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Staff


Solomé Lemma
Executive Director

…leaders of all ages, nationalities, and backgrounds around the world are developing solutions to the challenges their communities face.

~Solomé Lemma

As Executive Director, Solomé works closely with the board to set the strategic direction for Thousand Currents and is responsible for ensuring Thousand Currents remains a dynamic, innovative, and financially-sound organization, rooted in its support of grassroots partners.

A champion of social transformation through community-driven initiatives, Solomé joins Thousand Currents from Africans in the Diaspora (AiD), an initiative she co-founded and led for four years before its merger with Thousand Currents. Previously, Solomé served as Global Fund for Children’s Senior Program Officer for Africa, managing a portfolio of over 100 grassroots organizations in about 25 countries. She  has also worked with the UN Development Programme in Ethiopia, Human Rights Watch in New York City, and International Rescue Committee in Liberia. Solomé currently serves on the advisory board of the Agroecology Fund.

Born in Ethiopia and having moved to the United States at a young age, Solomé quickly learned of the skewed perspectives many people hold of Africans. As a co-founder of Africa Responds, Solomé  led a diaspora-led humanitarian effort to galvanize fundraising for grassroots organizations that fought the Ebola outbreak in parts of West Africa. She is a White House Champion of Change for her work with diaspora communities, a fierce supporter of local leadership, and is a strong voice against “inequitable and ineffective partnerships.”

Solomé received a Master’s in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School and a Bachelor’s in International Relations from Stanford University. Her work and writing has been featured in Forbes, the Washington Post, The Guardian, Inside Philanthropy, and Africa is a Country, among others, and she has appeared on NPR, BBC, and Al Jazeera discussing aid and philanthropy in Africa. She has been a guest speaker at community events, conferences, and universities and was named one of Foreign Policy Magazine’s “100 women to follow on Twitter” at @innovateafrica.

Maha Akamine
Buen Vivir Fund Coordinator

Born and raised in Brazil, Maha is a daughter of Japanese immigrants who sought a new beginning in Brazil. She has a degree in Civil Engineering, but her professional career has always focused on managing social projects, working with grassroots communities during the past six years along with indigenous groups, quilombolas, urban groups and social movements from in South America.

Her career also includes experience in projects’ administrative and financial management and strategic planning, and commitment to inclusive and feminist social-environmental justice.

Maha is currently living in Santiago. In her free time, she goes for walks, bike rides, explores the countryside, and tastes Latin cuisines with her partner.


Mónica Carrillo Zegarra
Regional Director, Latin America

Mónica is an Afro-Peruvian feminist, human rights advocate, and artist with 18 years of experience in fundraising, designing, and leadership of human rights initiatives. She founded LUNDU Center for Afro Peruvian Studies and Advancement in Peru and has harnessed more than $2 millionto improve public policies of racial and gender equality, rebuild rural communities after natural disasters, and strengthen grassroots social organizations from a racial, feminist, and integenerational perspective.  Mónica has also designed public campaigns to denounce the exploitation of women labor in the agribusiness export sector and supported the creation of centers to prevent gender violence and HIV in rural communities in Peru.

Her leadership resulted in the official recognition of racist insults as physiological violence in Peru and  her latest book, “Faces of Violence, Faces of Power” explores the intersection of racism and sexism in the lives of Afro-Peruvian women.

A community organizer of the Queens Museum focused on immigrant communities, Mónica also creates poetry that brings attention to the ongoing effects of racism and sexism. Her creative credentials as a songwriter and performer have been celebrated by the Grammy and Independent Music Awards. Her global advocacy work has been featured on PBS, CNN, Univision, MTV Europe and The New York Times. She holds a Bachelor’s in journalism, a Master’s in Performance Media and Interactive Arts from Brooklyn College, a post-degree in Political Journalism/Cultural Analysis, and a certification in International Law and Human Rights from Oxford University in England.

Sarah Charles
Executive Assistant

Sarah spent the start of her career as an educator, an advocate and an organizer across different parts of New York state, most recently at Open Society Foundations, where she supported grant making and advocacy portfolios to address the overdose crisis in the United States. In her life before philanthropy, Sarah worked as an activist and coordinator with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, serving as a community organizer for environmental and climate justice campaigns. She also spent some years in the classroom, teaching in public schools.  Sarah holds a B.A. in History from the University at Albany, and a Master’s of Science in Education from Syracuse University.

In her free time, Sarah enjoys cooking, reading, dreaming of the beach, and volunteering on electoral campaigns that she believes in. She finds motivation in the power of building community and solidarity in the world around her, and brings that spirit to her work.

