Reflecting on the Legacy of Slavery and Racism

The following excerpt is authored by Lincoln Mondy, AFF’s Program Officer, and focuses on a recent staff and board learning trip to the Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Sites in Montgomery, Alabama. To read the reflection in its original unedited form, access Lincoln’s newsletter: The Creative Abolitionist.


Instead of focusing on the atrocities of enslavement and racial terror as artifacts of the past, the museum and connected sites frame these practices as the foundation for our current realities. Visitors are not left to mindlessly digest trauma. They are empowered to see how it’s all interconnected, guided by the dehumanizing myths of racial difference that have seeded the ground for white supremacy to endure. This is not by accident if you’re aware of the Equal Justice Initiative’s long, active, and vital role in challenging prisons and punishment in this country. Since 1989, EJI has represented people who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced, or abused in state jails and prisons. Walking through the exhibit, it’s hard not to feel the same sense of urgency, care, and commitment that is surely required by their staff lawyers in order to work in the bowels of our punishment system — death row.

Legacy Museum

Even as the museum spans a massive timeline (400 years), the space erases those periods that transform the atrocities of the past into long-gone sins that have no lingering scents by offering truth-telling commas, semicolons, and asterisks for further consideration.

As you move through time, words and connections are clear. Precise language is offered to unlock individual aha moments. Language is also used to clear up popular narratives that have a deep-seated hold on our collective consciousness. For instance, when you hear the words “the Great Migration,” you may, like myself, have mental images of jazz, artistry, and bravery. Black people moving to the big city for new opportunities, making a way out of no way. Sure, but the truth-telling facts inside the museum challenge you to reconsider the migration for what it was: refugees fleeing racial terror.

Legacy Sites

EJI rightfully understands that you can educate a person all day long, but if you don’t provide accurate language that can break through propaganda, intentional silos, and vague platitudes, it’s a fool’s errand. Space is given to challenge commonly-held shared language so that even if a person’s entire life isn’t transformed by the experience, at least the intent of the learning can leave through words.

The museum is almost in a 1on1 conversation with you, cataloging all the historical events you should reconsider and reflect on.

  • It may be known as the Transatlantic Slave Trade, but it was, more accurately, the global human trafficking of 13 million people.
  • Reconstruction? Oh yeah, the 12-year period following the Civil War where a well-funded and power-gripping white upper class worked overtime to enshrine white supremacy into law.
  • Yes, the 13th Amendment was passed in 1865 and does outlaw slavery, but the organized and well-funded white resistance allowed it to flourish for another century. Oh, and the 13th Amendments’ exception to slavery and involuntary servitude: prison labor. 

Legacy Sites Monument

The narrative throughout the experiences of enslavement, racial terror lynching, segregation, and mass incarceration is clear and consistent. The design is both Brutalist and organic at the same time. There aren’t sharp corners in the exhibition that curtail off sections — there is only one path in and one path out. You begin in a dark room, underwater, with waves crashing over you via visceral audio, visual, and lighting design. You’re reminded that in addition to the 13 million Africans who survived their kidnapping by boat, nearly 2 million souls died horrific deaths in vast, dark seas along the way. While the design asks you not to look away, the wide halls and variety of learning materials around the room (e.g.,video, film, holograms, text) offer reprieve when you need it.

As you navigate the space, you unexpectedly go from rooms with supersized “auction pamphlets” filled with advertisements from slave owners describing the bodies and behavior of their state-designated property to a theater asking you to honor Mamie Till’s wishes and not look away at how racial terror and white supremacy disfigured her son, Emmett. Then you’re guided all the way up to mass incarceration. Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel like a leap at all. After the mass incarceration era, the path leads to a majestic, copper-ceiling room asking you to pause and reflect. The last room is a colorful art gallery right before a bustling museum lobby — another intentional design choice focused on acknowledging and honoring the horror you confronted.

Peace and Justice Memorial Center

When I exited the Legacy Museum, I was comforted by the dozens of Black church youth groups in matching t-shirts I had to maneuver through. I was comforted thinking about the thousands of vans filled with Black children, who are being failed by systems supposedly concerned with their education and welfare, arriving in Montgomery for their summer trips.

Maybe they will not step out of the van with the same enthusiasm of a holiday morning, but I do know they will be offered truth-telling that can unlock an individual journey of mourning and commitment and, ultimately, usher in a collective reckoning.

