Meet the 2024 Stories Invincible reporting fellows

Five Camden storytellers will uncover and share restorative narratives about the ‘Invincible City’

6 min readMar 22, 2024

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The second year of the Stories Invincible fellowship is officially underway.

We would first like to extend sincere gratitude on behalf of the Stories Invincible selection committee. More than a dozen applicants shared their ambitions and ideas with us this winter and after careful consideration, we selected five new storytellers who will help push SI in new directions.

As always, we aim to uncover and share restorative narratives about the “Invincible City” of Camden, New Jersey.

These new voices speak on adjusting to life after the prison system, self-transformation & women’s empowerment, shedding light on Camden’s immigrant community, highlighting the impact of some of Camden’s legendary institutions, and chronicling just how much change the city has seen over recent times. Their stories will be shared in multiple ways with community gatherings, podcasts, and documentaries already in the works.

Meet your 2024 Camden storytellers:

Erika Cruz

Erika Cruz is a thought leader, transformation activator, and mindset coach. She believes that everyone can transform their negative mindsets and thrive in life. Making people feel, own, and celebrate their life story is her continuous mission. As the CEO of Transform to Thrive Agency she’s committed to educating women in personal and business development. Erika is known for hosting women empowerment events that highlight personal and business growth.

She enjoys sharing stories of her past to encourage women to believe in themselves and fulfill their passions. Through her interactions with people on all levels, she has learned how to utilize her storytelling skills to motivate others. Erika’s goal is to host a talk show highlighting urban issues and solutions.

Erika believes that one day her story will help millions of women avoid dependency and poverty.

Justin Harris

Justin Harris is a local photographer & digital media marketer with a creative spirit and a passionate drive to make an impact in my community. A recent graduate of Rutgers University — Camden, he’s developed a holistic perspective to tackling projects and problems from a communal, academic & professional standpoint. Throughout his time at Rutgers, he enjoyed the experiences he was able to gather in my many jobs, projects, and club affiliations. It introduced him to not only the potential in those around him but the community of Camden as well.

What drives him forward is the ability to connect with people and organizations on a meaningful level — whether it’s capturing a local story by interviewing an artist or helping a brand tell their unique story. He believes in the power of visual storytelling to inspire, inform, and evoke emotion from the audience.

He’s excited to join the Stories Invincible team and promote narratives that’ll leave a lasting impact on the Camden community.

Namibia El

Namibia El is an educator, writer, and illustrator hailing from Camden, New Jersey — boasting over 20 years of diverse experience in education, serving roles such as classroom teacher and administrator. Beyond her educational pursuits, Namibia ardently champions youth and the arts, dedicating her time as a lifetime member/volunteer at Unity Community Center, a nonprofit focused on youth intervention through the arts in Camden.

In addition to her advocacy work, Namibia contributes to the dialogue as a freelance journalist for a weekly newspaper in Philadelphia, sharing her insights on various topics. In 2021, she established Legacy Learning Books, a publishing and educational company. Since its inception, Namibia has authored, illustrated, and self-published three children’s books and facilitated the publication of works by new authors.

Her endeavors under Legacy Learning Books underscore her commitment to advancing literacy, fostering cultural appreciation, and nurturing a love for the arts.

Rann Miller

Rann Miller is an author, educator, and advocate for the education of Black children in the Delaware Valley Region. His experience as an author and writer spans over ten years and his experience in both K-12 settings and higher education settings spans over 15 years. As an educator, he’s served in various capacities, including faculty and administration.

He is the Director of DEI Initiatives for the Camden’s Promise Charter Schools. He is also part of the faculty, teaching AP U.S. History.

Ronald Estevez-Perez

Ronald Estevez-Perez developed a passion for filmmaking with the desire to keep a connection to his culture. He took this passion further and graduated with a BA in Television and Film and New Media minor from Rowan University.

Today, he’s the founder of RE Films, a production company based out of Camden, NJ, and has also worked for NFL Films as an Associate Producer on the Show “Hard Knocks”.

Our newest fellows join our storytellers from previous years, who are also returning to continue their work. You can get updates on their plans from our previous post here.

We gathered the storytellers together for the first time on Thursday, March 14th at Erik James Montgomery’s JPEG gallery on Market St in downtown Camden.

The evening was spent converging thought and character, aligning goals and tasks for us to accomplish over these next 6 months. We look forward to continuing to tell Camden’s story in new and diverse ways.

Know of something positive in the city that needs coverage?

We’re always open to amplifying community voices. Share your thoughts with us and stay in touch via our Instagram @storiesinvincible as we continue to chronicle stories that uplift the city and its people.

Reet Starwind is the Stories Invincible project coordinator for the Center for Cooperative Media at Montclair State University. He is an artist, educator, and organizer in the Camden area working with the Center to elevate restorative narratives about Camden’s residents and history. Contact Reet via email at reet@storiesinvincible.org or on Instagram at @mrstarwind.

About the Center for Cooperative Media: The Center is a grant-funded program of the School of Communication and Media at Montclair State University. Its mission is to grow and strengthen local journalism, and in doing so serve New Jersey residents. The Center is supported with funding from Montclair State University, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, the New Jersey Local News Lab (a partnership of the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Democracy Fund, and Community Foundation of New Jersey), and the Abrams Foundation. For more information, visit CenterforCooperativeMedia.org.

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Reet Starwind is an artist, educator & organizer in the Camden area working with the Center to elevate restorative narratives about Camden’s residents