Dr. Mari founded T.U.F.F. Girls because she longed for a space where Black and Brown girls and women could feel safe to lay their burden down, affirmed in owning their bodies, their dance, and their power, and inspired to be political and social change agents for Black and Brown girl liberation. This dream was inspired by the girls and women of her dissertation, Tough Love: Young Urban Women of Color as Public Pedagogues and Their Everyday Lessons of Race, Gender, and Sexuality, and a group of young people she began working with in 2014 during her time as the Education Director of The Lenfest Center. She has mentored and worked with urban middle school youth for 15 years in East Harlem, the Bronx and Philadelphia, and directed a wide range of community programs/workshops - from 7th grade Biology and 9th grade English to Yoni sexual health workshops and healing from state violence. She has also taught at Temple University's College of Education from 2007-2012 and has been teaching, "Education for Liberation" for the past two years. She is also a national member of BYP100, a national organization of Black activists and organization fighting for the liberation of all Black peoples. As the creative director of T.U.F.F. Girls, she develops their curriculum, conducts orientations/trainings, and offers post-classroom support. The thing that excites her most about T.U.F.F. Girls: "I love watching the girls lead events and share their brilliant analysis in powerful speeches, but honestly, I can't help but sense that we FEEL most free during Mirror Movement. When the music is right and turnt up, and we are mirroring movements, our laughter and pure Black and Brown girl joy lifts my spirit allllllll the way up!"