Rudo Chigudu
Program Manager, Africa

As an African feminist, activist, and artist fiercely committed to social justice and human rights, Rudo has worked with social movements on the African continent for almost a decade. Using creative arts as a feminist popular education tool to politicise sexuality and its linkage to broader political discourse, she is deeply committeed to young women’s issues on sexuality and leadership.  Rudo is the co-founder of Katswe Sistahood, a Zimbabwean-based young women’s organisation, and is popularly known as a V warrior for her engagement in the struggles surrounding women’s bodily autonomy and sexual diversity. She holds a Master’s of Philosophy in Sexual and Reproductive Rights in Africa, and her recent work includes projects on the politics of land as history, identity and a means towards food sovereignty within Africa.

Zahra Dalilah
African Diaspora Partnerships Manager

Zahra is a Black feminist from Lewisham, South London. She became involved with the city’s political landscape in 2015 through “Take Back The City,” an anti-gentrification and popular education political project. Following that she co-founded a project called “Our Fathers and Us,” which looked into Black British fatherhood and the myths and realities of Black communities and their relationships to fatherhood. In 2017, she co-founded a network of Black and African activists called KIN, which has since hosted national and international convenings of leading Black activists and organizers. 

Her commitment to community-led radical political action has manifested through her involvement with the community food movement and land-based activism, especially where it is led by people of color. This includes coordination, network building,  strategic facilitation, and coaching  community food projects, urban food growing networks, Black-led land reparations campaigns as well as  supporting individual landworkers of color. 

Cindy del Rosario-Tapan
Communications Director

Cindy is a seasoned storyteller and communications professional with extensive experience in executive leadership, media relations, narrative strategy, and marketing initiatives. For two decades, she has been telling stories to establish a brand’s voice, create compelling narratives, and produce engaging content in order to communicate effectively across a wide range of platforms. She previously worked for International Women’s Health Coalition in advocating for sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as holding senior communication roles at Columbia University, including at the Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia College, U.S. News and World Report’s third-ranked undergraduate university. Prior to that, she worked in an array of communications contexts—beginning with magazines and media companies, such as O, The Oprah Magazine, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, and National Geographic. She earned her BA in Journalism from Penn State University, and her MA in Media Ecology from New York University. 

Cindy is proud to be a first generation Filipinx American, and loves reading, running, and co-parenting her three kids and one dog with her husband Ed. An occasional yogie, she also enjoys doing puzzles and firmly believes that karaoke — preferably 80s or slow jams — can bring joy to all. 

Jinky Demarest de Rivera
Director of Finance and Administration 

Jinky oversees the financial, human resource and organizational effectiveness functions at Thousand Currents. As part of the senior management team, Jinky brings over 20 years of experience in leadership, technical expertise, and strategic thinking. Their history directing nonprofit financial operations spans human rights and social justice organizations in the Bay Area and New York City, starting at GLSEN and the Audre Lorde Project and most recently at Tides. Jinky formerly served on the Leadership Sangha of the East Bay Meditation Center and on the board of OutRight Action International. A native New Yorker, Jinky earned their MFA in English & Creative Writing at Mills College. They are the co-editor of the anthology Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time (Seal Press, ed. 2007). 

To find out more about the magic of combining social justice, creativity and math skills, read Jinky’s entry on the Thousand Currents blog.

 

Ayşe Gürsöz
Communications Manager

Ayşe comes to Thousand Currents with a breadth of experience harnessing the power of narrative and new media for social transformation. Her commitment to reshaping the world to be more just and equitable has taken her from the newsroom at Al Jazeera’s social media network, AJ+, where she produced stories that were neglected by mainstream media, to Public Advocates, where she led digital strategy for a critical housing justice initiative; to Rainforest Action Network, where she led communications for high profile campaigns targeting the world’s largest financial institutions for their outsized roles in the climate crisis and Indigenous rights abuses. Ayşe has also worked as a multimedia producer and content creator with Indigenous Environmental Network and Grassroots Global Justice during major climate justice mobilizations over the past eight years.

Ayşe has a BA from the Technocultural Studies program at The University of California at Davis. A 2019 Lucie Foundation “Photo Taken, Emerging Scholarship” nominee, Ayşe is also a seasoned photographer who continues to build up her portfolio. In her free time, she cooks up her favorite Turkish recipes from scratch, and crushes on her favorite director, Taika Waititi.

Rajiv Khanna
Director of Philanthropic Partnerships

A native of Bombay, Rajiv leads the Philanthropic Partnerships Program at Thousand Currents, overseeing individual and institutional donor engagement, education, and fundraising. He is engaged in strategic development and effective execution of all activities related to cultivating a just, equitable, and inclusive philanthropic  impact investing sector that centers local solutions, forms learning partnerships with grassroots groups, and reimagines wealth, well-being, and giving. As part of the Senior Management Team, Rajiv informs and guides Thousand Currents’ overall strategy and planning, ensuring collaboration and interconnectedness across all Thousand Currents’ programs. 

