Originally from Louisiana, Marissa and her family relocated to Burlington Washington where she found her own voice - a voice that was much different than that of her conservative parents but was much more true to her needs as a person. A life-long Christian and a degree holder in Biblical Studies, Marissa uses her faith as a tool to bring peace to her life, and help guide her in her mission to not only find answers to the difficult questions that arise at times, but also to help others in their own journeys.
Moved to action by the murder of Michael Brown, Marissa quickly acknowledged the distinction between being effective, and being well liked - a distinction that showed itself in the notorious but effective disruption of then presidential candidate Bernie Sanders by Marissa and Mara Willaford. While this action garnered a varying amount of positive and negative attention, for Marissa this was an expression of the agitation work that had been effective in sparking hard and often uncomfortable change for those in positions of privilege. The unsustainable nature of this type of work however, left Marissa questioning how she could maintain meaningful work that would have a lasting impact, while making sure that it was personally healthy and sustainable.
Safety Pin Box was born and operated until May 2018.
In her current business, The Phoenix Fighter, Marissa expanded the ally education work she does with a focus on transformation. The Phoenix Fighter motto is “The world around us is on fire and in that context you have options: you can be consumed by it, or you can be transformed by it. We choose transformation.” The Phoenix Fighter is a digital subscription box created to equip white allies with the knowledge and perspective necessary to be effective in the fight against white supremacy while providing essential funding to the work of Black activists across the globe. The Phoenix Fighter also partners with other organizations on education campaigns and facilitates trainings for various audiences on how to be a better ally. This is where the bulk of Marissa's work is focused, and whether it be working directly with clients, doing podcasts, or writing a book, Marissa's core mission is the building financial sustainability for The Phoenix Fighter’s Forty Acres And A Future Fund through training white people to be better allies.
In her rare moments of free time, Marissa spends her time playing with children, swimming, singing, and engaging in quality time with her friends and family.
"So You Want To Be An Ally?” Harper Perennial (2019, TBA)
Safety Pin Box Book (TBA 2018)
Want to keep up the fight for Black liberation? Visit The Phoenix Fighter and find out how to go beyond being just an "ally".