Blue Heart elevates the stories and solutions of communities on the frontlines of today’s most entrenched social challenges.
What We Believe
Frontline leadership is an imperative.
The people who have been pushed to the margins of society have the widest perspective on how it can be transformed - as well as the agility and discernment necessary to design solutions that will work on the ground.
Y(our) money is not y(our) own.
We must proactively redistribute the wealth and resources that have been consistently and unjustly extracted from working class communities and communities of color.
Cultural change catalyzes political and economic change.
To transform systems, we must first ignite a shift in cultural narratives, perceptions, and social relationships.
Millennials are uniquely positioned to move resources.
Millennials are a progressive and purpose-driven generation. They are looking for new models of philanthropy that upend traditional hierarchies.
Who We Are
Lindley Mease Co-founder & Managing Director
Lindley currently directs the organization, writes the newsletter, and manages volunteers and the Advisory Committee. When she isn’t working on Blue Heart, Lindley is nurturing her communities in the Bay Area through unusual gatherings, bold adventures, and grounding meditations. Although her roots run deep below the Puget Sound and the Cascade mountains, she has fallen for the California coast and the Ponderosa pine-strewn granite of the Sierras. She has a fierce love for books, conflict mediation, designing creative gatherings, watercolor, and dancing.
Theo Gibbs Co-founder
Theo is a co-founder of Blue Heart and is now the website wizard, keeping our digital presence up to date. Theo has roots in the rust-colored mountains of the Sonoran desert, but has called the misty micro-climates of the Bay Area home for about a decade. Outside of work, she can often be found reading sci-fi, growing vegetables, and planning extravagant costume parties.
As the founding team, we recognize that we are white, class-privileged, cisgender women. We believe that two of the most important steps we can take as allies to others who face oppression are to 1) educate ourselves about the history, local context, and ecosystem of change agents working on social and environmental justice issues and 2) mobilize the financially resourced communities that we are part of into learning and action.
Viridiana (Viry) Romero Program Director
As Program Director, Viridiana spearheads Blue Heart's growth, membership engagement, and programming. Her background includes leading grantmaking initiatives in philanthropic organizations, program management for youth based nonprofits, and leading operations in education and career focused tech companies. Viridiana’s journey as an immigrant woman strongly impacts her passion for social justice and her continuous involvement in Latinx based issues and the Latinx student/professional pipeline. She is a lifelong resident of San José, CA and an avid supporter of cultural and performing arts efforts in the city, enjoys baking, and traveling with her husband Cobán.
Our volunteer team:
Devon is our Program Director emeritus, and now is part of our volunteer team, helping develop our member expansion strategy.
Abby is our wonderful art manager who make collaborations with badass artists happen through Blue Heart's Creators Fund.
Nicole, Bridget, and Stephanie are our social media dream team, getting the word out about Blue Heart and our grassroots partners to the digital world!
Allistair is a tireless supporter and collaborator in organizing our events and volunteer activities.
Amelia is our brilliant content creator, finding resources for our members to engage in each month.
Gretchen transcribes and edits Blue Heart interviews to bring the stories of our partners alive for our members.
Jefferson transcribes and edits Blue Heart interviews to bring the stories of our partners alive for our members.
Lisa transcribes and edits Blue Heart interviews to bring the stories of our partners alive for our members.
Reed is a master of Mailchimp, fearlessly ensuring that content is packaged for our readers.
Stacey supports the visioning and implementation of our kickass events.
We created Blue Heart out of fear and hope. We are scared. We are scared of how climate change, poverty, and discrimination will perpetuate and amplify long legacies of systemic oppression. And we are hopeful. We hope that awakening our collective imagination will light new pathways for transforming our economy, our policies, and our relationship with each other and the Earth. Blue Heart is our honest effort to examine the root causes of societal problems, kindle new imaginings for a better world, and inspire sustained action.
When creating Blue Heart, we spent four months listening to people and communities that are and will be displaced from their homes because of climate change and income inequality in the United States. We spoke to people in coastal Louisiana, the far reaches of Alaska, and the sweltering streets of Miami. During these conversations, we saw that the organizations doing the most compelling and effective work on the ground were small, community-based organizations that had deep connections and cultural ties to the places they serve. They didn’t need us to come in with a new fancy solution- they needed support, recognition, and amplification of the solutions they were already developing.
But we saw that the people and organizations most radically shifting the status quo towards a more just and beautiful future often lack funding, particularly ‘no-strings’ funding for programmatic work.
General operating support, also known as “unrestricted” or “core” funding, is what enables non-profits to sustain themselves. It also allows them to nimbly adapt their impact strategy according to changing ground conditions in their constituents base. In recent years, research leaders on non-profit efficacy have underscored the importance of general operating support, including the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, Grantmakers for Effective Organizations, and the Center for Effective Philanthropy. Despite the clear value of unrestricted funding, less than 25% of all grantmaking goes to it. (Source: Foundation Center, 2014)
Movement-building organizations, who have an explicit goal of building political and cultural power among marginalized and disenfranchised communities, have a particularly tough time getting unrestricted funding. There is a long track record of foundations using selective, constrained funding to re-radicalize movements that they perceived as too threatening to the political or social status quo.The philanthropic sector is largely run by white people (92% of foundation executives are white), and the recipients of their funding reflect these identities (86-90% of nonprofit leaders are white). Social movements to address systemic oppression and protect the rights of marginalized groups must be led by the people who come from those communities.
