Lena Vann

Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Young Defender Lena Vann, a passionate activist from North Carolina A&T University, is dedicated to addressing the intersection of race and menstrual justice. Hailing from an immigrant background, she firmly believes in uplifting others and supporting her community with an open hand. As Miss Freshman at her school, Lena took on the responsibility of organizing school events for the student body, using her platform to advocate for important causes.

Her activism was born from a keen observation of the lack of support and representation for women who identify as minorities or queer in discussions surrounding menstrual equity.

“I was inspired by the work around menstrual justice, but I did not see people who looked like me,” Lena said. “Minority groups are most impacted by period poverty and tackling this issue is a public health concern.”

Recognizing the critical need for action, Lena decided to organize a menstrual hygiene event, where she rallied 30 volunteers who crafted over 50 cloth sanitary napkins. Within a remarkably short span of just 9 months, she spearheaded the creation of over 1400 period kits, demonstrating the immense impact one individual can have when driven by a passion for justice.

But Lena’s vision for menstrual equity extends beyond immediate action. She aspires to create a future where menstrual products are not only accessible and affordable but also free from the societal stigma that often surrounds periods. To achieve this, she has set her sights on eradicating the discriminatory “pink tax” on feminine hygiene products and developing an app to help individuals find the most affordable and accessible products nearby. In her journey as an activist, Lena draws inspiration from her grandmother, whose unwavering commitment to making a difference serves as a guiding light.

Looking ahead, Lena is resolute in her mission to expand her Black Period Project to the West Coast, with a particular focus on underrepresented areas like the Pacific Northwest. Through her dedication to activism, she aims to empower more communities and effect lasting change in the realm of period equity and racial justice.

Lena also plans to attend law school to further her social justice advocacy. Her ultimate dream is to create a curriculum centered on equitable tech and AI, safeguarding Black communities from potential harm and inequality in the ongoing fight for justice.

Lena Vann’s journey as an activist exemplifies the power of individual determination and passion in driving meaningful change. As she continues to champion the cause of menstrual justice and social equality, her work is an inspiration for others to join the fight for a more equitable and just society.

Profile written by Allison Gilmore.