Our team at the Building Movement Project has grown in the past few months, and we wanted to introduce you to our newest staff members! Read on to get to know Lisa, Mercedes, and UyenThi.
Meet Lisa – Lisa Ramadhar is the Senior Research Manager and leads BMP’s research and analysis projects, from our Race to Lead initiative to projects focused on nonprofit capacity, leadership, and more.
Meet Mercedes – Mercedes Brown is the Director of Race Equity Assessment and is responsible for launching and bringing to scale BMP’s new organizational race equity assessment process to better equip the nonprofit sector with the foundational capacities needed to build more racially equitable workplaces.
Meet UyenThi – UyenThi (pronounced “Wing-T”) Tran Myhre (she/her) is the Movement Building Associate supporting communications work, curriculum development and trainings, and solidarity cohorts.
What drew you to BMP?
Lisa: I’ve spent most of my career working in the private sector and in government spaces, and I was eager to see where research opportunities existed within the nonprofit sector. When I learned about BMP’s work, I was really drawn to the focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), as well as the leadership work and how they intersect. Having done that work at an institutional level in government, I was excited to join BMP to do it at a sector-wide level. This allows me to explore how we scale our effective equity strategies, practices, and approaches from an organizational level to the sector at large.
Mercedes: I was introduced to BMP’s Race to Lead work back in 2017 while working in the government sector. During that time, I represented local government in a public-private funding collaborative, and we were building a strategy to advance racial equity through our community investments. On a personal and professional level, I was struggling with the all-to-common reality of being the only person of color in senior leadership in predominantly white spaces. When I read the Race to Lead report, my feelings felt validated and I became more open to discussing my experiences in white spaces. After that, I knew that BMP was a place where I would want to work in the future. Fast forward four years when the Director of Race Equity position opened, it felt like the perfect marriage of supporting nonprofit organizations advance workplace equity and catalyzing change through qualitative data. I’m excited to help BMP launch a race equity assessment process that can help nonprofits better understand the foundational capacities necessary for building more racially equitable workplaces.
UyenThi: BMP had been on my radar for a while because of the Race to Lead series, especially the Women of Color in the Nonprofit Sector report, and also because of the Social Change Ecosystem Map, a resource that had been personally helpful to me and one that I’ve shared with friends and colleagues in previous roles. I think many of us have noticed how diversity, equity, and inclusion has become something that a lot of organizations are striving towards, especially in the last few years, but at the same time, systemic change can be elusive. Because of this, I really appreciate how BMP does work to help organizations align their social justice values and practices – and I’ve noticed that we are continually in that process of alignment in our own work, which is so important as well.
Thinking about the next six months in your role, what are you looking forward to the most?
Lisa: I’m really looking forward to launching Race to Lead 2022. Previous Race to Lead surveys generated so much conversation in the sector and have supported organizations in designing effective equity strategies. In a world affected by COVID, race, leadership, and equity concerns in the workplace have been amplified. I am eager to contribute new lessons to the conversation so that we can continue to advance equity in the sector.
Mercedes: My big north star is the launch of Building Blocks for Change, our forthcoming race equity organizational assessment. I’m looking forward to leading our team towards that finish line and I’m excited to be a part of such an intentional launch. Now that we have conducted robust beta testing with non-profits across the county, I’m eager to position the assessment for public use. In anticipation of the launch, I really appreciate the opportunity to establish and deepen existing relationships with our partners to amplify the impact of the assessment launch and help us scale in the coming years.
UyenThi: I am excited to keep getting to know colleagues across the organization, as we collaborate on different projects and initiatives and make it a point to connect outside of regularly scheduled meetings as well. I’ve really appreciated the efforts at BMP to create a supportive workplace culture, especially because most of us are remote and we are still grappling with the pandemic and so much collective crisis and grief.
With no advance prep, what could you lead a 20-minute presentation or discussion about?
Lisa: Excel formulas. This is something that I am known for and that people in past workplaces have always called on me for. I love to play around with Excel. It’s so practical and supports my work in other software. I would probably teach people how to use VLookups to minimize error.
Mercedes: There are two topics that immediately come to mind: interior design and electric vehicles. I love interior design and I have thrown myself into it over the past few years. Over the past few months I’ve really been able to experiment and play around with interior design since moving into a house! As far as electric vehicles go, I’ve just grown increasingly interested in the pivot to electric vehicles and what impact they could have on our environment and our world.
UyenThi: I took one feminist film theory class in college years ago, and I still think about what we learned and talked about in that course! I think what I took away from that is that I love using pop culture as an entry point to discuss and think about so many different things. Whether it’s talking about gender roles in “Mad Max: Fury Road” or thinking about workplace culture with the implosion of the Bon Appetit Test Kitchen a couple years back, I could go on and on when it comes to pop culture as a lens to understand (and change) the world around us.
What brings you joy?
Lisa: Baking and baked goods in general. I try to bake something once a week!
Mercedes: My family and friends, aka my “village.” Knowing that I can lean on my village and depend on people who are complementary, challenging, and loving to me–this brings me so much joy. This is especially true during the pandemic.
UyenThi: Besides the obvious answers (my loved ones, my cat, BTS), I really love golden retrievers.