Community Voices lyric theater

The Alliance for Social, Political, Ethical and Cultural Thought and the Institute for Policy and Governance will convene a Community Voices Series aimed at bringing leaders of community based organizations from across our region to Virginia Tech for an ongoing conversation with an interdisciplinary group of faculty and doctoral students. These dialogues are designed to provide a deeper and broader understanding of the social, political, cultural and economic forces that are impacting communities in Virginia and beyond.


Upcoming Community Voices Events

The Spring 2012 Community Voices season has come to a close. Check back for news on Fall 2012 speakers and events!

Past Community Voices Lectures

Thursday, April 19, 2012, The Lyric Theater, 7:00 PM ~ free admissioncraig ramey
Speaker: Craig Ramey

On Thursday, April 19, Community Voices presented Dr. Craig Ramey, early childhood research scholar, in a 7:00 pm program at the Lyric Theatre in Blacksburg.  His talk “Democracy, Employment, and Civility: The Crisis in Early Childhood Supports” challenged our thinking on the role of the early years in our society and economy. 

Dr. Ramey illuminated how risk gets expressed by 18 months of age (biologically, cognitively, and linguistically) and how high quality early care and developmental programs produce both short and long term benefits to children and families.  Where are we and where do we go from here in Virginia and the New River Valley?  How can early care and educations be scaled up statewide and have significant impact on school readiness academic achievement, and social adjustment?  Why does early childhood education provides such an excellent return on investment for at-risk children and families, and also for middle class families?  If knowledgeable, skilled, energetic, and supported teachers are the key, then why are they are in such short supply and so poorly paid?

Ramey is the distinguished research scholar of human development at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, professor of psychology at Virginia Tech, and professor of pediatrics at the Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.  He specializes in the study of factors affecting children’s health and the development of intelligence, social competence, and academic achievement.  Over the past 40 year he and his wife, Sharon Ramey, have conducted multidisciplinary longitudinal research with more than 100,000 children in over 40 states. 

Ramey is the founding director of several frequently cited early intervention programs including the Abecedarian Project, Project CARE, the Infant Health and Development Program, and currently serves as the chief science officer for the statewide preschool educational program for PreK children in Louisiana.  Currently Dr. Ramey is helping to launch a long-term longitudinal study of brain development known as the Roanoke Brain Study.  Dr. Ramey is the author of more than 250 publications including five books.  He frequently consults with federal and state government, as well as private foundations and agencies, and the news media. 

Wed, April 18, 2012, The Old Dominion Ballroom, Squires Student Center, 6:30 PM ~ free admission
Speaker: Avila Kilmurray Avila

On Wednesday, April 18, Community Voices and the Virginia Tech Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships presented Avila Kilmurray, peacebuilder and community foundation leader from Northern Ireland in a 6:30 pm program on the Virginia Tech campus.  Dr. Kilmurray delivered the Virginia Tech Ut Prosim Lecture in the Old Dominion Ballroom at Squires Student Center. Her talk was on: Peacebuilding & Partnerships: Reflections & Lessons.

Avila Kilmurray has a distinguished international career in areas related to social justice work, global peace making, and the Northern Ireland peace process.  Previously she was coordinator of the Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action’s Rural Action Project, a European Union Second Anti-Poverty Programme initiative.  In 1990, she was appointed the first Women's Officer for the Ireland Transport & General Workers' Union. Avila was active in establishing the Northern Ireland Women's Coalition.  She was a member of the Coalition’s negotiating team for the historic Belfast Agreement.  She currently sits on the board of the Global Fund for Community Foundations, which supports community building throughout the developing world. 

The Community Foundation of Northern Ireland is an independent charitable grant-making organization, whose mission is to "drive social change". Avila has served as the director for 18 years and has a particular interest in community development, peacebuilding, and women’s issues.

Avila Kilmurray, Director of the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland since 1994, became the first ever recipient of the Raymond Georis Prize for Innovative Philanthropy in Europe for the Foundation’s ‘extraordinary contribution towards alleviating human suffering in the context of decades of violent political conflict and its considerable record of achievement in building peace in Northern Ireland’.

March 27, 2012, The Lyric Theater, 7:00 PM ~ free admission
Speaker: Bob Summers

Community Voices: Bob Summers, Entrepreneurial Evangelist from Andy Morikawa on Vimeo.

On Tuesday, March 27, Community Voices presented Bob Summers, high tech entrepreneurial evangelist and cheerleader, in a 7 p.m. program at the Lyric Theatre. Summers, a serial entrepreneur who specializes in Internet software companies for the consumer and enterprise markets, spoke about Project Blacksburg, the growing of an open source community.