Lincoln Mondy Appointed Program Officer of the Andrus Family Fund

New York, September 7, 2023— The Andrus Family Fund (AFF), a program of the Surdna Foundation, today announced the appointment of Lincoln Mondy as Program Officer, starting August 2023.

Lincoln will help guide a $5 million grant portfolio and manage field leadership and learning agendas supporting the self-determination, power, and liberation of Black, Brown, AAPI, and Indigenous youth impacted by youth incarceration, family policing, and other disruptive systems.

With deep expertise in youth activism, LGBTQ+ health and rights, and reproductive justice, Lincoln leverages his creativity to connect movements, build narratives, inspire participation at scale, and imagine alternatives that advance the health and power of the communities he holds sacred.

Previously, Lincoln led strategic projects for Advocates for Youth, a reproductive health organization anchored by a cohort of 150+ youth activists. There, he directed a YouTube series for LGBTQ+ youth of color, trained youth activists as storytellers, and managed the organization’s external brand and relationships. Lincoln started his career at the political affairs firm Berlin Rosen supporting a range of justice-focused clients—including the Youth First Initiative, an AFF grantee partner and national campaign to end youth incarceration and invest in community-based supports, services, and opportunities for youth.

“Young people across the country are organizing, innovating, and envisioning new worlds of belonging, free of disruptive systems, filled with grace, and overflowing with possibilities,” said Lincoln Mondy. “I’m honored to accept this appointment to help seed and scale young people’s capacity to push our collective thinking forward.”

“Lincoln has an unswerving commitment to the self-determination of young people that is deeply in line with our work,” said Mishi Faruqee, Director, Andrus Family Fund. “He understands that we need both abolition and imagination—we have to dismantle the systems keeping youth away from families, education, and opportunities, and support the design of community-driven alternatives for youth well-being, safety, and justice.”

“We are inspired by Lincoln’s rich experience supporting youth power-building and activism,” said Katharine Korchnak, co-chair of the Andrus Family Fund board. “He will be a fantastic addition to the AFF team and we are looking forward to working and learning alongside one another as we boldly center abolition and imagine a more just world for young people.”

Learn more about Lincoln’s work.

Disrupting Norms: The AFF Board is Leading to Embrace Abolition

Last year, the Andrus Family Fund launched a strategic refresh that boldly centers abolition. Since the launch, the AFF board has fully supported the shift in AFF’s grantmaking priorities to resource organizations that build community power and are organizing to transform (and ultimately abolish) disruptive systems. Coming to embrace abolition was an evolutionary process that entailed learning from and ceding power to our movement partners.

I witnessed this evolution firsthand over the course of my tenure. AFF started providing more general operating grants and streamlined the application process to reduce the time, emotional and financial burden we place on partners. We stopped relying on traditional metrics to measure success. All of these decisions were made with an understanding that we must base long-term partnerships on trust. 

Trust is something AFF fosters from the inside out. As a family board, we realize the importance of bringing partners to the decision making table. Sharing power with community board members and the Movement Partner Advisory Council (MPAC) is key to our accountability as a funder. We value our collective humanity, which allows us to sit in discomfort together and be emotionally vulnerable with each other in order to work through difficult situations.

I am proud to share leadership with a new cohort of board officers, including my co-chair Ray Holgado, vice chair Meg Belais, secretary Daryl Hannah and treasurer Zelpha Williams. This new cohort represents many firsts for AFF. Two officer positions are now held by community board members. We have adopted a co-chair leadership model. And, I am the first trans person to be in a position of leadership on the board. Trans representation is often lacking, or non-existent, in family foundations. So, it’s important for me to be an advocate for my community — especially as a social justice funder. 

As AFF continues to embrace abolition as a funder, I hope we can also evaluate ways in which we can help transform philanthropy’s power structure. What would it look like to decentralize a family board? Should we work towards having community board members comprise most or all of our board? Can we encourage more funders to assume more financial risk and to reallocate more of their resources? I look forward to engaging with my colleagues and other family boards about the barriers present within philanthropy and disrupting norms to better serve our grantee partners. 

Beyond Trust: Why Philanthropy Needs to be Restorative for Radical Change

As we’ve reflected on our experiences on the Power Table, we’ve grappled with the tension between philanthropy and community, and learned to be flexible in order to support the movement and to offer youth organizers what they need to succeed. One concept that keeps bubbling up is how philanthropy should be more restorative — which includes ceding power to community leaders to restore historic harms and inequities — and how shifting to this approach can build trust and enhance accountability.

