Chief Creative CatalystCompany: Collective Concepts
Role: Session Presenter
Session: Working Through Whiteness (SEM - L )
As a woman of color and child of the Civil Rights Movement, Chevara Orrin’s work in both the nonprofit and creative spheres has been shaped by her passion for equity, diversity and inclusion. She is the daughter of a white Jewish mother, who served as the lead coordinator for the 1967 March on the Pentagon in opposition to the Vietnam War, and a Black father who was a “fiery top lieutenant” of the Rev. Martin Luther King. Jr., and a driving force behind critical civil rights campaigns of the 1960s, including the 1963 Birmingham Children’s Crusade and the 1965 Selma to Montgomery marches.
In her current role as Chief Creative Catalyst for Collective Concepts, LLC, Chevara is best known for having conceived and co-created We Are Straight Allies, a national advocacy initiative to support equality and move toward passage of inclusive policies to protect the LGBTQ community. The successful campaign has drawn the participation of prominent figures such as feminist icon Gloria Steinem, Olympic gold medalist and civil rights attorney Nancy Hogshead-Makar, cultural and faith leaders, and superstars from the corporate world, including the CEOs of Florida Blue and SunTrust Bank. Chevara also created #WHITEANDWOKE, a national initiative to raise awareness about racial disparity and dismantle structural racism, and “Ties that Bind: From Swastika to Jim Crow” to intentionally spark ongoing collaboration between Black and Jewish communities.
Chevara is an innovative leader with a record of success as a consultant, speaker, nonprofit executive and social entrepreneur with more than 20 years of experience ranging from senior management in arts and education to creating movements and awareness campaigns. She is passionate about human rights, social justice, and arts and culture, and has extensive experience in coalition-building to create strategy that promotes change. Chevara has served as a member of numerous nonprofit boards including the Cultural Council of Greater Jacksonville’s Cultural Services Grants Panel, RiverRun International Film Festival, Atlanta History Center Advisory Council, and the Winston-Salem Symphony.
Chevara is a frequent conference presenter, lecturer and motivational speaker. A survivor of childhood poverty, incest and teenage pregnancy, she has facilitated workshops and dialogues across the U.S. An outspoken advocate for the eradication of sexual violence against women and girls, Chevara founded WhiteSpace SafeSpace, a monthly support group and forum for incest survivors, and will soon be featured in an anthology for the #LoveWITHAccountability project by award-winning filmmaker, Aishah Shahidah Simmons. This body of work will explore the concept of transformative and restorative justice in relation to childhood sexual violence. Chevara has given a TEDx Jacksonville talk on “Soul Connecting,” served as keynote speaker for the NSA (National Security Agency) Diversity Speaker Series, and co-hosted ‘Jazz Under the Bridge’ with legendary Tony award-winner, Ben Vereen.
Chevara believes that, “There is a human cost when we fail to connect. Ideas unborn. Dreams unrealized. Communities un-ignited.” She has been recognized by the White House and the Human Rights Campaign as a leader, advocate and ally for the LGBTQ community and featured in publications including The Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and The Feminist Wire. Chevara has also been a featured guest on SiriusXM Radio and highlighted in John Blake’s 2007 book, “Children of the Movement,” a powerful glimpse into the heart and soul of the Freedom Movement of the Sixties as seen by its children.
Chevara’s numerous awards for community service include the 2016 Hands on Jacksonville Unity in Action award, 2016 University of North Florida Woman of Influence, 2015 Jacksonville Who’s Who for Justice award recipient, 2015 honoree by the Mayor’s Commission on the Status of Women; named one of 2014 Girls Inc. Jacksonville “Women of Vision”, 2015 “Forty under 40” Leader by the Triad Business Journal, and 2015 Community Leader of the Year by the Winston-Salem Urban League; and she is a 2010 graduate of Leadership Winston-Salem.
A native of Washington, D.C., Chevara was raised in Memphis, Tenn., and earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from the University of Memphis. She is a 2017 graduate of Georgetown University’s Strategic Diversity and Inclusive Management program. Chevara recently navigated the journey of divorce after a 17-year marriage and is the proud mother of Michael, a graduate of Columbia University and senior trainer with The Posse Foundation, and William, an actor and college student in Atlanta, Ga., who plays the lead in “Wait No Longer,” the true story of the 1964 race riots in St. Augustine, Fla.