Where technology, quality of life and entrepreneurship converge, Summers sees rich opportunity for a surge in Blacksburg’s economic development. To that end, Bob founded 460 Angels, a local group of over 30 accredited investors in the Blacksburg/Roanoke region. He then started TechPad, a 6,000 square foot space in downtown Blacksburg serving more than a dozen software companies with 30-plus young entrepreneurs.

In his role as entrepreneurial evangelist, Bob serves on the boards of the Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council (RBTC) and the Virginia Tech Entrepreneur Club at Pamplin College. Through the RBTC Pitch Clinic young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to learn how to pitch their technology ideas and projects by making presentations to Summers and some of the 460 Angels investors. In two years, more than 50 companies have gained experience and established crucial relationships with investors.

Summers builds scalable software products. Friendeo, iSpQ VideoChat and BuddyVision have reached more than 3.5 million customers in 196 countries. Microsoft published his book, The Official Microsoft Netmeeting Book in 1998. Summers was the Montgomery County Entrepreneur of the year in 2002.

Why does a high tech global entrepreneur like Summers choose to live and actively invest in Blacksburg instead of Cambridge or Silicon Valley? In his Community Voices talk, Bob Summers presented an enlightening vision of Blacksburg, a networked, open source community positioned to advance to the next tier of competitive excellence. What are the resources, the relationships, and the know-how Summers sees? How are the town, the university, and business working together? What has he learned in the TechPad space where collaboration and cooperation, idea sharing and resource exchange are defining a rich culture for innovation and creativity?


February 28, 2012, The Lyric Theater, 7:00 PM ~ free admission
Woody Crenshaw

Community Voices: Woody Crenshaw, Founding President of SustainFloyd from Andy Morikawa on Vimeo.

Social entrepreneur and businessman Woody Crenshaw spoke on Sustainability and Development in Floyd County and the Blue Ridge Plateau, particularly the revitalization of agriculture and farming. Crenshaw is a founding member and President of rapidly growing SustainFloyd, a social benefit organization with projects including the Floyf Farmers Market, the Farm to School Program, the Floyd Artisan Tour, the SustainFloyd Film Series, the first Floyd Energy Inventory and development projects for produce and dairy processing facilities.

Woody Crenshaw's efforts over the last 10 years have been as an advocate for the creative economy of Southwest Virginia and specifically for Floyd County. His interests have basically been to try to use craft. music, and alternative agriculture as vehicles for community development. Woody and his wife Jackie are craftsmen and designers. The Crenshaws own the Floyd Country Store, home of the famous Friday Night Jamboree and a vital community hub not only for commerce but for education and community development. The Crenshaws are beginning the second growing season at their Riverstone farm on the Little River.

Woody Crenshaw's program for Community Voices combined stories and living cases from an emerging and vital expression of local innovation and entrepreneurship for sustainable develpoment.


November 23, 2011, The Lyric Theater
Brian Wheeler, Executive Director of Charlottesville Tomorrow, spoke on the changing landscape of community news. He explored the pioneering partnership with the Charlottesville Daily Progress that integrates digital web and print journalism for community education and engagement.

Community Voices: Brian Wheeler, Executive Director of Charlottesville Tomorrow from Andy Morikawa on Vimeo.


October 25, 2011, The Lyric Theater, 7:00 to 8:00 PM
Norma Wood
"Youth in Foster Care: A Community Opportunity"

Community Voices: Norma Wood, Consultant with Project LIFE from Andy Morikawa on Vimeo.


September 27, 2011, The Lyric Theater, 7:00 to 8:00 PM
Nancy Agee, CEO Carilion Clinic
"Servant Leadership for Community Change"

Community Voices will kickoff its fall 2011 series with a talk by Nancy Agee, President and CEO of Carilion Clinic, an integrated healthcare organization serving WEstern Virginia. Agee will speak on servant leagership in defining her role at the head of a major community corporation enabling community change.

Her talk, Servant Leadership for Community Change, begins the Community voices fall series, which presents leaders who are taking innovative action through cross-sectoral engagement that builds community resilience.

