Mia Birdsong advocates for strong communities and the self-determination of everyday people.

Why you should listen

Mia Birdsong has spent more than 20 years fighting for the self-determination and pointing out the brilliant adaptations of everyday people. In her current role as co-director of Family Story, she is updating this nation's outdated picture of the family in America (hint: rarely 2.5 kids and two heterosexual parents living behind a white picket fence). Prior to launching Family Story, Birdsong was the vice president of the Family Independence Initiative, an organization that leverages the power of data and stories to illuminate and accelerate the initiative low-income families take to improve their lives.

Birdsong, whose 2015 TED talk "The story we tell about poverty isn't true" has been viewed more than 1.5 million times, has been published in the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Slate, Salon and On Being. She speaks on economic inequality, race, gender and building community at universities and conferences across the country. She co-founded Canerow, a resource for people dedicated to raising children of color in a world that reflects the spectrum of who they are.  

Birdsong is also modern Renaissance woman. She has spent time organizing to abolish prisons, teaching teenagers about sex and drugs, interviewing literary luminaries like Edwidge Danticat, David Foster Wallace and John Irving, and attending births as a midwifery apprentice. She is a graduate of Oberlin College, an inaugural Ascend Fellow of The Aspen Institute and a New America California Fellow. She sits on the Board of Directors of Forward Together.

Mia Birdsong’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Mia Birdsong


TEDWomen update: Black Lives Matter wins Sydney Peace Prize

June 18, 2017

Cross-posted from TEDWomen curator Pat Mitchell’s blog on the Huffington Post. Last month, the Black Lives Matter movement was awarded the Sydney Peace Prize, a global prize that honors those who pursue “peace with justice.” Past honorees include South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Irish President Mary Robinson. The prize “recognizes the vital contributions of […]

Continue reading
Live from TEDWomen

The time for equality is now: The talks of Session 3 of TEDWomen 2016

October 28, 2016

When it comes to equality across race, class and gender: “None of us has time to sleep — we need to be woke as hell,” says Mia Birdsong, host of Session 3 of TEDWomen 2016. In an emotional, pointed session, seven speakers and one performer explored the painful realities of the present and offered hopeful […]

Continue reading