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Noyes News, June 2016




Noyes in Action

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Judy Hatcher is the Executive Director of the Pesticide Action Network. She has played key roles in supporting the organizational development of small nonprofits and community-based groups, and activists of color. Judy offers her experience with national and local funders interested in harnessing the power of organized philanthropy to support grassroots social change, as well as a steadfast ambition to help critical social movements flourish and win.

Haile JohnstonHaile Johnston is the Founder and Director of Common Market, which works regionally and nationally to support community "co-powerment," primarily through food systems reform in the Mid-Atlantic States and Georgia. As he developed Common Market, he also addressed the need to grow the capacity of diverse grassroots leaders and advocates to advance progressive political and policy change while garnering a sense of investment in peer-led campaigns. Haile also shares an interest in social investment strategies, and program- and mission-related investment, including models of new applications of layered capital, which he developed while building Common Market's infrastructure.

Olivia RoanhorseOlivia Roanhorse is from the Navajo Nation and she is of the Tó’áhání (near to water clan) and is born for Tódích’íi’nii (bitter water clan). She is the Director of Native Strong: Healthy Kids, Healthy Futures program of the Native-led nonprofit Notah Begay III Foundation, which is working to improve the health of Native American children. Personally and professionally, Olivia shares the need to challenge systemic societal inequities and to invest in communities struggling with social, economic and environmental issues, highlighting their assets and the solutions they bring to the table.



Jaribu HillJaribu Hill, a Noyes Foundation Board member, was again honored by CUNY Law and its 2016 graduating class who overwhelmingly nominated her to be the speaker for its upcoming graduation reception program as the recipient of the distinguished public interest leader honor.

Just ten years after graduating from law school, Jaribu received the Gloria Award and the first CUNY Law School Dean’s Medal, which honors individuals whose life’s work exemplifies the School’s mission and serves as a model for graduates by demonstrating a commitment to public service or public interest. “Jaribu has spent every minute since graduation passionately and skillfully advocating for society’s most vulnerable and marginalized people and represents everything we stand for,” said Mary Lu Bilek, former Interim Dean of CUNY Law. “She meets seemingly hopeless causes head on, with a lawyer’s mind and an activist’s heart.”

Jaribu is the Founder and Executive Director of the Mississippi Workers’ Center for Human Rights; is the former Municipal Judge for the City of Hollandale, MS, and currently serves as the Municipal Judge of Moorehead, MS;  is an Ex-Officio member of the Access to Justice Commission (appointed by the Mississippi Supreme Court); and is admitted to the U.S. Supreme Court. She is a community organizer, an international human rights spokesperson, and a writer and commentator on human rights themes.



The bayous of coastal Louisiana contain a patchwork of Native communities, some of which work together through the Coastal Communities Collaborative to stabilize, restore and sustain their environment and economy. These communities also created the First People’s Conservation Council (an EAT4Health grantee), through which they leverage influence and build collective organizational capacity. The Noyes Foundation began supporting CCC in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. From the beginning, one concern was whether communities at the edge of rising Gulf waters could move from insistence on staying in place to, if necessary, planning for relocation – a particularly difficult decision, given the Native American history of forced migrations due to the Indian Removal Act of 1830, known as the Trail of Tears, which brought them west of the Mississippi River to an area designated as Native Territory. However, last month the Isle de Jean Charles Band of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indians learned it had won a $48 million HUD National Disaster Resilience Competition prize, offering it the potential to relocate while fulfilling the tribe’s dream of preserving its heritage and culture by providing safe homes for IDJC’s 27 remaining families, as well reuniting them with the 93 families already driven from the storm-ravaged island as their homes were destroyed.

The decision to leave its ancestral homeland and burial ground follows decades of land erosion – from 22,400 acres in 1955 to about 320 acres today due to the dredging of oil and gas canals, which the U.S. government estimates is responsible for 30 – 59% of land loss, and climate change that has introduced a rise in coastal waters worldwide and extreme weather conditions, like Hurricane Katrina. IDJC envisions not just a move, but a renaissance. 

Model of Tribal CenterThe resettlement will be constructed in phases and will contain a tribal center, health care facility, childcare and elder care facilities, and spaces to support entrepreneurial activities such as vegetable farming, crawfish/rice ponds and a ceremonial pow wow field.  When asked what this move means to his tribe’s future, his hopes and perhaps even fears given the huge task in front of everyone involved, and especially given that this is the first example of such an endeavor, Chief Albert Naquin replied:

Members of IDJC of Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Celebrate"Reuniting the tribal nation community is the most important phase of the resettlement plan. The fear is that this may just be a dream. I say that because the state is in charge of the award money. The state is talking about just buying a piece of land and making 27 homes which may cost $15 million and then they can use the rest to benefit the state. I'm just saying that, because that is what I am hearing from some media people. The application that was sent to HUD was for a model and teaching community, not just for the people still living in the IDJC community, but for the whole IDJC tribal nation (about 120 families). The fear is that the Biloxi-Chitimacha-Choctaw Indian Nation of IDJC will just be history in a few years. If the state keeps control of the money IDJC is history."


