The Rooted Collective is comprised of artists, activists and scholars based in Maryland. 


Saida Agostini is a queer afro-guyanese poet, activist, and survivor. She has dedicated her career to building peer led healing spaces for Black queer people. A published writer, her work has been featured in a number of publications including TORCH, pluck! and The Baltimore Sun. She is the Chief Operating Officer of FORCE, a national artist collective dedicated to ending rape culture. 

Jamal Hailey is a social/behavioral researcher and advocate for marginalized groups, has spent over a decade working to improve the lives of adolescents and young adults in Maryland. Mr. Hailey’s career has spanned all aspects of community service, most notably through professional roles as a sexual health educator, HIV counselor, outreach worker, and case manager. He has presented at national conferences on a number of topics, including transitioning youth living with HIV from pediatric to adult health care, using technology to retain youth in HIV care, and emerging strategies to engage inner city YMSM and transgender youth of color in sexual health programming. Mr. Hailey received a Master of Arts in Psychology as well as a dual Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in LGBT Studies from Towson University. He is currently enrolled in the Counseling Psychology doctorate program at Howard University.

Kalima Young is a lecturer in the Department of Electronic Media and Film at Towson University and a Phd Candidate in American Studies at the University of MD College Park.  Her research explores the impact of race and gender-based trauma on Black identity and cultural production. A Baltimore native and videographer, Kalima is a media scholar and serves on the leadership team for FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture. 

Blair Franklin is a radical healer and activist working at the intersections of youth organizing, LGBTQ equity, and racial justice.  Born and bred in Southwest Baltimore, he is a member of the advisory board of Baltimore Racial Justice Action, and in September 2017 he will be the Executive Director of Youth Empowered Society (YES), a drop-in center for youth experiencing homelessness.  He engages in his own healing through movement, creative fiction, and cultivating spaces for self-reflection and awareness via

Monica Yorkman is a 63 year-old black transgender artist, poetess, musician, short story writer, storyteller, educator, counselor, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother from Baltimore. She is the founder of Sistas of the “t” and co-founder of the Baltimore Transgender Alliance. Her friends say that her cooking makes love to their taste buds and puts smiles in their bellies. Her passion is her advocacy work; Her energy comes from strong spiritual faith. Her belief is that every day is an opportunity to make the world a little bit better. It is what gets her out of bed. She knows that every day is not promised, and every moment is precious, so to the best of her ability, she lives in the moment. Her favorite saying is by Ernest Holmes, “In order to have a better world, I have to be a better person in the world!”

Lamont Bryant is the Sexual Minority Program Coordinator for the University of Maryland, School of Medicine STAR TRACK program. He is a frequent guest lecturer at John Hopkins University, and University of Baltimore, and a former adjunct lecturer on LGBTQ issues at Towson University, Department of Women and Gender Studies. Lamont is currently a member of the University of Baltimore Advisory Board to the Dean of College of Arts and Sciences, Chase Brexton’s LGBT Health Resource Center Advisory Board, and the Baltimore Police Commissioner LGBTQ Advisory Council.

Nkiru Nnawulezi, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in Community Psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and research advisor to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence. Her research seeks to create the conditions necessary for survivors, across all intersecting identities, to be safe, empowered, and able to live full and healthy lives. Over the past decade, she has conducted numerous community-based, participatory research and evaluation studies with the aim to improve community and systems response to survivors of intimate partner violence. Her research has been funded by the National Institute of Mental Health, State of Michigan, and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She also received the American Psychological Association, Division 35 Psychology of Black Women Graduate Student Award for her work exploring racial microaggressions in domestic violence shelters. She has been invited to give more than 50 presentations on social justice, inclusion, diversity and their intersections with intimate partner violence. 

Alexis Flanagan is a queer Black feminist DC girl whose heart pumps to the beat of "the Pocket" that holds down DC go-go music and culture. She is a cultural worker, writer, painter, healer, and organizer working at the intersection of art and activism in the DC Metropolitan Area.  Starting out as a K-12 educator and, for the last 12 years, leading organizations working to end sexual and domestic violence, she most recently served 5 years as the Assistant Director of HopeWorks – a comprehensive sexual assault and domestic violence program in Columbia, MD. Alexis’s is currently the Learning and Practice Director at Resonance, a network of individuals who are in deep relationship and practice to interrupt the roots of violence and oppression and create the conditions where all people and communities thrive. Members of Resonance are in active experimentation, practice and learning about how to live into our values, transformation, and liberation for all. For Alexis, the work of the Rooted Collective is the embodiment of this practice in community.