The last seven years at Akonadi have been an incredible journey for me, allowing me to join shoulder-to-shoulder with my movement heroes and be immersed in the vibrance of Oakland’s brilliance, creativity and strength. I want to thank all my teachers in this work – the leaders, advocates, artists, storytellers, healers, and revolutionaries of Oakland. Through hard times and celebrations, you have shared your expertise and experience with me, and I am profoundly grateful. I am so proud of the work that Akonadi has supported to advance racial justice and the commitments it continues to make to our communities.
The legacy of Akonadi is one of deep listening, and over the years I have heard the need for healing and spiritual well-being to be understood and resourced as an inextricable part of how we create transformative change. My new role as the Mindfulness and Healing Justice Program Officer at Kataly Foundation will allow me to continue to support Black, Indigenous and communities of color-led efforts to build healing justice practices that nurture individual and collective resilience and power.
It has been such a joy and honor to conspire with my Akonadi comrades, past and present, as we hold each other in laughter and tears. I recognize that this is a time of transitions and change. For those of us who seek to help to birth a new world, our networks may shift and broaden, but the connections and shared vision remain. I deeply value all the relationships I have gained during my time at Akonadi; after February, I encourage you to keep in touch with me at [email protected].
In deep gratitude,
Thank you, Iris Garcia!
After seven wonderful years as a program officer at Akonadi Foundation, Iris Garcia will be joining Kataly Foundation, an institution moving resources to support the economic, political, and cultural power of Black and Indigenous people, and all communities of color, next month. Iris will be a program officer for their Mindfulness and Healing Justice work, supporting Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color-led efforts to heal from intergenerational trauma, and build collective resilience, power and liberation.
Iris leaves a permanent mark on our approach and grantmaking. During her time at Akonadi, Iris helped us advance our institutional understanding of healing justice, and developed an integrated approach to support healing and healers through all of our grantmaking initiatives. Whether it was aligning our funding strategy for healing support for base-building organizations, or normalizing grantee and staff healing and wellness as part of organizational development support, Iris always encouraged us to look at how we can approach everything we do with love, humanity and justice.
Those of you who know Iris have witnessed first-hand her dedication to women’s rights, youth justice and transforming systems that criminalize Black people and people of color. In addition to countless contributions, Iris was instrumental in launching Akonadi’s So Love Can Win fund in 2016, which was initially a $100,000 rapid response fund to support collective healing from racial trauma. Today, So Love Can Win is a permanent $500,000 annual fund that provides general support grants to Okland’s organizers, healers, culturemakers and media makers that are advancing racial justice. Iris also co-led the development of All in for Oakland, a $12.5 million grantmaking strategy to support a network of movement-building organizations committed to ending the criminalization of youth of color in Alameda County.
We cannot thank Iris enough for her partnership and brilliance. Our organization, staff and grant partners are better because of her vision and commitment to a racially just Oakland.
Iris’s last day will be February 25. Please join us in wishing Iris well in her new role. We’re excited to follow her journey and cannot wait to see what her vision will mean for Kataly.