Jessica Ayala is a published author, poet, producer, and artist-in-residence at Charlotte Street Foundation. She immigrated to the United States at the age of three from Colombia, South America. Ayala learned to speak and write in the English language by the third grade. She published her first series of poems at the age of eight for The Young Authors Conference. Her recent poetry has been published in two anthologies winning an Honorable Mention in the 2017 International Latino Book Awards. She is the recipient of the 2000 Missouri Speaker of the Year Award by the Metropolitan Community College League of Competitive Acting and Poetry. Additionally, she is the recipient of the 2010 Legacy Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Arts and Social Justice for MCCKC. 

Jessica’s current poetic memoir, Just A Kid From Ipiales, will be released in the Spring of 2019 highlighting her journey as an immigrant youth in America.  Ayala joins the Kansas City POP! Poetry series of writers as book #32 entitled Huelga.  Huelga is a collection of poems spanning ten years during Ayala's time inside the classroom, lobbying, and working with DACA students. Huelga takes a critical look at the social, political, and cultural injustices of Latin America, awakening the untold stories of the indigenous diaspora of The Americas.

 Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia