About Me

For twenty years, I have been empowered by feminism and social justice and have drawn inspiration from putting pen to paper.

As a child, pen not yet in hand, I threw tantrums when I wasn’t allowed to do things because I was a girl.  As a teenager, constructively, I took my pen to copying anecdotes from police reports at a domestic violence shelter, drawing posters for a protest denouncing violence against women and sketching production notes for a public reading of Adrienne Rich’s poetry.

At Stanford UniversityFeminist Studies courses enlivened my mind and invigorated my pen. Meanwhile, I struggled with counterintuitive concepts in Economics and Public Policy, in spite of persistent study. The theories, based on the actions of “universal man,” seemed to leave out of the experiences of many, including women, immigrants and people of color.

Feeling my theoretical canvas incomplete, I took International Development tutorials on women’s movements at Oxford, created my first feminist exhibition for a graduate certificate from the Network Of Interdisciplinary Women’s Studies in Europe and explored film as a pedagogical tool while completing my masters’ degree in Education at Harvard University.

I put my pen aside temporarily to research embodiment and non-verbal means of knowing with women’s rights activists for my doctoral work in Human Development, also earned at Harvard.

My first “job” as a professional feminist, came through an internship at the Global Fund for Women where I read and responded to hand-written and passionately-argued requests for funding from women’s organizations from all over the world.

With the advent of email and the internet, a mouse joined my pen as I worked back and forth between paper and computer screen in future professional roles – crafting programs for women immigrants at the Center for Women Policy Studies, co-designing a grantmaking program for young feminists at the Third Wave Foundation, creating a gender sensitivity manual for international development workers and campaigning internally for Amnesty International USA to expand its vision of reproductive rights.

I’ve curated two exhibitions for the International Museum of Women — one on women’s political participation and another featuring women’s experiences in the current, troubled global economy.  The second has allowed me to work in depth with photographers and their photographs, exploring how to humanize technical economic jargon.

For three years, I wrote articles on timely happenings from a feminist perspective, conducted forward-looking research on what’s next for women’s rights and developed educational materials to expand literacy of feminist economics, all on behalf of the Association for Women’s Rights in Development.

Currently a Curator at the Smithsonian Institution, I am working on an exhibition about Indian immigrants and Indian Americans.

As part of my creative process, anything that I have created of significance has been first written or sketched by hand. This includes drafts of articles, project plans, chapters of my doctoral dissertation, exhibition designs, photography layouts, podcast scripts and, yes, this bio.

My work has been translated into Arabic, French, Khmer, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Turkish and featured through tweets and blogs, including FeministingGender Across BordersOpenDemocracy and The Word on Women.

When not working, I practice yoga, experiment with vegan cooking, listen to qawwali music and savor tennis.

View my full CV(pdf) here and contact me at masummomaya@gmail.com.

Click for Acknowledgments

Center Photo Credits:

Homepage: Paola Gianturco
About page: Mimi Kuo-Deemer
Portfolio page: Pierre Holtz for UNICEF
Media page: Hamed Saber
Services page: Jenna Mulhall-Brereton
Web Design:
Page Design: Chaitali Karmarkar
Site Development: Michael Sky/33 WebStreet