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Who We Are


We are a youth-led social justice organization in working to create systemic change in the education system in New London, Connecticut.


chelsea cleveland

Program Director

chelsea cleveland is a Black feminist queer & non­-binary gender sci­fi visionary/revolutionary from New London, CT doing organizing work at Hearing Youth Voices, intergenerational Black community organizing group. Through transformative organizing they hope to create the impossible: a world free from oppressive systems. They are about Black Liberation and healing and to honor that they invoke the words of Audre Lorde, “so it is better to speak / remembering / we were never meant to survive”. 

chelsea started doing training work at FRESH New London, a food justice organization, in 2008. They worked with high school aged program participants on deepening their analysis on food, culture and race by holding space for discussions and creating works of art. They went on to help create the youth­-led educational justice organization Hearing Youth Voices (HYV) in the summer of 2012. 

As one of the lead adult trainers, chelsea has created curriculum and led trainings on White Supremacy, Capitalism, Patriarchy, Heterosexism, Art & Liberation, and Base­-Building. chelsea has also facilitated discussions about the School­-to-­Prison­-Pipeline and helped create a school-­wide survey, all of which helped create HYV's first campaign "We Wanna Graduate". 

chelsea was involved in creating and facilitating a Peace Training for youth at the Voluntown Peace Trust in 2012. They have attended several School of Unity and Liberation (SOUL) Trainings since 2012; including National Youth Organizing Institute, SOUL Summer School, and Trainings for Trainers. During their 8-­week training at SOUL Summer School in 2014 chelsea interned with Causa Justa :: Just Cause, a California Bay area based housing and immigrant rights organization for Black and Latin@ people. Recently they completed the Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity (BOLD) Directors and Leads Program. 

They enjoy reading Octavia Butler, watching a lot of Netflix, drinking Thai Iced Coffees, and sleeping ­­— a lot.

Laura Burfoot

Admin Director

Laura Burfoot is a white, anti­-racist woman born and raised in New London. She graduated from New London High School and went on to study at Smith College. While there, she was given new frameworks to think about her experiences growing up and moved back home humbled and motivated to tackle the racism, classism, and other forms of oppression that she now saw operating everywhere around her. For her, the work of Hearing Youth Voices-­ developing a new generation of young leaders of color who think critically, have a commitment to racial justice and other forms of justice, and have the courage to take a stand-­ is critically important to her community, state, and world. She aspires to be such a leader herself.

She has 10 years of experience working with youth organizations in New London. She loves to dance, meet new people, eat junk food, and travel outside of the US. She hates too much air­-conditioning and the early morning!

Yanitza Cubilette

Black and Brown Student Union Director

Hi, I'm Yanitza M. Cubilette. I have been with Hearing Youth Voices since its very beginnings and I am more than proud about that. I started out as a summer youth and now I am a coordinator, which just shows how much I have evolved as HYV changes. I am very dedicated and take my job very, very seriously, giving it the best of me, because I know how important this work is not just for me but for all of us. I do this work because I want to know that change can happen for the better, I'm not just going to sit around and wait for someone else to initiate the change, I want to be able to take pride in knowing that I helped make the change.

Maya Sheppard

Youth Organizer

Hello ! I'm Maya; a creative educator and mentor, a proud Black woman, a mother to a beautiful little boy. I'm here to change the world our children will live in. Over the past 13 years I've worked with hundreds of predominantly Black and Brown youth across SECT using the Arts of music, poetry and play-writing to  confront and combat the adversities of our city. I truly value the voice of the young people of our world and know that armed with the knowledge and the resources they will be able to deconstruct  the systems of oppression that people of color are faced with. 


I love watching movies, writing music, playing with my son and spending time with my huge family !