I’ve been thinking a lot lately about where I am now in my career, and how I got here. The decisions that I made during my undergraduate years contributed both negatively and positively to where I am now. On the positive side, my decision to not attend graduate school at my alma mater led me to relocate to Chicago. But if I could redo my undergraduate education, I would make different decisions. I always say that I don’t know what I want to do, career-wise, but I don’t think that’s true anymore. I know what I want to do, I’m just afraid of going after it, the way that I should. This fear began in undergrad, where I decided to not declare a major right away, instead of majoring in journalism, which had been my dream. That decision really set me back, as i didn’t declare a major until the second semester of my sophomore year, and it was something I had no interest in, Radio/TV/Film. I picked that major because it seemed more practical than English or African American studies, subjects that I actually enjoyed learning about.
Today, I am putting it in writing, to the public, and claiming the vision I have for my career. I intend to make a positive impact in my corner of the world, through utilizing philanthropy to support social justice movements. I know that philanthropy continues to have a complicated and negative relationship with radical social justice movements and organizations. Too many foundations have co-opted movements, redirected organizing to moderate reform work, and rescinded financial support when organizations take political decisions that the foundation doesn’t agree with. What if I could change things, at least a little, in one location? I believe my knowledge of the many grassroots organizations and programs in Chicago and experience in both grassroots organizing and nonprofit administration, provides me with insight into how best to support organizations. As an extension of formal philanthropy work, I also plan to begin a giving circle, an informal group of people who will donate funds, which will be given to grassroots organizations.
In addition to positively impacting communities, what I hope to gain from a philanthropy career is to build on my existing knowledge and deepen my engagement with issues of criminal justice, gender-based violence, reproductive justice, and HIV/AIDS prevention. This knowledge will also inform my freelance writing, an area I am seeking growth in, and see as a way to raise the public’s awareness about important issues, contribute to existing conversations, and hopefully inspire people to take action.
Along with philanthropy and freelance writing, I still plan to be involved in organizing and supporting those whose lives exist at the intersections of gender-based violence, poverty and state violence. I’ve put my career goals out into the world, and now I have to achieve them; wish me luck :).