Meet Jamie San Andrés: A Q&A with Our New Latin America Program Manager.
By Jamie San Andrés
Why did you want to work for Thousand Currents? What made you apply to the organization?
Inspired by the power and success of Indigenous and peasant movements in Ecuador, Latin America and the Global South, I was drawn to Thousand Current’s intentionality on centering social movements as vehicles in creating systemic change. Thousand Currents’ focus on women, youth, and Afrodesdendant communities was also important to me. As an intersectional feminist, I care deeply about dismantling racism across Abya Yala, or the Americas, and love that Thousand Currents is seeking to advance this work. Additionally, I have never encountered an organization as deeply mindful about positionality and reciprocal learning as Thousand Currents. The commitment to shift unequal power dynamics between the Global South and North is evident not just in relationships to partners as funders, but in funding work that challenges these global inequities as well. I knew immediately that I wanted to be a part of an organization this bold, critical, and thoughtful, and I am honored to be part of this beautiful team.
What will be your new role at Thousand Currents?
I am the Program Manager of Latin America, and will be working with the Regional Director to deepen the programmatic work in food sovereignty, alternative economics, and climate justice in Latin America and the Caribbean with a focus on groups led by and/or centering, women, youth, Indigenous and Afro-descendant communities. I will:
- Conduct knowledge collection and research to develop proposals on how we can explore and/or integrate new forms of collaboration or partnerships with grassroots organizations working on our thematic areas of focus.
- Support building relationships with peer members to exchange information, learnings and insights.
- Develop and write reports, blogs, and present at strategic spaces to share our learnings on supporting grassroots movements in Latin America and the Caribbean.
What gifts do you hope to share in your new role?
Over the past 10 years, I have worked in research and advocacy with grassroots environmental and social justice organizations that work closely with women, youth, Indigenous and Afrodescendant communities in California, New York, and Ecuador. After living in California’s San Joaquin Valley, an environmentally overburdened community that is home to a large farming industry that relies heavily on pesticide use, I learned about the invisible costs of agricultural business but also the power that farmworkers and rural communities have in organizing for change, and knew I wanted to be an agent for change too.
As an Ecuadorian-American, however, I also felt a huge responsibility to learn about the struggles that forced my family and others to migrate, and get involved. I knew that many of the problems that Latin America faces are intertwined with a history of imperialism, racism, capitalism, and patriarchy and I was committed to use my privileges to change these systems. When I moved to Ecuador in 2011, I worked with Afrodescendant youth in Esmeraldas and became a human rights observer in a mining conflict zone and a 15-day long nationwide march led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador (CONAIE). My hope is that my journey, experiences, and commitment to social justice will inform my contributions at Thousand Currents and relationships with partners in Latin America.
What is your vision or hope for the communities you work with and the work you’re doing?
From my journey, I have learned that solutions to our global problems can be found among the people directly impacted by systems of oppression, and those working to shift them. I am eager to continue learning alongside our partners about their struggles and solutions, and facilitating their efforts for social change. My vision is that social movements led by women, peasant, and Indigenous and Afro Descendant communities in Latin America continue advancing the struggle against climate change, the struggle to end economic and political structural violence, and the assault on Mother Earth, so that land, human rights, and food for all can thrive.
What do you do when you are not working at Thousand Currents?
Music is my second passion. I love learning about new music, creating and experimenting with others, and performing in public. Watching people dance and feel the music warms my heart. I also co-founded an Andean diaspora collective project called Rimay Raiz, that records oral histories and creates zines. You can find out more about us here. When I’m not working on my passion projects, I love to go visit my family in California and go hiking in Yosemite or the Central Coast.