The Accidental (Interim) Executive Director

I didn’t enter the organization with my eye towards the position I’m in. I was reluctant to be in the non-profit world to begin with and those who have read/followed me for years are familiar with my critiques of those in leadership positions in non-profits, especially in immigration non-profits. Those criticisms followed me when I accepted the interim executive position I have now been in for 8 months. I know there were (and probably still are) people who upon hearing the news or met me along the Los Angeles non-profit way who eyed me with suspicion. Most only knew me in this and other media spaces and my big, uncensored mouth. I know there are others who don’t think I have the chops for this type of work – because I wasn’t already an NPIC insider, because I wasn’t from Los Angeles, because of my (lack) of certain education credentials. My own partner has expressed his doubts and hearing these doubts hurt. Not because I don’t have my own self-doubts ( I think a little bit of self doubt within the NPIC is a good thing) but it hurts none the less.

I had heard that Executive Directing at a non-profit is a lonely job/position and I have felt that. I don’t know if being an ED at an org in NYC feels different, but the non-profit world in LA feels super cliquey and small with too much personal/professional lines crossing. Hell my own partner works at a non-profit that I engage with professionally. It’s messy messy messy and full of chisme/bochinche.

There is a special loneliness to being a woman of color Executive Director in the realm of immigrant worker rights, an area that has been dominated by men and cults of personality surrounding those men. In the immigrant worker context I’ve seen this play out in many ways. I’ve had my life choices of not always working for pay in movement spaces (i.e. working retail) used against me.  I’ve heard that I’m too young (at 38), too emotional, or someone to be careful around, perhaps because I’m don’t show the appropriate amount of deference and/or because of my public critique of baptized “champions” or “leaders”.

I don’t know how long I’ll be in my current position and I’m not too concerned about career longevity. Sadly (maybe) I never have been. I don’t have that kind of ambition. Whether it is a writer, an Executive Director, or even not without a title – I’ve been outspoken against injustice, about the realities of women of color in the face of state violence and the different ways that plays out for over 20 years. I don’t imagine that ending anytime soon whether I get paid for it or not. I will make mistakes but I will also try my best in my current role. I may have many haters but I also have many supporters. My real bosses are the workers I am lucky enough to work with/for daily not whatever the current popular, fundable narrative is and those chosen to carry that message. I know this is considered not being a team player but I was never the first chosen to be on any team anyway and I’m ok with that.

Never Say Never

Never say you will never live with a man again because you will end up moving cross country and doing just that and have nights like tonight when you wonder if it was the right decision.

Never say you will never work in a nonprofit because you will end up being hired by one and by some strange twist of fate end up running one and run into someone you knew, someone who also said they would never.

SPEAK!

I am honored to be part of this powerful project with some powerful women. If you listen closely you can hear la Mala spitting some words.

Participating in this project has been life changing and affirming for me plus it brings together some of the most amazing radical women of color that exist.

Speak! is a women of color led media collective and in the summer
months of 2008, they created a CD compilation of spoken word, poetry,
and song. This is the first self-named album.

With womyn contributors from all over the country, Speak! is a
testament of struggle, hope, and love. Many of the contributors are in
the Radical Women of Color blogosphere and will be familiar names to
you. Instead of just reading their work, you’ll be able to hear their
voices.

Proceeds of this album will go toward funding mothers and/or
financially restricted activists wanting to attend the Allied Media
Conference in Detroit, MI this July. This is our own grassroots
organizing at its finest with financial assistance from the AMC. We
collaborated and conference called for months and here it is, ready
for your purchasing.

In addition to these moving testaments, there will be a zine,
featuring more of our work and a curriculum available to further
process the meaning of each piece for yourself, education, or a group
discussion. The possibilities are endless.

You get all of this for less than $20, you can order one for yourself
or buy a gift card for friend which can be redeemed to buy the CD.
Stay on your toes and look for more information come January 1, 2009.
Only 200 copies are available.

Forward this promo vid widely and to the ends of your contact list.
See the link here.