Hello friend,

I’m Manisha Vaze, and after five years of working with the Funders for a Just Economy program, I feel very privileged to move into more leadership at Neighborhood Funders Group as the new Vice President of Programs. For those of you who I haven’t gotten to know or build with yet, I’m writing to give you a proper introduction and tell you a little about myself.

I initially came to NFG to lead the Funders for a Just Economy program in 2017, building upon my career as a community organizer working on migrant and economic justice. Working as a community organizer alongside families facing detention and deportation, underemployment, wage theft, and neighborhood oil drilling, I learned valuable lessons about democracy, consensus building and decision-making, co-leadership, how neighbors working together can keep our communities safe, and how to build power.

Some in philanthropy believe that funders should support philanthropic pluralism — asserting that the fact that philanthropy grants funds to support any cause, without any consideration of collective values and goals, is enough. Respectfully, I disagree. I am grounded by a deep sense of accountability to progressive social movements, and the people that are most impacted by racial capitalism who are fighting back for a few reasons.

First, I am clear that without the long history of Black, Indigenous, and people of color working together to fight corporate greed and neo-liberalism in this country, my family and I wouldn’t be here today. My family's migration to this country was only possible due to the hard won campaigns of the Civil Rights Movement, that in the 1960's that abolished the quota system for immigration to the United States. My organizing background with other BIPOC leaders and students post-9/11, working with labor, Families for Freedom, and SCOPE Los Angeles informs how I lead at NFG and co-conspire with the funders in our community. I am so grateful to have been a part of movement work for so long.

Manisha and her partner take a selfie in front of a flower bush on workers on strike in Los Angeles, CA. Manisha is wearing a black graphic t-shirt and sunglasses. Her partner is wearing a blue graphic t-shirt, sunglasses, and a black embroidered baseball cap that says WGA Captain.
Manisha and her partner at a recent rally in support of UNITE HERE! Local 11 and other workers on strike in Los Angeles, CA.

And secondly, I am deeply accountable as someone who now works in philanthropy, because I am clear that the resources philanthropy has amassed comes directly from the extraction of resources, land, and labor from BIPOC communities and the working class. Without a powerful and leaderful organizing strategy, we will not be able to shift philanthropic culture to resource social movements for the decades to come. 

What motivates me the most in this new role is that I believe NFG is the place in philanthropy to co-create that strategy, build joyful connections, support each other's political education, and grapple with the harder aspects and healthy disagreements in a trusted community, so that we can win! NFG’s heartbeat comes from the commitment and leadership of funders like you and NFG’s staff who work together to organize philanthropy.

Across all of our programs, I want to bring NFG’s membership in closer collaboration and alignment on NFG’s Theory of Change. I plan to lead this effort by continuing to build upon our funder organizing model, grounded in training and political education, specifically through our member meetings and webinars, and in deep collaboration with NFG’s program staff who lead the Racial Capitalism Community of Practice, and the Democratizing DevelopmentFunders for a Just EconomyIntegrated Rural Strategies GroupMidwest Organizing Infrastructure Funders, and Philanthropy Forward programs.

As the Vice President of Programs, I will support our members through political education to build a shared power analysis that will move more philanthropic assets to social movements in service of their long-term agendas. I hope to be your ally and partner — supporting, training, and working alongside you to organize more resources to work for racial, gender, economic, disability, and climate justice being led by BIPOC communities, and working-class communities in the United States.

I invite you to support NFG’s mission to organize philanthropy so that BIPOC and low-income communities thrive by making a grant to our organization or to one of our programs or by making a larger contribution to your membership dues. I would also love to meet you if we haven’t yet met or reconnect with you as I navigate this new leadership role.

I look forward to sharing more details about what’s ahead for NFG’s organizing strategies in partnership with our members in the coming months.

In solidarity,
Manisha Vaze
Vice President of Programs