I am writing to share my decision to transition out of my role as Executive Director of Voices UnBroken. 

As many of you know, I founded the organization in 2000, at the age of 22, inspired both by my work as

an educator at the high school for girls on Rikers Island, and by the exceptional youth development

services I received as a teenager. 


Over the past 15 years, Voices UnBroken’s amazing team of teaching artists and youth development professionals have engaged thousands of young people in high-quality poetry workshops.  Voices UnBroken’s first workshops were held at the high school for girls on Rikers Island and we have maintained a commitment to working with young people in the justice system, even as we have expanded to serve others.  It is safe to say that the vast majority of young people who have participated in Voices UnBroken workshops would not otherwise have had access to high-quality arts programming.  In addition to our work with young people, Voices UnBroken has built lasting partnerships with the organizations/agencies that run the facilities where our workshops take place, and developed organizational systems to document and evaluate the impact of our work.   In ways that I couldn’t possibly have imagined when I first started Voices UnBroken, we have become a leader and source of expertise in the youth development, community arts, and juvenile justice communities. 


I have known from the very beginning that I wanted to strategically, gracefully transition out of the Executive Director position one day, when things were good.  Now is that time. 


Voices UnBroken’s Board of Directors, led by Dalinez Martinez-Lanzo, a former workshop participant and current Associate at JPMorgan Chase, is committed to a smooth and collaborative transition process.  The Board and I have been working closely with our staff to plan both for this transition, and to ensure that Voices UnBroken maintains the high-quality programming that our community has come to expect.  We have been extremely fortunate to learn from other Founders/Executive Directors who have shared their wisdom about this process and we are committed to fully utilizing the unique opportunities inherent in the transition from being a Founder-driven organization to an organization that is driven and led by its Board of Directors and Staff. 


With this in mind, we have decided to bring on an Interim Executive Director and are excited to announce that Voices UnBroken Board Member, Leslie (Smith) Britt, will be stepping into this role before the end of 2014.  Leslie (Smith) Britt is a Founding – and current – Board Member of Voices UnBroken and brings 20 years of youth development experience, most recently as Director of Academic Success at the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. 


Voices UnBroken is well-positioned to benefit from new Executive leadership. I also look forward to continuing my relationship with the organization, as a cheerleader and supporter.


With gratitude and respect,

Victoria (Tory) Sammartino