A Farewell to you, with love and gratitude

Amidst a pandemic and a righteous uprising, N2N’s Board of Directors kept a steady hand and eyes on the prize, successfully completing a transition in our executive leadership.  Navigating this transition amidst it all is truly a testament to the breadth and depth of N2N’s leadership.

We could not have done this without you. And because of you, the future looks bright, promising, and exciting for N2N and Massachusetts. 

And so, my wondrous journey at N2N has come to an end. And I could not be more grateful and gratified.

Sometime along my organizing journey someone told me that a good organizer organizes themselves out of the job.  I took that very seriously.  

And indeed, 

  • what is a people’s organization, if not one that is leader-full? 
  • What would structural change mean if at least a single organization could not shift power relations enough so that leadership, power and decision-making are shared throughout?
  • What would empowerment and self-determination mean if the very people in historically marginalized communities were not the ones in charge of their own community organizations as means of charting their own futures?

N2N is indeed leader-full at the board, staff and chapter levels. Decision-making is shared across all levels of the organization. And our gradual shift to boost our field operations and go deeper at the local level has resulted in greater indigenous leadership and chapters that direct their own strategy.

All of the above is best exemplified by N2N’s Board of Directors’ wise selection of Andrea Nyamekye and Elvis Méndez as Co-Directors.

  • Andrea and Elvis come from and are rooted in New Majority communities. 
  • All N2N has done in the past two years has been done in conversation, consultation and consensus with them. 
  • It was their own vision and proposal that the next leadership structure be a Co-Directorship, indicating N2N’s continued path in deepening democracy and power sharing.

Over the past two years, Andrea and Elvis have been leaders in their own right, accumulating significant experience and expertise. 

Andrea has been our in-house expert in all matters relating to environmental and climate justice.  Under her leadership, N2N’s intersectional analysis got sharper and our campaigns bolder. Because of her vision, N2N got on the path of Just Transition.  She has represented us beautifully and powerfully in many state coalitions.

Under Elvis’ leadership, N2N has deepend and strengthened our positioning, presence and power in Western MA and Worcester.  He co-designed and co-led the pilot of our Movement Politics Institute, which yielded an additional council seat in Springfield last year, and this year resulted in two of our members launching electoral bids for the State Legislature.  He has led our recent efforts to continue organizing during this pandemic, digitally, virtually, and on the phones. In the process, Elvis has mentored and coached a team of chapter organizers who have grown tremendously over the past year. 

After working with Andrea and Elvis over the last three years, I know that both are well positioned to issue in N2N’s next chapter. I am certain that their leadership will be vibrant, visionary, innovative, powerful and relevant. This gives me so much hope, for the world needs their kind of energy and vision, particularly in these times of growing uncertainty, chaos, and polarization.

Soon, Andrea and Elvis will share with you a bit of where they’re headed.  I am sure that you will share in my hope and joy.  I am sure you will support them as you supported me. 

I am certain because it is N2N, the community, and the issues you care about that you have supported all along.  All of that, and more, will remain, grow and strengthen under Andrea’s and Elvis’ leadership.

As you can see, my work at N2N indeed has come to an end.  I am pleased and satisfied with the result. Above all, I am gratified because once again I confirmed and reaffirmed that it was COMMUNITY that carried me and N2N along these years.  And It will be community which will continue carrying and sustaining N2N and its two new leaders. 

And YOU, dear friend, are certainly a cherished member of N2N’s community.  You, too, share in this accomplishment.

As a chapter in my own organizing life closes, a new one opens.

I am blessed to have the opportunity to join the Episcopal City Mission (ECM) as their Director of Philanthropy, Learning and Evaluation. ECM has a compelling and powerful faith-based social justice mission that is advanced by a beautiful, brilliant and devoted staff guided by Rev. Arrington Chambliss’ wise and loving leadership.  I am quite humbled to join them and look forward to contributing to ECM’s mission. I am certain that, as happened with me at N2N, I stand to learn and gain much more than I will give. 

And yes. I learned and received way more than I gave in my years at N2N. As I look back on my journey, I am quite amazed at my good fortune. While it is true that I learned a new organizing model (I had never knocked on doors before!) and about electoral politics and campaigns, the most precious thing I take with me is a bigger WE, a WE that includes YOU.

Indeed, I leave richer because I:

  • came to know and love the richly and beautifully diverse communities N2N organizes
  • joined hands with many diverse coalitions working on many different issues
  • found the support and confidence in my leadership among so many generous donors and funders.

My Infinite and eternal gratitude to YOU for you steadfast and continued support of N2N.

My infinite and eternal gratitude to:

  • the very best Boards of Directors I have ever had the blessing to serve, particularly my two Board Presidents Shaitia Spruell and Eliud Alcala
  • the most loving and patient staff team ever who put up with me over the years
  • John Maher, always PRESENTE, our founder, who first made my bigger WE possible, and who became my friend and mentor.

With love and gratitude, yours and always en la lucha!

Maria Elena Letona