Greetings Friends and Community,
Although I have talked to many of you, for some this will come as a surprise. After nine years at Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network (BAPLAN), I have resigned from being Executive Director.
In 2016, when I became Executive Director, I was encouraged by parent leaders, staff and our board to implement a bold strategy to help further BAPLAN’s mission and theory of change. We believe that I could lead the redesign of the organization’s infrastructure, fundraising and internal capacity building to do workforce development of Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) public school parents and community members to be our staff. Since then, it’s been a rollercoaster ride full of lessons learned. For our shared understanding, there are two lessons I want to share that have driven me to the decision to resign.
Lesson 1: The current resources within BAPLAN are not sufficient to foster workforce development of parent leaders as the main staffing strategy for BAPLAN.
As Executive Director, I was supported to invest in a staff strategy that directed the organization’s resources to hire BIPOC parent leaders and community members to join the organization, regardless of their skill capacity. While implementing this strategy, I learned that a significant amount of skill development infrastructure and trust was necessary to support the implementation of workforce development of parent leaders beyond our initial plans. Despite seeking and employing the best of tools we could find to develop staff at different skill capacities, we could not foster shared responsibility for the organization’s culture being one that was healthy among staff. Together, these dynamics put significant strain on the organization’s ability to deliver on our mission and theory of change.
Lesson 2: The current resources to support black woman leadership are insufficient to address the internalized racial oppression among BIPOC folks.
As Executive Director, I lead with an awareness that I am a black mother who will experience, as well as may stumble in creating racial oppression. I attempted to lead the organization with awareness of these dynamics by investing in Undoing Racism workshops from the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond (PBIS). However, no training, coaching, evaluation or other resource was able to interrupt the development of an organization culture that became more invested in highlighting and dissecting my leadership than in executing the mission and theory of change of BAPLAN.
Ultimately, I am resigning because I no longer have the capacity to weather the rollercoaster of these two dynamics and their impact on my family and I. In order to support BAPLAN to move forward, I believe it is important to share this experience publicly and transparently. With the support of the board, I also believe that a full 360 evaluation of my leadership and all staff is necessary to help the organization gather all perspectives on the important lessons of BAPLAN, and hope that many of you choose to participate.
Despite our internal struggles, under my leadership, BAPLAN did build parent power in our movement for justice. We trained amazing parent and education leaders on how to hold their local district’s accountable to the vision of equitable funding under the Local Control Funding Formula. We anchored the development of the transformative family engagement standards (www.tfestandards.org). We helped start the Justice for Oakland Students Coalition, which worked to shift the narrative in Oakland about equity and justice in Oakland Unified School District. We supported parents and the community in Sausalito Marin City to win their desegregation case with the Attorney General’s office. We anchored the development of the Keep Our Kids Safe Campaign and mobilized parents to advocate for the support their children and families need to survive the pandemic. Lastly, we anchored the development of the Reparations for Black Students Campaign and activated black parents, educators, and the community to demand OUSD address its anti-black racism. It is the greatest hope of any leader to see this work continue to inspire so many and continue to move forward justice in public education overall.
I thank you all for being allies, supporters, and advocates for the transformation of our public education system. Thank you for your support of me and look forward to working with you in the future after I take some time to rest and heal.
Dear PLAN Community and Friends,
I write to inform you that due to Pecolia Manigo ending her ten-year service as Executive Director of Bay Area Parent Leadership Action Network, we have decided to take a pause in our programming to reassess the implementation of our Theory of Change. We plan to take this moment to assess our role as a social justice organization in service of building BIPOC parent power towards movement building in the greater Bay Area.
In my two years as Executive Director, I learned: Your multiracial organization will only grow as large as the robust support systems, and operations that are in place to sustain itself in combating anti-Black racism and oppression.
I believe people who are not actively working with folks of color on the ground are removed from the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on decimating our communities’ capacity to fight a racist and capitalist system that continues to remind us that our lives do not matter and that our children’s education is secondary to the corporate entities that benefit from the maintenance of the status quo in the public education system. From the continued push-out of Black students by way of disinvestment in resources that would help our children thrive, we have seen this same status quo uphold anti-Black culture within our school communities and beyond.
Unfortunately, we have not been able to cure this dynamic within Bay Area PLAN. I believe that we are one of many social justice organizations tasked with uprooting anti-Black culture from within our organization, and have experienced first-hand the backlash that comes with uprooting racism within our community. The consequence of this backlash continues to be Black women leaving their leadership post due to compassion fatigue and misogynoir.
During this time of deep reflection, the Board plans to bring on a short-term consultant to conduct a wellness check based on feedback from interviews conducted with PLAN former staff members, parent members, leaders, fellows, funders, and allies who have partnered with PLAN in the last 5 years. We hope that from this community assessment, we will be able able to distill the strengths, areas of growth and opportunities that demonstrate the profound impact of PLAN’s work that will help us develop a strategic plan for how to move forward alongside you all toward the future of a public education system where all Black, Brown, immigrant and undocumented students and their families thrive.
I trust this process will lead to us finding a way forward, and we invite you to hold Bay Area PLAN during this sobering moment.