Girls' and Women's Rights Activist
Co-founder & Chief Programs Officer, She's the First
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 to fund more than 2500 years of education. STF provides scholarships to girls in 11 countries, where they partner with local organizations for sustainable impact, and engages 250 campus chapters of high school and college students in activism to benefit women and girls. Currently, Christen is overseeing a pilot program to provide locally-led grants for partner organizations to increase their overall impact while growing local capacity.
As an activist, Christen is most passionate about fighting for gender equality. She teaches empowerment self-defense in Brooklyn, NY, as well as to girls around the world. 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. After the 2016 election, Christen launched Next Steps Salons as a way to connect with others interested in becoming more involved in grassroots change and provide resources to anyone looking to do the same within their own networks. Through these efforts, she works to improve the lives of women and girls across the world.
Christen speaks often on issues affecting women and girls, including on stage at The United States of Young Women Forum at the White House in 2016, at the United Nations, the Clinton Foundation, and more. She has also appeared in publications from Forbes to SELF, as well as online on sites like Bustle and AOL. In 2015, she served on the Global Advisory Council to Mattel as they launched their first-ever Barbie with varied body shapes, and recently was selected to be a panelist for Marie Claire’s Young Women’s Honors awards. In 2015, she was nominated as a Global Laureate Fellow by the International Youth Foundation.
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. She is a strong advocate for women's rights, mentorship programs, and creating a holistic educational experience to ensure girls' success in the world.