Not all food policy councils have introduced game changing policies, but the Los Angeles Food Policy Council has not only accomplished this feat - it’s policy. The Good Food Purchasing Program, is now being explored and adopted by other cities. Key to the Council’s effectiveness is its inclusion of worker organizers, and commitment to crafting a procurement policy that speaks to an array of interests and thus leverages the political clout of parents, workers, animal rights advocates, farmers and health professionals to win the support of policy-makers. The Food Chain Workers Alliance is a coalition of worker-based organizations whose members plant, harvest, process, pack, transport, prepare, serve and sell food, and organize to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain. FCWA helped craft the GFPP so that institutions can use a metrics-based framework that values local economies, environmental sustainability, fair labor practices, animal welfare and good nutrition as they determine who to contract with for food supplies. The creation of a national Good Food Procurement Program office to help spread the model was followed by the San Francisco Unified School District's recent commitment to an initial test of the Program. 

Food Chain Workers Alliance Group pictureFCWA’s Joanna Lo said, “The successful impact of GFPP in LA to date helped to show SFUSD that the program creates meaningful impacts in supply chain practices. The LA Unified School District has redirected $12 million to local produce producers, helped create 150 new quality jobs in Los Angeles County, decreased their meat purchases by over 15%, approved a contract for chicken produced without the use of sub-therapeutic antibiotics, and catalyzed the reformulation of products to create healthier meals for students. FCWA and the Teamsters also leveraged GFPP to support drivers at LAUSD's bread and produce distributor to join the union and with UFCW to keep Tyson from getting its multimillion dollar chicken contract with LAUSD renewed.”

The campaign is beginning to make progress in Cincinnati, the Twin Cities and Chicago.  FCWA is also working in a broad coalition to launch a feasibility study for a nascent GFPP in NYC.


The Western States Center recently announced the return of its WILD program, which was designed for community organizers across the Northwest working for racial, gender and economic justice; and to promote greater representation in the organizing, policy and advocacy realms where creative solutions are transforming the political landscape.

WILD participantsThe program will use an intersectional framework to link issues of reproductive justice, gender oppression, LGBTQ equality and family security. It will also work to grow a vision for justice for lifelong leaders in the movement for social justice. The WILD program offers four residential retreat sessions where an atmosphere rooted in movement history will be used to develop a space to nurture learning and relationship building, and strengthen organizing skills and political analysis.


The Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment  is a diverse coalition of uranium-impacted communities of Northwestern New Mexico working to restore and protect the natural and cultural environment. The core organizations are Bluewater Valley Downstream Alliance, Red Water Pond Road Community Association, Eastern Navajo Diné Against Uranium Mining, Laguna Acoma Coalition for a Safe Environment and Post ‘71 Uranium Workers Committee.

MASE protests uranium miningRed Water is located between two abandoned uranium mines and its residents have experienced and lived with the impacts of uranium mining and milling (Legacy of Uranium video) in the Churchrock, NM, area since the 1960s. It was invited to testify by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to Water in the U.S. and to appear before the Friends Committee on National Legislation. At the same time, Red Pond was scheduled to address Navajo Nation officials. MASE’s and Red Water’s deliberate leadership development paid off. Three members, including the most experienced spokeswoman, Terecita Kayanna, and two members who had never testified at official hearings before traveled to Washington, DC, for the hearings, and to meet with the New Mexico Congressional delegation and the EPA. Back in New Mexico, two new young Red Pond members addressed Navajo Nation officials in their first public speaking experience.

Terecita Kayanna of the Red Water Pond Community spoke about living near two abandoned uranium mines. Her family suffers from exposure to pollution. She mentioned how permits for a new uranium mine in Milan, NM, would “destroy nearby springs and the aquifer that feeds them.” The federal government has not taken action to disapprove of this mine that would impact “sacred sites and culturally important water sources.”

The entire recorded testimony before the Commission included the U.S. government representatives’ response to statements by impacted communities – the Federal government offers some financial support, but has no legal obligation to ensure the human right to water and sanitation, which is in the hands of local and state officials and agencies. And it ended with a statement by the President of CIDH, Margarette May Macaulay – “If you ignore your most vulnerable…you are not a civilized society. You must protect the most vulnerable. And in doing so, you respect their human rights and give them back their dignity.”


