Meet Megan Sparks: A Q&A with Our New Philanthropic Partnerships Coordinator.

By Megan Sparks

Why did you want to work for Thousand Currents? What made you apply to the organization?

I was eager to work for a progressive organization which divested from the capitalistic, colonial and white supremacy practices of the nonprofit and philanthropy sector after working in development for over two years; I felt my radical values and ideas would be encouraged at Thousand Currents. I was excited to see a foundation working with grassroots organizations in the Global South and centering Indigenous Peoples throughout their fundraising efforts and organizational values. This is a rarity for foundations. Thousand Currents aligned with my anti-oppression and liberatory values, and I knew immediately the organization could be a great fit. Even though my time at Thousand Currents has been short, I can see my gut instincts were correct.

What will be your new role at Thousand Currents?

As the Philanthropic Partnerships Coordinator, I track and evaluate Thousand Currents’ fundraising data to inform the expansion of our engagement and education opportunities for current and emerging donors.

What gifts do you hope to share in your new role?

Megan speaking at a workshop hosted at Diverseworks about matching artists and activists to generate collaborative possibilities.

As someone who has worked in both social justice and traditional development capacities, I intimately recognize the depth of wealth and income inequality, and the disconnect from understanding the needs of the community within the philanthropy sector. When working at a more mainstream foundation, I felt the wealth gap and lack of true community engagement every day as I processed $188 million of incoming gifts. This experience led me to believe in social justice philanthropy and the importance of  directly supporting communities. I hope my experience in the mainstream philanthropic sector and the skills I’ve honed as an artist, creativity, and a dedication to flexibility and innovation, will translate into my role as the new Philanthropic Partnerships Coordinator. I am excited to harness Thousand Currents’ data to reach our fundraising goals in addition to cultivating new ways to further engage our donors to envision a new world of philanthropy.

What is your vision or hope for the communities you work with and the work you’re doing?

Megan participating in a performance and video art workshop hosted by Houston artists Las Girls Collective.

I envision a world free of colonialism, imperialism, and capitalism for all marginalized and oppressed communities throughout the Global South and North. I desire a world not ruled by necropolitics and gore capitalism. I want a world where the suffering and deaths of oppressed communities no longer seems essential in order for society and the economy to “progress” as seen by the global pandemic. Through my art activism, I have seen firsthand how the power of mutual aid, collective care, and embracing interconnectedness provides liberation and rest for a community. Through my role at Thousand Currents, I hope my commitment to social justice and human rights encourages our donors to continue supporting grassroots organizations and further the goals of these communities.

What do you do when you are not working at Thousand Currents?

Megan hugging a participant at the conclusion of PROGNOSIS: Mitigating Resistance Burnout, which was a discussion around two texts regarding the state of self-care and resistance.

I am deeply involved in the Houston art community, and I spend my free time honing my artistic practice and being an art activist. I am the founder and co-organizer of the Houston BIPOC Artist Accountability Coalition (HBAAC), a grassroots project dedicated to using data to foster permanent structural change around equity and racial justice in the Houston art community. I am the founder of The Resistance Healing Clinic, a series of public programs examining self and collective care survival tactics for marginalized and oppressed communities through the lens of economics, philosophy, history, and critical theory. I was also the co-editor of the “The Loop”, an online publication showcasing Houston’s diverse and multicultural artist community created for the Common Field 2020 Online Convening.  

When I am not obsessing over the art world, I occupy my time with plenty of television, podcasts, books, movies, and longform journalism. I always say, ‘so much media to consume and not enough time’. I am also a novice tarot card reader who loves astrology. 

Recommendations:

TV: Veneno or Pretend It’s a City

Podcast: You’re Wrong About

Book: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi or The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Movie: The Before Trilogy or To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before

Article: How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People

 

By Ayse Gursoz , Communications Manager