Poet-Activist, Carla Christopher, is a former Poet Laureate of York, Pennsylvania (2011 – 2013) and was the 2014 Arts and Cultural Community Liaison for the City of York. Carla studied psychology, education, and creative writing at Columbia University in the City of New York and spent years as an educator and case manager in domestic violence shelters, state prison systems, and school districts before connecting her belief in the power of the written and spoken word with her passion for activism.
Carla has twice received the key to the city for her community empowerment and education initiatives, which range from co-founding Equality Fest, a multi-thousand attendee festival in celebration of LGBTQIA+ Marriage Equality, in 2014 and the Rainbow Rose LGBTQIA+ Resource Center in 2019, to creating a retailer cultural competency training model for urban renewal business districts. She has been the force behind regional campaigns and activism training curriculum for groups like Food and Water Watch, Put People First – PA, the Y.W.C.A. of York County and several political campaigns. She has designed diversity programming for multiple school districts, businesses, and libraries, and has been a keynote speaker, featured performer and workshop facilitator for dozens of organizations, nonprofits, and educational institutions around the globe, from Rutgers, Penn State, and Northern Arizona University to organizations in Kosovo, Albania, Flint, Chicago, Baltimore, Phoenix and Philadelphia in the last few years alone.
The former host of “Cultural & Main; York’s Weekly Cultural Showcase” and former co-director of PoemSugar Press / Community Arts Ink which published over 50 books by authors from traditionally marginalized communities in 5 years, Carla is currently the creative director of Photini Small Press and Events. Carla is also widely personally published, including; Song (Columbia University Press, 2000), Baby, Read Me Something with Rhythm (PoemSugar Press, 2011), and Black, a trio of short collections (Local Gems Press, 2020). She currently performs with the Poetry/Funk Fusion Band, Groove Ink, and released the EP Of Water Born with the ensemble Poetic Voices in 2015, and the full-length recorded collection, Poetry from the Ashes with Soul Thief Collective in 2017.
Always an artist and advocate informed by her faith, Carla discerned a call to ordained ministry of Word and Sacrament in 2016 and entered United Lutheran Seminary, which she graduated from in 2019 with her M.Div. as part of an accelerated co-op program. Carla currently serves as Associate Pastor of Outreach and Faith Formation at Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Lancaster, co-chairs the Toward Racial Justice Task Force of Lower Susquehanna Synod and is a congregational coach and member of L.S.S.’s Transformation Ministries Team. She blogs regularly for Disrupt Worship, Reconciling Works, Extraordinary Lutheran Ministries, Lower Susquehanna Synod and others, co-facilitates a peer-support group for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and shamelessly spoils her Great Pyrenees puppy in Lancaster County where she lives with her family.
Awards and Recognitions
- Fund for Leaders Redevelopment/Mission Developer Scholar, Evangelical Church in America (2018)
- York Revolution LGBT M.V.P., York Revolution, York, PA (2017)
- Dorrie Leader Advocacy Award, York Y.W.C.A., York, PA (2017)
- Certificate of Special Recognition, York City Human Relations Commission, York, PA (2016)
- Nguzo Saba Living Lifetime Achievement Award, Life Esteem Ministries, Harrisburg, PA (2016)
- York Unity Award, City of York (2015)
- FAB Living History Award, LGBT Center of Central PA (2015)
- Torch Award Nominee, World Affairs Council of Harrisburg (2015)
- First Place Grand Prize, Overall Competition, Poetry Society of PA (2014)