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,” recordings of household appliances. It would be many years before I pointed a microphone at people, however. After 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 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 of audio stories, some of which have aired on NPR News, 99% Invisible, BBC World Service, and Georgia Public Broadcasting among others. As a producer now at Condé Nast, I have been working for The New Yorker Radio Hour and Vanity Fair’s Inside the Hive and Dynasty. 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.

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