He currently serves on the Board of the Management Assistance Group, which strengthens individuals, organizations, and networks to bring about transformative change. A member of the Stewardship Circle of Thrive East Bay, a purpose-driven community of people committed to creating a flourishing world for all, Rajiv is also a recovering academic, who was professionally trained as a historian of international relations with expertise in Modern Europe, South Asia, and the Cold War. In addition to designing and teaching college courses, he has led the Indian Diaspora Oral History Project, a community-centered project focused on South Asian immigrants in Silicon Valley at San Jose State University. Rajiv has a BA in English and History from Newman University, and a Master’s in history from The Ohio State University. A cricket fanatic, he is a published poet and writer who enjoys cooking, the outdoors, the ocean, reading, and traveling.


Luam Kidane
Director of Movement Partnerships

An African of Eritrean origin, Luam Kidane’s curatorial work, research, and writing examines movement building at the intersections of Indigenous governance models, cultural production and articulations of self-determination. Prior to joining Thousand Currents, Luam worked as a researcher and strategist on food sovereignty, political economy, gender, sexuality and cultural production. Luam has written several articles on internationalism and radical transformation in Africa.

Heather Masaki
Grants Manager

Born and raised on O’ahu, Hawai’i, Masaki brings experience in feminist activism and research, community engagement, and fundraising for women’s rights and social change organizations. She holds a Bachelor’s in Women’s Studies and Religious Studies from San Diego State University, and a Master’s in Development Studies from the University of Auckland. Masaki’s thesis research focused on the intersections of gender, climate change, and transnational Pacific Island communities. Prior to joining Thousand Currents, she supported a feminist research project exploring gender inequality in the Pacific Islands through the lens of local marketplaces. Previously, Masaki  worked at the Global Fund for Women, where she focused on donor stewardship and grant writing as well as roles at  Making Contact/International Media Project, and UpsideDowns Education Trust. 

Masaki enjoys spending time outdoors, particularly when that entails being in or near  the ocean. She is an avid traveler, reader, and information seeker, and a proud auntie to two adorable nephews.

Lindley Mease
Director of Climate Leaders in Movement Action (CLIMA) Fund 

Lindley is dedicated to nurturing networks of solidarity for grassroots leaders advancing just and regenerative solutions to climate change. In her leadership role of the Climate Leaders In Movement Action (CLIMA) Fund at Thousand Currents, she mobilizes funders to collaboratively give to climate justice movements globally. Lindley is also the Co-Founder and Co-Director of Blue Heart, an organization that organizes millennial donors to give to frontline organizations in the United States. She is committed  to building accountability and humility into philanthropic giving, and to elevating the stories of organizations building political power. Lindley was previously a Senior Research Analyst at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the Environment, and currently teaches a class on human-centered design for graduate students at Stanford University. 

Lindley has a MS in Earth System Science and a BA in Human Biology from Stanford University. Where she lives in Occupied Ohlone territory, Oakland, California, Lindley is a volunteer mediator with SEEDS Conflict Resolution, and is an avid watercolorist, salsa dancer, and backpacker. Although her roots run deep beneath the Cascades of Washington State, she has fallen hard for the Sierras and the Redwoods in California.

Hafsa Mustafa
Manager of Philanthropic Partnerships

Hafsa is a seasoned researcher, monitoring and  evaluation (M&E) expert, educator, and fundraiser with more than a decade of experience working with nonprofits, foundations, and corporations in the U.S. and abroad. As the Learning and Evaluation Manager for Thousand Currents, she works on evaluating the Thousand Currents Academy, Buen Vivir Fund, and other programs. Her passion to create sector-wide strategic partnerships and promote data-driven decision-making was born in Pakistan, where she worked on designing tools and M&E systems to address these challenges. Some of Hafsa’s major projects include developing tools and systems for RISEPAK – an award-winning project by John Hopkins University and the World Bank; co-establishing M&E systems at Marie Stopes International for the Buffet Foundation Project; leading a qualitative study for the Kennedy School at Harvard University on the Hajj; and advising a University of Illinois research project on first-generation Sub-Saharan Africans. 

Hafsa is currently an Adjunct Faculty at the University of San Francisco’s School of Management and volunteers her time by working on pro-bono projects for the American Pakistan Foundation as well as serving on the boards of the University of Chicago Bay Area Alumni Association and Collaborative Enterprise Exchange. Hafsa earned her Master’s in Public Policy and Program Evaluation from the University of Chicago.