Natural Evolutions - one hair storyBlack Women for Wellness has a long-standing commitment to the health and well-being of Black women, girls and their communities through health education, empowerment and advocacy -- work accomplished at the intersection of reproductive and environmental justice. Its recently released Natural Evolutions - A compilation of results, cultural insights, health and research around Black women's hair and health, reveals what is expected by 2017 to be a $500 billion Black hair industry that is rarely scrutinized for the toxic and carcinogenic chemicals its products contain, or the health impacts these products have on the hair care professionals, women and men using these products. In the instances when research is done, Black hair products are found to be among the most toxic on the market. Among the health impacts of these products are endocrine system disruption, asthma, miscarriages, uterine fibroids, chronic dermatitis and difficulty conceiving. A user-friendly "chem card," included with this report, highlights checmicals to avoid while shopping for personal and hair care products. Also, stay tuned for an upcoming series of Natural Evolution Fact Sheets.  


At a time when water levels in Nevada’s Lake Mead have fallen to an all-time low, hundreds rallied to demand an end to the leasing of public land for oil and gas drilling. The taxpayer-funded auction of land and resources by the Bureau of Land Management was met with protestors who learned that the rights of private corporations take precedence over the rights of citizens. Not only were they denied a place at the table, they couldn’t even get into the room. And when they tried to enter the BLM’s auction room, Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada’s  director, Bob Fulkerson, was taken down and a student was tackled by security guards – both were charged with trespassing.

Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada Rallies Against Privatization of Public LandThe rally’s participants called for an end to the leasing of Nevada’s public lands to oil and gas drillers, and demanded a just transition to renewable energy – not 450 billion tons of potential carbon pollution. Their protest disrupted the sale and sent a clear message that they would not sit back and allow their land and water to be destroyed.

In a recent article in the Las Vegas Sun, PLAN’s Bob Fulkerson, noted that “lawsuits to ban fracking in Nevada are in the works.” He also pointed to the cohort of activists, ranchers, farmers and tribes that have banded together to oppose fracking. He said their biggest concern is fracking fluids leaking from wells into underground aquifers. “It’s not just legal opposition,” Fulkerson said. “You will see a much greater outcry about turning Nevada into an industrial wasteland and threatening the state’s most precious resource.”


Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Holds Meeting on FrackingWest Virginia, once home to the coal industry, is facing a host of new problems with the state’s decision to welcome deep shale oil and gas development. The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition’s recent statewide meeting for organizations working on various aspects of oil and gas development offered community members an opportunity to connect with others facing similar impacts and issues, assess achievements, reflect on lessons learned from successes and losses, and explore opportunities by strategically working together. These participants represented 31 groups across the state and one representative from Virginia. The meeting produced several initial outcomes, including the formation of new alliances, a directory featuring group profiles, contact information and meeting notes. It also helped a group examine the mental health impacts resulting from loss of place. Participants are working with various academics to design a survey. OVEC’s video Tour of WV Fracking Fields, features its executive director, Janet Keating, and staff member Bill Hughes. At the end of the video, Ms. Keating notes: “The people have not prospered under coal. And the people here are not going to prosper under the oil and gas industries. Any profits made are going to leave the state. The biggest problem with this is we’re going down the same failed path.”

Follow-up activities will include a direct-action training and a strategy session, as well as a protest in Fayette County where residents believe fracking waste has contaminated an elementary school’s drinking water. Protesters will march from the school to the Department of Health and Human Services to demand testing the school’s water for fossil fuel waste. 

Noyes in Action


Genaro Lopez-RendonOn July 2, my paternal grandfather would have been 94 years old. This year marks five years since he passed away. I am five months young as President of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. As I entered this position with my grandfather’s birthday approaching, I think, what would he have said to me? 

Transitions simultaneously present enormous challenges in the face of great opportunity. My grandfather’s transition from life to the land of the ancestors was one of the hardest of my family’s experiences. His message remains resolutely within me: “Never forget where you come from. Never waiver from who you are."

Who I am is deeply connected to who and where I come from. Today, I am the proud father of two amazing toddler girls: Anika is almost 3 and Luna is 15 months. When my grandparents were my daughters’ ages, their “careers” had already begun as migrant farmers picking cotton, fruits and vegetables alongside their families, traveling across the Southwest. I prize my daughters’ education, choosing over the best pre-kindergarten options for them, an education never experienced by my grandparents. My grandfather was a proud veteran of WWII serving a country that didn’t recognize him as a full citizen, a country that took his ancestral land and claimed it as its own. My grandfather went on to become a union organizer, and my grandmother organized protests at our local high school where my father and aunts were forced, by corporal punishment, to never utter a word of Spanish. My father was 18 when he was shipped off to Vietnam to serve in a war he didn’t believe in and fight for a cause that was not his own. My father returned from Vietnam and followed in his father’s footsteps, becoming one of the fiercest community organizers I know. The hardships my family has had to endure have not been without their deepest struggles. We are a resilient people; we survive and we thrive.

