Initiative Leaders

Maria Carasco
Initiative Mentor
Julia Squitteri

(she/her)

Dress Code Reform Mentor and Former Initiative Leader

Our Founder and Executive Director, Julia Squitteri, initiated the Ruth Project after beginning a passionate fight in Seminole County, Florida, for dress code reform. Julia wanted to build a movement for dress code reform that school authorities would listen to, so she build a Comprehensive Reform Plan, now a staple in all of our initiatives, to list out student testimonies, legal arguments, research in support of dress code reform, exact replacement language, and enforcement guidelines and recommendations. Her team met with county officials at all levels of leadership, and is now working on removing additional discriminatory language after succeeding in getting the word “cleavage” removed from their dress code policy in July 2021.

Julie Wilson
Initiative Mentor
Jamie Bouwens

(she/her)

Dress Code Initiative Mentor

Jamie’s passion for policy reform stems from her own previous experience with battling policies that targeted specific groups. In high school, she took part in her school’s first ever Dress Code Committee. She led the research, presented the findings and made suggestions for change. After a few months of working with students and administrators, her school was able to approve a new and improved dress code. She thought about that committee often and how it helped her find her passion for research and change in social systems. She’s now working to support the Ruth Project as a college student at UCF and plans to continue to support it after graduation.

Addy Lopez
Initiative Leader

Addy Lopez

(they/them)

Pueblo County, CO

Dress Code Reform Initiative

Addy has always wanted to help communities in a meaningful way but wasn’t always sure how to do so. As they became more aware and conscious of the surrounding world, the feeling of complacency became impossible to ignore. Not knowing how to help, or where to begin, Addy started with what they knew best, writing. They began to write how they felt, what they knew, and what they saw. Literature was Addy’s spark. Eventually, this conviction in their unspoken words grew outward, giving Addy the confidence to express themselves vocally. All of this led them to the Ruth Project. Now possessing the support and tools needed to articulate themselves publicly, they are taking the lead in their own community in hopes of being an example to anyone who has ever felt discouraged in establishing the change they want to see. In the future, Addy hopes to attend college and study anthropology. 

Julie Wilson
Initiative Leader
Fayza Jaffer

(she/her)

Seminole County, FL

Sexual Harassment Initiative

Fayza is an initiative leader for the Florida sexual harassment initiative. After conducting a forum addressing dress code reform at her school’s Be the Change club, she was motivated to make change at the county level. After seeing her peers get degraded and receive no support after a sexual harassment concern, she took these issues and made it her goal to reform how her county views these problems. The voice of her peers is what inspires and motivates her to take action and make change. Working alongside members of the Ruth Project, she is starting her work as a representative and is determined to make change.

Sarah Abigail Blackburn
Initiative Leader
Sarah-Abigail Blackburn

(she/her)

Lake of Two Mountains High School, Quebec

Dress Code Reform Initiative

As the oldest of three Sarah thrives in being the protector and voice of her siblings. She takes account of the people around her and hopes that in her presence they feel welcomed and inspired. Sarah believes in never giving up and fighting for what she feels is right, not only for herself but also for the others around her. She hopes that one day, the words “decency code” or “dress code” isn’t known to the students at Lake of Two Mountains High School, her high school in Quebec, Canada. Becoming an initiative leader gives her the chance to feel like she can do more, become more, and help the next generation feel comfortable in their skin and not ashamed.

Julie Wilson
Initiative Leader
Franny Willardson

(she/her/hers)

Pleasanton Unified School District, CA

Dress Code Reform Initiative

Franny has always wanted to be a driver of change but never knew how. During the 2020 lockdown due to the Covid-19 pandemic, she saw a lot of what the world looked like and wanted to change it. Franny became more involved in politics, which has inspired her to study political science and environmental studies in college. Now, as part of the Ruth Project, she feels she is finally able to make a difference in her community by fighting for dress code reform.

Julie Wilson
Initiative Leader
Eesha Vejella

(she/her)

Frisco Independent School District, TX

Sexual Harassment Initiative

Eesha is the Frisco Independent School District (Texas) sexual harassment initiative leader. She became involved within activism through her experiences with bigotry and gender inequity, and her passion for the movement is shaped by the strong intersectional feminists surrounding her. Eesha’s determination is fueled by the need for change in an inequitable world. She hopes to break the gender barriers to foster a world that allows everyone to live their life without fear.

Julie Wilson
Initiative Leader
Nishita Nekkanti

(she/her)

Frisco Independent School District, TX

Sexual Harassment Initiative

Nishita Nekkanti became a part of The Ruth Project in order to combat the overwhelming and constant misogyny and discrimination she witnesses everyday. She strives to clear a path for countless women of all color, class, and sexual orientation to fight against systemic oppression and to create a different world that isn’t designed to hold them back from their aspirations. Nishita’s passion for creating an environment where women have the means and resources to speak up against their harassers has led her to become a part of the Ruth Project, and she hopes that she can continue to make a difference while being surrounded by like-minded activists, such as those in The Ruth Project.

Julie Wilson
Initiative Leader
Darshini Vanchee

(she/they)

Duval County School District, FL

Sexual Harassment Initiative

Darshini has always had a passion for making a change and advocating for those who can’t and is now an initiative leader for sexual harassment in Duval County (Jacksonville, FL). With The Ruth Project she hopes to educate people about the realities that women not only in her county but worldwide face along with helping women who feel as though they don’t have a voice/or isn’t being heard. Her love for feminism and equality was sparked by all the strong, hardworking women in her life, and not only hopes to help and empower women but all minorities who face oppression such as the lgbtqia+ community. Darshini is motivated by not only her own experiences with inequality but by the stories of others and hopes to make a difference.

Julie Wilson
Initiative Leader
Kenzie Gorton

(she/her)

Martin County, FL

Dress Code Reform Initiative

Kenzie has always held an authentic desire for assisting and advocating in her local community to become more inclusive. After advocating against her counties sexist dress code policies, she became involved with the Ruth Project, in hope of truly igniting a change within her community. Outside of the Ruth Project, she is a student aid in her school’s ESE program, club soccer player, and cross country co-captain. In the future, she aspires to pursue either environmental law or special education, as well as to never stop pushing for inclusivity and justice.