International Women’s History Month Highlight: Jessica Napier


International Women's History Month Highlight: Jessica Napier

Since the month of March is International Women’s History Month, each week CALCASA will highlight some of the extraordinary commitments of the women in this office.

Jessica Napier is the Online Media Editor at CALCASA. She manages the agency’s communication strategies, creates multimedia material and oversees the agency’s social media messaging. In former positions, Napier was the Web Editor for Converge magazine. She started her career in web production at KPBS Public Broadcasting in San Diego, California. When not at work, Jessica teaches yoga in Sacramento. Between work and classes, she also volunteers at the local rape crisis center. The following interview sheds light on Jessica’s approach to feminism, social media and what to bring to a desert island.

1. 2011 marks the centenary of International Women’s Day. When did you first hear about IWD? How do you connect with IWD/Women’s History Month?

I first heard about International Women’s Day when I was in college, but I didn’t really embrace it and understand the significance until I started working at CALCASA. For me, it is a month to recognize the phenomenal women who have challenged and encouraged me to step up to my edge and to be the person I want to see in the world. It’s also a time for me to remind other women in my life that they are powerful people, and women still have more achievements ahead.

2. Can you talk about the path that led you to CALCASA?

I came to CALCASA in 2009 in search of a career related to public health. I specifically wanted to work in HIV/AIDS prevention, but I didn’t have the educational background. When I was hired at CALCASA to manage its online media, it was truly a blessing. The first year was a whirlwind. In learning about issues related to sexual violence, it was a journey of re-discovering myself and ideals in the world. I found that the deeper I became immersed into doing the work, the more I was drawn to the movement to end violence against women.

3. What does feminism mean to you?

For me, feminism has come to mean stepping into my power and speaking up when situations don’t sit right with me. If I choose to say nothing, then I succumb to violence. I think that women have to get over the initial discomfort of seeing others uncomfortable — they don’t speak up because they don’t want to hurt feelings. But if there’s something stirring inside of you, then say it! Feminism to me means that I’m not going to sacrifice my own emotional health at the benefit of someone else’s.

4. As the online media editor for a statewide coalition against sexual assault, you’re connected to colleagues via social media and blogs where you see how activism and organizing in the field of sexual violence plays out online, especially with younger generations. Where do you see the field going with online media in further developing meaningful and sustained connections with communities?

I think that social media will continue to evolve — as all technologies are — but I think that the foundational elements will remain: user-generated content for sharing news, offering opinions and educating a large audience. As an increasing number of social services agencies join the online social sphere, I think it’s important to remember that a digital presence doesn’t replace face-to-face advocacy. Social media provides agencies with a platform to increase their face recognition and the ability to reach a larger audience who will be exposed to agency messages. This makes social media a valuable supplement to traditional outlets, but sustained community connections are only possible through on-the-ground work.

5. Taken directly from Feministing’s Feminist 5: you’re going to an island, and you take one food, one drink and one feminist. Which items do you choose and who would join you?

If I was going to an island, and I could take one food, one drink and one feminist, you’d find me lounging with bottles of Trader Joe’s sparkling water, a melody of berries and my mama. She is a force to be reckoned with, and I’ve seen her achieve anything that she has put her mind to. My mom is from Iran, and she left in 1976. Her experience in Iran is much different than the experience of today’s Iranian women. She refuses to return to the country because she wants to remember it the way she left it — a place where women could do as they pleased. She has empowered me to speak my truth and push for what I want in life.

Livia Rojas, MSSW, is the Training and Resource Coordinator in the Campus Program at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) where she provides training and technical assistance to recipients of the Department of Justice (DOJ), Office on Violence Against Women (OVW) Grant to Reduce Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, Sexual Assault and Stalking on college and university campuses across the United States and territories. Livia has eleven years of working to advance human rights and student organizing through practice and research.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Lisa Hershey March 25, 2011, 9:45 AM

    Jessica Napier exemplifies a woman who not only lives her truth, but also walks the walk and role models how we as women need to step into our power, advocate social justice for all, and be the change we want to see in the world.

