The Tech Accelerator Aiming to Address the Climate Emergency

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving In Real Life series features Elodie Read, Program and Community Partnerships Lead at Subak, the first global non-profit tech accelerator dedicated to combatting the climate emergency. 

elodie read
Elodie Read, courtesy of Elodie Read

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I’m pretty early on in my career so this is quite a tricky question to answer. At university and grad school, everyone is full of conviction, zeal and a healthy dose of naivety about how the world is and how it should be. When you start working, it can be easy to get bogged down in reality, but I think it’s important to remember why we got into this kind of work and to keep working with our values and goals at the front of our minds.

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Tyeshia Wilson: A Giving Circle Leader on the Joy of Community

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Tyeshia Wilson, director of engagement for Philanthropy Together.

Tyeshia Wilson, courtesy of Tyeshia Wilson

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Working in philanthropy is one of the most rewarding and self-fulfilling careers, ever. I’m altruistic, I’m a humanitarian, and I’m passionate about service. Looking back, I only wish I had been exposed to the idea of a career in philanthropy earlier. If I was aware of this alignment between  my heart and the work of this field, I would have started in this profession much sooner and likely pursued philanthropic studies in school.

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A Local Leader Calls for Investment in Black Women-led Nonprofits

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features philanthropist, fundraiser and advocate Akilah S. Wallace, who serves as Executive Director of Faith in Texas.

Akilah S. Wallace
Akilah S. Wallace, courtesy of Akilah S. Wallace
  1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

When I started out in the nonprofit sector and philanthropy, I wish I knew the diversity of career paths available and how both work and volunteer experiences in private and public sectors provided much-needed, transferable skills. Additionally, I wish I knew how valuable my lived experiences as a Black woman, single mother, volunteer and more, could help shape culturally-relevant programs, policies and how resources are distributed.

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Early Child Ed is a Feminist Issue: FGIRL with Jumpstart’s Naila Bolus

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Naila Bolus, the Chief Executive Officer of Jumpstart, a national early education organization that advances equitable learning outcomes for young children in underserved communities by recruiting and supporting caring adults to deliver high-quality programming to children and drive systems change through teaching, advocacy, and leadership.

Naila Bolus, the Chief Executive Officer of Jumpstart (Image Credit: Naila Bolus)

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Prior to joining Jumpstart for Young Children in 2011, I had the privilege of leading a foundation focused on building a safe and secure future. The early childhood field was new to me – though I had worked in the nonprofit sector my whole career – and I quickly learned two fundamental truths of the field.

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Marsha Morgan on How Collective Giving Can Uplift Women and Girls

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Marsha Morgan, a founding member of the Birmingham Change Fund and past Chair of the Community Investment Network.

Marsha Morgan, courtesy of Marsha Morgan

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I had started my journey in philanthropy with a proper understanding of the true definition of philanthropy: love of humanity. Having this knowledge and perspective would have allowed me to take more ownership of my power and would have changed how I leveraged my resources as a philanthropist when I first started working in collective giving.

2. What is your current greatest professional challenge?

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Favianna Rodriguez on the Power of Art to Heal Polarization

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Favianna Rodriguez, President of The Center for Cultural Power, a national organization investing in artists and storytellers as agents of positive social change.

Favianna Rodriguez, courtesy of Favianna Rodriguez
  1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I wish I’d known more about the racial and gender barriers that exist for women of color leaders in the non-profit sector, particularly the arts and culture space. I knew how to pitch my ideas and raise money, but I lacked information on how to navigate situations in which I was experiencing unequal treatment due to my gender and racial identity. I was in many spaces where the safety of women was not prioritized. Unfortunately, over the last 20 years of being an institutional leader, I’ve experienced numerous uncomfortable situations including sexual harassment, the theft of my ideas by male leaders, being bullied by men when I challenged sexist assumptions, and being trained to lead in a boy’s club type of approach. Before, I didn’t have the language or tools to navigate these situations. But that has since changed, and I’m incredibly thankful for that because it gives me the opportunity to create safe spaces for other female and gender non-confirming leaders to thrive.

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Deb Markowitz: Bringing Women to the Fore in Environmental Work

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Deb Markowitz, director of the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts.

Deborah Markowitz
Deb Markowitz, courtesy of Deb Markowitz

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I come to the position of director of the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts after a long career in public service. I was in my mid-30s, with three very young children when I was first elected Vermont’s Secretary of State. After serving for 12 years, I ran for Governor of Vermont, and although I lost the primary election by less than 500 votes, the person who won appointed me to serve as his environmental secretary. From this experience I learned a couple of things. First, if you stay grounded in mission and purpose, you can withstand the ups and downs of ones’ career. Second, nothing great is ever accomplished alone. Ask for help, cultivate trusted partners, and use your power and privilege to lift others.  

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Marisa Franco on Leadership: Marginalized People Must Seize the Stage

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Marisa Franco, Director and Co-founder of Mijente, a hub for Latinx/Chicanx organizing and movement building.

marisa franco
Marisa Franco, courtesy of Marisa Franco

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I would reemphasize the importance of relationships, staying curious, and seeking joy and pride in one’s work.

2. What is your current greatest professional challenge?

The leadership development of folks who are looking to get more involved and learn new skills while responding to the many changing conditions we deal with. We have finite time and resources, and it can be a challenge to balance between moving externally to respond to opportunities and crises and doing the development work.

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Marguerite Casey CEO on Resourcing Abolitionist Feminism

Editor’s Note: This interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features President and Chief Executive Officer of the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Dr. Carmen Rojas.

carmen rojas
Carmen Rojas, courtesy of Carmen Rojas

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

I spent a lot of time in this sector trying to make sense of power relationships — specifically, those with undue influence, limited imaginations and proximity to the people who have long been excluded from our democracy and economy. I wish I had known that this is a feature in the design of philanthropy, and that it doesn’t need to be this way. I spent so much time trying to convince people in positions of power and people closest to the most resources that the communities I care about lack power in our democracy or representation in our economy, not as a result of individual choices but as a result of systemic design.

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Pop Culture Collaborative Leaders Discuss Funding Narrative Change

Editor’s Note: This dual interview in our Feminist Giving IRL series features Bridgit Antoinette Evans and Tracy Van Slyke, who are, respectively, the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Strategy Officer of the Pop Culture Collaborative, a philanthropic resource and funder learning community.

Bridgit Antoinette Evans and Tracy Van Slyke, courtesy of Bridgit Antoinette Evans and Tracy Van Slyke

1. What do you wish you had known when you started out in your profession?

Bridgit Antoinette Evans: I wish that I’d been introduced to Octavia E. Butler much earlier in life. Octavia wrote about this concept of “positive obsession,” which she described as “not being able to stop just because you’re afraid and full of doubts.” My mother and her siblings were leaders in the Civil Rights movement in Savannah, and while she fiercely believed that her daughters could be anything we wanted to be in the world, she was very clear that we needed to be improving the world while doing it. I wanted to be an artist, and so, as a teen, I became obsessed with one question: “What is the relationship between a great story and widespread cultural change?”

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