About Me

lissa1981.gifIn 1999, I was a graduate student at Stanford studying youth language, learning, and culture, and I had a fellowship that allowed me, for the first time, not to work for the university to earn my stipend. My research interests centered on non-school literacies and youth arts production, which aligned in obvious ways with Youth Radio’s mission. I also have a background as a visual artist and had recently completed work on a video documentary about youth, art, and community development. Then I heard a Youth Radio story on the air, and when the host announced that the organization was located in Berkeley, California, just across the bridge from my home in San Francisco, I decided to volunteer. Having spent the previous several years deciphering texts about education and taking notes about youth learning, I was eager to put down my notebook and actually do some work with kids. And with my own writing growing increasingly dense with every year of graduate school, the idea of producing for radio, with its creative use of sound, emotion, and conversational voice, held great appeal.

Initially, I helped teach writing two afternoons per week. After finishing my dissertation, I began working more deeply with the youth development department, while also leading a national broadcast series on the impact of standardized testing on students in public school classrooms. As my participation in Youth Radio evolved, so too did my interest in imagining a career pathway that would allow me to continue to collaborate in a hands-on way producing original media with young people, while drawing on that work in my writing and university teaching. Today I am Youth Radio’s Education Director and a Senior Producer in the newsroom, while continuing to write and sometimes teach, most recently at University of California, Berkeley’s Graduate School of Education. In my urban education course there, I opened almost every session with a Youth Radio story. For their final assignment, my graduate students translated their classroom ethnographies into radio commentaries performed for their peers. I came to Youth Radio initially thinking I could help teach kids to write, and in the end their writing products and methods have taught me how to be a better storyteller and better teacher.

9 Responses to About Me

  1. Mindy Faber says:

    Your blog rocks! A few years ago Miranda July wrote a piece for Felix – a journal of video art – about my collaborations with youth. We were struggling at the time to explicate intergenerational collaboration. It is a joy to hear you describe collegial pedagogy because I think the relationships between adults as artists/teachers/mentors and youth are so important, yet rarely researched and understood.

  2. Lissa:

    Your blog is awesome. Looking forward to working with you in the near future. Thanks for referencing YMR and glad that Sara Melillo’s article was a point to refer to additional resources.


  3. Thanks, Ingrid, for this and all the great work at Youth Media Reporter. More soon… Lissa

  4. donna myrow says:

    Hi Lissa,

    Your blog and articles are excellent. After 20 years publishing LA Youth, a teen-written newspaper, I feel as if we’re all still treading water when it comes to engaging mainstream media and educators behind our youth media movement.

    Your discussion re the use of technology and ease of obtaining digital equipment doesn’t solve the literacy gaps we see every day with the teens who participate in our programs. Youth Radio does an extraordinary job of training young people to compete in the digital age but when I view videos on YouTube I’m appalled at the lack of substantive communication skills.

    I look forward to reading your other publications and continuing the discourse re the next media generation.


  5. Thanks so much! This means a lot to me, and I look forward to continuing the conversation… Lissa

  6. Kole says:

    I got here from Professor Chavez’s page. I am looking for assistance with my own project on participatory use of video. I like your approach and it is very similar to mine. I love radio myself and I have a few episodes I did in 2000. I hope we can be in touch. I am also a photographer and a poet with two collections, waiting for the third

  7. Thanks! Feel free to get in touch. I’d love to hear more about your work. Lissa

  8. Ingrid says:

    Hi Lissa,

    Can you add your YMR special features article in 2007 to “Lissa’s Youth Media Writing” section?

    🙂 Ingrid

  9. Dan says:

    Glad to stumble across you in my search for Social Justice Youth Media in Australia. Arrived here after many years working at Global Action Project in NYC (add them to your links!), and still looking for a home org here.

    Hit me up if you need a contact in oz…

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