    I am humbled and honored to have Jessica as a friend, a colleague, a yoga teacher and a strong leader in my life and in my community. I am grateful to CALCASA for recognizing and honoring Jessica for her strength, beauty and contributions to the world.

  • Stephanie Fischer March 25, 2011, 10:09 AM

    Jessica Napier is an extraordinary woman who never falls short of saying or doing what she believes in. She is a role model in the community by showing such commitment, drive, and dedication through her work ethics and personal endeavors. Not only is Jessica one of the most loyal and devoted individuals I have the pleasure of knowing, she is also beautiful on the inside and out. She out pours love and compassion for all those around her, and it shows in each and every aspect of her daily life. CALCASA should be proud and extremely honored to have such a remarkable woman portraying their name in such a professional light.

  • Shala Napier March 25, 2011, 10:40 AM

    We are so proud of you Jessica. You are awesome. Keep up the good work!

    • Thea March 28, 2011, 2:46 PM

      Love this!! So proud to see my WOC sista grow more into her identity. Being able to witness your evolvement since you became a part of the CALCASA team has been personally rewarding. “Especially with you going natural” (smile). Seriously, you have a vision and connection to this movement that will only take it to the next level in its capacity to extend the platform for survivors to speak out! Seize every opportunity that is offered for your talent will offer many. You are not JDiddy for nothing!!

  • Brittany Gori March 25, 2011, 11:03 AM

    Jessica Napier is a truly fantastic individual and I am very blessed to have known her for so many years. Her actions have inspired many as she constantly strives to achieve her personal best. Jessica’s passion and drive is a rarity and she is making our world a better place one day at a time through her actions.

    CALCASA, thank you for recognizing such a remarkable and beautiful woman!

  • Jessica Mulholland March 25, 2011, 11:48 AM

    Jessica is an incredibly intelligent, talented and beautiful woman, and this Q&A did a great job of showcasing who she is personally and professionally. I’m honored to know Jessica, and thank CALCASA for recognizing her!

  • Cindy Marroquin March 25, 2011, 2:37 PM

    Jess is a great friend and colleague! I’m so lucky to have the opportunity to interact with her daily. I’ve learned a lot from Jess and have a great time just chatting with her. You’re amazing Jess (don’t let ANYONE tell you differently!) and I’m so happy to have you in my life 🙂

  • Kylene Richards March 25, 2011, 7:43 PM

    Jessica is a beaming ray of light in this world. For as long as I have known her, she has shined in every aspect of her life. Jessica has excelled educationally and professionally. More importantly, her friends and family know her as someone who will always provide endless and unconditional love, respect, and support. Her aspirations to make a difference are inspiring and her voice is one that deserves to be heard. CALCASA could not have chosen a better woman to recognize. Jessica is a rare jewel who has earned every ounce of success that has come her way.

  • B. Waine March 26, 2011, 12:20 AM

    I enjoyed reading about Ms. Napier and learning about her family and her thoughts about feminism and social media. It makes sense she would be working at an agency like CALCASA where she can utilize her skills and passions to help end violence against women. Although it sounds like she is new to this field, I hope she stays in it. She can make a powerful difference for other female survivors. Yes, this field can be emotionally draining, and there are issues/challenges many of us doing this work have to deal with and navigate through (e.g. budget and time constraints, personalities, etc..). But as I have learned, you just have to stay true to your heart and the mission, be “present” and hopeful, surround yourself with good people and vibes, and treat each day and person you meet and interact with – especially survivors – with care, dignity and respect. It goes a long way and it’s an empowering feeling…

  • villena koumis March 28, 2011, 10:40 AM

    Jessica! She is truly a blessing in my life! I<3 U Jess! Watching how you just thrived here at CALCASA brought that urge out in me to learn all the more. You are just ONE AWESOME lady. Eleni adores you! I want you to know that you are a fabulous person! Love you!