Mission Statement

Founded in 2009 at UC Davis, Sacramento Area Youth Speaks (SAYS) strives to change the world through education and empowerment. Building on a foundation of critical literacy and spoken word performance poetry, SAYS breaks the chains of underachievement by elevating the voices of young people and creating spaces for students to become authors of their own lives and agents of change.

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SAYS Staff and Structure

Dr. Vajra Watson
Director of Research and Policy for Equity/SAYS Founder and Director

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Patrice Hill
SAYS Program Coordinator and Professional Development Specialist

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Denisha Bland
Lead Poet-Mentor Educator and Operations Manager

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Laura Andrews-Cook
Lead Poet-Mentor Educator and Keeper of The Heart

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Andreas "Dre-T" Tillman 
Poet-Mentor Educator and Artistic Specialist

Jennifer Vargas 
Poet-Mentor Educator and Social Media Specialist


Takarra Johnson 
Poet-Mentor Educator Apprentice and Community Relations Specialist