By Taij Moteelall
I began my journey in social justice organizing as a volunteer among a community of artists/activists of color, and at that time I never imagined that I would need a women’s space for members of that community. When I started my first paid, full-time job at a nonprofit youth organization, I never thought I would one day be organizing women of color to dismantle the unjust systems we faced daily while simultaneously building new models. As I prepared to transition out of my position as Executive Director of a national philanthropic organization, I began dreaming of one day galvanizing women of color to speak of the injustice we experienced as leaders in our own organizations as a way to address what is not working and create something different.
My journey has compelled me to reflect deeply, to dream, and to eventually create SiOP, with my Spirit in Action team and a founding core leadership committee, to transform leadership in the nonprofit sector, social movements and beyond. By changing how we conceptualize leadership, how we structure organizations and how we practice leading, SiOP will help to usher in a new era at a time when we prepare for several major demographic shifts in the United States.
I am delighted to share a recently completed SiOP Case Statement in which we present details about the network, including the need for SiOP, stories of women of color in leadership, our vision and building blocks, and opportunities for partnership. The deep social change we aspire to create is long-term and will require an interdependent community committed to doing the work and to supporting the work.
Transformative social change work cannot happen in isolation. Leadership from the top down is an isolating experience and has been failing us in our social justice movements. In order for women of color to begin establishing new leadership models we need a collective vision, a network through which we can share resources and ideas, and communities of practice coming together in solidarity. We also need a strong community to hold and support us. As women of color we cannot do this work alone.
In less than two weeks, I’ll bear witness to the manifestation of a vision that I have held for several years now. From October 25-29, thirty women of color will come together at Hope Springs Institute for the inaugural SiOP gathering. Please join us as a founding donor or sponsor.