White House Author
Terisa Tinei Siagatonu
Pacific Islander Education and Retention (PIER)
Terisa Tinei Siagatonu is a spoken word artist/arts educator and community organizer from the Bay Area. A graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz, she is currently the Project Director for PIER: the Pacific Islander Education and Retention project at UCLA, an access project that exists to combat the low matriculation rates of Pacific Islander students into higher education by offering services ranging from free tutoring, mentorship, and peer advising to Pacific Islander high school students in Los Angeles. Her emergence into the spoken word world as a queer Samoan women and activist has granted her the opportunities to perform on stages ranging from Boston’s Cutler Majestic Theatre to the Women’s Stage at the 2010 Oakland PRIDE Festival. She has worked as a poet mentor with Youth Speaks, the leading nonprofit organization for spoken word performance and literary arts education in the country, as well as on grassroots levels with groups such as One Love Oceania, a queer Pacific Islander women’s organization from the Bay Area, the Samoan Community Development Center of San Francisco, Empowering Pacific Islander Communities of Los Angeles, and Engaging Education of the University of California, Santa Cruz. Her devotion to her Pacific Islander people and her work with college access and spoken word poetry helps her to drive the development of Pacific Islander youth, advocating for self-empowerment so they can create sustainable impact in their communities, starting with themselves.