“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton This month we are featuring womxn working towards purpose in their own way. We have compiled a group of women that we have not only ‘rubbed shoulders’ with, but are also diligently working...Read more.
“We each had skills that balanced each other well, all felt strongly about contributing to positive change and making an impact through communications.” - Val This sentence sums up the founding of rootid. But since storytelling and providing the...Read more.
Women in the Sector
“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” – Dolly Parton
This month we are featuring womxn working towards purpose in their own way. We have compiled a group of women that we have not only ‘rubbed shoulders’ with, but are also diligently working to create change in their various fields. We posed a simple question and wanted to hear their various perspectives.
Women have played a significant role in driving social change and making a positive impact on our communities through (insert your field of work). As a female identifying nonprofit leader, can you share a project or initiative that you or your organization has undertaken to empower women and the impact it has had?
Like many who work in mission-driven spaces, my lived experience has led me to where I am and the work I do. Envisioning and helping to create a future where everyone is free to make personal decisions about their health and families, and can access the essential health care they want and need—with dignity and respect—is not only a professional journey, it’s personal commitment and my life’s purpose.
From an early age, I understood the fundamental impact that our reproductive health and reproductive choices—or lack thereof—have on our health, economic security and overall well-being.
My paternal grandparents immigrated from China to New York City. As immigrants with lower-incomes and being of reproductive age from the 1940s-1960s, their health care options were limited. Without access to contraception, my grandmother had 12 children. My maternal grandparents were unable to have children on their own, and adopted my mother, their only child. Fast forward to a generation later, when I was in college, I had the ability to make a personal decision about my reproductive health that allowed me to continue my education and sparked my career path. My family and personal herstory deeply inspired me to dedicate my career to helping to make sure that the decision to become and continue a pregnancy, and if and when to have children is an actual choice, that every individual is free to make.
Today I am proud to serve as Co-CEO at Essential Access Health (Essential Access). Our work is centered on advancing health and reproductive equity for all and supporting equitable and affordable access to high quality and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health services.The federal Title X family planning program was established by Congress in 1970 to provide a pathway for patients with low-incomes to access contraceptive care. Although this was a tremendous step forward, many remained without access to affordable birth control and contraceptive choice due to systemic and structural barriers and racist policies. For more than fifty years, as an original Title X program grantee, Essential Access has helped expand access to sexual and reproductive health services and information for millions of patients – and in turn, improve individual and community health, and increase educational, career, and economic opportunities for people who can get pregnant—regardless of race, gender, income, zip code, insurance coverage or documentation status.
In a post-Roe landscape, Essential Access is also working with a broad range of partners and stakeholders to advance public policies and administer newly established state-funded grant programs to make the right to abortion a reality for anyone seeking abortion care in California.
We believe that sexual and reproductive health play a critical role in individual and community health. Reproductive rights and justice is intricately connected to gender, racial, LGBTQ+, and economic justice. As Audre Lorde said, “I am not free while any woman is unfree, even when her shackles are very different from my own."
Andrea Manzo Executive Director, Action Council & Building Healthy Communities Monterey County
I've been lucky enough in my career to work with many wonderful women leaders in the non-profit field. I've been inspired by their passion and commitment to creating more equitable communities by ensuring people have access to basic needs like food and housing while looking at how to make the process dignified and empowering for those we serve.
We host an event called Women Build at Habitat for Humanity of Washington, D.C. & Northern Virginia. The goal of Women Build is to bring together women and gender non-conforming folks together to fundraise, build, and network. Women Build provides a way to make building on a construction site more inclusive and welcoming. While we work to create this environment every day on our sites, Women Build may attract someone nervous about coming on site because of preconceptions. After our teams have their build day, they are often ready to take on their projects at home and keep volunteering.
We also have many women homeowners, and we want to ensure they feel empowered to feel comfortable managing their homes once they purchase them. We are currently building a single-family home for a woman and her family, and she is so excited about the stability that this home can provide and the growth for future generations. Having our current and future women homeowners at Women Build inspires them with all the wonderful volunteers and staff who are behind them as they start their journey. At Habitat DC-NOVA, we are lucky enough to have two amazing women on our construction team who are both leaders in their areas of expertise. We also have a lot of amazing women crew leaders and volunteers who join us in ensuring more families in our communities have equitable access to affordable homeownership.
MindCatcher envisions a world where all young people are designers of their own future and all educators are equipped to support youth in their journey. Our mission is to disrupt the cycle of hopelessness in learning spaces by fostering the social-emotional growth and decision-making power of educators and youth of color. Because the education sector is mostly women, our work often centers this group and seeks to bolster their leadership capacity.
