Meet Arianna Sessoms, Prevention Technical Assistance & Training Manager!

Person smiling at the camera with arm on a railing and water and skyline in the background.

Arianna, what’s your story?

I grew up in Stafford, Virginia but have lived in different cities, states, and countries throughout my life. I got my B.A. from James Madison University, my M.Ed. from the University of Maine, and hope to one day make up my mind about whether or not I want a PhD. I currently live in Washington, DC, but am so excited to become a resident of RVA within the next year. The Action Alliance is an organization whose work I have had my eyes on since the beginning of my professional career, so I couldn’t be more pumped to be joining this amazing team and moving to my birth state’s capital.

Why do you do this anti-violence work?

For as long as I can remember, I have been passionate about many social justice issues, and always felt called to help make the world a better place. As a college student, I loved helping other young people get acclimated to the community, whether that was through leading orientation programming for new students or giving tours and answering questions for prospective students and their families. Just helping someone feel less confused, safer, and more excited about the future was a joy and an honor for me! After college, I decided to go to graduate school and pursue a career in sexual violence education, prevention, and response work on college campuses, so students could feel safe and supported while at school. Now a few years later, I am excited to continue expanding prevention work far beyond college campuses to our larger spaces and communities. I believe that sexual violence is preventable, and that healthy friendships and relationships are so important. We all have the tools we need to prevent so much unnecessary trauma; I want to help folks use those tools to build a better world.

A person smiling at the camera wearing a jacket and scarf holding a sign that says, "Not on our campus" next to a bundle of purple balloons and a single white balloon tied to a railing. In the background is a campus lawn with trees and a distant building.
Arianna holding a sign that says “Not On Our Campus” at a Domestic Violence Awareness Month event at the University of Maine.

What’s one goal you have for your first year on the Culture Change Team?

In my first year on the team, I look forward to getting to learn and innovate the ways we both talk about and implement primary prevention strategies, whether we’re working with families, schools, churches, bars and restaurants, or any other avenue in our community that can be an agent for change. I also look forward to meeting new people! This work cannot be done without making connections and building strong relationships with individuals and organizations so we can best collaborate and support one another in our shared goal of keeping communities free from violence. I can’t wait to get to know folks across Virginia to understand what their communities need and how I can help!

Who is your favorite artist right now?

I love everything Lil Nas X is putting out right now. I have always loved music and paid pretty close attention to popular culture. I feel a lot of pride watching young queer people of color thrive and seeing their creativity and artistry excel over time. I stan for an artist who is unapologetically themself, and who has a great sense of humor. I hope folks like Lil Nas will keep taking their space in mainstream media and continue empowering other young up-and-coming artists.

What do you like to do for fun?

Normally, I am an extrovert who loves to be out and about, but as a result of the pandemic I have had to learn to enjoy being more of a homebody. I love listening to podcasts, cooking vegan meals, having conversations with my cat Luna, and watching trash reality shows. I spend too much time watching TikToks, sharing memes, and buying books that I never actually take time to read. When it is safe to do so, I enjoy traveling to visit family, friends, or just explore the world around me. My goal is to travel to all 50 states. Right now, I’m more than halfway there! 

A person sitting with her legs hanging off a big rock overlooking an expanse of land, smiling at the camera across her shoulder.
Arianna hiking in Harrisonburg, Virginia.
A person wearing a winter coat and scarf standing by a stone wall by a canal with buildings along the side of the canal.
Arianna in front of the canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
A person taking a photo on their smartphone of the New York City skyline in Las Vegas.
Arianna taking a picture of “NYC” in Las Vegas, Nevada.
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