About

Freedom To Thrive works to create a world where safety means investment in people & planet and to end the punishment-based criminal and immigration systems.

We believe that strategic campaigning, relationship-building across races and genders, and investing in the healing and leadership of communities most impacted by criminalization is how we win. We convene campaigns for reinvestment and against criminalization, build movements that unite Black and brown communities, and offer healing justice training programs and mentorship towards liberation We are organizing for a world where Black and brown communities are safe and can thrive, have resources to build from, and relationships rooted in mutual dignity. And we believe that we will win.

At Freedom to Thrive, we practice the movement we are building. This means: 

  • Investing in Black leadership and Black liberation
  • Supporting leadership of youth, women, and gender non-conforming people
  • Generating collective healing and wellness
  • Practicing transformative solutions to harm
  • Caring for all of our communities, leaving no one behind
  • Building in collaboration not competition
  • Practicing accountability to each other and our principles

Staff

Melonie Griffiths, Interim Co-Director

Melonie Griffiths, Interim Co-Director

she or Melonie

Melonie is an immigrant from Jamaica who has a long history of community engagement, advocacy and change creation in Massachusetts and beyond. Her work as a community organizer began in 2008 after fighting off a post foreclosure eviction that allowed her and her 3 children to remain in their home. This turned into years of grassroots organizing that played a crucial role in building bases of community leaders that organized around displacement, income/racial inequality and human injustice. She has also helped build community partnerships with labor unions, faith groups and elected officials that were grounded in accountability and created real change for residents and workers. As an avid learner that has been trained in facilitation, wellness practices and power building, Melonie has also provided facilitation and training support for national groups and networks. She is a national Black leader and known relationship builder with a passion for cultivating spaces that provide knowledge, leadership, healing and love. She has a great sense of humor, enjoys listening to reggae music and is well known for giving out hugs! You can reach her at melonie@freedomtothrive.org

Catherine Barnett, Interim Co-Director

Catherine Barnett, Interim Co-Director

she

Catherine’s work over the past two decades has been dedicated to building economic power for local communities in New York City.  She has fought alongside restaurant workers for better wages and working conditions, and provided access to capital, training and connections to home-based, street vending and brick and mortar entrepreneurs.  Catherine serves as a board member and advisor to a number of organizations, including New Economy Project, The Professional Agricultural Workers Conference at Tuskegee, the Women’s Organizing Network and Richmond Senior Services. The revolution may not be televised, but it sure does need to be funded. Catherine is an immigrant who claims the entire Caribbean region as her place of origin. She is a feminist, a mother of two, and a godmother and auntie of many. She will be a dancehall selector and a master gardener someday. Soon come. Tell her about your gifts at catherine@freedomtothrive.org

Omaje Amaechi, Operations Manager

Omaje Amaechi, Operations Manager

she/they

Omoaje (aka Je) (pronouns she/they) is a first-generation Jamaican-American born from Immigrant parents and raised in New Jersey. Je has always had a passion for farmworker rights and equitable economic development. She has an educational background in the Philosophy of Mind and Critical Race Theory. As a student at Florida State University, she became involved with organizing for farmworker rights, environmental justice, and other causes related to Black and indigenous self-determination. Je considers themselves a jack-of-all-trades, but as a farmer-in-training, astrologer, and herbalist Je pursuits tend to focus on healing through food and plant medicine. Je can be reached at stephanie@freedomtothrive.org

Basma Eid, Programs Coordinator

Basma Eid, Programs Coordinator

she or Basma

Basma was born to Egyptian immigrants and raised in Rochester, NY alongside her five siblings. Coming of age in a post 9/11 world, her consciousness and worldview was intimately shaped by rising tides of islamophobia and the war on terror. She has organized alongside New York’s diverse street vendor community, where she supported the struggle for the decriminalization of immigrant workers and workers of color. Basma also serves on the Board of Directors of The LEAP Program, a grassroots-based, volunteer-run organization that works in solidarity with Palestinian refugee youth living in exile in Lebanon. When she’s not drinking copious amounts of coffee, she can be found training for the revolution alongside the futbolistas. Reach her at basma@freedomtothrive.org

Meron Tebeje, Communications Coordinator

Meron Tebeje, Communications Coordinator

she

Meron (pronouns she/her) is a Black, queer, first-gen Ethiopian womxn from the city of purple rain, Minneapolis. She is a multimedia storyteller, organizer, and a communications strategist. As an abolitionist organizer, she believes it is our duty to break down barriers to ensure representation that centers Black liberation and Black immigrants within current movement spaces. She uses photography and videography to capture direct actions and Black joy, utilizing afro-futurism as a tool to envision our collective freedoms. She can be reached at meron@freedomtothrive.org 

Our Board

Dan Petegorsky, President

Dan is an independent consultant in public policy and nonprofit management.

Amanda Aguilar Shank, Secretary

Amanda has been doing local, national, and international movement building for over a decade. 

Ayisha Green

Ayisha serves as the Program Director of the YA-YA Network.

Dianne Riley

Dianne is a Supervisor at the Office of Civic and Community Life for the City of Portland.

Maggie Long

Maggie is the Executive Director of SEIU Local 49

Freedom to Thrive (formerly Enlace) is a national convener of Black and brown organizations fighting for reinvestment in our communities and an end to the punishment-based criminal and immigration systems.

Partners and allies of Freedom to Thrive are the backbone and strategists behind the Prison Industry Divestment Campaign, and the Freedom Cities & Freedom Campuses Movement to address criminalization and incarceration.

Together with partners and allies we engage in long-term movement building across races and sectors, building trust and collaboration, and bringing down the walls that prevent us from addressing the root causes of harm we experience.

Freedom to Thrive was founded by Peter Cervantes-Gautschi and a binational leadership committee of visionary leaders, originally under the name Enlace, which means “link” in Spanish. In 1998, Peter brought together dozens of worker-based organizations from Mexico and the United States for a week of strategic brainstorming about the major obstacles preventing wins for low-wage workers. It was from that convening that Enlace was born. Enlace trained hundreds of workers in organizing strategy and strengthening internal systems for small organizations to sustain long-term campaigns, and win, against seemingly unwinnable targets: transnational corporations. Enlace led campaigns that won strategic victories for working people, including the first secret-ballot election in Mexico, a national contract for all tire workers in Mexico, and the groundbreaking four-year campaign of Enlace member SEDEPAC against the Sara Lee Corporation in Coahuila, Mexico, which resulted in an unprecedented union neutrality agreement by Sara Lee. In 2011, Enlace launched the Prison Industry Divestment Campaign to take on one of the largest barriers to worker organizing: the prison and detention system that criminalizes, incarcerates and deports working people of color. From Enlace to Freedom to Thrive: Over ten years, the Prison Industry Divestment campaign grew to be one of the most prominent national campaigns uniting Black and brown communities against criminalization. In 2018, our organization transitioned from Enlace to Freedom to Thrive to signal our commitment to building a united movement against criminalization, and for reinvestment in communities impacted by the punishment-based criminal and immigration systems.