“In traditional philanthropy, the way that trust is usually established is in a very transactional way … Trust has to be transformational if it’s actually going to be real.”
– Jessica Pierce, VFF Project Coordinator

While well-intentioned, philanthropy has a history of applying an impersonal and transactional  formula to its grantmaking  — apply, fund, repeat. Attempts at authentic relationship-building often don’t go far enough and put the burden on resource-strapped organizations. As movement leaders overextend themselves to prove their funding worthiness (via arduous reporting, extensive grant applications, uncompensated field visits, etc.), the process leaves them exhausted and frustrated. The result is a disconnect between what funders and grantees perceive as a good working relationship. This power imbalance leads to a breakdown in trust. The onus is on philanthropy to check its privilege and to prioritize what is in the best interest of the movement, not its own legacy.  

“I would really encourage funders to be radical, to really talk to the people they’re trying to fund, talk to the communities that they’re trying to aid and give those people the power to make decisions for themselves.”
– Jemima Abalogu, Youth Leader, VFF Power Table 

Philanthropy’s origins are rooted in capitalistic ideals — a small group of high net worth individuals make funding decisions that impact communities of which they are not a part. This notion that outsiders know what’s best is flawed. Funding alone is not the vehicle for building trust and by itself won’t result in transformational change. But, it can be a start. 

“It is going to take a transformation, dismantling and reimagining of philanthropy in order to redistribute the resources that are needed.”
– Bryan Perlmutter, VFF Project Coordinator

Historically disinvested communities know what they need to make their communities whole. Community members already hold the solutions; they just lack the resources. Resources that philanthropy has a responsibility to give back. This restorative approach recognizes philanthropy’s traditional role in exacerbating inequality and relinquishes power in an effort to balance the scales.  

“We learned about the different types of possibilities available to philanthropy when we move money and relinquish the power to determine where it goes.”
– Manuela Arciniegas, Past Philanthropic Partner, VFF Power Table

When philanthropy and community find synergy and practice patience, the two groups can forge a powerful partnership with a shared vision. The Visionary Freedom Fund proves this is possible. The Fund emphasizes the importance of bringing youth organizers and movement leaders to the Power Table. The Table challenges funders to face their own biases around grantmaking, while at the same time, imparting their knowledge. This intergenerational, cross-disciplinary Table is learning to confront their contradictions and, through this tension, is learning to trust each other. 

“It takes a stance of learning and humility from funder communities to build trust with folks who aren’t in the funding world.”
– Maisha Quint, Philanthropic Partner, VFF Power Table

In our experience, trust is not something we build overnight. Building trust requires the need to be flexible and responsive — such as shifting deadlines and priorities in order to meet the emotional and physical capacity of the Table. Building trust means funders are willing to step back to make room for youth to take the lead. Over the course of two years, and many interpersonal experiences, the Table collectively came to a consensus about which groups to fund and how to support them in achieving their long-term visions.

“I think the Power Table can be a really transformative space, and something that we want to see expanded beyond just us.”
– Laura Rosado, Youth Leader, VFF Power Table

This transformational approach to building trust and restoring communities requires a break from tradition and a willingness to bring community to the table in a deeply participatory way. Foundations must be willing to do the hard work of facing their own complicity in replicating harmful systems and allow communities to lead them. Restorative philanthropy may look like spending down endowments, no-strings attached funding, providing capacity-building support beyond funding and/or allowing groups on the ground to envision radical solutions. It’s time for communities to harness their power, and it’s philanthropy’s role to build trust, redistribute resources and let communities take the lead.

Mishi Faruqee appointed Director of the Andrus Family Fund

NEW YORK, October 25, 2022—The Andrus Family Fund (AFF), a fund of the Surdna Foundation, today announced Mishi Faruqee as its new director. A recognized leader in youth and criminal justice advocacy, Mishi will begin on November 1, 2022.

Mishi will oversee an over $4 million grantmaking portfolio supporting the self-determination, power, and liberation of Black, Brown, AAPI, and Indigenous youth impacted by the youth justice, child welfare, and other disruptive systems.

She will collaborate with AFF’s staff, board, Movement Partner Advisory Council, and grantees to implement AFF’s recently refreshed strategy, prioritizing youth-led organizing, advocacy, and power-building. AFF’s goal is to abolish the juvenile justice and child welfare systems that reinforce structural racism and diminish the well-being of the young people in them. Instead, AFF seeds and supports community-driven approaches that help youth flourish at home with their families, in school, in their communities, and in life.

