From our Staff Collective
Like many folks across the country, we at Resist grappled (and still are) with the realities brought on by the COVID-19 global pandemic. Living through a health and economic crisis on top of the mass uprisings against state sanctioned violence, we watched essential workers across the country put themselves and their health at risk to carry us as we navigated this pandemic. The medical staff, the grocery store clerks, delivery drivers, and teachers continued to show up. We also felt a collective sorrow as the pandemic disproportionately ravaged through the most vulnerable communities, especially Black and brown ones. And yet, these same communities are taking the helm and continuing the centuries-long resistance against white supremacy and police violence; capitalism and labor abuse; and lack of respect and dignity for the land we inhabit and share - all of which have been with us since our country’s inception.
As a staff collective, we held long and hard conversations, bracing ourselves early on for any difficult financial and capacity decisions we would have to make in light of the crisis. But as time went on, we grew amazed by the spirit of abundance our Resist supporters displayed. Instead of focusing on major donors, we leaned on our community of more than 8,000 grassroots donors to move money in ways that felt in alignment with our values. We launched a sustainer program as we called on you to think and act collectively in ways that were familiar to you and our grantees, and you stepped up. Because of your generosity, we were able to maintain our funding to hundreds of grantees. 2020 was fraught with loss, grief, anger, and fear, and it also forced us to slow down, think about our interconnectedness, listen to folks most impacted by systemic oppression, and break from the norm to reimagine and give way to the new. We witnessed a practice of social solidarity and mutual aid like never before, reaffirming what we’ve always known, we are all in this together.
If last year taught us anything, is that #JusticeIsEssential. At Resist, we know that frontline leaders and groups that work for justice and liberation have the heart, knowledge, and tools needed to reimagine and co-create a better world for us all. In this series, we asked: how do we get closer to this new world, what changes need to take root, and what strategies must be employed? Movement leaders, creatives, and elders responded with lessons we all needed to hear: intergenerational organizing, healing justice, spiritual resistance, rest as a reparations framework, collective care and creativity are all crucial in midwifing the new world. And thanks to you, our grantees can continue doing this work that will liberate us all.
In struggle and solidarity,
Resist Staff Collective
[Image description: Group of protestors with fists raised in the air. A person wearing glasses, a backpack, and a sleeveless shirt is in the front holding a microphone with a fist raised in the air. There is a black and white poster that reads: "Black Lives Matter."]
Mission and History
Resist is a foundation that supports people's movements for justice and liberation. We redistribute resources back to frontline communities at the forefront of change while amplifying their stories of building a better world.
Resist has always been a different type of foundation.
Our story begins in 1967 when the “Call to Resist Illegitimate Authority” was issued to support draft resistance in opposition to the war in Vietnam. Signed by over 20,000 people, the Call mobilized activists and academics across the country and became a central document in the 1968 conspiracy trial of Reverend William Sloan Coffin, Dr. Benjamin Spock, Michael Ferber, Marcus Raskin, and Mitchell Goodman, who became known as the “Boston Five” and soon after became five of Resist’s founders. Other signers and founding members include Grace Paley, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Robert Lowell, Barbara Guest, and Allen Ginsberg.
During the course of the Vietnam War, as grassroots activism exploded across the country, Resist evolved too and supported radical visionary activists from coast to coast. Over time, Resist provided support to hundreds of groups, starting with resistance to the Vietnam War and quickly expanding to the civil rights movement and beyond. By the 1970s, Resist had broadened its scope dramatically by tying together the unequal distribution of power and money at home with a system of US domination abroad.
Throughout this history, Resist has provided critical early funding to some of the most influential progressive organizations in the US – many of which have gone on to make history themselves.
[image description: crowd of people in Boston at an anti-Vietnam war protest. People hold up fists an peace signs. Signs read: "Vietnam Widow for Peace" and "Blood for Oil Don't Mix".]
From the Frontlines: Wins from Grantees
In spite of the incredible hardships our grantees faced in 2020, they continued to reimagine alternatives to our old normal and worked towards a collective new vision of communities being in right relationship to each other and to the land. And they won in the most beautiful of ways. In spite of the administration's efforts to obstruct their efforts, frontline communities fearlessly led the resistance - risking their lives and proclaiming: we are here, we will not stop, and we will win.
