In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Trust is featuring insights from philanthropists and leaders who are making a difference in the Chicago region. Be sure to take a look at our social media channels for more stories throughout the month.
Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership (Cultivate) is a joint effort of the Crossroads Fund, Chicago Foundation for Women (CFW), Woods Fund Chicago, Walder Foundation, and The Chicago Community Trust. Cultivate seeks to build a cadre of emerging women of color leaders engaged in social, economic, and racial justice movements and whose collective voice and power can be leveraged to realize a shared vision of the Chicago region’s future.
Aisha Truss-Miller, Cultivate Alum & Cultivate Manager, and Sophia Olazaba, Cultivate Alum & Alumni Engagement Manager, recently shared insights on the important work they’re doing.
Tell us a little bit about why you are involved with Cultivate: Women of Color Leadership.
Aisha Truss-Miller: I invest my time and talent with the Cultivate network as an alum of the program and the current Program Manager to have direct influence in the development of intersecting communal spaces and cultivating growth opportunities with and for Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian & Asian American, and all women of color and non-binary folks who invest their time, sweat, heart, and talents to fight for freedom, equity, and justice for those of us most oppressed and impacted by racial capitalism, patriarchy, and racism.
Sophia Olazaba: I work with Cultivate as the Alumni Engagement Manager. This new role stems from a desire to cultivate personal and professional growth of over 100 women of color and non-binary folks that have been part of Cultivate. As an alum, it excites me to take on this new role and to continue developing a space that further builds upon the intersecting justice movements in which each member is respectively involved.
Reflect on some of your proudest moments while on the job.
ATM: My proudest moments on the job are when my colleagues, my communities, and I make and take moments in movement building to call on and challenge philanthropy, non-profit organizations, allied collectives, and one another to listen, learn, reflect, and address our theories and practices of dismantling and sustaining root causes of inequity. As we all work for social change, we will not ignore the challenges and change required within and among ourselves and our partners to take action for equity and justice. It is right here, and right now!
SO: My proudest moments at Cultivate have been during the initial discussions with alumni on the development of the Alumni Engagement program. Alumni input is integral to the creation of the overall programing and it has been both uplifting and inspiring to gauge their interest and overall hopes for the programming.
Lastly, what are you hopeful for in the future of your organization?
ATM: I am hopeful Cultivate will continue to grow, be accessible, and serve the development of more women of color and non-binary persons in movement building. I believe the work already invested by women of color and supporters curating Cultivate experiences, and the work ahead, will be honored, valued, and intentionally invested in by everyone for the purposes of disrupting the status quo and co-creating impactful, equitable movements for freedom and justice.
SO: I am hopeful about the impact that the Alumni Engagement program will have among our alumni members. I am hopeful around the overall program our team is working to create and more so than anything, I am excited and ready to further create a nurturing network of women of color and non-binary folks, as they continue building just and equitable communities.