A Fresh Start: A Letter From The Editor – The reFRESH

April 30, 2021

Written by Jackson Bird

This week, we’re saying farewell to our editor, Jackson Bird.

A letter from the editor…

This is my final installment of the reFRESH. While the reFRESH newsletter will live on, I am stepping down as editor after an unforgettable four years at its helm.

As I began preparing this week’s issue, I was surprised by just how attached I suddenly felt to this newsletter. I’ve curated this collection of interesting thought leadership content and updates from our speakers twice a month, every month, since the spring of 2017. Even though four years doesn’t seem that long, I realized it’s the same amount of time I spent in college––and I certainly grew and changed a lot in those four years. To be sure, the reFRESH is a product of FRESH Speakers and aims to be in the company’s voice, but if you were to look back I’m sure you could see marks of my growth as a writer and as a human over the years.

Writing the reFRESH every other week has become a familiar rhythm in my life. Now, it feels like I’m turning off one of my favorite songs before it reaches the bridge––a silence that leaves me wanting, even though I’ve listened to it dozens of times before. I consider myself so fortunate to have been a part of the reFRESH, and I feel like it’s equally given back to me what I’ve put into it. At times, seeking out the wisdom of others to fill this page has helped me process the many upheavals in our world over the last several years. Other times, I felt the pure joy of the craft and the delight in getting to share what had moved me that week with so many others. 

As I said, this is not the end of the reFRESH, just the beginning of a new era. You may see some changes––both as new writers find their footing and as the newsletter itself steadily shifts with intention––but the heart of the reFRESH will remain. Because as much as I’ve stamped my hands all over it, it’s never just been me. I inherited the duty from former FRESH speaker representative Mara Meyers (here’s a look back at the very first installment––back when it was still called The Weekly FRESHness!), the FRESH team have all played a role in contributing content and themes over the years and, of course, this newsletter wouldn’t be anything without our phenomenal speakers. The enormous output and quality of their work made my job a breeze. 

So the reFRESH will continue fueling your inboxes with thought-provoking updates in the realm of public speaking, and beyond. As for me, I will be taking time to focus more on my writing, speaking, and other creative projects, like my long-running YouTube channel. If you’re so inclined, you can keep up with me on social media @jackisnotabird or by tuning in to the daily podcast I host, the Kottke Ride Home.

And as my last act as FRESH’s Communications Director, I’d like to nominate one final reFRESHing Talk of the Week: FRESH co-founder and CEO Vanessa Valenti’s 2016 TED Talk, which embodies the mission and vision of FRESH Speakers. It has been an honor to work alongside Vanessa, furthering FRESH’s aim of bringing public speaking and thought leadership up to speed with the twenty-first century. Vanessa does more behind the scenes than seems physically possible––fighting for a better public speaking landscape, steering FRESH as a company into new and exciting waters, and serving as an esteemed mentor to so many, including me. Vanessa, thank you for believing in me and giving me a chance when I wasn’t sure I deserved it yet. We are all so, so lucky to have you in our lives.

Being the man behind the curtain both of this newsletter and on FRESH’s social media channels since 2017 has been an absolute joy, but it’s time for a refresh.

See you on the other side,

Jackson Bird

The latest from our speakers…

Despite having had my last word, I couldn’t not share some of these truly impressive updates from our speakers.

Veronica Chambers wrote the introductory essay for The New York Times’ recent series on Black superheroes.

Franklin Leonard crunched the numbers and posted the receipts in The New York Times for how Hollywood’s anti-Black bias costs it $10 billion a year.  

Thomas Page McBee gave Elliot Page his first interview with a trans journalist for Variety Fair.

Rodney Foxworth joined FRESH co-founder Courtney Martin on her new Skoll Foundation podcast, Solvers.

Anna Sale’s book, Let’s Talk About the Hard Things, is coming out Tuesday, May 4th––preorder it today!

PS – If you want to keep up to date with all of our speakers in one easy click, be sure to follow our FRESH Speakers list on Twitter. I know I’ll be checking it all the time after I hand in the keys to FRESH’s official accounts.

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FRESH Speakers, Inc. is a next-generation speakers bureau, uniquely representing women and people of color--two groups historically left off the public stage. Our speakers range from business leaders to artists, scientists to athletes. They have given ground-breaking TED talks and written best-selling books, but, more importantly, their wisdom comes from real world, lived experiences. FRESH speakers routinely grace the world's biggest thought leadership stages, host nonprofit benefits, and keynote Fortune 100 corporate retreats, university lecture series, leading tech conferences, grassroots organizing convenings, and countless other venues, the world over.
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