Welcome to Megaphone's Executive Director Lisa Curry

Read all about it: a new leader takes the helm

Megaphone welcomes fresh faces to the team, while offering heartfelt farewells to those moving on.

Get on your megaphone

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Megaphone is a quintessential project that is based in — but not limited to — Vancouver's Downtown Eastside (DTES) neighbourhood. Built on a framework of equity, community-building and social justice, Megaphone centres lived experience and amplifies marginalized voices to create meaningful work and artistic opportunities for unhoused and low-income community members.

It is a great privilege and an honour to announce the beginning of my term as the executive director of Megaphone. I look forward to working alongside its committed staff, vendors, artists and community partners.

I have admired this feisty little organization since spotting a vendor and buying my first street paper in 2010. I was a transplant from Alberta, and Megaphone's mission was a radical concept to me at the time.

Over the years, I gained extensive experience in non-profit management, event production, fundraising and general fun-making. I have worked and volunteered in Vancouver's arts sector for more than a decade, including a four-year term as executive director of the Vancouver Art Book Fair. I opened a coworking space called Work Place and co-founded a comedy and zine festival with comedian Cameron Macleod. I helped Kickstand Community Bikes move its community bike shop to 1187 Parker St. and supported Sammy Chien and Chimerik Collective as their art administrator. I joined the DTES community in 2021 after being hired by the Downtown Eastside Women's Centre (DEWC). I held several roles at DEWC, from fundraising and communications, to program management.

I have also engaged regularly with Megaphone vendors. Eric is a fixture on Commercial Drive, and I first noticed him on 1st Avenue more than a decade ago. I frequently cross paths with Paul and his sweet cat Megalove. I run into Stephen daily, and I appreciate his affinity for tie-dye. I met Teresa at DEWC, and we have frequent conversations about family, work and beauty. I was fortunate enough to chat with Joan a day or two before she passed last year; she was in good spirits and wished me a good evening. DJ handed out hundreds of flyers to help us promote the first Downtown Eastside Women's Street Market since the pandemic. Brenda asked me to perform an off-colour poem with her at DEWC's volunteer Christmas party in December, and it was a hoot.

The relationships are what keep us all coming back to this work. And while I have this Director’s Corner space to share my thoughts on Megaphone's mission, I would be doing the organization a disservice if I didn't first say something in appreciation of two outgoing staff members.

Will Pearson, Megaphone’s operations manager has been involved with the organization, either as a volunteer or as paid staff, since 2008. In addition to running and improving our systems, Will has been the heart and soul behind the Hope in Shadows calendar project. Each year he recruited, motivated and supported upwards of 100 community members to participate in the project. He called each participant to ensure timely and regular updates and hosted workshops on photography skills.

And finally, I am entirely grateful to Julia Aoki, Megaphone's outgoing executive director, for everything she has done for the organization and the support she has shown me as I came on board. We cannot let the leaders who prevented organizations from crumbling during the pandemic go unrecognized, but I don't have enough space to list Julia's accomplishments. In short, since 2019, she has pursued several creative initiatives to support vendors who saw their income vanish, and she improved organizational systems, working conditions and staff remuneration. And Megaphone is now in the best fiscal position it’s ever been thanks to her diligence.

Will and Julia: you both have certainly left your mark on the organization and we all wish you the best in your future endeavours!

By Lisa Curry

Originally published in the February 2022 issue of Megaphone magazine

Get on your megaphone

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