Thus, Blue Heart was born. We seek to elevate the stories and solutions of grassroots organizations and artists on the frontlines of movement-building in communities across the U.S., and channel nimble funding to fuel them. For resourced professionals looking for meaningful engagement with social justice issues, we offer a pathway towards active allyship and a community to support their continued journey.
Our Advisory Board
Mateo Nube Movement Generation
Mateo was born and grew up in La Paz, Bolivia. Since moving to the San Francisco Bay Area, he has worked in the labor, environmental justice and international solidarity movements. He has spent the last decade integrating concepts of popular education into his movement work.
Mateo is one of the co-founders of the Movement Generation Justice & Ecology Project. Prior to joining MG, he served as the director of Urban Habitat’s Leadership Institute and served as the Northwest Coordinator of the AFL-CIO Organizing Institute. Mateo is the son of Barbara and fortunate father of Maya and Nilo. He is also a member of the Latin rock band Los Nadies.
Devi Peacock Peacock Rebellion
Devi is executive director of Peacock Rebellion, an award-winning queer + trans people of color crew of artist-activist-healers. Devi was burning out hard from unsustainable roles in social justice movements. All their friends were, too. They asked around for tips and ended up with tons of stories from activists and organizers about what INCITE called the nonprofit industrial complex, or as Dylan Rodríguez wrote in The Revolution Will Not Be Funded, “the managed control of dissent.” Devi also noticed they were way more effective at reaching people’s hearts and minds on stage with a microphone than at a demo with a megaphone.
Peacock Rebellion amps the artistic work of queer and trans people of color, with an emphasis on trans women of color, trans and gender non-conforming people of color with disabilities, and others often under-supported in queer spaces.
Micah Bazant Artist
Micah is a Bay Area visual artist who works with social justice movements to make change look irresistible. They create art inspired by struggles to decolonize ourselves from white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, and the gender binary, and by ways of reimagining ourselves in right relation to the planet in the face of climate change. Micah is also an anti-zionist jew and identifies as trans, gender non conforming, and timtum (one of six traditional jewish gender categories).
Micah has been a core part of the Trans Life and Liberation Art Series and the Trans Day of Resilience Art Project. They are also an advisory board member of Sins Invalid, a disability justice performance project, and work deeply with many other groups including Forward Together, Jewish Voice for Peace, and Movement Generation.
Jennifer Sokolove The Compton Foundation
Jennifer Sokolove is Program Director at the Compton Foundation. During her tenure at the Foundation, she has led on strategy and grantmaking in the fields of fresh water, climate change, and rural conservation in the western United States, as well as art for social change and sustainable food systems. She has been working on sustainability issues for two decades, with a focus on natural resource-based economies and collaborative decision-making. Prior to joining Compton, Jen worked on a variety of community-led projects in California, Montana, and the Pacific Northwest. She conducted post-doctoral research on sustainable food and farming, and completed her PhD at UC Berkeley in Environmental Science, Policy, and Management.
She chairs the board of the Switzer Foundation, and serves on the board of the Consultative Group for Biological Diversity and the advisory board for Carpe Diem West. She lives in Oakland with her husband and nine-year old daughter, and can generally be found reading, running, swimming, or exploring the region's parks and farmers markets when not at work.
Bernice Shaw The Center for Story-Based Strategy
Bernice was born and raised in Los Angeles and transitioned to working for the Center for Story-based Strategy (CSS) following on her prior work building & scaling small businesses. She brings over 6 years of organizational management experience to CSS, and is deeply dedicated to the importance of culture-shift in creating social change. Bernice holds a political commitment to anti-oppression and liberation via the arts. In her free time, she enjoys playing the jazz flute and eating Chinese food. Bernice is based in Oakland, CA.
Huy Ong Organizing People, Activating Leaders (OPAL)
Huy Ong is executive director of OPAL. A dynamic trainer, facilitator, and fundraiser, Huy brings communities together to address tough issues.
Born in Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam, Huy is one of six children of Chinese immigrants. He came to Portland as a refugee at the age of 2, and grew up here, living in a rental on SE 82nd Avenue.
Huy has worked hard his entire life, picking strawberries at an early age, then in food service and retail. He was the first Organizer for the Oregon Students of Color Coalition, where he developed and launched state-wide campaigns addressing racial profiling, tuition equity for undocumented students, and college affordability. Huy led a national student voter registration and education campaign with the US Student Association, and built lasting organizing power for the student community.
At OPAL, people of color and low-income people are in charge. Huy is helping cultivating leadership where it is needed it the most: among people decision-makers usually overlook. At OPAL, individuals become members and join a growing movement for social justice.
Jason Prado Tech Worker
Jason is a professional software engineer and an activist supporting workers organizing in the tech industry. He dreams of a tech industry that treats workers justly and builds technology that has a positive impact on the world, prioritizing the needs of the most underprivileged first. (There's a long way to go.)
Jason helped grow the Democratic Socialists of America chapter in San Francisco where he resides. Through organizing, he has called attention to the inequitable practices of tech and its impact on the Bay Area community.
Born in Texas to a South American immigrant and the first member of his family to complete college, Jason believes deeply in achieving social justice through hard work and building movements of diverse groups of people.