Meet Our Team


Mojdeh Stoakley

Executive Director, Executive Research + Innovation Officer

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.

Contact Mojdeh at


Saunté Harden-Tate

Executive Director, Executive Advocacy + Accountability Officer

Saunté Harden-Tate (Sahn-tay) is a Black American Chicago Westside Native, creative writer, Advocate, Community Educator, proud mother of two, and wife. With a deep-rooted passion for healing, advocating, and educating the community on trauma, Saunté teaches the community about Sexual abuse, Sexual violence, body safety, and the rights of survivors as a Community Educator. Saunté has an affinity for uplifting and educating the community on the traumas and struggles that disproportionately affect the Black community.

Contact Saunté at


Nikki Patin

Executive Director, Founder + Executive Producer

Featured in The Guardian, Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Reader, on WBEZ, WTTW, FoxSoul, and on international television and radio, Nikki Patin has been writing, performing, educating, and advocating for over two decades throughout the US, New Zealand and Australia. In 2014, she founded Surviving the Mic, a trauma-informed, survivor-led organization that holds brave and affirming space to support the writing and performances of artists impacted by sexual harm. Later that year, Patin addressed the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland on behalf of Black women and girl survivors of sexual violence in the U.S. She is the Executive Director of Calling All Crows, an organization that connects the music industry and music fans to feminist and social justice movements. Nikki Patin holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine.

Contact Nikki at


Anjana Kirti Gupta

Board of Directors, Secretary

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.


Ona Wang

Board of Directors, Community Engagement and Organizing

Ona Wang is a writer, social practice artist, and restorative justice practitioner from Chicago. Ona uses narrative as a tool for healing and building solidarity. Ona holds leadership roles with Surviving the Mic and grassroots community-based organizations.

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Atena O. Danner

Board Director

Atena O. Danner insists upon Black liberation and boundless curiosity. Her poems range from kitchen-table specificity to universal relatability, covering topics including neurodiversity, human connection, and collective liberation. Atena has recently published poems in ‘Raising Mothers’ online, ‘Shelter in This Place: Meditations on 2020,’ ‘Struggle, Elevate, Celebrate: An Anthology of Women’s Voices’ and in the inaugural issue of ‘understory quarterly.’ She is an alum of the Hurston/Wright Writers Week, a former In Surreal Life Surreal Scholar, and has been a featured reader for The Guild Complex Presents Exhibit B series. Atena collaborates as a member of Surviving the Mic, a collaborative collective of survivors dedicated to creating brave and affirming creative spaces for survivors of trauma. In their home north of Chicago, near the traditional homelands of the people of the Council of Three Fires and of the Menominee, Miami and Ho-Chunk nations Atena lives with her partner and 2 free Black children. Her first poetry collection, ‘Incantations for Rest’ was released this summer.


Cherlnell Lane

Board Director

Cherlnell Lane is an author, poet, speaker, advocate, and facilitator Cherlnell. Lane, “Bares her soul to heal yours” by using her words to create incredible worlds and stories that, change the minds of those around her. Dealing with topics most people won’t dare mention such as attempting suicide, living with STIs, and parenting a child with mental illness. Cherlnell uses her life experiences; to reach people with her blog, inspire people with her written work, and teach people with her curriculum. Cherlnell started writing and speaking at a very young age and hasn’t stopped since. Often called a storyteller, her poetry and other written work has transcended genres and covers a multitude of topics and emotions. She has performed all over Chicago, IL even hosting 2018’s National Poetry Slam’s Disability Open Mic and being a feature at Surviving The Mic, a poetry set started for survivors of sexual abuse.

In 2016, after seeing the horrible things happening around her Cherlnell started “Writing Through It Workshops” to help people learn to reveal, deal, and heal from negative emotions while commemorating and celebrating the positive ones. She also created “Healing Through It Summits,” all-day retreats focused on healing black women and girls. By dealing with or mastering a variety of topics by introducing or reinforcing different tools of healing. She also enjoys creating her blog, “The Infinite Evolution of Life, Learning, and Love”. It, like the rest of her writing, puts common faces on, what many may feel, are out of the world problems.

Her first two books; Confessions of the Other Woman (2013) and Tales of an Undiscovered Writer (2014) [E-Book], written under the pseudonym, Cookie Battles are collections of poetry and short stories are available on Amazon. You can contact Cherlnell by email, or find out more information on Cherlnell’s website Cherlnell Lane is a roaring fire, under a cool demeanor, with a kind soul, that she shares authentically in hopes of healing the world.


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. 

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