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avatar for Nza-Ari Khepra

Nza-Ari Khepra

Project Orange Tree
Cofounder
Chicago is where Nza-Ari was born and raised, and where she lost her 15-year-old friend Hadiya Pendleton to gun violence in 2013. “She was basically trying to get cover from the rain with a couple of her other friends about five minutes away from our high school,” she tells Teen Vogue. Nza-Ari helped found Project Orange Tree just after that tragedy in hopes of promoting peace and raising awareness on the issue and eventually helped launch the Wear Orange Campaign, a collaboration with Everytown for Gun Safety.

“There are a lot of different identities that intersect with gun violence and gun violence prevention,” says Nza-Ari, who is now 21 years old and a student at Columbia University in New York City. “We're in a moment of liberation, especially with just coming to terms with all of our different identities and finding ways that we can embrace them, especially within this movement alone.”