Elle Hearns

Elle Hearns is a organizer, speaker, strategist, and writer. Elle’s voice as a community organizer and speaker were formed from her upbringing in Columbus, Ohio as a youth organizer. Ms. Elle is a co-founding member of the Black Lives Matter network an organization formed with multiple local chapters as a political project in the wake of the murder of Trayvon Martin in order to explicitly combat implicit bias and anti-black racism and to protect and affirm the beauty and dignity of all Black lives. In her role before stepping down she was formerly a strategic partner to BLM co-founders Patrisse Cullors, and Opal Tometi and to local chapters of the organization as the former interim Organizing Director advocating for Collaborative Solidarity across the network and Black Liberation movement. Elle has been honored with the Young Women’s Achievement Award for Advocacy and Organizing by the Women’s Information Network, the Black Feminist Human Rights Defender award by Black Women’s Blueprint,and as a Woke 100 honoree by Essence Magazine.

Ms. Elle currently is the Executive Director of The Marsha P. Johnson Institute an organization founded in 2015 that works to create a crucial entry point for Black transgender women to advocate for an end to violence against all trans people through advocacy, transformative organizing, restoration, civil disobedience and direct action. The organization is credited for organizing the first ever National Day of Action for Black Trans Women in response to the murders of Amber Monroe, Kandis Capri, and Elisha Walker and held organized events in multiple cities including New York City,Chicago, and Washington DC. As a speaker Elle has delivered keynotes and talks at Harvard University, the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture,The Public Theatre,and for The National Lawyer’s Guild,Columbia University, Stanford University and NYU.

Prior to founding The Marsha P. Johnson Institute Ms. Elle worked for LGBT organization GetEQUAL an organization that she shifted from an equality framework to one that was centered more on the liberation of LGBTQ people. During her time there she successfully led many campaigns including More Than Marriage a digital campaign detailing why LGBTQIA people needed more than marriage equality to be “free”, Year Without Tamir a campaign honoring the life of Tamir Rice a 12 year old who was murdered by the Cleveland Police Department in which the campaign demanded and advocated for a new prosecutor for the case and in Cuyahoga County, and the firing of the officers and all responsible for his murder. Elle operates politically from the perspectives of black nationalism,humanist theory, and black trans theory and practice. She credits Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey, and Marsha P. Johnson as her teachers. Their words along with her life experiences are what she credits for politicizing her.

Elle’s writings have been published by The CUNY Law Review and Ebony magazine. Her work has also been chronicled and featured by Time, CNN, MTV, The New York Times, Alternet, Democracy Now, The Daily Dot, Fusion, Essence Magazine, The Root, Alternet, Telesur TV and The Washington Post. Elle calls home to Washington DC and Harlem, New York currently. Elle moonlights as a singer and actress and enjoys spending her time with those she loves.

Firas Nasr