspora. Nadia is a Company Dancer with Jean Appolon Expressions, a Haitian Contemporary dance company. Nadia has received training from and performed in dance works by Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane, Bebe Miller, Bárbara Balbuena, Yeniselt Galata Calvo, Eva Despaigne-Trujillo and Obini Batá, Camille A. Brown, and Emilio Hernández González amongst others. 

Amaia Cook

Conference Co-Chair, Harambee: Students of African Descent

Amaia Cook (she/her) is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School and intends to graduate in 2023. Following the Black womanist tradition, she focuses on early Christianity and how the early Church upholds modern forms of abolition, justice, and equity. Amaia's academic interests relate to her advocacy efforts as she believes in and fights for liberation for the oppressed and marginalized, particularly working in her local community to combat racial and socioeconomic injustices. She is also interested in the intersections of theory, religion, and social justice and, particularly, how scholarship shapes social movements and vice-versa. Most importantly, Amaia is a dreamer, lover, and truth-seeker.

Ebony Johnson


Conference Co-Chair, Harambee: Students of African Descent

Ebony Joy Johnson (she/her) is a Master of Divinity candidate at the Harvard Divinity School. Her intellectual and academic curiosity lies in exploring Black women's womanist moral agency and analyzing how they resist systemic oppression. In her scholarship, Ebony examines the rich history of the Black Church/community and the harm caused by religious institutions, the voices of the historically marginalized, Christian ethics, womanist theology, Africana womanism, and ethics of care. Her work lies within social justice initiatives focusing on spirituality, healing, and restorative justice at HDS. Ebony focuses on dismantling and exposing truths through modes of discourse in a society full of hate rhetoric, racist ideologies, and white supremacy. As a graduate of Spelman College, Ebony feels the urgent need to continue to amplify and advance Black pathways further to strengthen economic success for Black and Brown youth. She co-founded an educational platform called Keeping It Real. to bridge the knowledge gap between classrooms and communities. 


Vice-President, Harambee: Students of African Descent

Eboni Nash (she/her) is a second year MTS student at Harvard Divinity School with her focus area as African and African American Studies. She is especially interested in Black Liberation Theology and the role it plays in mass-criminalization. Eboni received her Bachelor's degree at Hastings College where she triple majored in Criminology, Psychology, and Religion. There she was the director of a local nonprofit and lead various research projects surrounding the topics of incarceration. With having experience as a child of an incarcerated parent, Eboni has a special interest in the indirect relationship incarceration has on the community. Eboni plans to create her own non-profit serving children with incarcerated and deported parents, starting with the development of a childhood curriculum that embodies language justice and represents marginalized communities accurately and powerfully.

Kayla J Smith
Lesedi Graveline
Nadia Milad Issa
Amaia Cook
Ebony Joy
Eboni Nash
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