Meet Our Team







Surviving the mic Nikki highlight

Nikki Patin

Executive Director

Nikki Patin has been writing for over two decades. She has taught
hundreds of workshops on performance poetry, body image, sexual
assault prevention and LGBT issues. Patin has performed, taught and
spoken at elementary schools, high schools, colleges and universities
such as the University of Chicago, Adler School of Psychology,
Northwestern University, Nancy B. Jefferson High School (located
within the Cook County Temporary Juvenile Detention Center),
University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison and many
others. Patin was featured on the fourth season of HBO’s Def Poetry
Jam, was voted one of 30 under 30 most influential LGBTQ people in
Chicago by Windy City Times and took the gold medal in the 2006 Gay
Games International LGBT poetry slam. Patin was voted “Best Standout
Performer” in the Dunedin Fringe Festival while headlining a tour of
her one-woman show, “The Phat Grrrl Revolution” throughout New Zealand
and Australia. She has released several chapbooks, a full-length
collection of writing and design, two EPs and a full-length album
entitled “Bedroom Empire.” She is the creator of Surviving the Mic, an
organization dedicated to creating safe space for the creation and
telling of stories of survivors of all kinds of trauma, with a special
focus on Black- and female-identified survivors of sexual and domestic
violence who also identify as performing writers. Nikki Patin is an
MFA candidate in Creative Non-Fiction at Stonecoast MFA Program at the
University of Southern Maine. Her work can be found at and

Surviving the mic Mojdeh highlight

Mojdeh Stoakley

Board Director of Media and Strategic Partnerships

Mojdeh is an award winning writer, poet, performer, photographer, & educator!  She’s performed in front of thousands, and lead slam teams to finals stages!  She’s been called “The Margret Cho of Poetry,” so you know you’ll laugh when she channels her eccentric immigrant parents and you will have conversations with your own empathy when she explores the resilience of a nerdy bi-racial child who was constantly afraid of impending homelessness.

She’s represented Chicago multiple times at the National Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam, Rustbelt, & Southern Fried Slam in addition to coaching youth competing in Louder Than A Bomb, and executive produced festivals like Lethal Poetry’s Nights of Sight & Sound, the world’s largest mobile art show Art On Track, and one of Chicago’s PSi certified slams, Lethal Poetry.

She burst into the performance scene at 14, sharing the stage with folks like Saul Williams, Pere Ubu, Genesis P Oridge, and John Legend since. Her photography, writing, and contributions as a community commentator have been published by Button Poetry, WBEZ, Vocalo, Alarm Press, Chicago Now, and Muzzle Magazine, among others. She’s released 5 albums of music & poetry independently and as a member of »radiant devices«, recently published her first book “born into dissonance,” and has an album on the way.

Mojdeh received her BFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and is the founder of Interfaith Poets, Lethal Poetry Inc and LUCID Art Lab, and sits on the board of Surviving The Mic – arts organizations that activate artists as social servants. She is interested in how the arts can effect social and cognitive development among youth and populations who’ve experienced trauma. When she’s not being a creative savant and community leader, she is engaged in HIV prevention research at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s School of Public Health.

Surviving the mic Ona highlight

Ona Wang

Board Director of Community Engagement and Organizing

Ona is a writer, artist, educator, and restorative justice practitioner. Their work explores the intersection between social identities, building solidarity between movements, & the personal as political. They are committed to addressing complex and community trauma through restorative justice and creative arts. They use storytelling as grassroots organizing; oral history and personal narrative are tools that build community and solidarity.

Ona volunteers at Rape Victim Advocates on the planning committee for “Men in the Movement,” discussion series aimed at helping male-identified people recognize their roles in stopping sexism and rape culture while also acknowledging the ways men and boys are hurt by them. Ona enjoys photography, painting, ceramics, travel, and learning.

Surviving the mic Victoria highlight

Victoria Parra


Victoria Rose is a writer, educator, and student. They are currently pursuing a long awaited degree in Interdisciplinary Studies from Northeastern Illinois where they were able to bring gender studies, psychology, special education, sociology, inner city studies, and justice studies together to examine the impact of media representation on identity and storytelling. Their intention is to provide healthy reflections for students to aid self-confidence, autonomy, and connection to others.

When Victoria is not in a classroom setting, they are focused on using dance, yoga, singing, laughter, writing, collage art, and nature as a means of healing. They believe self-expression is key to the healing process and have been able to find community through these mediums. During the summer months, you can find them trying to perfect their cartwheel near Lake Michigan.

Surviving the mic Stephanie highlight

Stephanie Lane Sutton

Board Member

STEPHANIE LANE SUTTON is a midwestern poet, performer, and interactive media artist. Currently, she is a Michener Fellow in the University of Miami’s Creative Writing MFA Program. Previously, she lived in Chicago, where she studied poetry and television writing at Columbia College Chicago and was a teaching artist with After School Matters. She was born in Detroit.

Sutton’s work as a poet is focused on queer poetics & healing from gender-based trauma. Her poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Day One, littletell, Dream Pop Press, Tinderbox Poetry, and THRUSH Poetry Journal. A portfolio of her published poetry is available here. Her performances have been a featured multiple times on Button Poetry and at events produced by Rape Victim Advocates. She is a former co-facilitator for Surviving the Mic.

While a teenager, Sutton began designing personal websites and browser-based interactive projects. With the University of Miami Interactive Media Department, she has created several interdisciplinary projects that merge code and poetry, some of which can be viewed here. This website was created with her original code.

Sutton is a Co-Founding Editor of |tap| lit mag, an online literary magazine for marginalized writers, as well as a Poetry Editor of Sinking City.

Surviving the mic Erika highlight

Dr. Erika Abad

Board Member

Erika Gisela Abad Merced, PhD is a Queer Latina poet, born and raised in Chicago. Assistant Professor-in-Residence in Gender and Sexuality Studies in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program at University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Beyond Puerto Rican, Latinx, and Gender Studies, she is a well-published essayist, poet, and fiction writer, most recently writing a poem and creative reflection to the Pulse-Orlando tragedy. She is also a regular writer for Women in Higher Education.

Erika has worked on the amnesty campaign of Puerto Rican political prisoner, Oscar Lopez Rivera. She has continued her investment in working to create safe spaces for survivors of domestic and sexual violence as a medical advocate for RVA. Her poetry has been published in such journals as Dialogo, Mujeres de Maiz as well as online zines like La Respuesta. She started performing at the Batey Urbano on Division St in 2004, she has since performed in the Pacific Northwest, being a frequent performer at a sex & queer positive open mic called Dirty Queer.

Surviving the mic Nikki highlight

Anjana Kirti Gupta


Anjana is a London local and global accountant. Getting involved in activism through her work with Hindu and South Asian organizations at university, she has since become a member of Interfaith Poets and volunteers with Surviving the Mic and other nonprofit organizations. In her free time, Anjana starts fires with her moves at Latin dance ballrooms across the globe.

Surviving the mic Jack highlight

Jackson Santy


Jack is a senior at Loyola University Chicago working towards a BA in Women’s Studies & Gender Studies with minors in Political Science, Social Work, and Theology. Originally from Phoenix, AZ, Jack’s passion for writing started when he was six and published the first and only issue of “Super Gerbil” a hand drawn graphic novel about his pet gerbil, Boris. Today, Jack writes primarily spoken word poetry that focuses on body image, disability, and survivorship. When he’s not writing or performing, he is often found indulging in his other passions of coffee-drinking, Catholic Faith & Justice Ministry, and social justice tirades. Jack hopes to pursue a career in trauma informed creative arts therapy for other survivors of childhood sexual abuse.