"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen." – Michael Jordan
At the end of the day, The Voices Project is about leaders of color – the extraordinary men and women that clear the paths, open the doors and build the bridges for those coming after them every day.
Donna Barber, a native Philadelphian, has served as an educator, trainer and coach for urban youth and urban youth program leaders for more than 25 years. In Philadelphia and Atlanta, she worked to create and lead schools and youth programs that develop urban children to be spirit-led, socially aware, community-minded leaders. Donna has served with local churches, private and public schools and local non-profits. She holds degrees in Communications and Urban Teacher Leadership and has provided trainings and coaching for national organizations including Mission Year, CCDA, DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative, Portland Leadership Foundation and several colleges and universities. Donna is the first African American to be elected to the David Douglas School Board, in Portland, Oregon, a member of the district and Regional School Board Equity Teams, and the recently published author of “Bread for the Resistance: A Devotional for Justice People,” released by IVP. She currently resides in Portland, OR with her husband, author, speaker, and Voices President, Leroy Barber and together they have six children.”
Leroy Barber has dedicated 30 years living and working towards what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”
Leroy starts projects that shape society. In 1989, burdened by the plight of Philadelphia’s homeless, he and his wife, Donna, founded Restoration Ministries to serve homeless families and children living on the streets. In 1994 he became Director of Internship Programs at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Leroy was licensed and ordained at Mt Zion Baptist Church where he served as Youth Director with Donna, and also served as Associate Minister of Evangelism. In 1997 he joined FCS Urban Ministries in Atlanta, GA working with the Atlanta Youth Project to serve as the founding Executive Director of Atlanta Youth Academies, a private elementary school providing quality Christian education for low-income families in the inner city. Leroy also helped found DOOR Atlanta, Community Life Church, South Atlanta Marketplace, and Community Grounds Coffee shop in Atlanta, as well as Green My Hood and The Voices Project. Leroy is an innovator, entrepreneur and lover of the arts.
Leroy is currently Director of Innovation for an Engaged Church serving the Greater NW area of the United Methodist Church. Leroy is the Co-Founder of the Voices Project and Adjunct professor at Kilns College and Multnomah University. Rev. Barber has served on the boards of The Simple Way, Missio Alliance, The Evangelical Environmental Network (EEN), and the Former Board Chair of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA).
He is the author of four books:
He was a contributing author to Tending to Eden, by Scott Sabin (2010, Judson Press), and the groundbreaking book UnChristian: What a New Generation Thinks About Christianity and Why It Matters, by David Kinnaman and Gabe Lyons (2007, Baker Books).
Leroy currently lives in Portland Oregon and has been married to Donna for the past 35 years. Together they have six children.
Reverend Irvin L. Bell was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. Immediately after their wedding in 2006, Irvin and Sarah relocated to New Orleans to serve the Gulf Coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi in recovery efforts. Upon moving to New Orleans, he served for five years as a site coordinator and City Director for two year-long volunteer programs. Rev. Bell’s passion for urban communities has led him to serve on a number of boards and community organizations. He held the position of Chair of the Board for the Health and Education Alliance of Louisiana for 7 years. HEAL is a New Orleans-based, not-for-profit organization working to improve opportunities for children to succeed in school and life. HEAL believes that educators and health care providers must address physical, social, emotional, and academic development collectively. As a former board member of Morris Jeff Community School, he created chaired the Community Engagement and Communications Committee that seeks to engage the MJCS Community (Board, Faculty and Staff, Parents, Students, and Neighbors) making them partners in the success of our school. The committee also aims to develop future leaders of the school community by assisting in the coordination of planned school events and outreach efforts. While a strategic partner with Desire Street Ministries, Rev. Bell founded and is the Executive Director of the Abundance of Desire Community Wellness. Abundance of Desire is a neighborhood centered not for profit organization focused on holistically improving the lives of the underserved through the tenets of health, education, and spirituality.
Irvin has established a reputation as a transformational leader who is driven by challenge undeterred by obstacles, and committed to furthering standards of excellence. His expertise encompasses all aspects of community and economic development programming and administration, from developing new initiatives to leading and directing organizations to achieve success. Further, his ability to build consensus among executive teams and stakeholders to promote transparency and influence positive change has been repeatedly proven.
Irvin and his wife Sarah are the proud parents of Ruby, Anderson, and Olivia.
Executive Director, Arrabon
Pastor, Canaan Community Church
Lisa Sharon Harper
Founder & President, Freedom Road
Board Chair, CCDA
Co-Pastor & Humanitarian, St. John’s UMC