A Message from the Cocoa Co-Cos
It’s time to announce that after a combined 15 years of work at ALP that we, Co-Directors Cleopatra "from the Bronx" Jach and Maxwell Scales, will be transitioning out of the Audre Lorde Project on October 1, 2021. That’s still a long way from now, but it will be here sooner than we know.
We moved into these leadership positions officially in October 2019, and we knew that it was imperative to restore as much integrity, structure, and core values as possible back into the organization. After launching a much needed (and successful!) restoration period that addressed the cracks of transparency, conflict, and trauma, in October 2020, we announced to our board that it was time for us to start planning for transition. We feel that ALP, and its stakeholders (members, leaders, supporters, and allies), are ready to move into the opportunities we have established due to our diligent work. Going into ALP’s 25th year, we are in a place to really take in its profound legacy, honor, wins, and successes.
As Co-Directors, we are committed to ensuring a culture of abundance and clarity during this transition process. We are hoping to:
- Give our stakeholders regular updates about our ongoing leadership search
- Pass along institutional memory
- Establish time to talk to stakeholders 2:1 about transition needs and suggestions
- Recruit a cohort of community members to develop them as potential directors at ALP (or anywhere!)
- Have an online celebration of our work to transition out of the organization with a bang!
We don’t know what the future has for us just yet, but as long as The Audre Lorde Project relies on the power of the people, we’ll be living in abundance because the power of the people don’t stop!
What we ask of community during this time is:
- Patience, grace, and compassion. We’ve been around the metaphorical block, and it was a long one, so we might be spacey, queasy, or overwhelmed at any given time through this process.
- Well wishes because ALP is less a job and more of a lifestyle, so our lives are about to change in a BIG way.
- Continue to hold ALP as an organization accountable during our transition and well after we’re gone.
We have some parting words that we’ll be expanding on in the next 6 months but we wanted to share some with y’all now
I’m a Cancer (and Maxwell’s sibling sign!), so this is gonna be a rough time for everyone around me because I don’t like change! But by the end of 2021, I’ll have been a part of this organization for 9 years. From member, program coordinator, Director of Programs, Deputy Director, and finally Co-Director, I’ve had about fifty eleven different roles, facilitated hundreds of people, and most importantly, made thousands of people laugh. Currently, I keep oscillating between the joy of leaving a non-profit and bracing myself to exist outside of a culture that struggles through difference. I’m hopeful that ALP will continue to build upon the foundation Maxwell and I have created in the last two years. And I’m even more excited for the path our new iteration of staff will forge.
I will be moving back to The Bronx where things make sense. I hope to bring the organizing skills I have cultivated at ALP to my home with the intention that I will successfully implement alternatives to policing on every block I can get my grubby organizing hands on. Holding as much institutional memory as I do, I’ll be open to check-ins, support, and conversations for as long as needed. If you need to find me, just click your timbs 3 times, and I’ll be sure to come running (also email me at ContactCleopatra@protonmail.com because that will be more effective)
As a Capricorn (and Cleopatra’s sister sign!), I also do not like change. By the time we transition out, I will have been on staff at ALP for 3 years (plus 2 years as a member who only shows up once annually to volunteer for Cleopatra!), where I was fortunate enough to grow into 3 different roles. My leadership and dignity have been nurtured at ALP in a way that was truly transformative for me and I’m so grateful to all the staff, members, and comrades who have supported and encouraged me during this time, particularly Cleopatra, who pushes and loves on me in a way that only a sibling/arch nemesis could.
As part of the cycle of life, though, all things must come to a close. After 18 years in New York, I’m moving back down south to be closer to my family. I’m exiting ALP with a deep sense of pride over the ways we’ve navigated (and slipped up and learned) trying to build more radical models for safety and healing in our organization, our communities, and our movements. I’m taking with me both a multitude of lessons and the knowledge that ALP is a leader-ful institution that is well situated to continue its amazing work.
When we announced our upcoming transition to the staff in December 2020, we created this very rough estimate on what the next 9 months will look like from our perspective:
- Week 1: Our transition announcement is about the size of a vanilla seed. Ready to be planted and grow as we nurture it.
- Week 4: Feedback from our transition announcement to the staff comes back positive! We are officially moving forward on how to develop the organization with a new executive team.
