And there may be many things we forget in the days to come, but this will not be one of them.” – Brian Andreas
The Voices Project began in 2010 as a small gathering of black leaders sharing the challenges of often working alone in white led, evangelical spaces. We were moved by these conversations, our own experiences and the growing number of black and other leaders of color we met who were likewise struggling, to create opportunities for these leaders to connect and process in a place that understood their perspectives. There were very few voices of color in boardrooms or Executive level leadership and while being asked to lead programs, give input, create safe places for students and participants of color, or lend ”perspective” to white leaders, they were, in many cases, working alone.
Finally, we were concerned about the communities of color that were not seeing leaders of color and the many stories of failure. Leadership in countless organizations, working in brown and black communities was being lost to young whites and gentrification. Even most organizations in our community development association were led by white leaders. The Voices Project was birthed out of this lament.
The work began with semi-annual gatherings designed to connect leaders from every sector – business, church, art, politics, education, and media.
Motivated by a desire to reach and ignite a new generation of black leaders, The ReConnect HBCU Tour – a five-day road trip to historic black colleges and universities – was birthed in 2013.
In 2014, following the death of Eric Garner, we held our first “Breathe Retreat” in Bend, OR. The retreats were created to make space for grassroots leaders who were struggling to serve the communities devastated by police violence.
In 2017, two days after white nationalists marched through Charlottesville, we held our first cross-cultural dialogue, the Black-Latinx Conversation in New York city effectively broadening the conversation and extending the table to include all communities of color.
The first Voices National Conference was held in 2018 in Philadelphia, PA, as a two-day event to empower, unite, provide leadership development and platform for of leaders of color.
In 2019, the Voices Publishing arm was created as a literary platform for voices of color and to encourage new writers to speak and shape mainstream culture.
The Voices Project has created a table for voices of color – and particularly African Americans – to connect to history, share wisdom, collaborate as bridge builders, encourage intergenerational ties and to affect culture in their communities from a larger platform. We connect to leaders from every sector – business, church, the arts, politics, education, and media.