On April 20, 2016, Roland Legiardi-Laura, a documentary filmmaker, poet, educator and founder passed away from a protracted battle with cancer. Roland founded the To Be Heard Foundation to carry on the work he began with Power Writers and Power Poetry.
He was an artist, writer-in-residence at University Heights High School,a poet, filmmaker, and long-time director of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, where the slam poetry phenomenon originated. At the Nuyorican, he was also founder and director of the highly successful Fifth Night Screenplay Reading and Short Film Series. In 2010 Roland Co-Directed/Produced TO BE HEARD, an award-winning documentary for PBS. His documentary film, Azul, a study of Nicaragua’s people and history through their poetry, won nine international film awards and three ACE nominations. His poetry has been widely published and anthologized. He founded Words to Go and P.O.E.T., America’s first traveling troupes of performance poets. He has been a nominator for the Rockefeller Media Arts Program and has served as a member of the Board of Governors of the New York Foundation for the Arts. His current documentary film project is a three part series, entitled The Fourth Purpose: The Enigma of Public School. Roland, with Joe Ubiles and Amy Sultan, co-created the model for the Power Writers Program.