Standing in Our Power Gratitude report

Hand on heart, breathing deeply, slowing down, building community, releasing trauma, healing, visioning new possibilities, planning for empowered action and practicing liberation, for five years (2012-2016), we gathered in circle to transform self and society.

Thank you for your support and partnership, which helped to make all that we do possible.

We, the core leaders Standing in Our Power (SiOP), humbly and wholeheartedly express our deepest gratitude to you, our community of supporters, for believing and investing in our vision of transformative change.

Thank you for "having our back," allowing us the space to dream big and walk our talk.

Your strong support helped to build a dynamic network of trans and cisgender women of color, and gender nonconforming folks of color, across a multitude of identities, class, issues, sector and geography.

Collective Visioning

Collectively, we are changing how we conceptualize leadership, how we care for self and community, how we structure and sustain organizations and how we practice leading.

SiOP envisions a world where all who identify as women of color co-create a new story of holistic transformation, sustainability and wellness for all across the gender spectrum.

We are an inter-generational network of social justice movement makers who identify as trans and cisgender women of color and gender nonconforming folks of color.

Through our transformative leadership development and capacity building model, we radically redefine the status quo to ignite personal, structural and cultural liberation.

Arch of Transformation - Because of a history of oppression and institutions/culture/policies that continue to oppress, we are constantly harmed and lose innate human competencies. We need spaces to heal and reclaim these basic human competencies. SiOP supports members to breakdown, releasing trauma, and to breakthrough, living into a vision that centers wellness, empowerment and sustainability.

Grounded in a shared political analysis of “how we got here,” SiOP centers wellness, empowerment and sustainability to develop leaders who are increasingly effective and strategic in our social movements. During times of economic, ecological and social upheaval, we are faced with a fundamental choice: to contract or connect. Relationship and community building serve as central components to our work, leading to a thriving and interdependent network.

SiOP operates from the framework that both internalized and systemic oppression are significant barriers to building power and creating lasting change. We believe that we cannot change systems and the world if we are not embodying the change we envision. Embodiment comes from deep practice that grounds wisdom into our bodies, our minds and our lives.

Through retreats, workshops, trainings, coaching and capacity building services, we support our members to strengthen their external work to end structural racism, sexism, classism, homophobia, xenophobia, ableism and ageism while also engaging in internal work to heal from trauma and internalized oppression.

After extensive research and development, also known as our "Deep Listening Phase," which centered the voices of movement leaders, SiOP was launched in 2012 with a national retreat held in Ohio.

Video featuring SiOP members speaking of their experience at our inaugural retreat:

Artwork created for SiOP by Crystal Clarity

Since our retreat in 2012, the total members served by SiOP to date includes 131 through retreats and coaching; 111 through workshops and webinars; 130 through media skills training and over 1,200 through local/regional events and social media.

In 2013, we held our second national retreat once again in Ohio. This retreat kicked off a year long Transformative Leadership Institute (TLI) where participants took part in workshops/webinars and received coaching for 12 months. This retreat was followed by reflection and planning, led by our core leaders, to begin solidifying our transformative leadership development model and theory of change.

Evaluation findings from SiOP’s transformative leadership development programs in 2012 indicated: (1) Over 90% reported having made significant changes in their lives and leadership; (2) 100% stayed connected through the SiOP network; and, (3) Over 90% requested ongoing support over a year-long period.

SiOP members affirm that their participation in SiOP inspired them to approach their leadership and lives with a new lens. Members are supported to not only be effective leaders, but to lead from a place of personal and collective power. They draw strength and resilience from being validated in SiOP spaces, being seen and heard.

Additional findings from 2013-2014 show the following results for participants: (1) 100% found SiOP leadership development programs to be effective and helpful; and (2) many described how the SiOP leadership programs were life changing, and supported them to put their personal visions into action through planning and coaching/peer-support.

SiOP's 2014 retreat brought together women of color in philanthropy to engage in their own transformative leadership development while collectively exploring how to catalyze more resources in support of women and girls of color.

Inspired by women of color leaders at the Joint Affinity Group -- now Change Philanthropy -- gathering in 2014 who asked "what about us?" in response to the growth of initiatives to support men and boys of color, SiOP's women of color in philanthropy initiative was born. We created a proactive space for leaders to build a shared analysis, vision and action plan to organize philanthropic resources. To date, members of this cohort have been at the helm of new funding initiatives and awareness building efforts that lift up the voices of, and generate resources for, women and girls of color.

