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Dear Tzedek Community,
I am writing to share that after almost five years with Tzedek, I will be leaving the organization in April 2023 to focus on my family and to step into a new phase of my career as CEO and co-founder of Davis Squared Consulting. I am deeply grateful to our visionary Funder and Founder, Amy Mandel, for trusting me and other social justice leaders to guide Tzedek into its current identity as a community-led fund. I am extremely proud of who we are as an organization on the other side of our transformation process.
When I came to Tzedek in 2018, we were known as the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund. We had a positive impact in our community and philanthropic world but we knew that we could go deeper and further with our work. Amy initiated a “Pause for the Cause” and, in a radical embodiment of her social justice values, she entrusted me and Heather Laine Talley to guide the fund into its next phase.
Our transformation as an organization was internal as well as external. We transferred decision-making power from our Funder and Founder, Amy Mandel, to our staff and inaugural community-based board in January 2020. I’d like to extend a huge thank you to our inaugural board for leading with compassion, care and integrity.
We updated our name, mission, vision and values to reflect what we’ve learned from local activists and community and to make a clearer stand for justice. We invested in the long-term leadership of BIPOC, queer, trans and Jewish activists through the Impact and Brilliance Awards, one of the few grantmaking programs of its kind in the country, where activists are rewarded for their tireless work though no-strings-attached grants. We stepped boldly into trust-based philanthropy by giving Asheville-based social justice leaders control over a portion of our grantmaking budget. We have advocated for our grantees at philanthropic conferences across the nation. We received the Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ 2022 Out in the South Leadership Award for our legacy of thoughtful leadership and impactful grantmaking in LGBTQ Southern communities. And, most recently, we used our social and financial capital to support reparations work in Asheville by becoming the fiscal sponsors and first funders of a new, Black-led, community-driven organization: the Reparations Stakeholder Authority of Asheville.
As I step down as Tzedek’s inaugural Executive Director, I’m excited that the decision-making power to hire Tzedek’s next leader lies in the hands of our community-based board. They are leading the ED search process for Tzedek and you can expect to hear more from them with details about that search in the next two months. This transition is another exercise in us trusting those who are the most proximate to the systems of oppression that we hope to end and who have the most expertise in creating change in Asheville. I am confident that Tzedek is well positioned to continue its growth as a co-conspirator in the fight for liberation at a time when our country is in desperate need of brave warriors for justice.
As for me, I plan to take this December off to rest and will continue to make waves in philanthropy and social justice through my work at Davis Squared Consulting and as a steering committee member of the Reparations Stakeholder Authority of Asheville. I look forward to our paths crossing beyond Tzedek as we collectively work for the truly multiracial democracy that we all deserve.