Below are just a fistful of Resist grantee wins in 2020 alone thanks to your support:
* Don't Shoot Portland organized a group of 80 former and current law enforcement officials, including eight attorneys general and the district attorney representing Portland, Oregon to call for a judge to restrict the federal deployment of troops to U.S. cities, saying the "abusive" tactics unleashed during protests in 2020 risks "lasting damage to the entire justice system."
* Herbal Gardens Wellness in Denver, Colorado helped facilitate the planting of more than 50 Indigenous gardens, using heirloom seeds saved by families for generations as one major step toward food sovereignty.
* Richmonders Involved to Strengthen our Communities (RISC) succeeded in getting Mayor Stoney to allocate $6 million in CARES Act money to emergency rental assistance. The $6 million won went to 2,760 households - enabling 7,600 adults and children to avoid the pain and trauma of eviction
* SouthWest Organizing Project in Albuquerque, New Mexico alongside The New Mexico Youth Justice Coalition, convened and connected with state youth leaders, community members, and key stakeholders to help facilitate visioning sessions focused on transforming the justice system. In their words, “The youth are our children and need to be listened to if we’re serious about building them a just, equitable, and happy future.”.
With the help of Center for Discovery, Be Nourished PDX, and an anonymous donor, Trans Folx Fighting Eating Disorders held their first online healing intensive for trans, intersex, gender non-binary, two-spirit, and questioning individuals. The event was accessible through live transcription, ASL services, and meal vouchers.
[Image description: Two members of grantee group Southwest Organizing Project NM wear masks and have fists up in the air. They are on the roof of a blue building, where a large banner hangs. Text reads: "Justicia sin fronteras." There is a plant and butterflies below the title and at the bottom it reads: "vote for those who can't"]
Resist's Grant-Making Panel
From left to right, top to bottom:
Betiel Brhane (she/her) is a black queer undergrad student at UMass Boston. She believes in investing in community organizing while divesting from performative work that doesn’t fundamentally change the social conditions of Black people. Similarly to Marie Kondo, when considering different aspects of movement, she asks herself “Does this spark joy and liberation? If it doesn’t, throw it out.” She enjoys exploring how her seemingly different interests such as science and technology can support the revolutionary work.
Joshua Allen (they/them) is a nonbinary artist & activist from Brooklyn, NY. Involved in the movement for Black lives and the struggle for trans and queer liberation as a teenager, Joshua has always been passionate about amplifying the voices of those who live at the margins. By using art, writing and direct action they seek to bridge the gaps between racial and gender justice. They are most excited about joining Resist’s 2020 funding panel to uplift and empower organizing groups on the frontline of movements all across the country.
Nathan King (he/him) is a grassroots organizer from Chattanooga Tennessee, living and working in South Central Appalachia. Nathan is a member of Concerned Citizens for Justice (CCJ) an organization that is rooted in more than 35 years of the Black Radical tradition in Chattanooga, fighting to end state violence and win transformative demands that will lead us toward police and prison abolition. He is a popular education coordinator with the Universidad Sin Fronteras (University Without Borders), and a teacher resident with the Project Inspire program.
Nicki Kattoura (he/him) is a Palestinian organizer currently based in Philadelphia. He is an editorial assistant for Common Notions, a small press, and a collective member at Making Worlds; a bookstore and social center that emphasizes abolitionist and climate-adapted autonomy, anti-displacement and anti-gentrification, and the affirmation of worlds imagined and made by Black, Brown, and Indigenous traditions of liberation.
Eila Strand (she/her) is a facilitator, organizer, and artist working to heal systemic and interpersonal violence at the root. Eila organizes with La Resistencia, an abolitionist collective that is going to shut down ICE's Northwest Detention Center. She also works with the Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites and Social Justice Fund NW, mobilizing white folks to make tangible contributions to BIPOC-led movements. Eila is based on Duwamish land (aka Seattle, WA).
