My core approach
My consulting practice is designed to address the inevitable gaps that can be sources of persistent frustration in our work as activists, and as people who work in non-profit and philanthropic organizations: gaps between theory and practice, strategy and implementation, program and communications, evaluation and learning, and short-term wins and long-term goals.
More about my philosophy
As a 15-year veteran of social change work from various vantage points—a grant-maker and a fundraiser; a staff member, consultant, researcher, and writer; and a member of both communications and program teams—I understand that justice work is an ecosystem that runs best when each participant has the support, skills, and resources they need to thrive. I have also learned that justice work requires strong relationships and connections between people, movements, organizations, and funders, and fertile ground for those relationships to flourish. We are all important parts of the change process, and we all deserve support from people who can appreciate and understand our struggles. I bring this awareness into my consulting practice, which strives to support those fighting for justice in their communities, those seeking to make their organizations work better, and those striving to bend the moral arc of philanthropy toward justice.
More about my path
As an activist and a professional, I have traveled a deliberately winding path through various issues and institutions. I have worked for institutions that seek to center the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women and girls within social, political, and organizing cultures that prefer to keep such topics invisible at worst and marginalized at best. I have worked with organizations seeking to lift up the experiences of women of color, indigenous women, immigrant women, and queer and trans women in movements and societies that persistently (if unconsciously) center the experiences of white, straight, cisgender women. I have worked with youth-serving organizations struggling to make their programs safer for and more responsive to young women, queer and gender nonconforming youth, and trans youth; and youth organizers working to ensure that their experience and analysis shapes the practices and priorities of institutions designed to support them. And I have worked with and for organizations seeking to shift all types of norms: gender norms, racial norms, cultural norms, media norms, philanthropic norms, development norms, and movement norms.
These experiences have strengthened my ability to view social justice and human rights work through a variety of lenses, and sharpened my critical and political analysis. They have also educated me, a white woman of relative privilege from the United States, on when to listen and when to intervene, when I'm qualified to do a job and when it's a job best done by someone else, when to push and when to yield my platform to another.
How my experience informs my practice
I have worked with hundreds of organizations over the course of my career—from small grassroots feminist and youth collectives to multi-million dollar private foundations. I have worked with groups across the United States and throughout Latin America, Africa, and Asia. While working as a program officer for both private and public foundations, my approach to grant-making was long-term and relationship-based. We all need money to sustain our organizations and turn our visions into realities, and those who are lucky enough to decide how money is spent will always be in a position of relative power and privilege, but within that dynamic, much trust, accountability, creativity, and mutual respect is possible. As a program officer, I sought to make the grants process as painless as possible for my grantees, while also striving to make myself available as a thought partner, resource, ally, champion, and matchmaker. I bring the same energy into my consulting practice, since relationships lie at the core of our work, and strong ones usually outlast any one job, organization, or project.
I also appreciate that the dominant systems and norms that shape our work as non-profit and philanthropic practitioners often fail to reflect the complexity of our challenges and conditions, the realities of our people and our communities, and the nuances of our successes and failures. Sustaining a social justice practice—whether you are a grassroots activist or local organizer; coordinator of a community-based group, head of a national organization, or executive director of a women’s fund; development director or communications officer in an advocacy organization; program officer in a private foundation; or aspiring philanthropist going it alone—takes an enormous amount of political, intellectual, social, and emotional energy, and a good deal of support and accompaniment from others.
We all need support to work, survive, and thrive in the world as it is today without giving up our vision of a more just way of being and working. As a consultant, that is the support I seek to provide.