Mia Birdsong was a 2016 New America CA fellow. Birdsong is a family visionary who has spent more than 20 years fighting for self-determination and pointing out the brilliant adaptations of everyday people. In her current role as Co-Director of Family Story, she is updating this nation’s outdated picture of the American family (hint: rarely 2.5 kids and two heterosexual parents living behind a white picket fence). Prior to launching Family Story, Birdsong was the Vice President of the Family Independence Initiative, an organization that leverages the power of data and stories to illuminate and accelerate the initiative low-income families take to improve their lives. Under her leadership the organization achieved national recognition—including a MacArthur “Genius” award—for its innovative, strength-based approach to catalyzing economic and social mobility.
Birdsong, whose 2015 TED talk “The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn’t True” has been viewed over 1.3 million times already, has been published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Salon, and On Being, and has guest lectured at UC-Berkeley. She co-founded Canerow, a resource for people dedicated to raising children of color in a world that reflects the spectrum of who they are. Birdsong is also a modern Renaissance woman. She has spent time organizing to abolish prisons, teaching teenagers about sex and drugs, interviewing literary luminaries like Edwidge Danticat, David Foster Wallace, and John Irving, and attending births as a midwifery apprentice. These are some of the many reasons that Mia was recognized as one of Colorlines‘ “15 Remarkable Women of Color Who Rocked 2015.”
Birdsong is a graduate of Oberlin College and an inaugural Ascend Fellow of The Aspen Institute. She sits on the Board of Directors for Forward Together and the Tannery World Dance & Cultural Center, and is Board Co-Chair of the North Oakland Community Charter School.