Interviews by Moriah Joy. Photos as noted. Feature image courtesy of Nancy Rogan.
Community outreach is a task that can be extremely daunting to take on alone. Oftentimes, there’s an issue that we’re passionate about and want to tackle head on. This can come with roadblocks if you’re short on the two things that make change happen; time and money. Sometimes, it’s a matter of trying to figure out which organizations to get involved with. Working on a collaborative effort can help to ease the workload while still accomplishing the goals of the group. The Emerging Leader Board at WHRO, affectionately known as the ELBOs, has been doing just that. Their board consists of twenty-two millennials who have come together to actively help bring about discussion, social change, and engaging community events to make the Hampton Roads area a better place to live. Each one has various social issues that they are passionate about and were kind enough to take some time to explain what they do as a part of the board but how they also volunteer as individuals outside of the board.
Photo courtesy of Tamika Hopkins.
What attracted you to the Emerging Leaders Board at WHRO? I listen to a lot of WHRO. I stumbled upon the station when I did not have cable and I wanted to hear a presidential debate. My dad lives in SC and is a supporter of his local station. I found an NPR coffee mug in his cupboard and then dove in. I listen to it for my morning and evening news. I heard an ad to apply for the Emerging Leaders Board and finally found the courage to submit an application.
How long have you been on the board? I joined in January of this year.
What issues are you personally passionate about? I am very passionate about the environment, women being protected, being equal, having all the freedoms they desire, and being supported. People of color being treated fairly. Along with the LGBTQ+ community being accepted and not being disrespected or ignored.
What ways do you believe these issues affect the Hampton Roads area directly? In regards to the environment Hampton Roads has a vibrant tourism based economy without clean oceans, beaches, and parks any threat to the environment directly affects several industries and will reduce the amount of revenue brought into the state. In regards to rights for women, POC and the LGBTQ+ community, younger generations are more accepting of equality and intolerant of racism, bigotry and homophobia. In order to attract the brightest young minds in the country to move our state forward we will need to be seen as more tolerant and progressive.
Photo courtesy of Nancy Rogan.
How can people who are also passionate about this issue get involved? I really believe in the power of allies and education. If you are talking to a friend or family member and they have a view that is based on false information or may just be problematic take a moment to have a friendly conversation. Listen and understand their point of view, take the time to educate them or try to help them see why their views may be problematic or the other side of the story so they can understand another’s viewpoint.
Are there any projects that you’re working on now? I am working on finishing my volunteer training for the YWCA. They are such a great organization and do a lot of great work here in our community.
Are there any projects that you want to accomplish in the future? I would like to join another board that provides services for women experiencing domestic violence.
Photo courtesy of Jose Morey.
What attracted you to the Emerging Leaders Board at WHRO? I’ve always been a big NPR listener and I heard the advertisement and decided to apply. I’m a strong believer in supporting the community and public radio and giving a diverse voice to the greater Hampton Roads Area. Being an active part of an organization in the community is so important.
How long have you been on the board? I’ve been on the board for three years now.
What issues are you personally passionate about?/ What ways do you believe this issue affects the Hampton Roads area directly? Some of the events through the board that I get really excited about are the Indie Lens and Emerging Talk Events. Indie Lens Event shows an independent film with talkbacks, sometimes it’s panelists, sometimes it’s more of a Q & A. Some people will even dress up, but it’s more about having a conversation about what the film evokes in people. Sometimes it’s about important issues or more of an emotional conversation. Recently we did the Marion Stokes Project virtual event which was just phenomenal. (Website for more information on the Marion Stokes Project: https://recorderfilm.com/)
I’m also really passionate about STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) and events like the Neon Festival. It’s so important to be supportive of the arts locally. I live in Newport News, one of the only people who lives on the peninsula, and we have a lot of outdoor art spaces comparatively [to Norfolk and Virginia Beach] that we try to support. It’s important to have art out in the public domain, and for kids to see art in public spaces. I went on a trip to Buenos Aires where they have parks all over the place and they have easels and paints for the little kids to take, that’s something I wish we could do here.