- Week 6: This is when all of the symptoms of organizational transition kick-in — fatigue, nausea, we can only eat spicy food, and we have mood swings about how high the new premiums for insurance are.
- Week 10: As we start to tell our loved ones in our life about the our job transition, we get compliments of having a “quitting your job glow”
- Week 14: The Co-Directors start to feel a renewed sense of energy and feel ready to start preparing ALP for its new bundle of executive joy.
- Week 17: Max’s back hurts so he has to lie down during all of our zoom meetings, and Cleopatra can’t remember the password for the password keeper that hold all of our passwords
- Week 22: IT’S NOT THAT WE CAN’T FIT OUR ALP HOODIES ANYMORE, IT’S JUST THAT THE HOODIES SHRUNK SO LEAVE US ALONE.
- Week 28: The Co-Directors are feeling more sensitive, and we’re starting to feel a bit cramped, so any new shifts or projects will be more like jabs and pokes now.
- Week 34: It’s time to celebrate!! A transition shower should be taking place and will be important for the Co-Directors to feel affirmed and safe in their transition.
- Week 40: This is it, we’ll be leaving any day now...where did that puddle of water come from? Oh nvm the basement is flooding again...
If this is giving you the feeling of saying goodbye to someone and then awkwardly walking in the same direction to get to the subway, you’d be right because we’re still here for a whole ass 6 months lol. In the meantime, you’ll find us supporting member meetings, political cyphers, and ALP’s other virtual spaces. This is just one of our many goodbyes we’ll be giving in the next few months!
If you’re already itching to throw your hat into the ring to be ALP’s next executive leadership, please keep a look out for the upcoming job announcement!
Thank you ALP Community!
Cleopatra Jach and Maxwell
From our Board of Directors
In October 2019, the Audre Lorde Project welcomed co-directors Cleopatra Jach and Maxwell Scales and, in doing so, ushered in an era of transparent evaluation, self- and communal- reflection, restorative practice and stable growth. The organization learned to honor its legacy by honoring the community, our values and our commitments to each other. As abolitionists, as transformative justice practitioners and advocates, as Black people surviving an anti-Black world, Maxwell and Cleopatra have offered their respective talents to bring the organization to its most aligned place. We are better equipped than ever to show up for our collective selves and futures with consistency, care and dignity.
And what an amazing time to witness the growth of their leadership, when our community faced unprecedented harms and required their exceptional care. Jach and Maxwell took up the mantle at a time when the organization was in need of reflection and direction. They anchored the Audre Lorde Project in a vital and vulnerable time, our restoration period, and made sure that the many internal struggles and harms experienced within the organization were addressed and taken as opportunities to recommit to anti-violent principles. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and NYC’s early status as an epicenter invited unique consideration-making as we witnessed structural violence exacerbate interpersonal conflict and as we sought to bring anti-violence, social justice and safety to our community. Through it, Maxwell and Cleopatra poured into ALP, our comrades, and our kin by offering emotional, political, and empathetic guidance.
We have been deeply fortunate to have nearly two years of their collaborative leadership. While we cannot outline every piece, some highlights include: successfully ushering ALP through its restoration period; overseeing the transition of two program coordinators and welcoming four new staff members to the team; onboarding six board members; growing our organizational budget by over 9000%; and leading and facilitating hundreds of workshops, public events, speaking engagements, membership meetings, and actions. For an organization entering its 25th year, these achievements are noteworthy in their own right.
It is with this praise that the Board announces that Maxwell and Cleopatra will transition out of their roles this year. We thank them so deeply for the love, commitment and skill that they infused into their work. Join us as we celebrate their triumphs and witness Cleopatra and Maxwell’s transitions into the next phase of their respective journeys.
Finally, as we uplift the contributions made by Cleopatra and Maxwell to the Audre Lorde Project, we simultaneously look forward to the leadership that will move our legacy forward. At this moment, the organization is well-resourced, secure, and growing. Filled with a spirit of great pleasure and abundance, we know that the work - the hard, messy, beautiful, and wonderful work that sustains ALP’s organizational and political vision - will continue.
In solidarity, with love, and beaming the utmost respect,
ALP Board of Directors
Samar “SM” Rodriguez-Fairplay
Lolan Buhain Sevilla