Last week, the latest cohort of the Voqal Fellowship came together to begin the six-month journey to make their big ideas for progressive, social change a reality.
Thursday night, Fellows and several Voqal staff members attended a dinner to kick off a weekend full of networking and community building. The dinner finished with a special cake celebrating the fact that three of the Fellows had birthdays in the last two weeks of January.
On Friday, the Fellows started things on an energetic note with a dance class from Cleo Parker Robinson Dance. After a brief break, several of Voqal’s staff shared a bit about themselves including who they believed their fictional counterparts were (shout out to Bilbo Baggins, Wonder Woman, and Nick Miller for all making an appearance).
Following an inspiring anecdote from Voqal Director of Grantmaking Brenda Sears about her father’s interactions with Martin Luther King Jr. in Chicago, the Fellows shared their personal stories and their inspiration for embarking upon the journeys that led them to their projects.
After the morning activities concluded, the Fellows enjoyed a delicious and insightful lunch with Voqal board member, Chet Tchoweski, and Voqal founder, John Schwartz, who shared stories about the formation of Voqal and advice for the Fellows as they move forward with their projects.
The day finished with presentations from each Fellow about their projects. This was an invaluable time to share ideas with one another and get feedback as they start the hard work of operationalizing their ideas.
On Saturday morning, the Fellows again started the day on an energetic note, this time with facilitators from Culture Energized, who led the group in playful activities to build team camaraderie and identify leadership skills. The Fellows spent the rest of the morning learning about the program logistics and expectations, with additional staff introductions (this time including appearances from Luna Lovegood, Angela Abar, and Oscar the Grouch).
During lunch, four alumni of the fellowship program called in to share their experiences, offer advice, and answer questions. This invaluable session allowed the current cohort to receive authentic and candid information about participating and thriving in the program. Afterward, the cohort’s two coaches, Molina Speaks and Makisha Boothe, introduced themselves and their coaching styles to prepare the Fellows for the intense and meaningful work ahead.
The convening wrapped up with a poem from Molina Speaks that reflected the theme of the convening and outlined how each of these projects combines to form a vision for Collective Self, Collective Venture, and Collective Future. Similarly to last year, the Fellows all agreed that this poem would serve as a manifesto for their Fellowship.
The convening left us excited for the potential of this year’s Voqal Fellowship cohort and we look forward to seeing their projects develop over the next six months! Learn more about the Voqal Fellowship on our Fellowships page.