When you consider today’s social, economic, and political climate, the stories we tell about who we are and how we’re committed to impacting culture are more important than they’ve ever been. And that’s what I’m most excited about – working with people to uncover those stories to activate their potential for the greatest good.
I’m Holley Murchison and this is my story.
After my parents separated when I was six-years-old, is when my first memories of seeing the characteristics of kindness in action. I remember moving from one homeless shelter to the next – across Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx – until my Mom found permanent housing for my siblings and me. Behind those shelter walls, we bonded with other mothers and their children around shared experience – especially pain; the trials of starting over; and the burning desire for a home outside of our temporary haven. Whether borrowing necessities, communing over meals, lending a shoulder or a good laugh – we took care of each other.
A then shy, introverted, and insatiably curious version of myself, I absorbed the impact of each of those kind gestures. They were good, simple deeds done out of love, and never with the expectation of reciprocity (our circumstance wouldn’t have even allowed for that). Through these gestures, I saw the softest sides of humanity and grew to understand the true meaning of service – unconditionally pouring into and giving of yourself in a way that champions the greatest good.
I took that meaning and ran with it. And since age six, I’ve been on a quest to use my passions and talents to serve with love.
As fate would have it, on the heels of my seventh birthday, we transitioned from our last shelter into a new apartment in Harlem, where I spent my most formative years. I found myself far away from what I had grown to know as community and support, but in Harlem – leaning heavily on my curiosity to uncover my gifts – I quickly found my first loves: learning and words. I spent almost every day after school in my neighborhood library, enchanted by fiction, autobiographies, poetry and encyclopedic facts. Through reading I was able to find parts of myself reflected back in the characters of my favorite stories and identify and embrace my own individuality. It woke me up to my potential and agency and shaped my belief in the power of communication and storytelling to shape and change our lives.
Reading naturally pushed me into a deep dive of other facets of communication and language: storytelling contests, school plays, writing songs — I was constantly exploring and investigating how to navigate the nuances of intra and interpersonal communication to thrive.
And all of this led me to my most cherished gift – teaching. Understanding the necessity of doing something meaningful with the knowledge I was curating outside of the classroom, I found my voice and over the last 15 years have built a career through designing experiences, outlets and platforms to take what I learned and creatively share it with others. Whether building apprenticeship programs at middle schools, helping high school students develop skills to turn their dreams into action, managing an education concert tour, teaching entrepreneurship and leadership at top colleges, or coaching corporate, artist and entrepreneurial teams to be better communicators. The soul of my work has always been helping people identify, confront, and surmount barriers that inhibit them from becoming who they are. And none of those efforts are possible without kindness. It’s one of the critical ingredients for how I build trust with others, help them find strength in their vulnerability and ultimately, feel empowered enough to take action.
Today, I feel incredibly privileged to be able to continue planting those seeds of kindness with a brilliant team at my company, Oratory Glory. We’re a speaker collective and human development collaborative, focused on helping underrepresented voices cultivate the leadership, communication and storytelling skills to confront bias, create connection across difference, and confidently articulate and propel their ideas for change and partner with creatives to realize their potential and grow into better humans while designing a more just and equitable future.
Whatever chapter you’re on, I hope you see that even when the path is windy, dark, or seems generally grim, you don’t have to run or hide, but instead, you can choose to explore – explore yourself, explore your passions, explore how you can be of use to the people and the world around you.
And once you’ve made that choice: remember that it’s never too late to (as we say over at Oratory Glory) own your voice and leave your mark.
Voice of kindness & Magic Maker 💫