Next month, after 5 years with the Freedom to Thrive team, I will be stepping down from my position as Deputy Director. This is a joyful transition, full of hope and excitement for the unfolding of my next steps, and for what is possible at Freedom to Thrive.

My transition makes way for a powerful leadership trio of longstanding Executive Director Daniel Carrillo joined by Melonie Griffiths as Deputy Director, and Catherine Barnett as Development Director. I’m confident that this new leadership formation, together with the brilliant national staff team, will continue to do groundbreaking work to bring our mission alive for many years to come.

I deeply love this organization. And yet I know that this is the right time for this transition. After 15 years of non-stop organizing, I am ready for a period of rest and reflection. I’m excited to come home to myself, taking space to reflect on what I have learned about myself and my role in large-scale change towards liberation.

I’m looking forward to more time with my wonderful 5-year-old, Esperanza, as she transitions to kindergarten, and to invest in my own health, and in strengthening family and community relationships.

I’m also excited to explore how to apply an abolitionist framework to building organizations that are safe internally and externally, where all people including BIPOC, women and non-binary people are uplifted, listened to, and supported in environments free of violence and oppression. I have an upcoming chapter in the forthcoming book “Beyond Survival: Stories and Strategies from the Transformative Justice Movement” and will be consulting with organizations around building safe workplaces. If you may be interested in continuing this work with me, or have other projects in mind, drop me a line at amanda.aguilar.shank@gmail.com.

Sharing this news, my heart is full of feelings, but some of them rise to the top. Gratitude. Pride. Transformation. I want to thank the Freedom to Thrive staff team for your support over the years, for showing up authentically, for modeling what it looks like to invest our hearts, minds, and labor in this project of building a new world.

I also turn to thank our extended community – our affiliates, allies, training participants, youth campaigners, donors – you are all brilliant, strategic, hilarious, full of life and love. We have dreamed a powerful abolitionist network into existence, winning victories against the prison industry that many thought impossible. I will carry you and your strength and stories with me forever.

It is in this spirit of gratitude that I embrace a new phase in my life. I’m looking forward to continuing the relationship with Freedom to Thrive as an occasional contractor and board member. I look forward to many more victories, convening, lessons, and hugs – just from a different vantage point.

Amanda

 

P.S. If you are in the Portland area on June 11th, stop by Santé’s Bar for my goodbye party! You can register here to attend, or here to make a donation to be part of my legacy of fortifying Freedom to Thrive for the path ahead.