Frequently Asked Questions – WOC in Philanthropy

SIOP FALL QUOTES2-gina razoo2

Q: Who should apply to be part of the 2015-16 Women of Color in Philanthropy Cohort?

A: Trans and cisgender women and gender nonconforming philanthropic leaders of color who are ready to make a deep commitment to transforming their own leadership and lives are invited to apply. Cohort participants must attend the national retreat in New York (October 27-30), and have the capacity to dedicate time for follow-up actions determined at the retreat. We are especially looking for people who are seeking an experience that is different from traditional leadership development programs and philanthropic conferences. We welcome participants who are ready to engage in their own personal transformation as a strategy for broad-based systemic change. If you are ready to link your inner change to the outer change you seek in the world, we are ready for you.

SiOP is an intergenerational network. As a result, we are seeking a wide range of women who are ready to take a deep dive, including: (1) young women who are beginning their leadership journey and have the potential to begin practicing and advocating for transformative leadership within their organizations and communities; (2) mid-career women who are feeling stuck, burnt out or need a new way of leading to increase their impact and take their work to the next level; (3) seasoned leaders who are currently in leadership or may have stepped down and need a space for reflection, redirection and transition support, and who are deeply committed to supporting a new generation of leaders; (4) consultants who have worked fulltime in philanthropy and have chosen to begin their own practice serving the field; (5) and individual donors and donor organizers who are currently moving resources and organizing others to give in alignment with social justice values.

Q: How are women invited and selected to be part of this retreat?

A: Our process involves inviting women of color in philanthropy who work in institutional philanthropy and/or identify as a donor/donor organizer. We are inviting women with whom we’ve been in conversation and also asking them and our network members to spread the word with others who will be a good fit at this time.  We’ll convene up to 30 women of color in philanthropy for this retreat, and intend to bring some participants back from the previous cohort for continuity and to take on leadership roles. Our selection process is primarily based on getting the right mix of people and perspectives together. If you’ve been invited and know someone who would also be great, please share the invite or email taij(at)spiritinaction(dot)net with your recommendation.

Q: What is the National Gathering? Where and when does it take place?

A: The retreat is a space to take a step back, reflect, build community, vision, develop a shared political framework and personal empowerment. The gathering formally begins at 10am on Thursday, October 27 and goes through 4:00pm on Sunday, October 30, 2016. If you are traveling from out of town, we encourage you to arrive on Wednesday evening to settle in and be well-rested. It will be held at at The Watershed Center in Millerton, NY.

Q: Is childcare provided?

A: If you need childcare, please indicate on the Registration form that is provided once you are accepted. We will work with you to make sure your needs are met and that you can participate fully and have your child(ren) cared for.

Q: What is the cost and what expenses are included?

A: The cost per participant at this retreat is $3,500, which includes retreat expenses (lodging/food/program materials), and staff/consultant time. Participants are asked to contribute on a sliding scale ($1,500 – $3,500) based on your organization’s budget and/or income/net worth. Because we do not want to turn anyone away due to funds, we have a limited amount of scholarship funds available based on request. We encourage you to seek sponsorship from your organization or to launch your own crowdfunding campaign to support you to take part in this unique opportunity. If you are able, we invite you to consider supporting another participant by making a donation or sponsoring the retreat.

Q: Why do you need so much information about my identity in the application?

A: We are asking for quite a bit of information about your identity because a key goal is to ensure diversity across generation, race/ethnicity, geography, class, sexual orientation, issue areas and more. We respectfully ask that you provide this information, which will inform our selection process.  In selecting participants, our goal is to have a truly diverse and inclusive group of women at the gathering.


Q: Why does SiOP bridge spirituality and healing with social justice?

A: At SiOP we believe that our commitment to social justice comes from a place deep within that never forgets our ‘her-story’ as women of color. We embrace Sankofa, an Akan word that means, “We must go back and reclaim our past so we can move forward; so we understand why and how we came to be who we are today.”

By reconnecting to our spirituality and being heart-centered, we are reclaiming something inherently within us, passed down to us by our ancestors, lost due to years of oppression and cultural genocide. Reclaiming our cultural assets and the tools of our ancestors, we believe we can recreate our sacred spaces within us and around us. We seek to integrate spirituality into our lives in order to contextualize our oppression within a social framework and operate from an authentic empowered self.

Through our retreats and programs, we  tap into our spirit center and gain tools to cope with and resist the racism, sexism, classism, ageism, heterosexism, etc. we encounter everyday. We then begin to connect the effects of these multiple forms of violence and oppression on our lives to a larger political, social and economic context as women of color working for social change. More importantly, we will make the connection that the feelings of powerlessness and fear (internalized oppression) that we have are a direct result of our experiences of abuse, trauma and neglect. Collectively, and by engaging in our own empowerment, we replace what is not working in our lives and leadership with positive, life affirming ways of living and being. We will explore ways to open the door to personal transformation and systemic change.

Q: Why do you focus on developing practice?

A: Knowing and having a vision is one thing, practice is another. Practice is what grounds wisdom into our bodies, our minds, our work and our lives. In order to live into a new vision for ourselves, our communities and our world, we realize that it is essential for us to support our members to embody several core competencies that align with their visions. Embodiment comes through regular practice.

Q: Who is organizing this retreat?

A: The retreat is organized by an inter-generational, diverse, cross-class group of women of color, several of whom have worked in the field of philanthropy. The Standing in Our Power network weaver is Taij Moteelall. Other members of the working group planning this retreat include: Diana Marie Lee, Yaromil Fong-Olivares and Simone Jhingoor.


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