"Everyone is talking about them, but no one is doing anything for them!" - Wally B
Heard 'Em Say Youth Arts Collective was established in May 2007, by founder Walter "Wally B" Jennings, to provide our community's youth with a healthy social outlet and platform to express themselves. We grew exponentially and by January of 2017 we incorporated as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
Our mission is to identify, cultivate, and empower young people in activism and advocacy through artistic education and expression.
Our programs serve youth 19 and younger through a monthly open mic, weekly and monthly workshops, and a Spring season slam team that travels regionally and nationally to perform.
Meet the Leadership Team
Liz is a poet, educator, and youth advocate who uses poetry to promote literacy and self expression. Since 2008 she has taught writing as a Fulbright Scholar in Germany, as well as at Virginia Tech, University of Tampa, and University of South Florida St. Petersburg. She earned her MA in English from Virginia Tech and her BA in Creative Writing from University of Central Florida. Liz first joined Heard Em Say in 2013 to chaperone the slam team with Wally B as they traveled to Chicago. She later served as the Education Director, building curriculum, assessment materials, and school relationships across Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties. In 2017 when Heard Em Say incorporated as a nonprofit, she played a key role in writing the organization's bylaws and segued into Program Director. When Wally B announced his retirement from Heard Em Say to be effective at the end of 2019, she was appointed to follow in his very big shoes as the Executive Director as of January 2020.
Workshop Director & Slam Coach
ZenChristian is a poet, teaching artist, and slam coach from Atlanta, GA but based out of Tampa, FL who uses poetry as a means of release and self exploration. In 2017 she graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Psychology and Creative Writing. She was the President of the Poets at USF, one of the only open mics on campus. She was a member of the 2017-2018 WeSpoke National Poetry Slam Team which ranked 12th in the nation and 13th in the Southeast region. During undergrad, her poems "Smothering Butterflies" and When Brown Girls Get Lost in Never-Land" were published in the USF Literary Thread Journal. In 2018 IO Literary Journal published her poem, "We Share the Same Skin" and "God's Waiting Room." ZenChristian spends most of her time creating new work. Her chapbook The Burned House Resurrects was released Spring 2019 and is available on Amazon.
Creative Director & Slam Coach
Curtis is a Tampa native and alumni of Heard Em Say. He started his journey
as a spoken word artist in his freshman year of high school and began attending Heard Em Say in his junior year, becoming one of only two poets from Tampa to join Team Rock-It - a Tampa/Orlando collaboration to send youth to Los Angeles, CA to compete at the 2010 Brave New Voices. Since graduating from Heard Em Say's programs, Curtis has become a staple in the Tampa Bay poetry community as a co-founder of GrowHouse, a local events production company. He now looks to give back to his community and the organization that raised him by helping to cultivate the bright new talented youth of Tampa Bay and surrounding areas.
Mental Health Advocate & Program Coordinator
Brianna is a poet, mental health advocate, and alumnus of Heard Em Say. She has been writing since elementary school and was introduced to spoken word in high school under the mentorship of locally and internationally respected poets. As someone who has learned to manage lifelong mental health struggles, she is passionate about leading through vulnerability and using poetry as a tool to heal in a safe and healthy way. She has previously served as the Blog and Social Media Coordinator for Open Our Eyes, and mental health outreach organization. Her writing has been published in the literary anthology Ink Stains, and she is currently working on her first book of poetry. Transitioning from a Heard Em Say student into a leadership role has given her the opportunity to share messages of growth and to continue pushing forward the importance of prioritizing mental health in youth poetry organizations.