Community Voices: Nancy Agee, CEO & President of Carilion Clinic from Andy Morikawa on Vimeo


April 21, 2011, The Lyric Theater, 4:00 to 5:00 PM
Beth Obershain
"Power to Build Community: Restoring the 'We' in commonWEALTH"

Beth Obenshain will speak on leadership and change in an increasingly polarized social and political environment. Obenshain observes that “we find ourselves in a time when our shared commitments as a society– whether to educate our children and pay our teachers or build our roads - are increasingly denigrated by the loudest voices in our society.” What are the sources of our power for change? How do we collectively create the social innovation needed now more than ever? Beth Obenshain, former editor for the Roanoke Times and founder of New River Land Trust speaks to these issues. Obenshain’s perspective as business leader and civil society innovator, informed by her experience as a Montgomery County native, brings depth and insight to the challenges of leadership and citizenship in today’s turbulent world. She will suggest how and where to focus community energy and attention to produce change and results from the ground up, a recurring theme and source of inspiration of Community Voices series speakers.

Community Voices: Beth Obenshain from Andy Morikawa on Vimeo


March 31, 2011, The Lyric Theatre, 4:00 to 5:00 PM
Dudley Cocke
"Art and Democracy: Aspects of a People's Theater"

Brief bio:The current director of Roadside Theater, Dudley Cocke is a stage director, teacher, writer, and media producer. He recently directed Betsy, a Roadside collaboration with Nashville jazz musicians and New York’s Pregones Theater.

He has taught theater at Cornell University, the College of William and Mary, and New York University, and often speaks and writes as an advocate for democratic cultural values. His policy remarks and essays have been published by the Urban Institute, Yale University, American Theatre magazine, Americans for the Arts, Grantmakers in the Arts, the Community Arts Network/Art in the Public Interest, among many others.

He received his B.A. from Washington & Lee University; his graduate work was conducted at Harvard University. He is a recipient of the 2002 Heinz Award for Arts and Humanities.

Community Voices: Dudley Cocke, Director of Roadside Theater from Andy Morikawa on Vimeo.


February 24, 2011, The Lyric Theater, 4:00 - 5:00 PM
Anthony Flaccavento
"Economies, Community and Love: Renewing the american Dream from the Ground Up"

Synopsis of his talk: For generations, people around the world have aspired to "the American Dream" of personal freedom and economic prosperity. To get there, we've pursued policies of constant economic growth, expanding consumer choice and guarantees of individual rights. However, in light of recent economic stagnation, encroaching ecological limits, declining public health and widespread frustration, it may be time to renew the American Dream with a far reaching yet practical vision. In his talk, Anthony Flaccavento will discuss how locally-led economies, resilient communities and love could provide the foundation for this new vision.

Brief bio: Anthony is a recipient of The Ford Foundation Leadership for a Changing World Award. He is an organic farmer who was recognized by the Kellogg Foundation with a Fellowship on National Food and Society Policy. Anthony lives with his wife and three children near Abingdon where he founded and led Appalachian Sustainable Development. He is an entertaining, thought-provoking leader and speaker. He has lived and worked in southwest Virginia for nearly thirty years.

Community Voices: Anthony Flaccavento from Andy Morikawa on Vimeo.


April 22, 2009, Community Foundation of the New River Valley
: Andy Morikawa

The second guest in the series is Andy Morikawa, Executive Director of the Community Foundation of the New River Valley. As a public, not for profit grant maker, the CFNRV serves a rural area in Virginia’s Appalachian region. The Foundation and its donors work together to create strategic grants that improve the quality of life in the community. Andy Morikawa has a long term interest and commitment to developing community based initiatives that span divisions of race and class. He is a founding member of several community based initiatives in the area he serves: the Community Group, the New Mountain Climbers Giving Circle, the Floyd Village Green, the Free Clinic of the New River Valley and the SHARE program. Currently Andy serves on the VT-ENGAGE Steering Committee, is a board member for the Montgomery-Floyd Regional Library System, the Ethics Committee for the Council on Foundations, advisor to CFLeads, and a member of the organizing groups for Global Dialogue for Responsibility and Citizen Networking of the New River Valley.

For more information see flyer.


September 30, 2008, Danville Regional Foundation
Karl Stauber

VTIPG and ASPECT brought Karl Stauber, president and CEO of the Danville Regional Foundation, to campus as the first guest lecturer in the series. DRF serves as an agent of transformation in the areas of Caswell County, North Carolina, Pittsylvania County and Danville in Virginia. The foundation invests in long term efforts that provide sustained positive impact for the region’s people. DRF is committed to developing, promoting, and supporting programs and organizations that address the health education and well being of the region’s residents. Karl Stauber previously served for eleven years as president of the Northwest Area Foundation, an organization which focuses on helping communities to reduce poverty. Stauber gave a lecture entitled "Community Transformation--Do land grant universities still have a role?” followed by a roundtable discussion to consider strategies and research and address the specific needs of the communities he serves.