By Callie Lambarth

On April 21 in Portland, about 85 grantees, community members and organizations, SJF staff, board members, and Giving Project members and alums showed up to share part of the day together to listen to grantee panelists talk about their alliance-building and coalition-organizing and learn about some of their ongoing work.

Reyna Lopez, executive director of PCUN (Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste) emphasized the power and impact of the Capaces Leadership Institute collaborative and coalition work as being able to “build power and accountability at the ballot box.” It is important to have space for allied organizations to come together and for Latinx communities to “create the agenda” with a deep understanding of what the needs are.

Cassie Cohen, coalition coordinator of PHCC (Portland Harbor Community Coalition), said the work requires having continual “conversations about power, privilege, and oppression to constantly be checking that” through their coalition work in order to build power for the community.

In the afternoon, three powerful organizers took the stage to talk about gender justice.

Trish Jordan, executive director of Red Lodge Transition Services, shared about Red Lodge’s work providing culturally specific support for Native women, particularly after incarceration.

Denechia Powell-Twagirumukiza, one of the founding members of Queer The Land, spoke passionately about the right for people to root in place and the importance of safety and wellness programs that are led by the people most impacted and that center the needs and experiences of queer and trans people of color.

Emily Lai, Momentum Alliance’s Interim executive director, powerfully and resolutely reminded us that, “gender justice is in everything” – it encompasses a variety of issues like immigration, gentrification, reproductive health, criminal justice, etc. It involves all the issues that affect people of color directly.

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