Dear Friends, old and new,
It is with great joy that I join Taj James as Co-Director of Movement Strategy Center, to stand together in purpose and community with our broad movement friends and family, our MSC staff team, leadership team, and amazing network of fellows, associates, and partners.
I step into this position at a time of extraordinary upheaval in our country and in our world, a time in which the failures of our economic and political systems have become clear and the harm is deeply and widely felt. It is a moment of great fear, anger, and uncertainty.
It is also a moment of great opportunity. Everywhere we turn we find people coming together to care for each other — to nurture healthy and just food systems, to honor and support families of all kinds, to keep fossil fuels in the ground, to build our next economy.
I believe — and all of us at MSC believe — that this is a moment inviting our most affirmative strategy and vision. We believe this is a moment inviting us to show up with our best selves, our deepest relationships, and our boldest dreams.
This is the moment I imagined when I came to MSC.
I came to MSC in 2011 after two decades of community organizing, yearning for space where I could come together with other movement builders to reflect on our work, build strategy, and do the personal and relational work needed to ready ourselves for bigger leaps. I wanted to build trusting community so that we could share and learn from our biggest mistakes and dreams, and truly take risks together.
I came to the MSC team yearning for new ways of organizing and feeling a bit beaten up by years of campaigns. Even the inspiring and victorious ones could be grueling. California electoral initiatives on affirmative action, gay marriage, union funding, youth incarceration built movements and politicized and trained a new generation of organizers like myself. But we were mostly hammered at the ballot box for a decade until the investments in electoral savvy finally started to turn into victories. I worked on statewide and national legislative and organizing fights against welfare reform, for health care reform, and to save federal Medicaid funding. I worked on municipal campaigns for green, affordable homes and communities, campaigns to hold corporations accountable for spewing toxins on low-income communities in Richmond and electronics workers in China. Many of these campaigns had victories, built infrastructure, and brought in new people into the movements. Still, too often we collapsed across the finish line, depleted, and sometimes licking the wounds of damaged relationships with colleagues and movement partners.
I learned so much from the brilliant strategists and organizers I met in these campaigns and am forever grateful for all that I learned and experienced. Still, all of us knew that while our victories were important, they were insufficient compared to the magnitude of change we actually need.
Through all of this I experienced pockets of renewal, strategic clarity, and joy, so I knew all hope was not lost. The depth of some of my relationships through the years continued to feed me and have been touchstones in times of doubt and challenge. In my search to bounce back from personal crises and conflict, I was introduced to mind-body practices that not only ground me, but generate energy, and provide physical accountability to my swirling mind. From that place of connection to myself and others, so much more becomes strategically possible.
Of course my biggest lessons in transformative movement building came through being a new mother of two lively girls. I was getting some decidedly non-theoretical lessons that led to some very existential questioning of who I am.
I was getting my bootie kicked out of the delusion that I could do anything and everything, all the time, and so could our movements. I was reconnected with the power of pure love, joy and humor to help navigate through the most maddening and nonsensical aspects of human kind and myself. Like many of you who have looked into children’s eyes – as aunties, as teachers, as friends, and as members of the village – I was compelled more than ever to leave the world a better place.
Transforming the world by transforming systems, relationships, and ourselves
I had a hunch that I wasn’t alone in my simultaneous disillusionment and hope. So I came to MSC and together with a growing core of explorers, we embarked on a quest to find, gather, and learn from fellow travelers at MSC and in the broader Movement.
We realized that collectively we have big vision and emerging solutions — but hide behind clouds of pragmatism and incrementalism. We realized that our communities have systems alternatives that are the seeds of the new worlds we need. We realized that by taking center, marginalized communities can lead the whole. We realized that by facing ourselves — our challenges, habits, beauty and powerful capacity for change — we can practice and build the human depth, relationships, and new strategy that creates the new world we need right now.
MSC has chosen to embark on a transformative journey to feel and understand the big moment our world, planet and peoples are in. A world of climate crisis, political turmoil, and staggering racial, economic, and gender injustice. A world where people, movements, and communities are daring — with success and reverberations — to radically transform values and chart a new way forward.
Together, MSC and our broader community has stepped into a bold Vision and Purpose:
To nurture whole people and whole communities
to transition from a world of domination and extraction
to a world of
regeneration, resilience, and interdependence.
To transform the world, we know we must transform our systems, our relationships, and ourselves. This vision, purpose, and commitment lies at the heart of our Transitions Initiative, a multi-movement community of purpose that MSC has initiated. The Transitions Initiative is bringing forth transformative capacities, relationships, and strategies for exponential impact. Through this community of purpose we are partnering with powerful emerging movements and movement leaders in innovative efforts that leap us forward into a future that honors the ways we are all connected in the web of life.
In this vision and purpose I find strength for the rigorous personal and relational work that makes new strategic paths possible. And over and over, it is community and people that keeps me energized and coming back.
Practice of Team and Interdependence
In our new co-directorship, Taj and I commit to practicing the art of interdependence and team. Taj and I are very different human beings with very different strengths, gifts, and perspectives. We share a deep purpose of investing in whole communities and whole people, and we have a growing intentional practice of team with each other and with the circles of teams within MSC and beyond. Our shared purpose and practice allows our very different approaches to be complementary and generative. We know that we deeply need each other to bring forth our best selves and best work, and we are very clear that we both need to be in deep relationship with our broader teams to lift up our best collective contribution.
Let me end with a quote from my co-director Taj, who writes:
MSC has always been a leaderful organization and one where I could make a contribution to a bigger purpose with the mix of strengths and weakness, habits and practices that determine how I show up. It is exciting to move into a phase in which the leadership that has always existed in MSC will now be more visible and affirmed. To be a leader side by side with Mimi Ho is a great honor.
Taj and I look forward to working together and in partnership with MSC’s leadership team: Rachel Burrows (MSC Managing Director), Sihle Dinani (Director of Finance), Masako Kalbach (Director of Administration and Personnel), Julie Quiroz (Senior Fellow), and Jovida Ross (Senior Fellow), and supporting our strategy team leads Rosa Gonzales, (Community Climate Solutions Team Lead), Luis Sanchez, (Organizing Team Lead), Nwamaka Agbo (New Economy Team Lead), and the rest of the extended MSC Family.
Most importantly, we look forward to working with you!
With love and power,
For Mimi’s full bio please click here.