Holly Holcombe is the co-founder and Associate Director of DART. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Holly moved to the Midwest and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1974. Her commitment to community change and fairness led her to a ten day training event on community organizing in Chicago that served to launch a lifelong career in organizing.
An invitation to become a neighborhood organizer brought Holly to Miami, FL in 1975, followed by organizing with senior citizens in Broward County for several years. During this time, she met John Calkins, who was also organizing seniors in Miami-Dade County. As a result of the 1980 riots in Miami John began to form a new organization based in African American congregations. Holly took over the Miami seniors’ organization.
In the early 1980’s both John and Holly heard from clergy who were interested in building similar organizations in other areas of Florida. In response to this interest, and encouraged by Rev. Herb White and Msgr. Bryan Walsh, the Direct Action and Research Training Center, Inc. (DART) was created to build and sustain a network of justice ministry organizations.
For Holly, the creation of DART in 1982 was a turning point. Rather than move around to different organizations, she was invested in the long term strategy of building a network of organizations that could deeply engage local people in long term systemic change.
Since its inception, Holly has been instrumental in initiating organizations in Kentucky, Virginia, and Florida. She also provides ongoing consultation to affiliates in these states, as well as conducts training sessions for organizers and leaders. Holly says the work of DART is only possible, sustainable and successful because of its devoted core staff, strong team of senior organizers, clear eyed leadership of the DART Board of Directors, and the promising new generation of organizers who emerge through the DART Organizers Institute. Holly is deeply committed to the engagement of ordinary people from different faiths and backgrounds who will powerfully transform their communities to one where hope and opportunity abounds.