In the audio recording above, my father, Gordon Coley, shows a six-year-old me how to use a tape recorder. I used this knowledge to record my first audio production, “Sounds Around the House,” which was just that: recordings I made of household appliances. Fast-forward many years: just after graduating college, I began working for a refugee resettlement agency in my home state of North Carolina, drawn in by the compelling stories of these families from Vietnam, Somalia and Liberia. I continued working in refugee and immigration assistance for over twenty years in Zimbabwe, the U.K., New Jersey, and California, eventually receiving the Reebok Human Rights Award for my work with people held in U.S. immigration detention.

These experiences made me aware of the need to help refugees and immigrants share their stories. I was inspired to create digital storytelling projects through my consulting practice, Aquifer Media, for nonprofit organizations and philanthropic organizations that are building stronger communities. Since attending the Transom Story Workshop, I’ve produced a range audio stories, some of which have aired on NPR News, 99% Invisible, BBC World Service, and Georgia Public Broadcasting among others. I am currently a producer with The New Yorker Radio Hour. I’m also a proud member of the Association of Independents in Radio and the Public Radio Exchange.

You can reach me via LinkedIn or will[at]aquifermedia.com.