PERIOD Founder Okamoto Inspires Students at Friday Forum

Jeff Zelevansky
Nadya Okamoto delivered a high-energy call to action at Millbrook’s forum on Friday night, October 25th. Sharing her own life journey from homeless teen to Harvard student, NGO founder, entrepreneur, and published author Okamoto encouraged students to pursue their passions and to identify and seize opportunities and resources.

In a time of personal and family turmoil during her teenage years in Portland, Oregon, Okamoto became aware of the difficulties that homeless and disadvantaged women have in procuring products necessary to sustain health and well-being during menstruation. Okamoto enlisted fellow high school students to address this unmet need and fundraised to buy and distribute period products in her community. In 2014 she and a classmate founded PERIOD, which they grew into an international campaign for menstruation education and political advocacy.
The success of PERIOD, which is now the largest youth-run NGO in women’s health, motivated Okamoto to become politically active, and she ran for city council at the age of 19 in her adopted home of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Continuing her studies at Harvard, she also serves as chief brand officer at Juv Consulting, a marketing agency targeting Gen Z consumers. Her award-winning book, Period Power: A Manifesto for the Menstrual Movement, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2018, and she had copies on hand to sign for students at the conclusion of the forum.
Okamoto repeatedly encouraged students to fearlessly pursue their passions and to not be dissuaded or distracted by doubt. She also shared her four tenets for success:
  1. Just go for it.
  2. Ask questions.
  3. Respect experience.
  4. Use the tools that are right in front of you. 
“I don’t think anyone knows what they’re doing. But the trick is, you just have to do it anyways, right? The biggest thing that’s going to hold you back is not thinking that you can do it.”
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