Jamie San Andres
Program Manager, Latin America

Jamie is a daughter of Ecuadorian immigrants of Huancavilca and Kichwa Indigenous descent, with over 10 years of experience in research, activism, and cultural organizing. Born in Queens, New York, she also grew up in California’s San Joaquin Valley, home to a large farming industry that relies heavily on pesticide use. During her youth, she organized campaigns to protect the health of farmworkers and rural communities by seeking to ban toxic pesticides. In 2011, she moved to Ecuador and collaborated with Yanapuma Foundation, where she coordinated a high school scholarship program and worked with Afro-descendant youth. In Ecuador, she also served as a human rights observer in a mining conflict zone, documenting a 15-day long nationwide march led by the Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of Ecuador.. 

Jamie holds a Master’s in Sociology, with an emphasis on globalization and environmental health, and her research focused on the displacement, trauma, and environmental health impacts from large-scale mining projects in Ecuador’s southeastern Amazon. In her spare time, she enjoys creating music, writing, and coordinating an oral history collective she co-founded called Rimay Riaz which focuses on the Andean diaspora in the United States.

Gaithiri Siva
Buen Vivir Fund Director

Gaithiri is a finance professional with over 15 years of progressive leadership experience in investments, management consulting, risk advisory, and operations. She played a key role in the North America expansion and diversification of a $40B Malaysian strategic investment fund into the technology sector, where she partnered with teams across North America and Asia to execute on critical strategic investment decisions. She has closed over $40M investments to-date and led diligence for numerous deals totaling over $300M.In previous roles, Gaithiri has consulted for the UN in Indonesia, Laos, and Myanmar, predominantly to improve reach and efficacy of spending where she led large teams under difficult conditions on the oversight of disaster-relief fund management and micro-financing for women. As a Malaysian of Indian origin, Gaithiri is familiar with ethnic discrimination and is very keen on closing the inequality gap, especially amongst minorities. She has a Bachelor’s in Accounting and a CPA. 

An avid reader, Gaithiri  also enjoys the beach, baking, kickboxing, and film photography. But these days, she spends all her free time chasing after her young daughter.

Megan Sparks
Philanthropic Partnerships Coordinator

Megan Sparks is a social practice artist, art activist, and poet who organically found her way into the philanthropic sector after a stint as an art  administrator. A proud native of Houston, TX, she  previously worked at the Greater Houston Community Foundation, where she processed $188 million of incoming gifts. As the Philanthropic Partnerships Coordinator, Megan tracks and evaluates Thousand Currents’ fundraising data to inform the expansion of our engagement and education opportunities for current and emerging donors.

Megan is the founder and co-organizer of the Houston BIPOC Artist Accountability Coalition (HBAAC), a grassroots initiative to collect and disseminate data regarding representation and racial justice. HBAAC’s goal is to use data from local arts organizations and institutions to foster permanent structural change in the Houston art community. She is also the founder of The Resistance Healing Clinic, a series of public programs that examines self and collective care survival tactics for marginalized and oppressed communities through the lens of economics, philosophy, history, and critical theory.

Jessie Spector
Director of Donor Organizing

Jessie organizes donors and supporters of Thousand Currents to engage and leverage their whole selves in support of social justice. Having worked with individual donors and funders for nearly a decade, she  is passionately committed to organizing people with financial privilege to be in solidarity and partnership with frontline communities. Prior to joining Thousand Currents, Jessie was the Executive Director of Resource Generation, whose mission is to organize wealthy people aged 18-35 into  becoming transformative leaders toward a world with the equitable distribution of land, wealth, and power. She believes deeply in the goodness of all people, and the vital role that people with privilege can play in supporting a more just and peaceful world. 

Jessie serves on the boards of the Markham Nathan Fund for Social Justice and Jewish Voice for Peace. When not organizing, Jessie can be found on long bike rides, baking bread, and eating ice cream. 

 

Katherine Zavala
Director of Learning Initiatives

A native of Peru, Katherine has journeyed through years of learnings, strategic shifts, experimentation, and relationship-building in global philanthropy since 2006. She has spent the majority of her career at Thousand Currents, starting as an intern (when we were formerly known as IDEX) and working her way through several iterations of program positions and directorships, all with a focus on channeling funds to grassroots organizations and social movements in the Global South. In her current role, Katherine supports the Regional Directors and Grants Manager to model long-term engagement and commitment to not just individual organizations, but whole ecosystems of grassroots actors working towards collective self-determination and social transformation. She has been invited to spend significant time with indigenous organizations and social movements in Latin America, including with our partners AFEDES, an indigenous women-led organization in Guatemala and the Movement of People Affected by Dams in Brazil. 

As a writer, Katherine’s work champions Indigenous cosmovision and activism, and highlights how Indigenous women’s leadership and resilience is at the heart of dignified livelihoods and sustainable ecosystems. She has a Master’s in International Relations from San Francisco State University and a Bachelor’s in Hospitality Management from Florida International University. Always curious to learn more about the world, you can often find Katherine planning her next travel adventure.