There is a meme floating around Instagram that attempts to summarize 2020. It reads: “January, February, Quarantine, December.” The truth is, though, the meme doesn’t quite capture the story of 2020.
So much happened this year. COVID-19 wreaked havoc on our families and communities; Black organizers and advocates led a necessary — and massive — movement this summer in defense of Black lives after the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade and so many more; and 85 million Americans rose up, again with Black folks at the lead, in defense of our democracy, ushering in a new, historic administration. All this while we dealt with quarantine and social distancing, child care — or lack of — and virtual school for our kids, economic stress and uncertainty, the loss of too many of our loved ones — and endless zoom calls.
Like so many of you, the Change Consulting team also was navigating our own challenges while working overtime to deliver the communications counsel and support our clients needed in this unprecedented year (see some key highlights below). In March, right after we traveled to Sacramento to help Young Women’s Freedom Center launch Freedom 2030 at the state capitol, we became virtual, downsizing our office space in Oakland’s Jack London Square. Our team of six now works from home — from Oakland, San Francisco, Mexico and Virginia — and will for the foreseeable future. We also focused on growing our capacity to meet the moment with Anna Ghosh coming on board to lead strategy and Nesima Aberra as our digital communications lead. We are so grateful to both of them for jumping in with both feet in this most challenging time, and deepening our collective work in both areas.
I speak for the whole team when I say that the work we did this year was likely the most essential and critical work ever. We witnessed firsthand the courage, brilliance and tenacity of our clients. They won police-free schools in Oakland, helped close California’s a youth detention center, pushed back against a massive expansion of a detention center in Alameda County, centered Black girls and girls of color in COVID response, mobilized investments in Black-led organizers and leaders, expanded the California electorate so Black communities and communities of color had a say; and so much more. It’s an honor to partner with these visionaries who are transforming unjust systems and bringing forth a new, racially just world.
At the end of each year, I spend time reflecting back and looking forward. While I won’t even begin to pretend to know for certain what 2021 will bring, we can anticipate a few things. A new administration at the federal level brings hope, but the work to put the country not just back on track but on the path to a new future continues. At the local and state levels, much more remains to be done to end harmful systems and hold leaders and institutions accountable to their declared commitment to racial justice. COVID will remain a backdrop to it all through 2021. The Change Consulting team will continue to partner with changemakers to make racial justice real.
Now is the time to take stock in all 2020 has been, integrate our lessons and rest up so we can continue to fight for what we believe in. Although we may not know all that 2021 will bring, we do know how we will continue to face both the wins and the challenges; by following the lead of organizers, and putting love and generosity at the center. We will make our way forward, together.
Bilen Mesfin Packwood
Founder and CEO
Here are select highlights and client news from 2020.
- Akonadi Foundation launches All in for Oakland, a 5-year initiative to end the criminalization for youth of color. (Change Consulting’s role: Strategy, messaging, earned media). SF Gate. The Imprint. Philanthropy News Digest.
- AAPI Civic Engagement Fund partnered with Asian American Decisions to produce election-eve polls showing that the Asian American electorate has formed into a progressive voting bloc and played a critical role in swinging a critical district in Georgia. (Change Consulting’s role: Earned media). New York Times. Huffington Post. AsAm News. Georgia Asian Times.
- Black Organizing Project wins a 10-year campaign to get police out of Oakland schools. (Change Consulting’s role: Earned media, messaging). Time. San Francisco Chronicle. KQED.
- California Alliance for Youth and Community Justice, in partnership with Alliance for Boys and Men of Color and California for Boys and Men of Color, successfully push to close Division of Juvenile Justice and provide a historic opportunity to transform the youth justice system in California. (Change Consulting’s role: Strategy, messaging, earned media). CalMatters. U.S. News & World Report.
- CFBMOC also launches Here to Lead, a storytelling initiative that celebrates the leadership, power and voice of the boys and men of color in our community. (Change Consulting’s role: Strategy, messaging, earned media, website, digital, visuals). Sacramento Bee. KQED.
- California Donor Table supports grassroots efforts critical to election wins for two key progressive leaders in Los Angeles – Holly Mitchell and George Gascon. (Change Consulting’s role: Strategy, messaging, earned media). Los Angeles Times. Patch. Telemundo 52. Spectrum News 1. MyNewsLA.com. KQED.
- Grantmakers for Girls of Color, in partnership with inspiring Black women leaders, launches Black Girl Freedom Fund, calling for $1 billion for Black girls. (Change Consulting’s role: Strategy, messaging, earned media, digital, visuals). Essence. Philanthropy Women.
- Power California and youth organizers mobilize young people of color for racial justice at the ballot. (Change Consulting’s role: Earned media). Sacramento Bee. Mic. KQED. NPR.
- ReWork the Bay (formerly Bay Area Workforce Funders Collaborative) gets a new name, tagline, logo and website, because shared prosperity is everyone’s job. (Change Consulting’s role: Branding, digital). reworkthebay.org.
- Solidaire Network launches Black Liberation Pooled Fund and the Janisha Gabriel Movement Protection Fund. (Change Consulting’s role: Strategy, messaging, earned media, digital). Chronicle of Philanthropy. Philanthropy News Digest. Inside Philanthropy.
- Young Women’s Freedom Center and Sister Warriors Freedom Coalition launches Freedom 2030, a 10-year policy campaign to end the criminalization of girls and gender expansive youth. (Change Consulting’s role: Strategy, messaging, earned media, events, digital). Sacramento Bee.
- Urban Peace Movement and the Free Our Kids Coalition successfully push to stop a $75 million expansion of Camp Sweeney. UPM also continues its work to hold the Alameda County District Attorney accountable to Black and brown communities. (Change Consulting’s role: Strategy, messaging, earned media). San Francisco Chronicle. The Imprint. The Mercury News.