[Originally published September 29, 2015]
By Jennifer Ann Gordon, Repower Yolo's Storyteller
Autumn Labbe-Renault is committed to “bringing community voices together and giving people the tools to be heard.” Executive Director of Davis Media Access (DMA) since 2007, Autumn is in her element. Curiosity never killed this cat! She asks a lot of questions of herself and others, with great results. She said that she sees her role with DMA as “more of a conduit, rather than as a content creator.”
“It makes life so much better to love what you do. To work in community media is to work in change, because of all the sea changes with technology,” she said. With a background in fundraising, Autumn spearheads community engagement for DMA, a nonprofit. She oversees 4-5 staff members and 100-150 volunteers. She is a natural facilitator and keeps the programs running smoothly.. Autumn also produces all DMA's local election coverage.
She said, “I’ve watched people come into Davis Media Access and create content. They discover their voices, which is empowering. And I’ve watched people be transformed in the process. One of my favorite things about Davis Media Access is the communal work space. We don’t have offices, so there is a steady parade of people doing their radio shows. One of these people recently said, ‘I’m here for my weekly therapy.’ Surprising? It delights me that people come in and get so much joy out of what they create. Community media is a way for people to access the tools of media to tell their own stories.”
Autumn’s generous citizenry expands beyond Davis Media Access, though. She has been a member of Soroptimist International (SI) here in Davis—a service organization dedicated to bettering the lives of women and girls—for the last 13 years. She said, “SI provides the opportunity to come together with so many other women committed to making a difference. Soroptomism is big part of my life. These women know how to get stuff done. Soroptimists, as a whole, show up for the community and for each other.”
With fifteen-year-old twins and her oldest daughter starting college this fall, Autumn has been very involved with the schools, in addition to serving as a Worship Associate at the Unitarian Universalist Church, where she occasionally writes and presents pieces.
During the last four years, Autumn gave her all to taking care of her parents, both of whom have now passed. “Creativity had to take a backseat,” she said. A mixed media artist, she’s looking forward to getting back in the saddle again.
The ampersand, “&,” is Autumn’s favorite symbol. She said, “It represents the Infinite AND, not ‘or.’ The ampersand is about possibility. As a figurative symbol, I just love it!” Now she’s starting to wonder, “What else can I accomplish in life?”
Autumn Labbe-Renault, thank you for giving our community voice. Thank you for all the love your pour into Davis. Thank you for infusing our town with inspiration and insight. Thank you for being so extraordinary.