April 22nd’s episode of Jeopardy! featured yours truly, losing handily to a juggernaut champion, 23-year-old Mattea Roach. Maybe I should be more disappointed, but I can proudly say that my career in education and youth development in Atlanta has made me no stranger to the very situation I was in on the show – being outshined by brilliant and extraordinary young people. And to risk the ire of the fans of the beloved cultural institution that is Jeopardy!, the bigger honor for me at this moment is joining a beloved Atlanta institution – VOX ATL.
From the moment I first got to know VOX five years ago, I could see this organization was unlike any other youth-focused non-profit I had previously encountered. That’s because VOX is not just a youth development organization; the VOX community of teen leaders, adult “guides on the side,” and wonderful partners and supporters is a movement. Our movement is grounded in the knowledge that young people are not simply, abstractly “tomorrow’s leaders.” They are leading now, today, and their voices are vital in our civic life and culture.
Other than Jeopardy!, another beloved show in my house is Brooklyn 99. In my all-time favorite scene, tough-as-nails Rosa has a vulnerable moment in the wake of courageously coming out to an unsupportive family, and her Captain reassures her: “Every time someone steps up and says who they are, the world becomes a better, more interesting place.” With every editorial published, every self-expression workshop, every poetry slam, VOX ATL holds the microphone for our city’s youth to step up and say who they are, and they are making Atlanta a better, more interesting place.
As I humbly join the ranks of the teen and adult leaders at VOX, I’m excited about the future and possibilities. As a part of our community, I want to personally invite you to help propel this movement forward. As we approach the end of our fiscal year on June 30th, I ask that you consider making a donation to support youth voice and leadership.
I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you – the members of the VOX ATL community – in the coming months. We are excited to bring back more in-person events, so be on the lookout for opportunities to connect!
With gratitude and joy,