Co-founder, Executive Director
Chai Shenoy co-founded Collective Action for Safe Space, originally called HollaBackDC!, in April 2009. As the co-founder, Chai wears the “overseer”, “connector”, & “making people happy” hats (sometimes she wears the “this makes me angry” hat…). On behalf of CASS, she’s appeared in several media outlets, including ABC7, FOX5, WTOP. She was also featured in Washington Post, Huffington Post, Mother Jones, and several blogs. By trade, Chai is an attorney who has represented sexual assault survivors in court and at educational hearings. She is also an adjunct professor at George Washington University’s Women’s Studies program, where she teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on gender-based violence.
Chai’s worked in several non-profit organizations, including WEAVE, Break the Cycle, and Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence. In addition to the non-profit world, Chai worked at a political office, as the Domestic Violence Policy Analyst at the Manhattan Borough President’s Office. During her time there, Chai authored Hidden in Plain Sight: Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault in the New York City Subways, a report that studied the prevalence of sexual violence occurring in New York City subways trains and stations. The report garnered international media attention prompting NYC’s Metropolitan Transit Authority to issue public service advertisements encouraging people to report sexual assault or sexual harassment to appropriate parties. Chai received her B.A. at UCLA and her J.D. at American University, Washington College of Law.
Zosia Sztykowski is a DC-based community organizer and educator working on issues of sexual violence prevention, particularly in public and urban spaces. She has worked with CASS for four years, becoming the organization’s first ever paid employee in late 2013. Her work to engage her community in anti-harassment activism has been covered by the Washington Post, Slate, and NPR. As the Co-Executive Director of CASS, she is responsible for managing the organization’s programs, overseeing its development, and working with our supporters and other stakeholders to determine strategy.
Zosia earned her Bachelor’s degree in political science at Tufts University, where she researched urban areas around the world and reported on local politics for the school’s daily newspaper. In June 2011, fed up by the sense that issues of street harassment in DC were being ignored by all but a small group of people, she organized a group of women and men to march in an awareness-raising action against it. She has dedicated her career to creating a vision for a community in which people of all backgrounds, gender expressions, and identities can feel safe occupying public spaces.
Director of Programs and Policy
For over ten years, Julia has addressed sexual assault and intimate partner violence through direct victim advocacy, community outreach, education and policy advocacy at the local and federal level. When she’s not working to create safer communities in DC, Julia is a Program Analyst for the Navy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program.
Julia has a Master’s degree in Social Work from The Catholic University of America’s National Catholic School of Social Service (NCSSS), with a concentration in Social Justice and Social Change. Prior to working for the Navy, she led public policy advocacy efforts at the DC Rape Crisis Center, completed a year-long policy-focused MSW field placement at the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), and supervised on-call victim advocates at Survivors and Advocates for Empowerment (SAFE) in Washington, DC. Julia has also previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence. After graduating from Bowling Green State University with a degree in English Literature and Women’s Studies, Julia served two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uzbekistan. She then moved to Ottawa, Ontario, where she worked a coffee shop gig and volunteered at the local rape crisis center.
On Saturdays, you can find Julia combining her love of music and catharsis with Batala Washington, an all-women Afro-Brazilian percussion group.
Director of Communications
Renee leads CASS’s online efforts. She writes content, pitches press, curates submissions and manages the CASS blog and social media outlets. She has secured media coverage for CASS by the Washington Post, Jezebel, WAMU, FOX, CBS, NBC and more. Her efforts have helped pressures high-profile companies like Lego, Yes to Carrots and BareMinerals into ditching pro-street harassment or sexist marketing campaigns. She was nominated for the Women’s Media Center’s (WMC) 2013 Social Media Award for her successes in leading online campaigns around gender equity and sexual violence prevention. Her writing has been published by Salon, Ms., Huffington Post, Mic, Bitch Magazine and more.
For her day job, Renee serves as Social Media Manager at AAUW. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Maryland, College Park, with a degree in Women’s Studies and American Studies and a certificate in LGBT Studies. Follow Renee at @reneetheorizes.
For the last five years, Shannon has worked with nonprofits and public health agencies on women’s empowerment, women’s health, and ending gender-based violence. She currently serves as Program Manager for Empowering Women International (EWI). Prior to joining EWI, Shannon served as the Program Director of the Younger Women’s Task Force under the National Council of Women’s Organizations, where she worked with younger women across the U.S. to develop leadership trainings and raise awareness about the issues affecting women in their 20s and 30s. In 2007, Shannon worked at PR Solutions, an organization that develops strategies to help nonprofit advocacy groups educate the public.
Shannon holds a Bachelors of Science in Psychology. She was featured as one of “Tomorrow’s Leaders” in the November 2008 issue of “O, The Oprah Magazine” and nominated for the “Young Woman of Achievement” award by WIN in 2009. Shannon has spoken at numerous conferences across the U.S. about women’s issues, women’s empowerment, and gender-based violence.