Voices for Earth Justice recently chose longtime community nonprofit leader BT Irwin to succeed founder Patty Gillis as executive director. Gillis retired in July 2017 after leading the organization for 15 years.
“Voices for Earth Justice grew in the rain and sunshine of Patty’s faith, hope, and love,” said Irwin. “She put 15 years of her life into preparing the ground and planting the seeds we get to cultivate and grow.”
Gillis co-founded Voices for Earth Justice with fellow Adrian Dominican Sister Janet Stankowski in 2002. The two believed that communities of every faith could come together to raise their voices for ecological and social justice. That mission found real ground on which to grow in 2011, when Voices for Earth Justice purchased buildings and land in Detroit’s Brightmoor neighborhood. Today, Voices for Earth Justice operates educational and volunteer programs at its Hope House community center and gardens in Brightmoor.
Irwin joins Voices for Earth Justice after a lifetime of church, community, and nonprofit work in several states. Over the last ten years, he began choosing work that allowed him to focus on community development and environmental and social justice. That included almost six years at Habitat for Humanity and three years building Lake Norcentra Park at Rochester College. In 2013, he started smallnonprofitcoach.com to help local nonprofits raise more money, recruit more volunteers, and make a bigger impact. He holds the executive certificate in social impact strategy from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Public Policy and Practice.
"What could be more relevant and more welcome in our world today than a fellowship and a mission like Voices for Earth Justice?" said Irwin. "Ours is the joyous challenge of helping people discover and steward the wonders of community and creation. I'm so pleased to be part of this."
Over the next few months, Irwin said his focus would be making it easier for more people to get involved in the three parts of the Voices for Earth Justice mission: Action, education, and prayer.