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Lifetime's Remarkable Women campaign honors extraordinary women who inspire and empower others to make a difference in their communities and the world.
April 9: Martha Diaz
Martha Diaz; Founder of the Hip-Hop Association and the Womanhood Learning Project Education: Master's degree from the Gallatin School at New York University Family: Children Anaisa Estrella and Amber Cielo Fun fact: She is a first-generation Colombian-American
Martha Diaz is a community organizer, educator, media maker, social entrepreneur and Hip-Hop scholar. The founder of the award winning Hip-Hop Association, she brought together filmmakers, activists, artists, educators and industry professionals to launch the H2O International Film Festival, and subsequently the H2Ed Initiative and Hip-Hop Association (H2A). The H2A is now part of an international collective that is committed to empowering communities and creating social change through power of Hip-Hop culture.
After seven years, Martha transitioned from president to chair of the H2A, where she has served as creative director, manager and executive producer. H2A earned the prestigious Union Square Arts Award in 2007, receiving proclamations from several public officials. Producing the largest international Hip-Hop Film Festival and Education Summit, the organization sponsored over 75 events and declared 2008 the year of the Hip-Hop Woman.
She co-created and developed the Hip-Hop Education Guidebook Series with Marcella Runella Hall, and also launched the Womanhood Learning Project initiative as a way to empower and foster women in Hip-Hop. She is the editor of her second resource book, which she is currently working on with three other women (Rachel Raimist, Emilie Janin and Irma McClaurin), entitled "Fresh, Bold and So Def: Women In Hip-Hop Changing The Game." It includes powerful testimonials, art, rich history and a directory of 365 international women artists, activists and entrepreneurs.
Diaz developed the Ladies First Fund, the first grant for women in Hip-Hop dedicated to fostering the next generation of women social entrepreneurs. This was made possible thanks to so many women in Hip-Hop and the generous support of Baraka Sele, Loreen Arbus, Barbara Abrash, Diana Noriega, Marcella Runell Hall and Tamara Gardellis.
In 2008, she decided to go back to school to finish her Master's, inspired by a conversation with friend and academic adviser Daniel Banks. A Catherine B. Reynolds Fellow for social entrepreneurship, she completed her Master's Degree at the Gallatin School at New York University. In April 2009, she founded the first Hip-Hop Education Center for Research, Evaluation and Training through a partnership with the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at NYU.
She has been invited to facilitate workshops at numerous educational institutions and social forums including: The Hip-Hop and Social Change Conference in Chicago, UN Week, Family and Community Violence Prevention Conference in Hawaii, National Association for Latino Independent Producers Conference, World Youth Festival in Spain, the Rose and Erwin S. Wolfson Center for National Affairs Speaker's Series, Rap Sessions Speaker's Series, UN-HABITAT's Safer Cities Program in South Africa, and the We B*Girlz Festival in Germany.
She has recently added the role of archivist and blogger to her duties as she continues to consult on media and education projects. In May 2009, she was the first woman to receive a Kool Herc Award, and was recognized by Women eNews as one of their distinguished 21 Leaders for the 21st Century in 2010.
Martha is a first-generation, Colombian-American, and the proud mother of Anaisa Estrella and Amber Cielo. They are fun, smart, crazy, and love music and art.