We build women’s collective power in the U.S.

August 9, 2023

Grantee Partner Spotlight: Transformative Leadership for Change

by the team at Transformative Leadership for Change

The Ms. Foundation is proud to support our grantee partners, who are at the forefront of organizing and creating solutions that improve people’s lives and bring us closer to achieving a true democracy. The insight and perspective they provide is invaluable. The Q&A below was generated by the team at Transformative Leadership for Change (TLC). 

TLC was built by and for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) leaders to transform themselves, their organizations and the larger movement ecosystem so they can thrive in their leadership, build real power for their communities and see their visions of liberation come to life. TLC is an Activist Collaboration & Care Fund grantee partner. 

What brought you to this work? 

Women of color leaders in the progressive ecosystem in Colorado came together to support each other around issues of burn-out, sustainability, unaddressed trauma, conflict and competition, underfunding, and internalized / systemic oppression. Tired of leadership programs that reinforced dominant culture “hard skills” to navigate the non-profit industrial complex, we yearned for a space that centered BIPOC experiences, collective healing, transformative relationships, abundance, creativity, and proactive vision.  

In 2017, the TLC Fellowship emerged as a “tender loving care” offering to our peers, and has flourished into a community of 82 BIPOC leaders in 60 organizations working to build real power for our communities and see our visions of liberation come to life.

How do you connect/collaborate in your community? Who are your key partners?

TLC cultivates a web of collaborative relationships with movement-aligned partners at the local and national levels. We work with BIPOC healers, facilitators, entrepreneurs, and practitioners who offer wisdom and guidance to TLC Fellowship participants. Our partners bring expertise across a number of areas, including ancestral and Indigenous healing practices, body-centered (somatic) practices, liberatory leadership, coaching, trauma-informed care, social movement history, transformative justice and generative conflict skills, and much more. Our collaborations help nourish networks of WOC/TGNC leaders of color to thrive as we work collectively to create systems and culture change.

What are you learning or what are you teaching?

The deep lesson we are both learning and teaching at TLC is best put by one of our fellows: Lakshmi Nair, 2021-2022 Cohort: 

”At this critical moment, healing is not a choice, it is an imperative. There’s no more time left to let petty ego issues hamper our work. There is no healing of the world without healing of self and there is no healing of self without healing of the world. The separation is an illusion. This is what is so powerful about TLC. It brings together the micro- and macro-level healing. I can’t imagine any more important work right now, and I’m deeply grateful to be a part of it.”

Tell us about a recent victory or something you’re proud of.

We got published in the spring edition of the Nonprofit Quarterly! The piece, The Call of Leadership Now: BIPOC Leadership in a Syndemic Era, written by our Co-Directors, Neha Mahajan and Felicia Griffin, is making waves and we are proud to amplify the message that healing-centric, liberatory leadership is the best way to navigate this movement moment. We are humbled to be recognized for the potential and tangible contributions we are making to our local movement. Most importantly, this piece is sparking conversations amongst BIPOC leaders, organizations, and communities making change on the ground every single day. 

What can philanthropy do better and/or how can individuals be helpful allies?

Transforming philanthropy (and our relationship to money and wealth) is essential to our success and sustainability within social justice movements. Together with our leaders, we are developing a Platform for Change to meaningfully evolve grantee relationships from transactional to radical allyship and accompliceship by challenging entrenched scarcity frameworks. To the philanthropy world: we ask you to build community with us and respect our agency, as those with proximity to the issue are poised to formulate solutions, and leverage power and privilege towards easeful, multi-year, unrestricted giving while advocating for similar changes with your peers. Trust the leadership of women and gender expansive individuals of color and fund us like you want us to win!

What gives you hope?

We are committed to the wisdom we have earned through our own personal, political, and organizational journeys: transformative healing work is essential to getting us from the world that exists to the world we are calling in. It gives us hope that this call for healing and liberatory leadership is landing with our communities. TLC is evolving from a start-up experiment into a thriving organization in response to the deep desire for these sacred spaces. We do our work from the belief that we will reach a critical mass of leaders who truly want to transform our conditions, the ecosystem, and the way we lead – a tipping point of transformation for ourselves, our movements, and the world.