Initially founded in New York in 1999, VOCAL-NY serves as a model for the work to come with VOCAL-KY. Our campaigns have saved or improved the lives of hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, and now we’re ready to help Kentuckians step into that same power.
VOCAL-KY is building a movement of low-income people dedicated to ending the AIDS epidemic, the war on drugs, mass incarceration, and homelessness across the country. We fight for systemic change rooted in justice, compassion, and love. We approach this work with a firm belief in reducing harm and ending stigma, and the knowledge that the issues impacting our communities are driven by institutional oppression, not personal failings.
Our model of movement building draws inspiration from three traditions:
TRADITIONAL COMMUNITY-BASED ORGANIZING
DIRECT-ACTION AIDS ACTIVISM
BLACK-LED SOCIAL MOVEMENTS FOR RACIAL JUSTICE
Shameka is a long-time community organizer, successful project and campaign manager and social justice activist. She is formerly homeless, formerly incarcerated, and was the child of an incarcerated person. Her family has been impacted by HIV and the war on drugs. She recently ran for Mayor in Louisville, before starting at VOCAL-KY.
Alfredo is a long-time organizer, including as the Civil Rights Organizer at VOCAL-NY from 2010 to 2014, where he led campaigns to end racist marijuana arrests and parolee voting. He has experienced homelessness and incarceration from an early age. His family has experienced the consequences of mass incarceration and the war on drugs. He recently moved to Louisville to help launch VOCAL-KY.
Jennifer comes to VOCAL after providing harm reduction services to some of Louisivlle’s most marginalized and underserved communities for the past 5 years. Her drive and passion are fueled by her own 20 year struggle with chaotic substance use, followed by the last 12 years of using harm reduction in her daily life, as well as supporting her “sister” through 20+ years of incarceration. Jennifer has been laying the groundwork to build VOCAL-KY by organizing and building power with people who use drugs in Louisville.