After five years with Akonadi Foundation, our Program Officer Vanessa Camarena-Arredondo will be leaving to take on a new opportunity. In her time with us, Vanessa expanded Akonadi’s grantmaking in Oakland and also worked diligently to build partnerships in philanthropy to support culture and racial justice movement- building work rooted in Black, Indigenous, and communities of color in Oakland and the Bay Area.
Vanessa shared that she was first drawn to work with Akonadi because of our legacy, leadership, and fierce commitment to racial justice and ending the criminalization of black youth and youth of color in Oakland through culture, healing, and organizing.
Her accomplishments as Program Officer include:
- Working with the Kenneth Rainin Foundation to commission Mapping Small Arts and Culture Organizations of Color in Oakland, a benchmark project to encourage funders to adopt intentional investment strategies to support the long-term stability of the arts and culture sector
- Engaging with the City of Oakland Cultural Affairs and the East Bay Community Foundation with major funding from the Surdna Foundation’s Thriving Cultures program to launch Belonging in Oakland, A Just City Cultural Fund
- Collaborating with Tao Rising, a San Francisco-based family philanthropy office, in 2021 to commission Creatives in Place, a listening project that began with this question, In a time of such economic and racial disparity, what do creative and cultural communities need to continue to be rooted in the Bay Area?
Vanessa had this to share as she prepares to transition to her next role:
“There are so many visionaries in Oakland, incredibly dedicated Black, indigenous, and people of color pouring their talent and heart into our communities, building on the powerful indigenous and revolutionary legacies that have emerged from here. Joining Akonadi to work together with the deeply loving and dedicated leadership of Lateefah, Quinn, Wayne, and our staff has been a true blessing. My heart is full as I move into this new chapter. I’m filled with gratitude and determination to keep building our dream together.”
We’re so glad Vanessa decided to join our team and we will miss her greatly.
Please join us in celebrating her impact and wish her all the best as she goes on to build a new initiative to uplift Bay Area culture!