Message regarding the transition from Board President Dalinez Martinez-Lanzo
As the Founder & Executive Director, Victoria (Tory) Sammartino, who started the organization at age 22, invested immeasurable passion for both poetry and community change when she started a poetry workshop on Rikers Island for girls and women. With her persistence and vision, this workshop grew into Voices UnBroken. The Board of Directors is grateful and inspired by the incredible vision and tenacity of our dedicated leader. Since founding Voices UnBroken, Tory has been recognized as a leader in the arts and youth development communities in the Bronx and throughout the country. Through Tory’s strategic and visionary leadership, our workshops have grown and expanded considerably, and still continue to have measurable impact on participants. In addition to focusing on our exceptional programming, we have a long-standing commitment to developing and strengthening the organizational infrastructure necessary to ensure our future sustainability. Tory is working closely with our Board and staff to make the most of the opportunity her transition presents. She will be leaving her role as Executive Director with the organization well-positioned to benefit from new leadership.
The Board is committed, along with Tory, to a smooth and collaborative transition process and we have developed a plan that would allow us to introduce a new Executive Director next year. We are also unequivocally committed to maintaining and expanding our high quality programming. As such, Founding Board Member, Leslie (Smith)
Britt, will be stepping in as Interim Executive Director as the Board searches for a new leader. Leslie will be working closely with Tory as well as with our highly skilled staff to facilitate the transition and prepare for a new Executive Director.
Leslie brings 20 years in the youth development field to Voices UnBroken, most recently as Director of Academic Success at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. There, Leslie managed multi-million dollar grants and worked closely with over 80 local Boys & Girls Clubs across the country as they implemented BGCA’s widely acclaimed academic success initiative focusing on middle and high school youth who show signs of possible disengagement from school. Leslie has conducted dozens of trainings and developed ongoing technical support systems to assist organizations. Before working with BGCA, Leslie worked with the Children’s Aid Society for 10 years in Harlem and the South Bronx.
Leslie’s history with the organization began long before Voices UnBroken was established, when she met Tory at a poetry reading/open mic in Boston. She admired Tory’s work as a poetry teacher at the high school for girls on Rikers Island and shortly after moving to New York later that year, Leslie committed to helping grow what would soon become Voices UnBroken. She has been referred to as the godmother of Voices UnBroken and is thrilled to be able to share her expertise in the field with the organization she has loved and nurtured since its beginning as it takes this important step forward.
As a valued member of our community, we trust that you understand our commitment to excellence, and to the young people we are honored to serve. On behalf of Voices UnBroken’s Board of Directors, I want to thank you for believing in our work and for your continued support in the upcoming months.
Dalinez Martinez-Lanzo, Board President