Voices In Harmony was founded by Christian Murphy, David Ackert, and Melissa Fitzgerald in 1995. The three founders shared the belief that theater can be a powerful tool for building self-esteem and self-expression among teenagers. In 1997, Christian moved to Chicago at which time David and Melissa assumed the leadership roles in the organization as Co-Founders and Co-Artistic Directors.
David Ackert, MA, is the president of The Ackert Advisory, a business coaching, consulting, and e-learning firm in Los Angeles, CA. He has served in the legal, corporate, government, and non-profit sectors as an Executive Coach, Trainer, Marketer, and Strategic Planner since the late ’90s. He has served as coach and advisor to over 200 CEOs, executives, and service firm partners, hailing from both local and global companies and firms. He has developed and implemented business development programs for national legal, accounting, and financial service firms. He is the founder of the two leading business development e-learning programs to the legal industry, Practice Boomers and Prospero JD.
David has written for and contributed to over a dozen articles in publications including the LA Times, The National Review, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Business Journal, the Daily Journal, and been quoted in several trade publications and business books. He has spoken at ABA and State Bar conferences, participated on panels and been the keynote speaker at numerous conferences on the topic of business development. He teaches strategic planning and marketing courses through UCLA Extension and is a guest lecturer at USC Marshall School of Business.
He is a recipient of his local Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40 Leadership Award.” He serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors for Voices in Harmony, a non-profit arts/mentoring organization he co-founded in 1995 that provides extra-curricular and classroom programs for at-risk teens around the world. He was one of the nine people awarded as a "Difference Maker" from Ithaca College in its recognition of alumni who have made a meaningful impact through community service initiatives.
In addition to Ithaca College, David holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University and a Masters in Psychology from the University of Santa Monica.
David has a strong background in the creative arts. His acting credits include such television shows as “The Practice”, “The West Wing”, “NYPD Blue,” “6 Feet Under”, “CSI:Miami,“ “Monk,” and “Bones.” He played the lead role in several independent films including “Cool Crime”, “Woman on Fire” and “Maryam” and was part of the weekly ensemble cast on PBS’s educational sit-com, “Crossroads Café.” He has performed on stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. He is also a published fiction writer.
Melissa Fitzgerald is a dynamic actress producer and social activist. Her acting career has included film, theater and television in New York and Los Angeles. She is best known for playing the role of Carol on NBC’s award-winning political drama The West Wing.
Throughout her life Melissa has been dedicated to community service and outreach. In 1995 she co-founded Voices in Harmony, a non-profit youth arts organization committed to empowering at-risk teens by cultivating personal, academic, and artistic excellence.
Melissa served as Goodwill Ambassador and Board Member for the International Association of Physicians in AIDS Care (IAPAC), and traveled to South Africa as an IAPAC volunteer working with those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.
Melissa is currently involved in advocating for peace in northern Uganda and Central Africa. In addition to speaking to groups all over the United States as part of an advocacy campaign to end the violence in Central Africa, Melissa has spoken several times on Capitol Hill. In the summer of 2006 she traveled with the International Medical Corps as a volunteer to war-torn northern Uganda giving birth to Hope Not Lost, an award winning short film she produced, documenting her experience which is narrated by Martin Sheen. Melissa represented the International Medical Corps at the Live 8 Concert and the G8 Summit as part of the ONE Campaign to end poverty. Major media coverage of Melissa’s work with the ONE Campaign included CNN, BBC Radio, NBC, CNBC, People Magazine, Philadelphia Inquirer and others.
Melissa is co-executive producer of Halfway Home, a documentary that weaves the personal stories of warriors’ life altering accounts from the battlefield with their often painful efforts to reintegrate back home.
In 2008, Melissa campaigned for President Barak Obama including appearances at fundraisers and rallies. In 2004, Melissa served as a spokesperson for Environment 2004 (E04), traveling to the Democratic National Convention and battleground states to educate voters on environmental issues and the impact of their votes. In 2006 she was a spokesperson for Environmental Alliance. Melissa participated in the 12 Days To Change bus tour on behalf of the Kerry campaign. In 2004 and 2006, Melissa traveled her home state of Pennsylvania as a surrogate speaker with Governor Edward G. Rendell, sharing the podium with President Barack Obama, Vice President Al Gore, Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Robert P. Casey, Congressman Patrick Murphy as well as other notable political voices.
She has served as a guest teacher for Teach For America. She has written pieces that can be found in the New York Times, Huffington Post, and the book, The Enough Moment by John Prendergast and Don Cheadle.
Melissa received her BA in Literature from the University of Pennsylvania and currently resides in Los Angeles.