Renée Menart grew up the youngest of six in a blended family that embraced creativity and compassion. Born and raised in Los Angeles, Renée attended public schools that offered valuable opportunities to develop as a writer, artist, and community activist. She went on to receive a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from DePaul University in Chicago.

In Chicago, she taught preschool children through Jumpstart, a national reading and literacy program serving under-resourced communities. She later conducted a study with incarcerated peers in the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which led Illinois to provide peer-led civic education for people being released from prison.

Renée returned to California by way of San Francisco. There, she spent nearly five years as a policy analyst and advocate with the Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice. Her work has supported the closure of California’s dangerous youth prisons and provided policy training for system-impacted community leaders. In June 2022, she continued her work in the Philippines with as a Fulbright research grantee supporting youth at Bahay Tuluyan Quezon, a residential center for justice-involved youth and their peers. When Renée is not writing stories, you can find her crafting, exploring nature, and working to keep families together!

Watch: Learn more about Renée—her passions, perspectives, and experiences— in her 2022 talk “Collaborating for Change: Engaging Youth in Research and Justice Reform”.

Read: A Model for Safety and Justice: Filipino Youth Experiences and Outcomes in a Children’s Rights Organization-Run Residential Center