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Julie Fogh and Casey Erin Clark, co-founders of Vital Voice Training, are excited to share "Voice (is)" - a podcast where they have conversations with people whose voices they love to dive into the good, the bad, and the messy of what makes your voice YOURS.

Expect actionable advice about public speaking, confidence, nerves, in-office communication, etc, as well as deeper discussions on what power looks (and sounds!) like, how to let go of perfectionism and use fear to your advantage, and how to show up as your authentic self in a world full of unconscious bias.

Vital Voice Training is a voice, public speaking, and communication coaching company founded to help clients communicate with savvy, charisma, and confidence. Whether you are giving a speech, leading a sales appointment or a brand new team, pitching your big idea for funding, or just finding the courage to make your voice heard, co-founders Julie Fogh and Casey Erin Clark’s extensive backgrounds in speech coaching and professional acting give them a unique perspective on what makes people want to listen. For the client, the result is your voice: amplified (not just louder).

Jan 27, 2021

Julie and Casey sit down with Kellie Wagner (founder of DEI consultancy and research lab Collective) to talk about the future of diversity, equity, and inclusion, creating “brave” spaces for growth, navigating the fuzzy line between discomfort and pain, and what we have to gain when we prioritize healthy, authentic, inclusive workplaces.


  • Kellie’s founder story begins as many do—with the desire to solve a problem that she herself was experiencing: that across industries, many people (especially women and people of color) spend too much energy dealing with the feeling that they don’t belong and aren’t seeing themselves represented in company culture
  • Too many people feel that to be seen as competent, they need to act like someone else . . . and it’s so socialized into certain people that even in environments that support authenticity, they still try to conform to an outside standard.
  • What could you create if you weren’t spending your time and energy being palatable to other people and trying to be heard?
  • When it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion work, sometimes the focus is on “what do I have to lose”: i.e., I don’t want to lose good employees, I don’t want to get it “wrong”, I don’t want to be publicly shamed. Which is fine . . . but it’s only the start. What do companies have to GAIN? We don’t have to view DEI work as something that takes time away from the vision and business goals and objectives - but something that can be layered on TOP of those things to make the business even more successful and impactful.
  • AND ALSO - beyond the compelling and well-researched business case for DEI work, founders have two opportunities when starting a company: 1) solving a problem in the world through your product or service, and 2) an opportunity to build a culture and workplace where people feel inspired and support and WANT to come.  How do you want people to feel when they spend time in a place that you created? What you have to gain… is a LEGACY.
  • Do you care about diverse representation in your company or in media? When recruiting, make sure you are treating the person as an INDIVIDUAL, not a representative of a certain group. Also, sometimes companies have a tendency to focus so much on recruiting that they forget the necessity of creating a culture that is welcoming and inclusive to all. Basically, if you build it, they will come.
  • There’s no easy, consistent line between productive discomfort and actual pain when it comes to digging into complex issues. Kellie’s mentor has a helpful framework: sameness is safety, and difference is growth (and possibly “danger”) - and there’s a spectrum of where difference feels like growth and when it feels dangerous. Especially for the facilitation of tough conversations, it’s important to monitor the room for when we may need to pull people back into a place of safety so that they can recharge their batteries to go back into growth mode.
  • There’s no such thing as a fully “safe” space that leads to growth. Instead, we aim for brave spaces (for growth and leaning into productive discomfort) and healing spaces (for recharging and processing).
  • In a difficult year that also saw explosive growth for her company, Kellie had to process guilt over success seeming to come out of the suffering of her community—but ultimately she was reminded that this has been her mission since the beginning, and that it took tragedy for the world to wake up to the problem was not her responsibility or fault. Entrepreneurs solve problems they see that often many others don’t. 
  • VVT Lesson: What happens in uncomfortable conversations? Sometimes, we go "primal". Understanding our goals when fear enters the picture is key to making difficult conversation work better.


Kellie Wagner is a consultant, speaker, and the founder of Collective, a national diversity, equity, and inclusion consultancy and research lab focused on shifting how companies build, grow, engage, and retain diverse teams in today’s world.

After nearly a decade working at fast-paced tech startups like Meetup and, Kellie helps high-growth organizations address common culture problems hindering their diversity efforts. Having worked with dozens of startups as they evaluate issues of DEI from the ground up, Collective takes a human-centered, research-driven approach to building inclusion and equity into the foundation of organizations.  Kellie's cornerstone research and practical work is centered around three objectives– understanding how to best engage effectively across difference both interpersonally and as a team, how to engender trust on diverse teams, and how to empower diverse perspectives and backgrounds to foster a culture of belonging.

Kellie has been featured in Forbes, AlleyWatch, and VentureFizz, and speaks regularly at businesses and conferences, including Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, Culture Amp’s Culture Conference, HR Redefined Conference, The Muse, Deloitte, and The Wing. She’s a graduate of NYU's Managing Workplace Diversity & Inclusion program, holds an MFA from The New School, and sits on the board of Experience Camps, a free grief camp for kids who have experienced loss.