This past October, we hosted a retreat for participants in Collective Support, a cohort experience for systems and site leaders of color. As we believe in creating space for the genius of those actively engaged in leading school communities, we invited Collective Support members to share a session at the retreat. A female K-8 school leader hosted a session on Psychological Safety, which was a deep dive into what it means to experience freedom and support to take healthy risks. Under her skillful facilitation, we all came to the collective aha that professional environments where we supported to do our best work were few and far between. Those who had the positional authority to enact changes to create more psychologically safe environments accepted the charge to do so. Their decision-making will positively impact the learning environments of 4,500+ educators and 66,000+ youth. And the female school leader who led the workshop has gone on to share her thought leadership with education powerhouses such as Charter School Growth Fund and the Goldman Sachs x New Leaders One Million Black Women initiative.
As Elaine Welteroth shares, "When women affirm women, it unlocks our power. It gives us permission to shine brighter.” As the Founder and CEO of MindCatcher and a woman social entrepreneur, I have accepted the charge to create more spaces for women to realize their genius. Onwards!
“We each had skills that balanced each other well, all felt strongly about contributing to positive change and making an impact through communications.” - Val
This sentence sums up the founding of rootid. But since storytelling and providing the details is what we do…here you go!
In hindsight, rootid really began when I moved to the Bay Area in the Fall of 2008; after a Habitat for Humanity trip to Guatemala to celebrate my 30th birthday. Prior to moving, I worked for a well-established car company, but knew that “selling cars” was not going to feed my soul, no matter how nicely it fed my pocketbook. I loved the people I worked with, but I needed to feel like I was contributing to making the world a better place. It was time to revolve my life around “being the change I wanted to see in the world.”
Upon my arrival, I began contracting with Design Action Collective and building my own client base of companies/organizations whose missions I supported. These projects were not only for non-profits or activist organizations, they were also for small businesses and individuals whose values and vision aligned with my own (in one shape, or form).
Val & Andrew
It was about this time that I met Andrew Goldsworthy. I first met him on a construction site in Oakland where I was a volunteer photographer for new Habitat For Humanity home builds. We clicked immediately and I offered to volunteer my design services for them as well. Recognizing that we had complementary skill sets, we decided to take on some contract projects together. The first of which was OperaWorks; they needed a new website. Though I was not necessarily a huge fan of opera music at the time, I felt a real kinship with its founder, Ann Baltz. She had vision and was spending her life and career training performers to find their internal voice, to listen to themselves and to use that grounding as the basis for their artistic practice. As an artist who had recently been on my own internal journey, I connected with what OperaWorks was helping young singers achieve.
Val & Jason
Jason and I began dating in the Winter of 2009. Though Jason and I had only been dating a short time, we started working on projects together almost immediately. You would think this would have been a real killer to our relationship, but somehow it seemed to actually give us a strong foundation of trust, mutual respect and complementary learning for the journey we were stepping into together.
The winter of 2010 to spring 2011 was a time of change for all three of us. Andrew decided to leave Habitat and move to Argentina; and Jason and I were feeling pretty secure in both our personal and work relationships. I started talking with each of them about the prospect of joining forces together…We became rootid on May 12, 2011. We have always been ‘rooted in community.’ That’s how we first decided on our name—from the beginning we have been rooted in the idea of a collaborative communications model that co-develops strategies and effective tools based on listening to community needs.
From year one until… In year one, with just a staff of three we focused primarily on nonprofits from the community. We were fortunate to begin with four relatively large clients, and about 10 small clients that first year, the most notable being Habitat for Humanity East Bay (now East Bay Silicon Valley), California Family Health Council (now Essential Access) and UC Berkeley–all of these are still clients to this day.
The first five years were filled with changes and growth. We believed strongly in ‘growing your own’ so focused the majority of our hiring on training interns and helping them grow into junior and mid-level staff members. We grew slowly and organically in those early years, evolving from being three white co-founders to mentoring and then hiring our first employee, to then bringing in design and development interns; and as our staff grew, so did our offerings. By year five (2016) we were focused solidly on nonprofit and social good entities and had worked with close to 60 small to mid-sized organizations.
Through each of these experiences, we found that organizations (of all sizes) all needed the same fundamental brand and communications help—aspects like understanding how their values translated into the work they actually did, who their target audiences were and how to more effectively engage and deepen relationships.
Though our work was feeling relevant and thoughtful, it was in 2019 during our second 2-day intensive and followed by a conversation about how equity was infused in our work, that something shifted within me and I realized that we were not fully embodying the values we intended to be rooted within—we were centering belonging, but white supremacy culture characteristics were showing up in our organization, workshops and within us as individuals in ways that needed reflection and change.
So here we are 11 years later. The company we built together is one I am truly proud to be a part of. Grounded in the values that align with the core of who we each are as people and the ways we want to show up in relationship with our communities and planet. To date, we have engaged with over 400 unique organizations across our agency and community outreach work. rootid currently has about 20 - 30 ongoing retainer clients, 10 or so new clients each year and with the community engagement events we have planned, we expect our total number of nonprofits served to be upwards of 500 by the end of 2022.
And now our mission into the next 11+ years...
We join with others, envisioning a world where those most impacted are prioritized & communications & technology are used to heal & empower rather than divide.