With the support of the American Family Insurance Institute for Corporate and Social Impact, Cerberus, and ServiceNow, NationSwell is uplifting a second cohort of young leaders through skills-building workshops, mentorship, and access to an expanded network and resources. Over the course of 10 months, the NationSwell Fellows team works with these impressive leaders to co-design programming, develop and refine individual incubator projects, and make curated connections. 

This group of young social impact innovators is highly accomplished and working through intersectional strategies. As social impact innovators, they work on a variety of social issues including mental health access and awareness, climate justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, youth unhousedness, data for good, and Indigenous rights. In this series, NationSwell will be highlighting each outstanding fellow, showcasing their passions and endeavors, and giving you insight on how to support them.

In this installment, we talk with Maya Siegel, who is highly passionate about climate justice and opportunities for young people, and currently works as the platforms manager for Feminist, the largest women-owned social media platform for women, girls, and gender-expansive people. She is the co-founder of Stories of Consent, an organization dedicated to making consent education more accessible and available for young people. 

Trigger warning: this story includes experiences with sexual violence

NationSwell: Tell us about your journey to social impact and what inspired you to start Stories of Consent. What was the moment you knew you wanted to devote your professional life to what you’re doing now?

Maya Siegel: My journey into this space was sparked by my love for community service, which led me to volunteer for organizations with missions spanning from gun violence prevention and environmental justice to menstrual equity and beyond. Through these experiences, I gained an understanding of the interconnectedness of social issues and developed skills that were valuable to the workforce. 

There was no singular moment where I decided to make this my career. I just kept pursuing my passions and eventually had the skills and experience to be paid for the work I was doing.

My motivation to start Stories of Consent stemmed from experiencing sexual violence before consent. The first time I was with a partner who demonstrated consent (which was nearly a decade after my first encounter with sexual violence) changed my life, and inspired the desire to shift the narrative of survivorship from one of trauma to one of  joy. In 2023, Emily Bach and I co-founded Stories of Consent (SOC) with the idea of sharing only stories of affirmative consent, in contrast to survivor testimonials.  

NationSwell: What are some of the ways this fellowship has been able to support your work? What have you gotten out of it, and has anything surprised you along the way?

Maya Siegel: This fellowship has given my cofounder and I the time to intentionally think about SOC’s impact and future. We are incredibly grateful to the NationSwell team and mentors, who not only encourage the SOC team to dream big but lend their time, resources, and experience to our cause. 

NationSwell: What’s the focus of your work right now? And what’s next for you?

Maya Siegel: Presently and for the foreseeable future, we are focused on amplifying stories of affirmative consent from all 50 states on our website and in middle and high schools around the county via the Certified Peer Educator Training. We hope these stories will contextualize consent for young people and contribute to our collective global health and safety.

NationSwell: How can NationSwell’s ecosystem of social impact leaders and partners help you with your short term and/or long term goals? 

Maya Siegel: Currently, SOC is looking to engage students on college campuses through collaborations with student-run organizations and student advocacy centers. If you are part of either, we’d love to work with you! Additionally, we are always open to amplification and funding opportunities. 

Thank you so much to NationSwell for this fellowship opportunity and for actively supporting our mission to make consent education accessible and relatable.

To learn more about the NationSwell Fellows program, visit our fellowship hub.