Commencement Speaker

Sonya Renee TaylorSonya Renee Taylor is the author of The Body Is Not an Apology: The Power of Radical Self-Love and the founder of an international movement and organization committed to radical self-love and body empowerment as the foundational tool for social justice and global transformation. Sonya is a former national and international poetry slam champion, author, educator and activist who has performed for audiences across the US, New Zealand, Australia, Germany, England, Scotland, Sweden, Canada and the Netherlands as well as in prisons, mental health treatment facilities, homeless shelters, universities, festivals and public schools across the globe.  

Believing in the power of art as a vehicle for social change, Sonya has been widely recognized for her work as a change agent. She was named one of Planned Parenthood's 99 Dream Keepers in 2015 as well as a Planned Parenthood Generation Action's 2015 Outstanding Partner awardee. She was named one of the 12 Women Who Paved the Way for Body Positivity by Bustle Magazine and in September 2015, she was honored as a YBCA 100, an annual compilation of creative minds, makers, and pioneers who are asking the questions and making the provocations that will shape the future of American culture; an honor she shared alongside author Ta'Nahesi Coates, artist Kara Walker, filmmaker Ava Duvernay and many more.

Sonya and her work has been seen, heard and read on HBO, BET, MTV, TV One, NPR, PBS, CNN, Oxygen Network, The New York Times, New York Magazine, MSNBC.com, Today.com, Huffington Post, Vogue Australia, Shape.com, Ms. Magazine and many more. She is a regular collaborator and artist with organizations such as Planned Parenthood, Advocates for Youth 1in3 Campaign, Association for Size Diversity and Health, Binge Eating Disorders Association (BEDA), Yerba Buena Cultural Art Center and numerous others. 

With a B.A. in Sociology and an M.S.A. in Organizational Management, Sonya continues to be a fierce advocate and activist for intersectional, global justice. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Split This Rock, an organization calling poets to a greater role in public life and fostering a national network of socially engaged poets. Additionally, she serves on the Board of Directors for SisterSong, a pioneering Women of Color reproductive justice collective. She is also actively engaged in the movement for Black Lives and the Anti-Police Terror Project in Oakland, CA.

In 2011, Sonya founded The Body is Not An Apology, an international movement and organization focused on radical self-love and body empowerment. The organization's online platform, www.thebodyisnotanapology.com, hosts a digital magazine, radical education web based workshops, its own social networking site and online forums. Sonya lives in the California Bay Area with her Yorkie, Anastasia Duches,s but continues to tour globally sharing lectures, workshops and performances focused on radical unapologetic healing and personal transformation.