April 27, 2021 | By: Lateefah Simon
On behalf of Akonadi Foundation, I am writing to share that after seven outstanding years as Vice President of Programs, Gina Acebo has decided to transition from the Foundation to continue her work in grassroots organizing and cultural power-building in Oakland.
An Oakland native with over three decades of on-the-ground experience, Gina has worked tirelessly to advance our Foundation’s mission and vision. From leading strategy to fostering trusting relationships with our grant partners, she has been instrumental in deepening Akonadi’s investments in Oakland and modeling what racial justice-centered philanthropy can be.
During her tenure, Gina has been steadfast in her commitment to leveraging resources to support brilliant leaders and organizations fighting racism in our beloved Oakland. We cannot thank Gina enough for her dedication that she’s brought to our work each and every day.
Gina, I speak for the staff in saying that it’s been a profound honor to work alongside you. The foundation, staff and grant partners have benefited greatly from your power and your grace.
We can’t wait to see what you do next! Thank you, Gina. We love you.
Please join us in thanking Gina for her dedication and care on behalf of Oakland’s beloved community and in wishing her continued success.
Thank you, Beloved Oakland
April 27, 2021 | By: Gina Acebo
From West Oakland to East Oakland, from the bay to the hills, Oakland has been my beloved city since I was a child. It has served as a place of possibility and culture keeping for a global community and it is also home where people work to take care of one another. Oakland has been an epicenter of racial justice and liberation, with each new generation forging ways to live powerfully in their full humanity.
2020 was marked by tremendous harm and heartbreaking grief that laid bare this country’s deep racial inequities and anti-Blackness. Despite these monumental challenges, it has also been a time for resistance, sacred care, and flexing the power and brilliance that lies deep in our communities. This moment has invited a time for reflection on how we can best be in service of racial justice and how to attune our hearts and minds when it’s time to meet this call. This has been particularly true for me as I’ve made the tough decision to transition from my role at Akonadi Foundation to focus my energies directly back into the community.
When I first came to Akonadi seven years ago, the foundation was anchored by a small but mighty team and I was eager to learn and leverage my experiences as a labor and community organizer in service of our mission. Born and raised as a daughter of Oakland, it was an honor to support Akonadi’s strategic decision to devote its resources and programming to Oakland through the Arc Toward Justice Fund and the Beloved Community Fund. Both of these historic funds and those before them provided the basis for what working in philanthropy at the local level might look like when its values and practices are guided by racial justice and a commitment to the leadership of Black, Indigenous, and people of color. Our work is stronger when we consistently center deep listening, relationship building based on trust and political values, being in proximity to the work on the ground, digging into Oakland’s complex history, and resourcing organizing and culture keeping as pathways for transformation.
During my time at Akonadi, I have been in the company of some of Oakland’s most kick-ass, heart-centered, visionary racial justice leaders and organizations. I am deeply grateful to our grant partner organizations who took the time to walk me through their work, share their strategies, and express their hopes and concerns. Even during times of devastating loss, these amazing community organizations and leaders continue the fight for justice while holding their people safe, well, and ready to lead. These are the folks that have kept me grounded to keep fighting and loving while building an Oakland and a society where all people are seen, honored, and valued.
As I take leave at the end of April, I am excited about Akonadi’s next phase of work with the ambitious and timely launch of All in for Oakland and the evolution of the So Love Can Win Fund. The commitment to make grants and leverage more resources for some of Oakland’s most courageous justice organizations who rely on one another to reimagine safety has us living more deeply into our values. Over the last seven years, our work has opened the door once again for me to roll up my sleeves and recommit to our movement with a renewed sense of excitement and possibility. In so many ways, my time at Akonadi Foundation has put me near the heart of everything that I love and hope for Oakland and her people.
At Akonadi, I have been fortunate to be part of a dynamic staff of women of color where collaboration, joy, learning, informing our strategy by those closest to harm and most positioned to create solutions to shape Oakland’s racial justice landscape center our work together. Their sisterhood and love have held me in this work. A special heartfelt thanks to our founder Quinn Delaney and colleague Melanie Cervantes who first helped me make my way when I started my journey in philanthropy.
Thank you Beloved Oakland for your imagination and your commitment to racial justice so that love can win. See you out in the streets.
Yours in the Struggle,
After April 30th, feel free to keep in touch at [email protected].