I love rollercoasters, and my time at the Foundation has been one of the best rides of my life. Now that the ride is ending, I wanted to thank you for helping me grow and learn.
When I started as a part-time office coordinator, I had planned to stay for a year, tops. At 24, new to Seattle, and the first Black employee at the Foundation, I committed to this work fully. Over four years and a couple of pandemics later, here I am finally saying goodbye. Working at the Foundation has been a pleasure, but at times, it has also been harmful and traumatic.
I wrote this letter after 30-minute lunches with members lasted 3 hours. I wrote this letter after reading birthday cards and receiving thank-you flowers. After you asked if I was okay and what I needed. I wrote this after my first Discovery Days, so excited to be a part of such a world-changing group of brilliant community members. I wrote this earlier this year after the Philanos Conference, beaming with pride at the astounding job we did of bringing together hundreds of women and giving them tools to make change. I wrote this when the pandemic started and when y’all didn’t ask us to explain to why Black and Brown folks would be the most impacted, but instead, asked how you could help and what actions you could take. I wrote this letter with gratitude.
I wrote this letter on days when I was burnt out, undervalued, underpaid and over-worked. I wrote this on days you called me articulate and defensive, after you touched my hair and walked out of rooms I was in, assuming you were in the wrong place. I wrote this when, tragedy after tragedy, instead of asking if I was okay, you asked why I was not doing more.
You welcomed me, questioned me, and taught me how to be a leader. You took the time to explain and show me the heart of philanthropy. While doing this work, we discovered that building community-driven relationships can get messy. You continued to show up and engage in the “difficult” conversations, and for this, I thank you. Thank you for allowing me to be your teacher, a curator of resources. Thank you for making me a leader and then giving me the power to lead.
I knew it was time to leave, because I still worry that you won’t do this work if I’m not here, so it’s time to let you try. Your growth will be evident when I am no longer here to guide you. I am looking forward to seeing your continued progress in the community. I’m proud of the work we’ve done. I proud of the community relationships we’ve built and the way we have made philanthropy move forward.
The first thing I plan on doing when I leave you all is rest. I plan to slow way down for my health. Hearing last week at Intersect that healing isn’t seen as productive shook me to my core. I plan to do some healing. 2020 made me realize it’s time for me to change tactics; I no longer want to invest my time and resources into educating. I want to directly work with Black and Brown activists and communities, providing them with resources and access. I want to ask them what they need, and then do it. I want to be accountable to them. This is completely new for me. I don’t know how this will go, but working at the Washington Women’s Foundation has given me the confidence to try something different and innovative.
I hope through this work to remain committed to the communities we love. You will see me around, because I’m excited to continue working with you all as a member!