Vox blog: the story behind the story

A Letter From VOX’s Executive Director!


Dear VOX Community,

As long as I can remember, I’ve had big dreams to change the world. Since moving to Atlanta in 2015, I have been committed to sowing into the next generation as a mentor, certified professional coach, and civic engagement champion.

Writing has always been a passion of mine. Growing up, I used journaling as a tool to help process my thoughts and feelings. In my freshman year of high school, I attended Stivers School of the Arts in Dayton, OH, and enrolled in the creative writing magnet program. This experience was a complete liberation of my imagination. This was the first time I was able to use my words to inspire others. I wrote plays, and poetry, learned character development and continued to nurture my gift as a writer.

It wasn’t until I enrolled in college that I started to question my gifts. My college English professor heavily critiqued my writing. He told me that I would need to remove all of the “fluff’ and conform to a specific APA or MLA format in order to receive a satisfactory grade. As you might imagine, I started to question my words. Worse, I started to question myself, my world.

To find an outlet, I joined my scholarship community’s newsletter committee and started a column called the ‘Cha-Rant’ – an opinion column that allowed me to discuss popular topics around campus. It was during this time that I first realized the importance of uncensored self-expression.

Charaun with teen editors Katharine & Jennie

Unfortunately, I know my story is not unique, and I am not the only one who has been advised to shapeshift in order to fit the status quo. I know that there are many teens out there who are discouraged from being themselves. When I started to believe in myself and the power of my own experiences, I witnessed my dream begin to take shape. Now, I am convinced that the key to realizing that dream is our collective investment in our youth and their journey toward self-acceptance and self-expression. Our teens deserve a safe space to create, thrive, and grow. VOX ATL is that place. That’s why I am excited and truly honored to be VOX ATL’s newest Executive Director. I am proud to lead an organization that is fostering an environment for outspoken changemakers to thrive, and to inspire teens to proudly be their authentic selves. VOX’s holistic approach to youth development and uncensored expression provides teens ages 13-19 with a sense of community, a medium to share their voices, and a platform to lead and create positive change.

This year, VOX ATL celebrates 30 years of serving teens in Atlanta and we are excited to reconnect with VOX alumni, legacy community partners, and volunteers to celebrate this special occasion.

You can make a difference for VOX teens by investing in VOX programming, becoming a volunteer guide on the side, or simply by staying connected with VOX ATL on social media and email.

I implore you to join me in our effort to create a stronger, more equitable community with teens at the forefront. If this sounds like something you want to be a part of, send me a note. I’d love to hear from you!


Charaun Cash, MPA
Executive Director, VOX ATL