About Us

“We Are ‪#‎BlackLivesMatterChicago‬ Profiles” is an online gallery showcasing individuals who are involved in, affected by, inspired by, and/or connected to the ‪#‎BlackLivesMatter‬ movement.

The #BlackLivesMatter movement is a global, chapter-based effort working for the humanization and validity of black life. Chicago, specifically, has centered its calls for justice on the deaths of Sandra Bland, Rekia Boyd, Ronald Johnson, and Laquan McDonald— all of whom, in separate instances, were killed by police.

The four people featured in our online profile gallery are Chicago-native activists, a poet, and an inspirational leader— all centered in their specific communities. With their stories, experiences and work acting as an integral part of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, their voices are of utmost importance as they share just what it means to be such an influential part of American history.


Co-Managing Editor

Smith is nearing the end of her junior year studying magazine journalism at Columbia College Chicago. Her time spent as a managing editor on Fashion Frank digital magazine and We Are #BLM Chicago profile gallery has officially confirmed her passion for collaboration and long-form journalism. Outside of the classroom, Smith is the In-Store Trainer at Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics on Armitage— and because of this, she is the proud owner of an extensive soap collection. When she isn’t writing or at the shop, she can be found watching Criminal Minds, curbing her caffeine addiction or spending time with her family in the suburbs.

Website: www.biancapsmith.com
Email: biancapsmith@gmail.com
Twitter: @biancapsmith


Co-Managing Editor

Lisle is a senior journalism student at Columbia College Chicago. She wants to travel the world, writing about her experiences and learning about different cultures. Lisle has been an editorial intern for finance magazine Modern Trader and a research assistant for author Robert K. Elder. She hopes to someday learn about international relations in Antarctica and learn about publishing in London. Some of her favorite magazines are Kinfolk, Porter, W and Russh. She loves taking ordinary things and making them amazing.

LinkedIn: Madison Lisle
Email: mlisle7@gmail.com
Twitter: @MadsLisle


Co-Web & Social Media Editor, Photographer

After working professionally for over 20 years, Lathan is back in college and she’s loving it. She says that college students nowadays are wonderfully bright and so much smarter than they were 20 years ago— especially Columbia College Chicago students! She’s definitely learned more from them these past few months than she ever would have imagined.

Email: kris.lathan@gmail.com
LinkedIn: Kris Hunter Lathan
Twitter: @hunterlathan


Co-Web Editor & Photographer

Degen will graduate from Columbia College in May 2016 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, a concentration in Magazine Editing & Writing, and a Public Relations minor. Still unsure of what the future may hold, she hopes to someday write for a publication that combines her love of politics and literature. In her spare time, she can be found reading Orwellian classics, beating her computer in chess, or watching “The Wedding Singer” for the thousandth time. Degen has previously worked for The Columbia Chronicle, the number one non-daily college newspaper in the nation, and was an editorial intern at Cars.com.

Website: http://carissaleighdegen.wix.com/home
Twitter: @carissa_degen
Email: carissaleighdegen@gmail.com


Social Media & Content Editor

King is a 21-year-old Journalism student living in Chicago. She enjoys reading and writing fiction in her spare time, along with knitting and playing the piano. Upon graduating from college, King plans on moving to New York City to pursue her dream of working for a website like Buzzfeed or Dose.

Email: Camille.king@loop.colum.edu


About Us & Content Editor, Photographer

Thigpen is a graduating senior at Columbia College Chicago who plans on becoming an entrepreneur. She hopes to be a freelance stylist and the next Anna Wintour but not as cold. She loves all things style, beauty, and pop culture. You can find her in front of a screen binge-watching YouTube makeup tutorials, finding fashion inspo, and fully engaging in the latest gossip story.

Website: www.myrandastyled.com
Email: myranda.thigpen@loop.colum.edu



Kelly has written about bike messengers, futurist pop culture and Chicago’s taxicab industry. He can be found at the library with lots of coffee and vegan junk food.

Email: cameron.kelly@loop.colum.edu



Fontana is a magazine journalism student who also studies fashion business. Among her future goals of renting a shoebox-sized apartment in New York City and keeping her Christian Louboutins in the oven, she aspires to work for a publication that focuses on women’s fashion, beauty, health and lifestyle. In five years, you’ll most likely find her at a Manhattan Starbucks—red pen in hand and red soles on her feet.

LinkedIn: Gianna Fontana
Email: Gianna.fontana@loop.colum.edu
Twitter: @TheNextBradshaw



Wittich is a journalism student at Columbia College Chicago. He has worked at the Columbia Chronicle since Fall 2013 as a campus reporter, section editor and managing editor. DuringWittich’s time as managing editor, the paper was awarded first place in general excellence. He was also awarded first place in feature writing by the Illinois College Press Association. Looking forward to graduating in May 2017, Wittich is currently applying for internships for the summer and fall semesters. After college, he aspires to continue reporting and writing, either for a music and culture publication or a local Chicago newspaper.

LinkedIn: Jacob Wittich
Email: jacob.wittich@loop.colum.edu
Twitter: @JacobWittich



As an intern at the Poetry Foundation and bookseller for Women & Children First, Ozer is constantly surrounded by literature from voices that need to be heard. They spend long periods of time watching “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and reading/watching/listening to work by oppressed artists who want the world to grow.

LinkedIn: Beyza Ozer
Email: beyza.ozer@loop.colum.edu
Twitter: @beyzaozercc



Hood was raised on a goat farm in Tennessee. She loves animals so much, she hasn’t eaten any of them for three years. She’s a political geek, yogi, fiction writer, and her favorite color is green. She believes in diverse communication strategies and is dedicated to good storytelling. She’s been published in the Chicago Reader, Chicago Talks and the Columbia Chronicle. She teaches bluegrass fiddle and lives with her geriatric dog.

Website: alhworks.pressfolios.com
Email: abigailhood17@gmail.com
Twitter: @AbigailLeeHood


Graphic Designer: John Luckas