Events / Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker Series

A Participatory Action Research Study of Resilience and Resistance

Past Event
Tuesday, Dec 8, 2015
12:30 PM — 1:30 PM
Vera Institute of Justice

Join us for a Neil A. Weiner Research Speaker series event featuring Shira Hassan and Naima Paz from the Young Women’s Empowerment Project, a community-based, youth-led project that was founded in 2001. Hassan and Paz will discuss the project’s recent report, “Girls Do What They Have To Do To Survive,” which highlights the importance of participatory action research—an innovative collaborative research method that includes the marginalized groups that are being studied.

Shira Hassan began working as an activist and with nonprofits as a young person 18 years ago. She has focused on the experiences of girls, boys, transgender and queer youth involved in the sex trade and street economy since 1995. Using organizing and popular education as tools, Shira has lived and worked in Chicago and New York City helping young people start their own nonprofits and lead social justice work. As the director of Young Women's Empowerment Project from 2006-2011, Shira transitioned the organization to become a youth-run member-based social justice organizing project led by and for young women, girls, and transgender youth of color with current or former experience in the sex trade and street economy. In 2013, Shira helped the organization wind down as a result of the political and economic climate. She believes nonprofits should have a clear life cycle and exist to help sustain our movements, rather than having our movements work to sustain large nonprofits. Currently working as a consultant, Shira offers program development and design, grassroots fundraising, participatory evaluation/action research and creating sustainable, healing centered and trauma-informed environments for staff through intensive partnering with organizational leaders. She has trained and spoken nationally on the sex trade, harm reduction, self injury, group work and healing & transformative justice. She received her Masters in Social Work from New York University in 2002.

Naima Paz has been a member of YWEP since she was 14 years old. After participating in Girls In Charge and becoming an outreach worker, Naima became a research intern at YWEP and worked on the organization’s first research project entitled, Girls Do What They Have To Do To Survive. Naima is a harm reductionist and Latina queer activist and artist.


  • Shira Hassan