Mark Travis Rivera is an award-winning activist, author, 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. More recently, he won the Audre Lorde Award for Social Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY.
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 served as a trainer for the Passaic County’s Women’s Center, where he provided 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 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 Heidi Latsky Dance, 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 served as an apprentice for 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. His debut collection, Drafts: An Imperfect Collection of Writing was published in August of 2017 through Amazon.
He currently works at John Jay College of Criminal Justice as the communications and marketing manager for Student Affairs.