Marissa Diekhoff joined Housing Action Illinois as a Communications and Development VISTA in the summer of 2017. While completing a B.A. in International Human Rights and Photography (Webster University) and M.A. in Photography and Urban Cultures (Goldsmiths, University of London), she focused on the exploitation and perpetuation of poverty by the U.S. criminal justice system and the aggressive urban regeneration of a working-class neighborhood in London. She thrives at the intersection of creative media, critical social analysis, and community advocacy, and her practice draws from visual ethnography, community action research, and feminist fieldwork.
Driven by a passion for social justice and storytelling, Marissa worked with a number of nonprofits throughout her studies. As a Digital Media Intern at StreetWise, she worked with program participants to tell their stories through photographs and articles in StreetWise Magazine. She had her first immersion in an activist community by volunteering with a grassroots legal collective (STL Jail Support) that formed to protect and aid protestors arrested in Black Lives Matter demonstrations in St. Louis, MO. Marissa worked with Fotosynthesis to develop and facilitate several Literacy Through Photography workshops, which utilized creative methods to approach Early Learning Goals and soft skill-building in low-income elementary schools in London, England. These experiences led Marissa to focus on using her interdisciplinary background to build the capacity of nonprofits and bolster sustainable community movements.