Interview with Malkah Feldman
Malkah Feldman, Grassroots International’s longtime Strategic Philanthropy Manager, shared some reflections upon her recent retirement.
How do you think Grassroots International has changed over the years, and in what ways stayed the same?
The integrity of Grassroots International has stayed the same, even from the early days of when Dan Connell founded the organization. It feels consistent with what my experience has been the whole time. However, in the last 6-7 years, we’ve put real teeth into the politics we have, identifying and supporting Afro-descendant communities in all the regions where we work, and emphasizing the leadership from the most marginalized. There is a more integrated understanding of oppression and who is on the bottom struggling. The office has changed, too. We put real, serious radical politics into everything we’re doing. There’s no fear in shaking things up.
You came to Grassroots International with a lot of experience in social justice organizing and solidarity. How has your time here changed you, if at all?
I didn’t know anything about peasant struggles or farmers working at the front lines of land and water rights. It was not part of my general understanding of our world. And I had no idea that the leadership of key movements all over the world comes from small farmers whose land and resources have been stolen.
Tell me about your experience with donors at Grassroots International.
Our donors are really amazing people. I learn so much from them and my heart is touched every time I have a donor meeting. We bring out the best there is in the people in the US. Especially the ones who share from their income, it really impresses me — and there are so many out there making this work possible. We are all sharing a long-term commitment to building the kind of world we want. It’s an honor to know them and work with them.
What’s something that surprised you?
It’s been really heartening to see how advanced the younger donors are and how they are building on the generations before them. Their intersectional understanding of different oppressions has blown my mind: gender, sexual preference, women’s oppression, class, race. They are living their lives and learning together in multicultural communities! This moves me deeply.
What would you want to let people know about Grassroots International?
If you’re serious about social justice and social change, this is the place to be. There’s no question about it. Look carefully at what’s going on and who’s running what. This is the real deal. There’s so much being passed off as progressive now, but at Grassroots International, it’s for real — working to create something different for all of us to live in together.
Where is Grassroots International going?
We are clearly growing. And that’s great, because that means more money going into the movements, more power for the movements. It’s amazing if we can continue to do it without creating a bureaucracy. The more money going out to people on the frontlines, the more power they can build. Grassroots International is making a dent as we grow, but the other side has a lot more money. It’s our heart and soul that will drive this to victory.