From VOX’s New ED: If You Really Knew Me…

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By Susan Landrum, VOX’s Executive Director

At VOX, one of our favorite go-around prompts is “If you really knew me, you would know…” The idea is to share something new to the group, an interesting fact or a personal trait. In my first week as the new Executive Director of VOX, I thought I would use this prompt as a way to introduce myself to our extended family. So, without further adieu, if you really knew me, you would know:

I believe in the power of community. I am sustained by many communities here in Atlanta. From bookstores to faith communities to coffee shops and yoga classes, my life in this city is rich because of the people I live, work and love with. As a native of Atlanta, I have lost count of the slices of Fellini’s pizza I have eaten or the Peachtree Road Races I have cheered on. I never get tired of this place and draw such inspiration from the diverse, unique and artful souls of our city. I am drawn to the way that Atlanta offers people love, welcome and ways to connect to issues we care deeply about. From the Gold Dome to the festivals all across town, the Atlanta community is a dynamic place to build community.

I believe in the power of voice. It is not easy to speak up. I can think of many times in my own life when the idea of speaking in front of a class or speaking up in a meeting has caused my cheeks to flush and my heart to beat fast. But I also know that stories and voices have immense power. The ability to speak your own truth, to share your perspective, your opinions and your ideas is transformative. It is hard and often uncomfortable but finding places that support projecting and amplifying voices is finding power.

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I believe in the power of teens. I came to VOX in 2014 after finishing up my Masters in Social Work at Georgia State University. I knew I had landed a special job at an incredible organization. I was proud to tell people about my next steps. What I didn’t know was how much I would be changed by the decision to come work here. I knew I loved the mission of VOX. What I didn’t know was just how much I would love working for and with teens. Since that day, I have come to understand that teens are powerful. We live in a world that simultaneously worships youth and discounts the voices of teens. VOX teens don’t stand for it. Instead, VOX teens speak up and are driven to create change through courageous acts of journalism. VOX teens build community with one another and lead our organization daily. VOX teens write and perform poetry, healing and freeing themselves. Teenagers are changemakers. I see it every day and am honored to be a part of this teen-driven community.  

Those are three things I share with you today as I live into a new role here at VOX. I am a profoundly lucky person to be able to support this unique organization. I work with a committed and driven adult staff and board. Volunteers are at the heart of our programs and donors give generously to our work. And of course, there are the teens that are the beating heart of this family. They inspire me and I know they will continue to inspire you.

I’d love to see you this month at our VOX Bee on March 30th at Atlanta Tech Village. You can get your tickets to this event here.