Saran and Nile Fossett are a Mother and Daughter Team Opening Doors for Girls of Color

Saran and Nile Fossett are the mother-daughter team behind AZIZA PE&CE (AP), a nonprofit program that uses art, fitness, music and fashion to support girls of color and LGBTQ+ youth on their journeys of self-actualization. Saran is the founder and executive director of AP while Nile serves as the director of operations. 

Love is at the heart of AP’s mission. The mentors work hard to help the students fall in love with themselves so they can build self-confidence. 

“When young people feel love and they fall in love with themselves, they are able to overcome and accomplish anything they can imagine,” Saran says. 

And love also inspired Saran to start AP back in 2008.

“I love my daughter,” Saran shares. “Aziza is Nile’s, my daughter’s middle name, and it means precious, gorgeous, powerful.”

Saran created AP when Nile was attending an elite, predominantly all-white school. Saran poured love into her daughter on their drives to and from school because she knew that being one of the only Black girls in this environment would be emotionally exhausting for Nile. This experience led Saran to create a safe space where other girls of color could be supported during challenging times.

“My whole life I’ve just seen her give back to people,” Nile says. 

Following her mother’s example, Nile set out on a career path that also allowed her to give back to others. 

“I always knew whatever I did, I wanted to do it for good,” Nile explains, adding that “a lot of that comes from my mother.”

In addition to her work with AP, Nile is the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Outreach Specialist with Girls Who Code, an international nonprofit working to close the gender gap in tech. 

“Just to see how many lives my mother has lived, it’s inspired me to kind of just pursue whatever interests me,” Nile offers

Working Together as Disruptors 

Saran has always pursued her passions – from modeling to education to advocacy. Her drive to work for good has inspired Nile to do the same. Now, through their work together at AP and their individual pursuits, the mother-daughter team is disrupting the status quo to help bring new opportunities to future generations.

“Just seeing the women in my life, especially some of them grew up during times when women, especially Black women, did not have autonomy over some of the things they wanted to do or there were no opportunities to do those things, and the fact that they were able to do it anyway, I think is what inspires me every day,” Nile shares.

Through her work with Girls Who Code, Nile helps disrupt the tech space by creating more opportunities in STEM.

“When you think about some of the apps you use, think about some of the websites you go on, some of the digital products you use, it matters who’s creating those things,” Nile says. “So when you have this pipeline of girls from underrepresented backgrounds, who are then going into these companies and they can influence the things that we do, that really matters.”

Saran also considers herself a disrupter of the systems of structural racism and cyclical poverty that impact the daily lives of the students she works with. 

“When we find our purpose, when we find why we are born, why are we here, it allows us to do things that people imagine are impossible. I am doing what I’m born to do,” Saran explains.  “I am a matriarch by nature, I am a nurturer.” 

Saran and Nile draw inspiration from each other as they work to create change. And together, the love they share with this world is making a positive impact on the girls coming up behind them.

“I strongly believe that it is she who will create a lasting legacy,” Saran says of Nile. “When people ask ‘is your program evidence-based?,’ it’s very easy for me to say yes, it is. My daughter is evidence as are the many girls that have been influenced simply because of someone loving them.”

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