Josh Healey is an award-winning writer, performer, and creative activist. Fusing his distinct storytelling style with a subversive humor and fiery love for justice, Healey has been featured in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and is a regular performer on NPR’s Snap Judgment. He has performed and led workshops at UC-Berkeley, Harvard, Michigan, New York University, and over 200 colleges, high schools, and conferences across the country.
At the age of 21, Healey co-founded the First Wave program at the University of Wisconsin, the first full-scholarship hip-hop arts program in the nation. He then served as program director for Youth Speaks, directing spoken word programs across the Bay Area and the Brave New Voices international youth poetry slam. Author of the poetry collection Hammertime, Healey has performed at the San Francisco Opera House, National Poetry Slam, Second City Comedy Club, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Arab Cultural Center, and grimy house parties from coast to coast.
As a filmmaker, Healey has written, produced, and performed in award-winning videos that combine social commentary with ridiculous comedy. His recent projects include: Brother Earth, starring Boots Riley and named by climate change leader Bill McKibben as “the funniest, bar-none sharpest global warming video eve” as well as Keystone XL Has a Job for You!, which won the 2014 San Francisco Green Film Festival award for “Best Community Short Film.” Healey’s videos have been featured in The Huffington Post, Upworthy, AfroPunk, ColorLines, Alternet, and his 13-year-old nephew Timmy’s “Not Terrible Videos” channel on Youtube.
In 2011, Healey received the Mario Savio Young Activist Award, delivering his acceptance performance in front of 10,000 people at Occupy Cal. He has received fellowships and grants from the National Performance Network, Zellerbach Foundation, Open Circle Foundation, Akonadi Foundation, and the City of Oakland. He was the first-ever Artist in Residence for Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice. He is currently the Culture Shift Director for Movement Generation, producing innovative shows, comedic videos, and creative interventions from the frontlines of the climate justice movement in the Bay Area and beyond.
Born and raised in Washington, DC, Healey lives in Oakland. He plays a mean game of spades.
As a poet, comedian, storyteller, and event host, Healey has performed at poetry slams, comedy clubs, world-class opera houses, grimy house parties, and venues all the way from the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City to the Queer Cultural Center in San Francisco. He has shared the stage with Amiri Baraka, Jesse Jackson, Beau Sia, Brother Ali, Invincible, Patricia Smith, Martin Espada, Immortal Technique, Danny Hoch, Chuck D, and too many high school battle-rappers to count.
A community organizer at heart, the first time Healey ever spoke in public was at an anti-war rally in DC after 9/11, when he was seventeen years old. Since then, he has worked with social justice organizations leading campaigns for racial justice, immigrant rights, labor solidarity, peace in the Middle East, and many other human rights issues. Healey has coordinated rallies, conferences, and innovative workshops with groups like Jobs with Justice, United Students Against Sweatshops, Jewish Voice for Peace, Marriage Equality, Ella Baker Center, Youth Together, and the Oscar Grant Foundation.
Amplifying alternative voices in the mainstream conversation, Healey is a contributing editor for Tikkun magazine and a regular columnist for The Progressive. Founding co-host of The Cipher Zone
radio show on WORT in Madison, WI, Healey can now be heard regularly on KPFA in the Bay Area. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Huffington Post, ColorLines, Alternet, Upworthy, Heeb, Culture Strike, and Sojourners. His first international interview was with Al-Jazeera. Shalom.
Who liked school growing up? Not this kid. It wasn’t until he became a youth organizer himself that Healey realized the power and potential of cutting-edge educational practices. Combining the liberation pedagogies of Paolo Freire and Afrika Bambaataa, Healey co-founded the First Wave program at the University of Wisconsin. Bridging hip-hop and the academy, First Wave is the country’s first full-scholarship program for young spoken word & hip-hop artists. Through Youth Speaks and the Brave New Voices national network, Healey spread a youth-centered educational model in cities and schools throughout the Bay Area and beyond. He has lectured and led teacher trainings at UC-Davis, University of Illinois, and schools across the country.