In January of 2016 Inahs Akilah (they/them) visioned and created the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative (BBWC)–a collective that is now 400 workers strong in Philadelphia. The BBWC has successfully changed the power structure in the Philadelphia gayborhood by ousting former LGBTQ liasion to the mayor, Nellie Fitzpatrick, organizing with and unionizing Mazzoni workers, as well as impacting city-wide policy. Today the BBWC continues to focus on Black and Brown workers who straddle identity lines along race, class, sexuality and gender identity and identity expression. They are also launching a 2018 agenda focused on disrupting and fighting gentrification in south west Philadelphia. They lead our overall vision, grant writing and our national strategy to grow. They are a published writer, visionary and liberationist.
From left to right, top to bottom:
Yani Burgos (Co-Director, Resource Redistribution)
After being introduced to community organizing as a teenager, Yani has committed her life to community-led social change. Through her work, she explores how might different communities work together to build power, particularly among folks of color and LGBTQ+ communities. Yani loves finding innovative ways to use a slow cooker, chanting on the beach at sunrise, and searching for the latest and greatest in sneaker fashion trends.
Kendra Hicks (Co-Director, Radical Philanthropy)
Kendra Hicks is a first-generation negra from the Dominican Republic, a mother, wife, and installation artist from Roxbury, MA. Anchored by a commitment to bring the margins to the center, Kendra supports organizations in building the culture, structures, and strategies necessary to interrogate white supremacy’s impact on their work. In her current role as the Director of Radical Philanthropy at the Resist Foundation Kendra is using her head, heart, and hands to explore how foundations, as a part of the non-profit industrial complex, can be more accountable, emergent and responsive. Pushing them to use their imaginations and expand beyond the realms of possibility towards liberation.
Seth Kirshenbaum (Co-Director, Sustainability)
Seth comes to Resist out of the youth justice movement in a relationship that goes back sixteen years. He first received Resist funding as a founding member of Quilombo NYC, a group of educators and organizers seeking to create a free space in a slave society. Both then and two times since (Beantown Society and Youth Justice and Power Union), Seth has experienced the difference Resist makes in seeding grassroots work for freedom and justice. Because of this, he is deeply honored to serve as part of Resist’s team. When not “resisting”, you might find Seth filling his cup by playing with family, walking with friends, or organizing white folks as allies, accomplices, and partners in the struggle for freedom.
Kathy Lebron (Co-Director Communications and Storytelling and Clerk)
Kathy Lebrón is a radical, anti-racist and culturally responsive maestra with a passion for design and communications. Born to a fearless Dominican immigrant mother, Kathy is committed to decolonizing the Dominican mind, amplifying the work of diasporic communities and folx who are most impacted by structural inequities, and making communications more transparent, accessible and engaging for said communities. Kathy loves getting down on the dance floor, traveling to new places, and building with dope BIPOC folks in the fight for justice and liberation.
From left to right, top to bottom:
Lawrence Barriner II (Board Chair, Communications Owl)
Lawrence is a narrative strategist, connector, and systems thinker. He’s an Aries (with a Virgo Moon and Aquarius Rising), a 2w1, whose love languages are touch and quality time. His paid work includes coaching, facilitation, and serving as the Network Engagement Coordinator at the Center for Story-Based Strategy. His unpaid work includes visionary fiction writing, (r)evolutionary uncling, community-based healing, and imagining post-patriarchal futures. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees in City Planning from MIT and hopes one day schools like MIT will be collectively-owned and democratically-controlled (or maybe they’ll be obsolete…)
Allen Kwabena Frimpong (Board member, Development Owl)
Allen is the co-founder of and Managing Partner of AdAstra Management collective. Formerly a principal consultant and resource mobilizer with Movement NetLab a think-make-do tank based in Brooklyn, NY, he has over 12 years of experience in his field. He is highly talented in working with funders and donors in cultivating grant-making strategies throughout social change initiatives to achieve a just transition to economic democracy. His capacity-building work in philanthropy and government has focused on supporting the development of social programs, service delivery models, community organizing campaigns and cross collaboration system change initiatives. He is a recognized thought leader with a unique perspective on his interdisciplinary work with social movements harnessing his skills from community organizing, resource mobilization, fundraising, as well as participatory planning and design thinking within complex networked systems.
