Taro Alexander, Founder of SAY, grew up here. The DC community has always nurtured and inspired Taro. It is here that he was raised and first found his own creative voice. The family, friends, and teachers who supported and mentored him in DC were instrumental in preparing him to create SAY in the first place.
The journey back to DC began when Taro started SAY in 2001. Taro had been stuttering since he was five years old and was raised in the worlds of performing arts, therapy, and education. His mother, Riki Alexander is a therapist and educator and his father, the late Bobby Alexander, was the founder and Artistic Director of the Living Stage Theatre Company, a renowned theatre for social change with a mission to transform individuals and communities through creative empowerment. Taro graduated from the Duke Ellington School of the Arts in 1991 and left his hometown, heading to New York to pursue a career as a professional actor. Over the ensuing years as his acting career blossomed, Taro was afforded opportunities on the stage and screen and criss-crossed the country on two national tours (Lost in Yonkers, STOMP) but he always knew that his true calling lay in working with young people. In 2001, he realized that the time had come to start making his dream a reality, and so SAY was founded and the very first group of participants (seven teens from NYC and the surrounding area) began meeting weekly to create and perform their own original plays and songs.
For that first year, Taro ran SAY out of his living room in the East Village. With the generous support of many amazing friends who contributed money and volunteered their hard work, time, and talents, the first public performance was a huge success — complete with standing ovations from the capacity audience on opening night and even a positive write-up in the New York Times! Participants, crew, volunteers, and the community alike were transformed by this powerful opportunity to deeply listen to and be present for young people who stutter, giving them as much time as they needed to speak.
Over the course of the last 19 years, SAY has transformed into a multifaceted organization offering innovative programs addressing the physical, social, and emotional impacts of stuttering for young people and their families. From Camp SAY, to Confident Voices, to Speech Therapy, to Camp SAY Across the USA, to The Storytellers Project, our programming has evolved to meet the holistic needs of a wide range of participants all over the country and even those who come from abroad. All of our offerings are either free or offered on a sliding scale, and no one has ever been turned away due to the inability to pay.
In 2019, Taro and his wife, Leigh, co-founded SAY: DC, opening a beautiful studio space in the Golden Triangle section of DC, near Dupont Circle. As we begin our third decade of work, we have returned to our roots. It is with pride and a great sense of excitement that the SAY: DC team established this new branch of the organization and celebrated our inaugural season. It has felt like coming home.
If you have any questions, please visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Here or contact us directly by email or phone.