Mishi will also spearhead shared learning for AFF’s board, composed of eight Andrus family members and six non-family community members. As an anchor partner of the Visionary Freedom Fund, she will work hand-in-hand with a collective of youth and other movement leaders and funders to promote learning about and catalyze long-term investment in BIPOC youth-led organizing in the youth justice field.

She succeeds Katayoon Majd and Nyoka Acevedo, who served as Interim Director after AFF’s longtime Director Manuela Arciniegas moved to the Ford Foundation earlier this year.

“Mishi is perfectly poised to lead AFF and flow funding to the experiments, policies, and programs for a world without youth prisons and other disruptive systems,” said C’Ardiss “CC” Gardner Gleser, board chair of the Andrus Family Fund. “Mishi has a strong track record of building coalitions, putting youth at the forefront of lasting social change, and making a real difference in people’s lives. We’re lucky to have her on our team.”

“I’m delighted to welcome Mishi to the Andrus Family Fund,” said Kaitlin Miles, vice chair of the Andrus Family Fund and 5th generation Andrus family member. “I look forward to learning and working with her to bring about racial and social justice and positive change — in ourselves, in our board rooms, and in our communities.”

Most recently, Mishi served as president of Youth First Initiative, an AFF grantee partner and national campaign to end youth incarceration and invest in community-based supports, services, and opportunities for youth. In this role, she supported state-based juvenile justice campaigns and secured widespread policy changes. Prior to Youth First, Mishi worked with the ACLU, the Correctional Association of New York, the Children’s Defense Fund-NY, and as a special assistant to the Commissioner at the New York City Department of Probation.

“I’m honored to join the Andrus Family Fund, especially after collaborating with many of AFF’s staff, board, grantees, and movement partners while at the Youth First Initiative,” said Mishi Faruqee. “I look forward to rolling up our sleeves to uplift the visions and solutions to end the criminalization of BIPOC, LGBTQI, disabled, and immigrant youth and families and create caring, community-driven approaches that promote well-being, education, and prosperity.”

“Mishi brings a wealth of experience, imagination, and commitment to youth justice and the Andrus Family Fund’s mission,” said Don Chen, president of the Surdna Foundation. “All of us at AFF and Surdna are thrilled that she will lead AFF into its next chapter of impactful, innovative grantmaking.”

Meet AFF’s new Interim Director

Dearest AFF Community,

After two incredible years at the Andrus Family Fund (AFF), I am nervous and excited to share that my family is moving abroad, and my last day as Interim Director will be June 30th.

While I am thrilled about my family’s next adventure, this move is bittersweet. When I joined AFF, I never could have predicted what we as a community would experience and accomplish: a pandemic, the uprisings, an insurrection (!), the losses we learned from, the joy we created, and the wins that brought us closer to youth and racial justice.

Serving and working alongside you, the AFF team, and the board has been a true honor and a privilege.

Meet Katayoon Majd
I’m thrilled to announce that Katayoon Majd will serve as AFF’s Interim Director. Many of you may already know Katayoon from her work with AFF, which helped guide our strategic refresh, and as an advocate, grantmaker, and litigator for youth and racial justice. She will be working roughly two days a week beginning today, June 23, 2022 and can be reached at Zaira Cedano will continue to serve as our fabulous Program Associate. Please feel free to contact Zaira ( and Katayoon about grant-related matters.

At the same time, Koya Leadership Partners is searching for AFF’s next Director. Check out the job description and please share it with folks you think would be a good fit—maybe even you!

In It for the Long Haul
I know the news of my transition may be unsettling to some of you, but please know that AFF’s work, strategy and partnership approach will continue stronger than ever. AFF is not a fickle funder—we are in it for the long haul and committed to fulfilling our mission: Supporting the self-determination, power, and liberation of Black, Brown, AAPI and Indigenous youth impacted by the youth justice, child welfare and other disruptive systems. We are excited about how the next phase of our strategy will support the youth justice and child welfare movements.

Thank You!
Each time we lead, we stand on the shoulders of those before us. I am grateful to AFF’s former Directors—Manuela Arciniegas, Leticia Peguero, and AFF’s dedicated board and movement partners for shaping AFF into what it is today.

We know that the work of liberation is a life-long commitment. Each day, each step, each action, gets us a little bit closer to freedom. In the words of Assata Shakur, “It is our duty to fight for our freedom. It is our duty to win. We must love each other and support each other. We have nothing to lose but our chains.” Thank you for your continued commitment to creating a liberated world for young people and, in turn, for us all. I look forward to cheering you on from abroad and staying connected.

