My desk at home provides a snapshot of why we needed to hire Amihan (Jennifer) Matias as the new Truth School Operations Manager. It is not that I am messy, it is just that there are too many neatly piled stacks of papers and manila file folders, also in little stacks, on the surfaces in my study. Too many piles, reflecting too many Truth School projects, memos, letters that need to be answered, scraps of paper with fundraising ideas, staff meeting notes, board updates, and budgets. I am a person devoted to paper (that is part of the problem). But even beyond my love affair with paper and hard copy everything, the Truth School (which has grown and is thriving!!!!) administrative load has become too demanding for me and our small Leadership Team (Shelley Zimbalist, Julie Kurose and Renee Moss). Hence our advertisement for a Truth School administrator to help us, and Amihan Matias’ application! We are delighted to announce that Amihan will begin her new position as Operations Manager on September 1, 2021. Help is on the way.
Amihan (who uses the pronouns she, her, hers) started community organizing as a toddler in the Philippines, coordinating and leading older kids in play, which she took very seriously and was very good at according to her mother! Ever since then, Amihan has been using her leadership and organizing skills to mobilize and inspire individuals, groups, and organizations to invest their energy in transforming our society into a more just, compassionate, and equitable one. Amihan is most proud of her work as a social justice activist and community-builder. Her passion is transforming cultures into truly inclusive and equitable ones in which the full humanity and wholeness of every individual is valued, respected, and embraced. Her experience as a 1.5 generation Filipinx American with immigrant parents has influenced and inspired her social justice work.
Amihan is a racial equity and leadership development coach, trainer, and consultant. She has over 30 years of experience working with social justice and social change organizations, and over 25 years of nonprofit management experience. She has overseen the creation and implementation of several cutting edge and nationally recognized executive leadership development programs. These have included a nonprofit executive coaching program for leaders of community-based organizations serving communities of color, a nonprofit management training institute, and a six-month leadership forum for womxn of color leaders called “And Still We Rise.” She is a founding member of the Massachusetts Asian and Pacific Islanders (MAP) for Health and the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Alliance of Western Massachusetts.
Amihan is a trainer for the Truth School and served as a founding board member when the School was launched in 2017. She believes strongly in our mission to educate and mobilize social change leaders and is excited to support the Truth School in the role of Operations Manager. She is married to musician, singer, songwriter, and music educator Marcia Gomes.
All of us at the Truth School could not be more thrilled to welcome her to the staff!
Take a Walk in Sojourner Truth’s Shoes
with Wendy Sinton, Carlie Tartakov, and Diane Liebert
Saturday, September 11, 10:00 – 1:00 PM
Rain date: Sunday, September 12, 10:00 – 1:00 PMSeptember 11th: 20 Year Anniversary
with Dr. Sut Jhally and Dr. Michael Klare
Saturday, September 11, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Movement-Building and the Arts: How Music, Poetry, and Dance
Inform, Inspire, and Energize Social Movements for Change
with Leti Bueno
Sunday, September 12, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Calling In the Call Out Culture
with Loretta J. Ross
Monday, September 13, 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Basic Principles of Improvisation for Activism
with Dr. Terry Jenoure
Sunday, September 19, 3:00 – 5:00 PM
When We Get There, The First Day of Autumn
with Irene Strong Oak Lefebvre
Wednesday, September 22, 6:30 – 8:00 PM
Combating Racism: Partnerships, Coalitions, and Reaching Across Lines of Difference
with Dr. L.A. Love
Thursday, September 23, 6:00 – 8:00 PM
Barriers to Reproductive Justice in Western Mass and Beyond
with Shanique Spalding and Carrie Baker
Friday, September 24, 4:00 – 5:30 PM
Masculinities and Queer Youth
with Chiino Rios and James Arana
Saturday, September 25, 3:30 – 5:30 PM
Microaggressions: Death by a Thousand Cuts
with Amihan Jennifer Matias
Sunday, September 26, 2:00 – 4:00 PM
Strategies for Developing a Diverse Staff or Board
and Strategies for Maintaining a Diverse Staff or Board
with Jennifer Moyston
Tuesday, September 28, and Wednesday, September 29, 6:00 – 8:00 PM May be taken separately or as a series
Black Suffragists’ Role in the Suffragette Movement
with Dr. Kathy Bullock
Thursday, September 30, 4:00 – 6:00 PM
Hopefully the snow flurries of the winter are about over here in Massachusetts, but at the Truth School we look forward to many more flurries – Flurries of new and old friends who take our classes; flurries of trainers from near and far who want to teach for the School; flurries of class evaluations with important feedback, praise, and suggestions; and flurries of donations that we receive from class participants. In my role on the Truth School Leadership Team as one of the people who reaches out to our donors, I am always so moved by the generosity of people taking the classes, from the $5 to $100+ donations that come in the day after the class. We couldn’t do this work without you and we are all deeply grateful.
Now we are exactly halfway through our Spring session of over 50 incredible and inspiring classes, taught by a flurry of brilliant and talented trainers. We have “Call[ed] in the Call Out Culture” with Loretta Ross, looked at “Community Control Over Police” with Netfa Freeman, focused on “Israel, Palestine and the Changing Middle East” with Sut Jhally and Michael Klare, had a conversation about “Barriers to Reproductive Justice” with Shanique Spalding and Carrie Baker, gained deeper understanding of the “Climate Emergency” with Ernesto Cruz and Marty Nathan, and looked at “Reparations and Reconciliation” with Amihan Matias and Marcia Gomes, and that’s just a tiny glimpse of the big picture! Our classes span so many topics, too numerous to mention here. We strongly urge you to check out the flurry of upcoming classes for the rest of this session – don’t miss these wonderful opportunities!
