Marissa manages  grant fundraising and reporting for Urban Word. She has 15 years of non-profit fundraising, strategy and board development experience as staff, consultant, and volunteer/Board capacities at youth-serving organizations city- and nationwide. Prior to Urban Word she was the Director of Programs & Grants at a private foundation overseeing all phases of grant funding and administration, from inquiry to award to monitoring and reporting.  Marissa is a graduate of Binghamton University in New York and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Dr. Camea Davis is a poet-researcher and teacher educator with a doctorate in critical educational policy studies. Her research and community work explores minoritized youth civic action and youth spoken word as tools to advance equitable democracy. She is currently managing all participating cities of the National Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Mahogany L. Browne serves as the Artistic Director of Urban Word and one of our most vital community members. She is the inaugural Poet-In-Residence at Lincoln Center, was selected as Kennedy Center’s Next 50, is the Executive Director of JustMedia, a writer, playwright, organizer, & educator. Browne has received fellowships from Arts for Justice, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of recent works: Vinyl Moon, Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, & Black Girl Magic, and many others. Founder of the diverse lit initiative Woke Baby Book Fair, Browne’s latest poetry collection Chrome Valley (Norton) is a promissory note to survival. As Artistic Director, she connects Urban Word to the wider poetry community, offering advice and connections for programming, and curating our annual Black Girl Magic Ball which serves as a fundraiser for Urban Word as well as a fellowship for young girls and gender expansive youth ages 13-19.

 is a Brooklyn-based poet, screenwriter, visual artist and educator. Her expertise in instructional design and differentiated learning was forged through over a decade of experience in youth-based nonprofits and educational technology. As a curriculum specialist, she co-authored Fresh Ed: A Field Guide to Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (2016), later serving as Project Director for the Fresh Ed integrative arts program. Eboni attended New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts before going on to become the 2010 Women of the World Poetry Slam Champion and the recipient of the 2018 Friends of Literature prize (Poetry Foundation). As Program Director at Urban Word, Eboni manages our roster of teaching artists as well as our core and off-site programming, including school residencies and general artist requests.

Janine Simon is an artist and communications professional who was born, raised, and is currently based in New York City.

Michael Cirelli served as Urban Word’s Executive Director for over 15 years, and in 2008 he founded the National Youth Poet Laureate Program. His work supports the strategic growth of Youth Poet Laureate Programs nationally, and elevating platforms for young poets, leaders and changemakers.

Interested in joining our Board of Directors?

Are you or is someone you know looking for ways to be more involved in your community, support a vital Black-led organization, and amplify the creative, educational, and professional development of young people in NYC and across the country? As we expand our capacity and community, we are excited to grow our board. We welcome expertise and fresh ideas from all industries. If this is exciting to you, email and our Board Development Committee will quickly be in touch.