Side-by-side portraits of Hamdi Abdulle (left) and Jaimée Marsh (right)

BIPOC ED Coalition Grants $1.37M to Nonprofit Leaders for Sabbaticals and Respites

by Ronnie Estoque

The BIPOC ED (Executive Directors) Coalition is a multicultural collaborative of 240-plus nonprofit executive directors across Washington State. The organization was launched in 2020 to create a space for local BIPOC nonprofit leaders to build community with one another. On Oct. 11, they announced via press release that their organization will grant $1.37 million to support 32 local BIPOC nonprofit leaders with sabbaticals and respites.

Twenty BIPOC leaders and their organizations are set to receive $60,000 each for three-month sabbaticals to cover salary and benefits, individual sabbatical expenses, and organizational development. An additional 12 leaders will receive respite awards to cover salary and benefits and individual sabbatical expenses for one month. Sabbatical awardees and their organizations will also receive coaching to prepare and plan for their time away from work.

“BIPOC leaders need rest and restoration in order to heal from multigenerational trauma and years of nonstop working on behalf of their communities to recharge for the work ahead,” Jodi Nishioka, co-founder and co-executive director of the BIPOC ED Coalition, said in the press release. 

Jaimée Marsh has been the executive director at Food Empowerment Education Sustainability Team (FEEST) for three years and is looking forward to resting to tap into her “creativity, imagination, and abundance mindset.”

“My days will look like spending as much time near the ocean as possible, cultivating a daily writing practice, eating delicious food, and spending time with my loved ones,” Marsh said. “One of my personal goals is to complete my chapter in a recipe book and podcast project that I’ve been working on for over two years. I’m sharing my experience growing up and cultivating my sense of identity in the PNW in a multiracial family told through the lens of our family recipes and food stories.” Recently, she created a Pacific Northwest seafood recipe to honor her late mother and grandmother.

“When they informed me that I received the award, I was surprised and in a bit of shock, although I had set my intentions and put major energy into manifesting this award,” said Marsh, who had previously received a one-week respite award. “I laughed, I danced, I cried, I sat in silence, then I called my dad who was so proud of me and in awe of this opportunity that was not even something he thought possible.”

During her sabbatical, she plans on primarily staying in Mexico, taking a trip to the French Riviera, and coming back home to configure her living space. She is eager to intentionally reestablish healthy practices like incorporating more movement into her day and defining and holding her boundaries.

Hamdi Abdulle has been the executive director of the African Community Housing & Development (ACHD) since its inception in 2018 and has worked in the King County African Diaspora community for nearly 17 years. She is looking forward to using her time away from work to rest and revitalize her soul. 

“I will be going to Mecca to receive spiritual support and reset my spirit to a clean slate from which I can continue my life’s journey,” Abdulle said. “I will also have the opportunity to visit and honor my parents’ burial site in Dubai. I appreciate the support we received, including support for my staff who are able to take care of ACHD while I am away.” A Somali language poet, Abdulle is eager to immerse herself in poetry throughout her sabbatical.

“I have worked for the last 17 years to serve the African Diaspora immigrant and refugee community, and now I am being given the chance to rest,” Abdulle said. “Navigating systems of oppression that constantly affect our resilience and happiness is stressful and exhausting work, and this sabbatical is giving me the opportunity to heal from that hardship.”

Norine Hill is the executive director and founder of Mother Nation, a grassroots Native organization offering culturally informed healing services, advocacy, mentorship, and homelessness prevention in the state of Washington.

“There’s been so much going on with COVID, and all of the different things that are happening in our community, especially with our missing and murdered Indigenous women,” Hill said. “We support families by advocating for the families that do searches for their loved ones.”

Self-care is a big focus for staff at Mother Nation, and Hill describes receiving her sabbatical award as a “blessing.” 

“I’m going to be attending a healing lodge for Native American people, it’s in Quebec, … I’m planning on going there for five weeks,” Hill said. “I’m spending another six weeks on my tribe, going through ceremonies in January.”

Hill is looking forward to unplugging from social media during her sabbatical and is grateful that she will have an extended amount of time to connect with herself spiritually.

Ronnie Estoque is a South Seattle-based freelance photographer and videographer. You can keep up with his work by checking out his website.

📸 Featured Image: Hamdi Abdulle (left) and Jaimée Marsh (right) are two of the 20 recipients of BIPOC ED Coalition’s sabbatical award. Hamdi Abdulle’s portrait by Marisa Allison; Jaimée Marsh’s portrait by Tafari Stevenson-Howard.

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