In solidarity,
Nyoka Acevedo

The Next Evolution of Andrus Family Fund

Dear Movement Partners:

I have two pieces of exciting news to share with you. The first is about the Andrus Family Fund’s strategic refresh, and the second is about my next role in this movement.

Sharpening our Focus
In 2021, we embarked on a year-long journey to refresh AFF’s grantmaking strategies to meet the rising needs of the youth and communities we serve. From the outset, we were clear that the uprisings against police brutality and Black lives coupled with the compounding effects of pandemic and economic crisis disproportionately impacted the communities we support. We were also clear that our refreshed strategies must rely on our grantees’ and movement partners’ up-to-date analysis of the challenges and opportunities their communities face.

Alongside a Movement Partner Advisory Council composed of current grantees working across a range of issues, we took stock of our eight years of grantmaking—and the lessons we learned—to support systems change work that improves the lives of the youth we serve.

We analyzed the state of our communities, the political and socio-economic climate at local and national levels, and the challenges and opportunities for transformative systems change. And most importantly, we listened to the needs and aspirations of youth-serving organizations and the broader movement. We collectively charted a future vision for AFF’s work that sharpens our focus through these efforts.

I’m thrilled to announce that the AFF Board just approved a strategy refresh that will double down on youth organizing, abolition of prisons, policing and family separation systems, builds movement infrastructure and capacity, and seeds alternative models to local systems meant to serve youth and communities. 

This refreshed strategy builds on the knowledge, experience, and lessons learned through our work together as funders, movement partners, and the broader field. It clarifies our funding strategy in the work we’ve already supported for years.

Leaning into our Values
As part of this strategy, we have refreshed our mission to reflect our sharpened focus and values of racial equity, inclusion and justice.

Mission: We envision a just society in which Black, Brown, Indigenous, LGBTQIA, disabled, and undocumented youth are thriving in empowered and supportive communities, free from state violence and family separation.

Organizing to Build Power
Our primary partners towards advancing our mission will be organizations led by directly impacted youth who are Black, Indigenous, People of Color, Asian Pacific Islander, LGBTQIA, queer, disabled and undocumented–those youth often pushed to the margins. By investing in their power building and supporting them to advance the alternative systems and policy changes needed to bring about a more just society, we commit to moving money to BIPOC-led organizations that have historically gotten the short end of the stick from philanthropy.

While we see the critical need for direct services in the communities AFF prioritizes, we are focusing our effort to resource those leaders and initiatives who are actively pushing to transform those systems and build community power. Prioritizing the organizing strategy (which sometimes also incorporates the provision of direct care for youth as they organize) is prioritizing the power of young people to construct something new that better serves and works for them.

Nyoka, Zaira and I are in conversation with the handful of grantee partners whose funding is affected by our strategy refresh. We are committed to strengthening their sustainability with a final grant and to being as direct, transparent, respectful and thoughtful as possible.

My New Chapter
February 4th was my last day at Andrus Family Fund, and I will soon join the Ford Foundation as a Program Officer in a national program that focuses on civic engagement, government and movement building. While I’m thrilled about the opportunity to continue serving youth from this national perch, this is a bittersweet moment for me. It has been an absolute honor to partner with you by investing in the leadership and brilliance of our nation’s most marginalized young people.

I know the news of my transition coupled with our strategy refresh may be disconcerting to some of you, but please be assured that the work and partnership approach of the Andrus Family Fund will continue. Our strategic refresh will be at the core of the work going forward, and I’m thrilled with the progress we’ve made in centering our commitment to building power for youth on the margins and to sharing power with communities. This perspective will be at the heart of the search for my replacement.

Nyoka Acevedo, our Program Officer, will serve as Interim Director, as we begin a national search for my successor. Please be on the lookout for the job posting on the AFF website in mid-February.

The future of AFF is bright. We have clarity in our mission and grantmaking focus and a terrific, dedicated team, board, movement advisory council and movement partners to make it happen. Individually and collectively, there is so much to be proud of.

Thank You
Thank you for trusting us. Thank you for being the burning ember that made my purpose unequivocal during this recent foray into family philanthropy. Your dedication to racial justice and movement building has been nothing short of astounding, especially in these difficult times.

I look forward to the next decade of serving our nation’s youth and, as always, wish you ease, joy, victory and enduring racial and social justice.

In solidarity,
Manuela Arciniegas
Outgoing Director