Christen is a feminist, an activist, a self-defense instructor, and an avid troublemaker. She is the co-founder and chief programs officer at She’s the First, an NGO that fights gender inequality by supporting girls who will be first in their families to graduate high school and by training students to be global citizens. She's the First began as a grassroots movement in 2009, and has since grown into a worldwide movement with programs in 21 countries. STF partners with local organizations to support programming for girls, including training and grants for capacity building; the organization also trains students on more than 200 high schools and universities in 10 countries to be gender activists. In 2018, Christen and the team at STF launched the Girls First Summit to train partners and make girl-centered program design more accessible to organizations in the Nairobi area. She has led focus groups on uncovering reasons for high drop-out rates in West Africa, created a framework for understanding community priorities in rural Nepal, and consulted on pregnancy policies in Uganda. Above all else, Christen works to ensure that girls' voices are heard first.
When she isn't jet-setting on site visits, Christen teaches empowerment self-defense in Brooklyn, NY through the Center for Anti-Violence Education. In January 2016, her Facebook post about catcalling went viral, kicking off a worldwide conversation on casual street harassment that reached media outlets from Brazil to Afghanistan.
Christen started her career in magazine journalism, and worked at both Parents magazine and Glamour, where she managed the Top Ten College Women scholarship contest. She’s a graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School for Public Communications at Syracuse University, where she was a student during the conception of She’s the First and later graduated summa cum laude.
UN Leadership Development Series, UNSSC
Leading through Vulnerability
Nov 2017, July 2017, July 2016, March 2016
WFUNA Featured Speaker
Creating Impact with SDGs 4 & 5
August 2017, August 2016, August 2015
21 Leaders of the 21st Century 2016
White House United State of Young Women Forum
Leading grassroots movements
PWC, Diageo, Women in Cable News
Corporate conversations on leadership and effective impact
2015 Barbie Global Advisory Council Member
Adviser to Mattel on updates that better reflect real girls
2014-2015 Global Laureate Fellowship recipient
Initiative of the International Youth Foundation
2014 Torino Leadership Award
UNSSC, Torino, Italy