SAN LUIS OBISPO –– Award-winning performance poet and activist Sonya Renee Taylor will deliver the keynote address for the 19th annual Change the Status Quo (CSQ) Social Justice Leadership Conference at Cal Poly, to be held virtually from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Feb. 27.

This year’s event will focus on the theme “Action Over Apathy” and will be headlined by Taylor, a former national and international poetry slam champion and founder and radical executive officer of the digital media and education company The Body is Not An Apology.

“The CSQ student leadership team is delighted that Sonya Renee Taylor is our keynote speaker this year,” said Katherine Arboleda, student chair of this year’s CSQ planning committee. “Her message is a timely one as we explore breaking down institutional racism and other systems of oppression from within. She will help us understand how we can all move into a place of action over apathy.”

Taylor was recognized in 2015 by Planned Parenthood as both a 99 Dream Keeper and a Generation Action Outstanding Partner awardee. That same year, she was included on Yerba Buena Center for the Art’s 100 list, an annual recognition that honors artists, activists and individuals inspiring civic engagement and social and cultural movement in the Bay Area. Taylor was also recognized in 2015 by Bustle Magazine as one of the 12 Women Who Paved the Way for Body Positivity.


Planned Parenthood honored Taylor again in 2016, naming her a Champion of Women’s Health. She was also commissioned to write the official poem for Planned Parenthood’s 100-year centennial celebration. Among her other accolades and recognitions that same year, Taylor was invited by President Barack Obama to speak at the White House forum on the intersection of LGBTQIAA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, Intersex, Asexual and Ally) and disability issues.

Cal Poly’s 2021 Change the Status Quo Social Justice Leadership Conference aims to empower students to use the Learn by Doing spirit to challenge social norms, ask critical questions, demand solutions and make lasting social change.

“This conference was started by Cal Poly students who were serving in our local community 19 years ago,” said Bradley Kyker, senior coordinator for the Center for Service in Action. “They realized that when there is a community need, it’s usually precipitated by some form of injustice. We have a long, rich history of students calling upon their peers, faculty, staff, and community leaders to help them know how to take ownership of their role in creating social change for equity, diversity, and inclusion.”

Along with Taylor’s keynote address, this year’s conference will feature 30 virtual, hour-long workshop presentations on topics including:

– Black Lives Matter and Racial Justice

– Civic Rights and Reform

– Environmental Justice and Climate Change

– Healthcare and Disparities of COVID-19

– LGBTQ+ Rights and Allyship

– Poverty and Economic Justice

The annual social justice leadership event, hosted by Cal Poly’s Center for Service in Action, is free for all community members.

For additional information and to register for the 19th annual Change the Status Quo Conference, visit