How can people who are also passionate about this issue get involved? We have a Facebook page for WHRO where we put out free virtual events for people to attend. Whenever we have those projects just be present and be a part of the conversation. You can also join the board. We had a bunch of people who joined this past year. Finally, you can support public radio and donate. The vast majority of the funds it takes to run the station come from fundraising.
Are there any projects that you’re working on now? The board is always actively working on something and one of the events currently is Imagine That where we just get together and do something fun virtually. Personally, I’m a part of Ad Astra Media which is a combination of technology and media focused on diversifying the tech world with more under-represented groups whether that’s women or Latinos, or African Americans. We’re working on different ways to encourage them to join the STEM arena. One of the things I’m doing with that is interviewing a lot of tech leaders and trying to figure out who their role models were. Then also developing a digital comic around STEAM. The premise is that it’s a bunch of kids who get trained by this futuristic character called Dr. Intergalactic then turning it into a 3D animation show called Cosmo.
Photo courtesy of Jose Morey.
We actually have a new partnership with the Clinton Foundation which is really exciting. They have a program called Too Small to Fail which sends text messages out to latino families about things they can with their little ones to help them develop cognitively. We are going to be advising and crafting the STEAM messages that go out. Would love for you to include that scoop.
More info on the program from the foundation: “Too Small to Fail and Univision jointly operate the country’s largest Spanish-language text messaging program for parents of young children (0-5). Over 145,000 parents have joined the service since we launched in 2015. We deliver 3x messages per week to over 52,000 active subscribers who are currently enrolled in the program.”
Courtesy of Nancy Rogan.
What attracted you to the Emerging Leaders Board at WHRO? Since moving to Norfolk in 2014, I’ve been a listener of WHRO and appreciated how their community presence extends far beyond the radio or television and is making an impact in local schools, the arts community, social issues, and engaging Hampton Roads citizens to be active participants in their neighborhoods and communities. I wanted to contribute to an organization that was larger than myself and committed to growing the region in a way that was accessible, informative, and conscious of our community.
How long have you been on the board? I joined the board in January 2019, so a year and 7 months.
What issues are you personally passionate about? Issues most important to me are those concerning women’s rights and ensuring LGBTQ+ rights to fair housing, equitable jobs and healthcare access. Making sure that employers make workplaces feel like a safe space for everyone to be comfortable and supported in who they are.
What ways do you believe this issue affects the Hampton Roads area directly? These issues affect us all if we want a society that is equitable for our neighbors, friends, and family. Even if we ourselves may not be personally affected by a particular issue, someone we know is and it’s our responsibility to add our voice in advocacy.
How can people who are also passionate about this issue get involved? One of the best things you can do if you’re wanting to get more involved in your community is start with your neighborhood civic league. It’s the first step in advocating for an issue that might be affecting you personally in your neighborhood that the civic league can even take to the city level to create even more widespread change.
Courtesy of Nancy Rogan.
Are there any projects that you’re working on now? Once upon a time, before Covid, I volunteered at events with Hampton Roads Pride and the LGBT Life Center. But in the Covid era, when I’m not writing grants for Girl Scouts of the Colonial Coast, I try to maintain sanity with a never-ending stack of books from the Norfolk libraries, plenty of bike rides along the Elizabeth River Trail, and chip away at the novel I’m trying to finish writing.
Are there any projects that you want to accomplish in the future? Getting a book published! And resuming international travel as soon as it is safe to do so.
As promised here is the pitch deck for Cosmo for you to review. Here are a few other videos we have done with them. The first was just an intro video to Dr. Intergalactic dancing salsa and the latter 2 are little videos we did during Covid to get kids to “Wash their Hands”. Here is the link to the Eisenhower Fellowship so you can see more info about the vision and mission. Here is a link to the Ad Astra Website.