Maya Tellman

Position: (she/her/hers)

Hi! My name is Maya Tellman. I was raised in the Bay Area, California but eventually made my way out to New York to pursue my undergraduate degree. I have been active in Participatory Action Research (PAR) projects since 2018, inspiring a return to school in 2020. I am currently a PhD student in Sociology at the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Graduate Center, a member of CUNY’s Public Science Project, a professor at Brooklyn College, and a facilitator in the YouthNPower project. When I’m not working I love spending time in nature, dancing with friends, sewing, and running around Prospect Park.

Why is this project important to you?
This project means so much to me — as a researcher, as an advocate, and as a human being. I learn from my colleagues everyday — about the realities of the child welfare system, about how to make decisions collectively, and how to ask questions and do research in a way that can connect to real change.

What do you hope to accomplish in this project?
I hope that our project not only brings awareness to the barriers that young people face as they age out of care, but also to the wisdom and power of young people in and beyond our project. I hope that our work can help make the case for guaranteed income as a right for all young people aging out, and can contribute to the growing knowledge of how our current social safety net fails and harms young adults.

What have been some of your experiences in this project?
This project challenges the way that research is so commonly carried out in academic spaces and the hierarchical ways we are made to think about expertise. My experiences in this project have shown me what it means to be deliberately participatory and democratic in our decision-making processes – a slow, sometimes tense, but ultimately beautiful process that leads you to places you otherwise never would have found. I have learned from my colleagues how not to shy away from differences in understanding, but how to instead move through these moments with respect and a shared desire to learn. I’ve also learned how to always find moments for joy and fun amidst the hard work!

What are your hopes and dreams for young people aging out of care?
I hope that young people are given the support and security — financial and otherwise — that they truly need and deserve as they transition out of foster care and into adulthood. I hope that moving forward young people are always given a seat at the table for decisions that directly impact their lives.

Favorite Things:
Color: Orange
Hobbies: Being in nature, sewing, running
Animal: Gecko
Beverage: Fresh coconut water
Zodiac Sign: Pisces Sun, Scorpio Rising, Aquarius Moon