Alisha Williams (Board Member, Legal Owl)
Alisha (they/she) is a former movement lawyer with deep experience engaging in organizational development with grassroots organizations. Their movement lawyering included engaging in political education for a wide variety of audiences through transgender 101 trainings rooted in a Black abolitionist politic. Alisha has used her voice and position to challenge anti-blackness in philanthropy and the NPIC. She is beyond excited to support the work of Resist from Weeksville Brooklyn where she currently resides and breathes in her ancestors (check out the Weeksville Heritage Center!). They are a proud baba/parent, budding archivist tracing family stories through generations/lands and a forever fan of Tourmaline.
Danielle Coates-Connor (Board Member, Communications Owl)
Danielle is an internationally known storyteller and communications strategist, dedicated to shifting how humans live on the planet towards justice, sustainability, peace, and happiness. Her creative work spans genres, from documentary film, photography and writing to podcasts and immersive video installation. Danielle is the founder of Infinite Growth where she designs and facilitates interactive learning experiences for online and face to face environments, developing vision and voice with groups and individuals.
Jax Gil (Board Member, Resource Redistribution Owl)
Jax serves as Resist’s Resource Distribution owl. They were lucky enough to work on the Resist staff for four years as a co-director. Jax supported Resist’s transition to a grantee-led funding panel for its yearly resource redistribution, as well as the renewal of Resist’s theory of change, organizational structure, and liberatory culture. After leaving Resist, Jax worked as Communications Manager for HowlRound Theatre Commons. They now do freelance work at the intersection of communications, process design, and culture shift and especially love to work with makers, growers and healers.
Joby Gelbspan (Board Treasurer, Sustainability Owl)
Joby has organized for decades against many forms of oppression and abuse, especially those perpetrated with the power and shield of big corporations. She especially loves to share financial tools and analysis to help people build strategic and sustainable movements, individually and organizationally. She has served a range of groups in roles from adviser to director to CFO, and currently coordinates corporate research and financial analysis for Corporate Accountability International’s grassroots campaigns. She also teaches on politically-informed investing, and shows up in her local Providence community in as many other ways as her limited human form will allow.
Maanav Thakore (Board Member, Worker Self-Direction Owl)
Maanav Thakore has dedicated his life to facilitating the evolution of social justice work and culture with a keen focus on racial justice efforts. He is a self-described “transformative systems nerd” and has spent more than a decade leading change processes in support of countless individuals, organizations, networks and municipalities.
Maanav has lived, learned, worked and organized in Louisiana, New Mexico, Connecticut, Minnesota, Colorado and Massachusetts. His primary focus has been on developing thousands of intersectional racial justice leaders across many sectors and consulting with over one hundred organizations to live their values and integrate them to day to day programs and operations. He is an expert facilitator with an organizer’s heart and has extensive experience leading winning campaigns, applying network theory to movement building and developing cultural change strategies.
In addition to being a profoundly impactful change agent, Maanav is a deejay, multi-instrumentalist, holistic-foods chef, and father to two beautiful children.
Kathy Lebron is both a member of the staff collective and the board clerk.
Your support of Resist keeps our growing network of grassroots activists fighting for the rights of the most marginalized among us strong.
In 2020 alone, we helped 235 grassroots groups continue their fight - this is real, tangible groundswell change–and together with donors like you, Resist is making it happen.
We ask you to multiply all these efforts—all the emergency funds and marches, the blood, sweat, and tears—by 8,000, and you start to get a picture of Resist’s deep impact, and yours, all across America. Their victories and our victories are working together towards a shared dream of a brighter, more equitable future.
We believe in that beautiful future because Resisters like you have always helped make the impossible possible. We have so far to go, but we’ve come this far together. Thank you for standing with us.
[Image description: “Members of grantee Coalition for Restaurant Safety and Health protest in front of Jos A. Bank. One member holds a microphone and wears a red bandana around their neck. People hold signs that read: "UNITED WE WIN”; PAID SICK LEAVE"; and "PA DOMESTIC WORKERS ALLIANCE".]
Support Our Work
Today’s world was just a vision 53 years ago and we know that strong grassroots communities will always be the core element of democratic progress. Resist is committed to supporting frontline activists building a just and free world for the next half century and beyond.
Join Us, Become a Resister Today!
[Image description: Members of grantee Troy 4 Black Lives protest wearing masks and holding signs that read: "Black Lives Matter"; "Silence is not an option"; "Hands up Don't Shoot". Two members hold up a black and white banner that reads: "Justice 4 Dahmeek".]