As a young black womyn growing up in a quickly gentrifying community, experiencing systemic and institutional oppression, like so many of my peers, I found myself drowning. I was lucky enough to find a home in the Youth Power Project (YPP) of Make the Road New York, (MRNY) where I was able to begin my re-education and reintegration into my community that I had been living in, but also felt hidden from. YPP was and still remains my family where I learned key principles and values essential to any leader – trust, compassion, honesty, accountability, self-love and sustainability. All exactly in that order.
As a member of MRNY, I found the narrow scope of my world view opening up through organizing with the Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC) and the Alliance for Educational Justice (AEJ). I was leaning into a part of myself that I didn’t realize hungered for knowledge in order to affect change. A few years later, I had the amazing opportunity to become an organizer with the team that had been responsible to what I refer to as the awakening self. Not only did it open up an awareness to self & people around me, it also opened up opportunities to look into other potential career interests that I didn’t even realize I could fall in love with.
Event Planning at 19 was everything. MRNY saw leadership and skills that I didn’t even realize were being cultivated in myself at the time. With each convening wanting to meet the needs of all the communities that I would be serving I was committed to making sure that each convening, meeting, training, action, youth networking event was better than the last and it was. This was one of the many moments during my organizing career where I remember feeling, seeing, and embracing joy from a job well done. Looking back the most amazing memories are tied to being able to exercise my event planning skills.
The extension of trust, compassion, honesty, and accountability that was given to me as a youth leader was critical to my successful experience as an organizer. I also realized the importance of cultivating self love and learning to be more sustainable if I was going to continue to want to serve my community for the long haul. I had the opportunity to further my professional development by participating in an 11 week intensive training: Leaders for Embodied Organizing (LEO), with Rusia Mohiuddin from Universal Partnership. LEO was the integration of somatics & organizing skills. It was exactly what I needed. I came back from the training ready, grounded, and understanding just exactly how I wanted to continue to work with young people from various socio economic and health backgrounds within in my community.
2017, I spent it assisting a new local organization in the South Bronx build out their youth program. It was fun raising their stipends for their first summer program through a grassroots effort. Art & political awareness were the two goals for that summer & I couldn’t ask for anything more with the new team that I was building with. Together we were amazing!
During this time I was also a student-apprentice of Warrior’s for Embodied Liberation (WEL). WEL is an apprenticeship program developed and lead by Universal Partnership’s principle, Rusia Mohiuddin. WEL is a 3-year training program in which the students learn and practice the core methodologies for embodied training and coaching. as a part of their studies, students explore, learn, and develop pieces on our understanding of many things related to change work. One of the first points of entry, into understand the work UP does, is human nature. what is human behavior and how does change happen? It has been and continues to be a privilege to share space with mentors & peers that seek to change the world with integrity, resilience, humor, & love at the center. It is the breath of fresh air & understanding that I have been seeking.
I am an artist, mediator, and planner at heart. I want to use all the skills that I have been cultivating to assist individuals, leadership groups, & institutions in finding and co-creating new systems that will grow & propel then to become even more successful in everything that they want to accomplish.