“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.” -Brené Brown
Mark Travis Rivera is an award-winning activist, choreographer, dancer, speaker, and writer. Raised in Paterson, New Jersey, Rivera learned to overcome the struggles that stem from being Latino, gay, gender non-conforming (femme), and disabled. He learned to embrace every aspect of his identity, which allows him to live a purpose-driven life.
A graduate of William Paterson University, Rivera earned a B.A in women’s & gender studies with a minor in public relations. He is a member of the Gamma Zeta Chapter of Iota Iota Iota (Triota) National Honor Society for Women’s & Gender Studies. He was also inducted into Chi Alpha Epsilon, the Educational Opportunity Fund National Honor Society. In 2013, Rivera received the Student Government Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment to the William Paterson community. In the same year, he was honored with the Campus Pride Voice & Action Award for his work with the LGBTQ community.
Off-campus, Rivera formerly served as the Chairperson for the Youth Community Advisory Board for Project: Living Out Loud, a Hyacinth AIDS Foundation program dedicated to serving young men of color who are same gender loving in the Hudson County area. He also serves as a trainer for the Passaic County’s Women’s Center, where he provides aspiring advocates training on the LGBTQ community as it relates to sexual assault and domestic violence.
An innovative dancer, Rivera is the youngest person to found an integrated dance company in the United States. marked dance project, a contemporary-modern company for dancers with and without disabilities, established in March 2009, made its debut at Rutgers University. The company has also performed at the Silk City Summer Arts Festival, the Painted Bride Art Center, the Mandell Theater, the Actor’s Fund Arts Center in Brooklyn, NY and New York University. Through MDP, Rivera has worked with choreographers such as Maureen Glennon, Caitlin Trainor, Stacey Tookey, Todrick Hall, Tyce Diorio, and Marinda Davis.
Outside of MDP, Rivera worked as an apprentice dancer for The GIMP Project, a New York City-based integrated dance company artistically directed by Heidi Latsky. He has also danced for Band of Artists in Philadelphia, PA, and AXIS Dance Company, the nation’s leading integrated dance company, based in Oakland, California.
Rivera had been featured at various speaking engagements throughout the US, speaking to audiences at Harvard University, New York University, and San Francisco State University. His talk “Embracing Yourself, Embracing Your Potential” was a hit at the TEDx Talk event at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey in March of 2014.
A poet and journalist, Rivera has long used writing as a form of expression. His poem, “Love Letters to Myself (Excerpts)” was published in a new anthology, Between: New Gay Poetry More recently, his essay, “Marking My Own Path: An Inner City Dreamer” was published in the anthology, I Am Here: The Untold Stories of Everyday People. Rivera’s writing has also been published in The Bergen Record, Herald News, The Star Ledger, Fox News Latino, and The Huffington Post.