Photo montage from the 2014 Women of Color in Philanthropy retreat:

In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, SiOP's 2015 Transformative Leadership Institute (TLI) retreat was an invitation to "Be with Black Women in the Intersections of State Violence and Struggles for Liberation."

Photo montage from the 2015 TLI retreat, featuring a song led by SiOP member, Sevonna Brown of Black Women's Blueprint:

In 2015, we partnered with world renowned modern artist, Julie Mehretu, to host an event at her studio. We successfully introduced SiOP to new audiences and garnered over $50,000 in donations. Thank you to all who gave so generously.

Highlights from SiOP's 2015 event are captured in this video:

Since our inception, SiOP's local/national programs, workshops/webinars, coaching and capacity building services have leveraged the power of the arts, culture and creative process for inspiration, growth and action; integrated spirituality and/or contemplative practice for healing and wellness; and connected social entrepreneurship with non-profit work to ensure increased sustainability.

During our 2015 Story Day, Monica Raye Simpson, Executive Director of Sister Song: Women of Color for Reproductive Justice, shared a powerful story about SiOP's impact on her:

I experienced some of the most difficult times of my life in 2012 and 2013. These two years were full of hard transitions and uncomfortable, yet powerful, revelations. I have always had a strong support system of friends, but I was struggling to find my activist community. People I could trust to hold me through the rough times, and who wouldn't judge me if I made mistakes. People who I could lean on for their expertise and also share my visions with who wouldn't co-opt my ideas and who trusted me to not take their's either. I was in need of a safe space. A space where I could cry, scream, laugh, dance or just sit still. A space that celebrated my gifts and journey and encouraged me to reach higher. A space where I could sit at the feet of elders and share with peers across lines of difference. My sister friend Taij Kumarie Moteelall made this possible for me when she asked me to be a part of the first SiOP retreat. SiOP was my saving grace over those two years. I know I am a better leader because I know my Ancestors and my SiOP sisters got my back. And I got theirs. #IamFree in my mind, body & Spirit because of spaces like SiOP.

We focused on developing, piloting and refining our transformative change model during our formative years. In 2015, SiOP core leaders turned our focus to our own leadership structure. Driven by the goal of creating a shared and equitable leadership model that reflects the new paradigm of leadership we've been calling for, our journey mirrored our transformative change model -- breaking down and releasing the old to live powerfully into a new vision.

New core leaders joined and co-created a renew vision and mission. We created a business plan in response to an invitation to be donated a retreat center (land and property). While SiOP was one of two finalists, and did not receive the donation, the process ignited leaders, many of whom are social entrepreneurs, to explore what it would mean for SiOP to be more entrepreneurial in its approach to personal and organizational sustainability. We coupled our fund development efforts with business development.

2016 marked a period of "going inward" to strengthen our core. We began embodying our evolving vision of shared leadership. We will continue to work on our model in 2017. From a place of core strength, we:

  • continued to serve movement makers and social entrepreneurs, creating space for them to work on healing of self, community and the planet;
  • partnered with philanthropic institutions to offer retreats, workshops and coaching to their grantees;
  • expanded our offerings to serve trans, cis and gender nonconforming social entrepreneurs; and
  • implemented new strategies for sustainable resource development.

In the Spring of 2016, we partnered with the New York City Capacity Building Funders Collaborative to launch an Empowerment Workshop Series (EWS) for their grantee leaders. The EWS started with a residential retreat and was followed by workshops and coaching from the SiOP team and peer coaching.

SiOP member, Ariel Estrella, shares about their experience in the EWS in this video:

In the Fall of 2016, we partnered with Access Strategy Fund in Boston to provide an Activist Women of Color Self Care Retreat to their grantee leaders.

In 2016, we developed the SiOP Women of Color Business Incubator, a year-long program to strengthen the innovation, growth, productivity and management capacity of 30 social entrepreneurs living in asset poverty who identify as women of color, inclusive of trans and cisgender and gender noncomforming folks. Within this program, SiOP’s transformative leadership development model supports members to bring forth their most powerful self in action to launch a thriving entrepreneurial venture. In addition to our offering of retreats, workshops and coaching, we will also connect members with impact investors so they can secure start-up capital. This new program will launch in 2017. We are in the process of securing funding for the launch.

Thank you again for being on this journey with us, supporting us with enduring love, guidance, donations/investments and partnerships. We could not do our work without YOU, our awesome community of support!

We look forward to continuing our journey with your sustained partnership and support.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please contact us at For more information about current and upcoming programs, please visit us at

Standing in Our Power is a project of Spirit in Action.

Created By
Taij Kumarie Moteelall

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