I am struck by the fact that the Truth School has become a community, an expanding network of people with many shared values, growing and learning together during challenging times that otherwise could be even more isolating. Together we are able to move forward, to learn and grow to nurture our activism, and to work toward greater peace, equity and justice in the world. Bring on the flurries!
TS Leadership Team and Board Member
Erin Joy Seibert is a poet, artivist, and licensed social worker of mixed descent. EJ is a trainer for the Truth School and a founding (now former) member of our Board of Directors. EJ’s work is guided by interest in the intersections of collective healing, transformative education, and contemplative practice. This winter, she gave a workshop for the Truth School on Decolonizing Mental Health, focusing on incorporating decolonization into anti-racism practices for mental health care. We recently held a brief interview with EJ about her work, progressive activism, and her perspective on the School.
TS: Your class Decolonizing Mental Health stirred up considerable interest, had a large registration, and was very well attended. How do you explain the surge of interest in the topic of decolonizing mental health?
EJS: Collectively, we are all in the process of waking up and learning to heal the many rifts in our world and on our planet. There are two main things that I believe sparked such interest in the topic right now. (1) The first is increasing public awareness over time: especially since the action at Standing Rock against the Dakota Access Pipeline a few years ago, more people have become conscious of the issues that have long impacted Indigenous communities here and worldwide. At the same time, as we know, public attention has also been gained with regard to racial violence and the harm that has long been caused by White Supremacy Culture in general. (2) The second thing is that during a time when the pandemic has disconnected our face-to-face relationships, and impacted mental health for many people, Indigenous practices source from a place of relatedness and are grounded in connection to land and each other. I think that both of these things – increased awareness and a hunger for connectedness and wellness that is both individual and communal – are part of what sparked so much interest in the topic.
TS: What, from your background and perspective, are the biggest challenges activists face when we think about moving our progressive agenda forward in 2021?
EJS: One of the biggest challenges I can see is our continued need to be more loving with ourselves and with each other – I don’t mean soft, I mean loving, which can be soft but is sometimes necessarily ferocious. To be kind and strong. To be able to hold complexity, to move from either/or thinking to both/and thinking. To know when to be urgent because survival depends on it, but also when to slow down because survival depends on it. So many times we accidentally cause harm while we are trying to prevent or address harm. Systems of oppression have taught us to split apart from each other, and it is real work to come together and acknowledge where we each need to grow in order to make ourselves and our movements more effective and more in line with one another. It takes a lifetime of unlearning and relearning and we can all get better at being with those processes in ways that hold deep wisdom and care.
TS: As a founding Truth School Board Member – part of the team that shaped the School right from the start – do you see the School changing in the coming years? Any predictions about where the School may be five years from now?
EJS: Absolutely. The school has transformed so many times already, and thank goodness – keeping creative and vibrant and growing with forward motion are so essential. Wrestling with feedback and truths and making needed changes is all part of the work. I don’t know where the school will be in five years, but I can say I very much look forward to finding out!
The Occupation of the American Mind
with Sut Jhally / April 1 / 6:30-9:00
Invocation to Martin Luther King, Jr.: Contemplating the Heart of the Matter
with Rose Sackey-Milligan / April 4 / 7:00-8:30
The Climate Emergency: Identifying Leverages of Power
with Marty Nathan and Ernesto Cruz / April 8 / 5:00-6:30
Making Science Work for Social Justice
with Western Mass Science for the People / April 10 / 3:00-6:00
Leadership Development, Support, and Guidance for Movement Leaders
Both Seasoned and New
with Tanisha Arena / April 11 / 3:00-5:00
You Are Powerful: Examining Where Individuals and Communities Can
Make a Difference From the Local to the National Level
with Gladys Franco / April 15 / 5:00-7:00
Poetry as Resistance and Healing
with Erin Joy Seibert / April 17 / 2:00-4:00
Cultural Humility and Cross-Cultural Communication:
The Building Blocks of Racial Equity (2-part series)
with Amihan Matias / April 18 and May 2 / 4:00-6:00
Keeping Your Light Bright! A Writing Workshop for a Community with Something to Say
with Sauda Garrett / April 20 / 5:00-7:00
Earth Day: Circle Practice Honoring the Earth
with Tasondra Jardine / April 22 / 4:00-6:00
Can the Powerful Movements to Dismantle White Supremacy and Protect Our Ecosystem Help Us Build the World We Know is Possible?
with Jacqueline Velez, Susan Theberge, and Russ Vernon-Jones / April 24 / 3:30-5:30
Cultivating Cross-Cultural Understanding in Personal and Organizational Settings
with Celia Hilson / April 25 / 3:00-4:30
Unpacking the Man Box: Cross-Gender Dialogue About Masculinity
with James Arana and Steven Botkin / April 29 / 5:00-6:30
The Truth School is proud to be a sponsoring partner for the panel discussion
CHINA, THE U.S. AND THE RISK OF NUCLEAR WAR
April 7, 2021, 7:00 to 8:30 pm ET
Join experts Rachel Esplin Odell, Tong Zhao, and Zia Mian for this important conversation. This free event will be live-streamed on YouTube and include time for Q&A. Registrants will receive a link to participate live and a recording of the event afterwards.
Visit the event registration page at bit.ly/riskofwar
Back From The Brink Western Mass