Our Origin

When I ran for public office in 2014, I went door-to-door seeking support in the neighborhood where I grew up. A number of residents asked me: “Why are you asking for my vote? My voice doesn’t matter.” It hurt my heart to hear that.

That’s when I decided to start a nonprofit to help low income people of color realize that all voices matter and that together, we can improve public policies that affect our living conditions. And so, with a small group of dedicated volunteers, I founded Our Voices Matter.

- William Jawando

 William Jawando

 
 
 

Our Core Beliefs

 
  • Through dialogue leading to collective action, disaffected individuals realize their ability to bring about positive social change
  • By fostering emerging local leaders, we strengthen marginalized communities

  • Advocacy strategy and tactics are best understood through participation in an actual issue advocacy campaign

  • By working in coalition with like-minded stakeholder groups, we leverage each other's strengths, maximize impact, and amplify underrepresented voices

 
 

Our Board of Directors

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William Jawando

Will is the President of our Board of Directors. He is a public policy attorney, community leader, and public servant who has been working for over a decade on education policy and on issues impacting children and families in government and the private sector.

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Michele Jawando

Michele is the Treasurer of our Board of Directors. She is a public policy attorney, wife, mother and "change agent."  She has worked at national and local non-profits and the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. Committed to service, Michele is a believer in the possibility of greatness in all of our communities.

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Crystal Ruiz

Crystal is the Secretary of our Board of Directors. She is a public policy analyst, mother and community organizer. As a life long Maryland resident, she understands the changing needs of the community and the state. She is committed to making sure that all people feel like their voices are heard.

 

Our Leadership Team

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Sterling Crockett

With nearly 30 years experience as an inspirational agent of change, Sterling has provided transformative leadership to numerous enterprises in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors, helping them grow and flourish.

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Jon Randall

Jon brings to our organization more than 20 years of experience at the national, state and local level as a grassroots organizer, policy advocate, tactician, trainer, facilitator, and nonprofit leader.

 

Our Interns

 KAYDEN FU  My name is Kayden Fu and I am a sophomore in the IB Diploma Program at Richard Montgomery HS. I wish to major in law and I'm interested in a career of law or diplomacy. In order to combat injustice on the national or world stage, we  need to first engage in advocacy within our community. As an OVM intern, I am working with student leadership projects across MCPS in support of student-led social justice efforts. 

KAYDEN FU

My name is Kayden Fu and I am a sophomore in the IB Diploma Program at Richard Montgomery HS. I wish to major in law and I'm interested in a career of law or diplomacy. In order to combat injustice on the national or world stage, we  need to first engage in advocacy within our community. As an OVM intern, I am working with student leadership projects across MCPS in support of student-led social justice efforts. 

 DESSY EPIE  Hey guys, my name is Dessy Epie and I am currently a senior at Paint Branch High School. I plan on majoring in political science and most likely focusing on grassroots work. I have always wanted to push my community to new heights and allow each and every member to have a chance to truly let their voices be heard.

DESSY EPIE

Hey guys, my name is Dessy Epie and I am currently a senior at Paint Branch High School. I plan on majoring in political science and most likely focusing on grassroots work. I have always wanted to push my community to new heights and allow each and every member to have a chance to truly let their voices be heard.

 MICKELL BAILEY  My name is Mickell Bailey and I am currently a senior at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I am pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Health Administration. The coursework in my degree program is interesting, but I am leaning more towards working with a community, specifically working toward community engagement and empowerment.

MICKELL BAILEY

My name is Mickell Bailey and I am currently a senior at University of Maryland, Baltimore County. I am pursuing a Bachelor's degree in Health Administration. The coursework in my degree program is interesting, but I am leaning more towards working with a community, specifically working toward community engagement and empowerment.

 AMALIE ZINN  My name is Amalie Zinn and I am currently a senior at Georgetown Day School.  I am passionate about engaging with my own community, and making sure that residents are able to take advantage of the opportunities that voting affords.  I plan on majoring in one of the biological sciences, and I hope to combine my interests in the sciences and in social justice through Public Health.

AMALIE ZINN

My name is Amalie Zinn and I am currently a senior at Georgetown Day School.  I am passionate about engaging with my own community, and making sure that residents are able to take advantage of the opportunities that voting affords.  I plan on majoring in one of the biological sciences, and I hope to combine my interests in the sciences and in social justice through Public Health.

 DONNIE HARRIS  My name is Donnie Harris, and I am currently a junior at Sandy Spring Friends School.  I plan on majoring in either history or humanities.  As an intern with OVM, I will be working on affordable housing as my project. I love knowledge, small talk, fun facts, you name it! Talk to me any time about history, music, food, I welcome conversation any time.

DONNIE HARRIS

My name is Donnie Harris, and I am currently a junior at Sandy Spring Friends School.  I plan on majoring in either history or humanities.  As an intern with OVM, I will be working on affordable housing as my project. I love knowledge, small talk, fun facts, you name it! Talk to me any time about history, music, food, I welcome conversation any time.