The communities that made me, I carry with me into the room. I am never alone. The barrios of Hondo, a small town in South Texas, are my first home, and I am proud to have followed in the family tradition, becoming a community organizer working alongside el pueblo. I am fortunate to have had my consciousness expanded by the many communities that have allowed me in— from the rural black and brown communities of the Gulf Coast to the indigenous people of the Havasupai nation; from Tanzania to Cuba. Organizing taught me to carry these voices, the memory, the struggle and the resilience of those who have touched me wherever I go.

As I step into my new role as President of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, these are the people I bring with me. I believe this is a radical notion for philanthropy— letting the voice of leadership be that of People of Color and Indigenous peoples. And, I am so proud of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation for taking that chance on me—on all of us. The Noyes Foundation has been trailblazing in this direction for some time. I remember working side by side with Millie Buchanan at the U.S. Social Forum as she led the pack from her perch at Noyes around what it meant for philanthropy to fuel movement building. That was a radical notion then and one that we see embraced more and more today by larger, more mainstream funders. I am excited for what my people and I can do in this role. I am excited to lead with this brave board and staff team. I am excited for the massive collaborations with the field as we create together the future we most need now. And, I want my grandfather to know he is ever present with me.  


Makshya Tolbert - Tom Ford Philanthropy FellowMakshya Tolbert, who graduated from Stanford in 2015, had an extraordinary yearlong Tom Ford Philanthropy Fellowship with Kolu Zigbi at the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation; Adam Leibowitz at Community Food Funders; and Tatianna Echevarria, Kellie Terry and Helen Chin at the Surdna Foundation. She experienced organizing within progressive philanthropy, and engaged with her mentors in grantmaking and program-related investment strategies to strengthen and scale a more racially equitable regional food system. In addition to writing the CFF newsletter, conducting a food funding scan of the New York tri-state area, attending conferences and assisting with grant reviews, Makshya has pursued her own research documenting efforts to operationalize racial equity within the food system, specifically through the infrastructure of aggregation and distribution, i.e. the food hub landscape. Makshya conducted interviews and compiled case studies profiling Qiana Mickie of Corbin Hill Food Project (Bronx, NY), Amber Bell of Southwest Georgia Project (Albany, GA), and Fred Carter of Black Oaks Center for Renewable Energy (Pembroke, IL).

Makshya´s research will highlight funding gaps that limit the operation of food hubs as an infrastructural tool for racial equity. Her hope is to articulate a vision of a racially just food system through the voices of community leaders whose hub development attempts are very intentionally focused on sourcing and providing food by and for those who are most marginalized by the dominant food system. Makshya´s research helps us imagine racial equity and democratic decision-making in the food system, and helps frame that vision as viable.

Millie Buchanan hikes England. What a retirement beginning!MILLIE BUCHANAN, ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE PROGRAM DIRECTOR, RETIRES

For more than two decades, I have had the privilege of working at the Noyes Foundation, with colleagues and allies who stand strong for social justice. I have learned so much from groups and communities full of amazing, dedicated leaders leading the way toward a better world. I am leaving the world of work, but not The Work. See you in the struggle. Thanks to you all.

Najha Zigbi-JohnsonNajha Zigbi-Johnson, member of the Guilford College graduating class of 2017 and the daughter of Kolu Zigbi, the Noyes Program Director for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems, was selected as the inaugural recipient of the BOOST Award. Conceived in 2015 by the Black Alumni of Guilford College, the BOOST Award recognizes academic excellence and assists students with emergencies. Watch as Najha discusses the part Black alumni play at Guilford and what she plans to do with this award. In addition, Najha won the Adrienne Israel Student Academic Excellence Award in the Spring of 2015 and again in the Spring of 2016; and is an Ignite NC Fellow.

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The Arc of Justice, Part of the Streets of Dreams seriesThe Arc of Justice, part of the Streets of Dreams series, traces the rise, fall and rebirth of the first modern community land trust, established in 1970 in Southwest Georgia by Charles and Shirley Sherrod, named New Communities – a groundbreaking experiment that emerged during the Civil Rights Movement as the largest black-owned land holding in the U.S., with nearly 6,000 acres to “farm and nurture the minds of people across the nation.”  View the Arc of Justice trailer.

Shirley and Charles Sherrod Interviews with the Shirley and Chalres Sherrod and Congressman John Lewis reassemble events from the 1970 inception of New Communities; to 1985, when the land was lost due to foreclosure caused by drought and discriminatory lending practices of the Farmers Home Administration; to 2014, when USDA made awards to 400 famers as compensation for unjust, inequitable loan practices and New Communities reemerged as Resora – a 1,600 acre plantation about 30 miles from the original farm. This land, originally established by one of the largest slaveholders in Georgia, is now dedicated to promoting racial healing and economic opportunity.