Shana Lancaster joins Akonadi as our Special Projects Coordinator and Office Manager, managing the Racial Justice Poster Project, producing foundation events, and supporting Akonadi by managing the day-to-day administrative needs of the office and team. Shana previously supported us with the Racial Justice Poster Project, and we’re excited to officially have her join our team full time.
Learn more about Shana below.
1. How has your previous experience shaped your preparation for your new role?
My most recent professional chapter, prior to the pandemic, includes co-founding and running Mamacitas Cafe, a social enterprise that supported the professional and personal development of young women in Oakland.
In this role, I was responsible for everything from the creative direction of our catering and events enterprise, to mentoring and coaching youth, to managing the financial and legal compliance of our company. Most of Mamacitas Cafe’s community partners, clients, and constituents overlap with the same community that Akonadi belongs to, so I’ve had a strong tie to the organization for many years now.
I am also an artist and have collaborated with creatives across mediums in the Bay Area for over a decade now, including costume design and collage work. This role is truly a synthesis of some of my greatest strengths, and as a fourth-generation Oakland resident, I’m thrilled to anchor myself at a professional home that has such a strong track record of being in service to my community.
2. What are you most excited about accomplishing in your work with Akonadi Foundation?
The two main focuses of my role, the Racial Justice Poster Project and the Holiday Party, are iconic legacy projects that Akonadi has held for many years. After the turmoil of the last few years, I feel compelled by the longing that many of us have to rehydrate the spaces where we find inspiration, creativity, joy and connection.
It’s truly an honor to pick up the torch and keep up the momentum of these important offerings to our community. I am especially proud to head up these visionary efforts that were conceived by an organization that is so deeply aligned with my own values to fortify powerful social change movements in Oakland and beyond.
3. What professional achievements and accomplishments are you most proud of?
Starting and running a small, women-owned, mission-driven business in one of the most competitive markets in the world is definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally. It’s also one of the most rewarding.
Specifically, I feel proudest of the relationships that flourished from that time, the bond that still exists between me and my former team, and the many young people that became part of our chosen family. And, I am also overjoyed to see that it set a precedent with some of our former staff who have chosen to start small businesses of their own! A special shoutout goes to Café con Cariño, a woman & migrant-owned coffee business started by two of the Mamacitas family- Claudia Suarez and Javiera Torres- who are doing incredible work.