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Nine Emerging Movement Leaders Selected as Leading Edge Fund Fellows



Nine Emerging Movement Leaders Selected as Leading Edge Fund Fellows

Fellows represent the next generation of changemakers tackling deep barriers to opportunity for communities of color across California

San Francisco, CA — The Rosenberg Foundation announced today that nine bold movement leaders have been selected as 2019 to 2021 Leading Edge Fund fellows. Launched in 2016, the Leading Edge Fund was created to seed, incubate and accelerate bold ideas from the next generation of progressive movement leaders in California. With support from the Leading Edge Fund, these fellows are building movements to fundamentally change the odds for, and with, the most disenfranchised Californians, with a particular focus on organizing people directly impacted by the criminal justice system.

“Transformative, radical change doesn’t happen overnight, or in three years, or in ten. That’s why we designed the Leading Edge Fund to provide the resources and flexibility to deeply support the vision of California’s next generation of bold leaders,” said Tim Silard, president of the Rosenberg Foundation. “It’s philanthropy’s privilege to be able to invest in what it truly takes to support brave leaders and take risks on ideas that the world might not yet be ready for.”

The Leading Edge Fund supports emerging movement leaders by providing unrestricted funding and leadership development so that they can pursue the vision for change that deep transformation demands. Fellows receive $250,000 in general support over three years; individualized technical assistance in program development, fundraising and strategic communications; executive coaching; and annual convenings and networking opportunities.

The 2019 to 2021 formation of Leading Edge Fund fellows are:

  • Through his New Breath Foundation, Eddy Zheng will transform opportunities for incarcerated Asian American and Pacific Islanders by connecting diverse stakeholders, including currently and formerly incarcerated leaders, immigrant rights organizations, philanthropy, and more.
  • Gina Clayton-Johnson and Essie Justice Group will help end mass incarceration by breaking the social and political isolation of women with incarcerated loved ones, mobilizing them as a powerful base to lead and win decarceration campaigns.
  • Jessica Nowlan and her team at Young Women’s Freedom Center will decriminalize women, girls, and trans and gender non-conforming people of color by helping system-impacted cis and trans women and girls build personal and collective power to lead radical, transformative work.
  • Lian Cheun and Khmer Girls in Action will lead a movement to divest funding from policing and divert those dollars to youth development, deeply engaging youth in disinvested communities of color to create racial, gender, and economic justice solutions for themselves and their families.
  • Malachi Garza will repair the harm caused by the war on drugs within communities of color by using cannabis legalization to create long-term economic opportunity through Innovative Justice Solutions.
  • Ramla Sahid will help transform the lives of refugees and asylum seekers in California by guaranteeing full rights and protections and advancing meaningful freedom for all through The Partnership for the Advancement of New Americans.
  • Taina Vargas-Edmond will create a comprehensive organizing training program that will mobilize people who are currently incarcerated, formerly incarcerated, and their loved ones to win policy reform through Initiate Justice.
  • Tamisha Walker will heal communities impacted by mass criminalization and racial disparity and secure universal protections against all forms of discrimination based on criminal history by developing a core of highly skilled formerly incarcerated leaders through Safe Return Project.
  • Vonya Quarles will reunite Black and Brown families by restoring child custody, foster care and adoption rights for people with criminal convictions through Starting Over, Inc.

“Now, during a time of crisis for our shared vision of liberty and justice for all, we need leaders with the guts and grit to take on the pervasive inequity that is devastating so many of our communities,” said Lateefah Simon, president of Akonadi Foundation. “I am awed by the range and the audacity of the leading edge ideas represented by these courageous leaders. California will be a safer, healthier, more equitable state as a direct result of these brave leaders and their work.”

Founded by the Rosenberg Foundation in partnership with the Hellman Foundation, the Fund is supported by NoVo Foundation, Akonadi Foundation, The California Wellness Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation. The inaugural formation of Leading Edge Fund Fellows in 2016 included Patrisse Cullors, Michael Gomez Daly, Morning Star Gali, Nicole Pittman, Meredith Desautels, Raha Jorjani, Raj Jayadev and Samuel Sinyangwe.

To learn more about the Leading Edge Fund, visit

About the Rosenberg Foundation:

The Rosenberg Foundation is an independent, grantmaking foundation committed to ensuring that every person in California has an equal opportunity to participate fully in the state’s economic, social, and political life. Created in 1935 through the bequest of California business leader Max L. Rosenberg, the Foundation has provided more than 3,000 grants totaling nearly $85 million to regional, statewide and national organizations advocating for social and economic justice throughout California. For more information: On social media at @RosenbergFound

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