"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 young, 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 more than 25 years to eradicating poverty, confronting homelessness, restoring local neighborhoods, healing racism, and living what Dr. King called “the beloved community.”
In 1989, burdened by the plight of Philadelphia’s homeless population, he and his wife Donna founded Restoration Ministries, a non-profit created to serve homeless families and children living on the streets. In 1994 he became Director of the Internship Program at Cornerstone Christian Academy. Licensed and ordained at Mt Zion Baptist Church, he served as Youth Director with Donna, and as the Associate Minister of Evangelism. In 1997, he joined FCS Urban Ministries in Atlanta, GA and worked with the Atlanta Youth Project 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. He went on to plant and pastor Community Life Church, a missional congregation in southeast Atlanta, and served as the Atlanta City Director for Mission Year, a national year-long urban ministry program focused on service and discipleship. In 2007 Leroy became President of Mission Year and led the organization until 2013. He also served as Co-Executive Director of FCS Urban Ministries from 2009 to 2013 and as Global Executive Director of Word Made Flesh from 2013 to 2015.
Leroy is currently the Executive Director of The Voices Project and Holla Mentors, organizations committed to supporting and developing leaders of color. He serves on the boards of the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA), The Simple Way and EEN, the Evangelical Environmental Network. He is the author of New Neighbor: An Invitation to Join Beloved Community, Everyday Missions: How Ordinary People Can Change the World (IVP), Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White: Who’s More Precious in God’s Sight?(Jericho) and recently released, Embrace: God’s Radical Shalom for a Divided World (IVP). He was also a contributor to Tending to Eden, and the groundbreaking book UnChristian: What a New Generation Thinks about Christianity and Why It Matters.
Leroy has been married to Donna for the past 31 years and together they have five children – Jessica, Joshua, Joel, Asha Joy and Jonathan.
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.
David Bailey, Executive Director, Arrabon
Lisa Sharon Harper, Founder & President, Freedom Road
Mayra Macedo-Nolan, Board Chair, CCDA
Rudy Rasmus, Co-Pastor & Humanitarian, St. John’s UMC