Socialize With Us

Fireside Chat Part 1 | Liberate Yourself: How to Bring Your Full Identity to Your Work

Tuesday, January 14, 2020 -
3:00pm to 4:30pm PST
Northern California Grantmakers
160 Spear Street, Suite 360 | San Francisco, CA 94105
Add to Calendar

Registration for this event is now closed. 

Have you ever been a room full of people who don’t look like you? Do you code switch at work because you know you can’t be real in certain environments? You’re not alone. The norms in philanthropy often prevent us from bringing our authentic selves to our workplaces, even when many of us come from the communities most impacted by inequity. How can we begin to lean into our identities, share our stories, and lift up our backgrounds to liberate philanthropy? 

This is the first of two fireside chats that will dig into some hard truths about the challenges we face when we try to liberate philanthropy. This session is a conversation between communication leaders working in social impact and is designed for all people, with a focus on POC, Queer, and female-presenting philanthropic professionals and is 

We hope you'll join us directly after the program from 4:30 pm to 5:00 pm for a casual happy hour to continue the conversation.

Learn more about Part 2: Liberate Your Foundation


Carlos Aguilar, Chief Content Director, California Changelawyers

What should a leader look like? How can we restore power and wealth to our communities? These are the questions that motivate Carlos's work.

He imagines a future where leadership is Brown, Black, Queer, Non Binary, and Undocumented; a future where communities have the power to determine their own lives.

At ChangeLawyers℠, Carlos serves as the foundation's primary designer, curates the popular weekly newsletter NEWS BRIEF, and ghostwrites the foundation's opinion essays. In 2019, he co-created the inaugural Leaders Summit, a sold out, day long gathering of over 200 social justice lawyers. In 2018, he co-develop the organization’s new name, brand, and visual identity with Mission Minded.

Carlos is also involved in efforts to redefine what a philanthropist looks like. He's a member of Latino Community Foundation's LGBTQ Giving Circle, where he and his fellow queer philanthropists have funded organizations like Oasis Legal Services, El/La Para TransLatinas, and Somos Familia.  Besides liberating wealth and power, his obsessions include baking layer cakes, Mexico City, and the color yellow.

Pedro Arista, Director, Hirsch & Associates Philanthropic Advisors

Pedro has dedicated his career to strengthening the most impactful cross-sector collaborations and community-based organizations in California and across the U.S. At Hirsch & Associates, Pedro evaluates the best and brightest cross-sector initiatives working on improving equity in the Bay Area and partners with them to achieve lasting success. Prior to his current role, Pedro led the healthy eating and active living portfolio of grantmaking initiatives for the Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.  To improve social determinants of health, he directed more than $3.2 million to outstanding community-based organizations while boosting their effectiveness with culturally relevant capacity support. He also advanced President Obama’s White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders by providing capacity building to non-profits across the U.S. He holds an M.P.H. from San Francisco State University, where he’s also taught courses on health policy and equity. 

Bilen Mesfin Packwood, Founder and Principal, Change Consulting

With 15 years of experience in media and communications, Bilen Mesfin Packwood is the founder and principal of Change Consulting. Based in Oakland, California, Change Consulting works with nonprofits, foundations and social enterprises to advance justice and equity through strategic communications. She has established a reputation as a trusted strategic communicator and advisor to leading changemakers. Prior to founding Change Consulting, Bilen supported communications efforts for then San Francisco District Attorney Kamala D. Harris. As a journalist, Bilen has written for the Associated Press, the Nashville Tennessean, Edutopia and Art & Antiques, among other publications. She has a Master’s in Journalism from the University of California, Berkeley, and a BA in English from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and now lives in Oakland with her partner, daughter and two cats. Connect with Bilen on twitter: @bmesfin.

Richard Tate, Vice President of Public Affairs, California Wellness Foundation

Richard Tate is vice president of public affairs at The California Wellness Foundation, where he leads a multidisciplinary team responsible for the Foundation’s communications, community relations and public policy activities. In his role, Tate develops and implements strategies to further the reach and impact of Cal Wellness and its Advancing Wellness grantmaking by engaging audiences in addressing the issues central to the Foundation’s mission. He reports directly to the president and CEO and is a member of the senior management team.

Tate joined Cal Wellness in 2016 after ten years with HopeLab, the health-focused nonprofit organization of the Omidyar Group and a pioneer in digital health research and development. He was HopeLab’s first director of communications and marketing and advanced to become a vice president and member of the executive leadership team. He oversaw all public relations, media outreach and product marketing, including the successful launch of HopeLab’s groundbreaking Re-Mission video game for teens and young adults with cancer and HopeLab’s participation in the launch of the federal Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation at the White House, where President Barack Obama featured HopeLab and its Zamzee product as an exemplar of social innovation.

Prior to joining HopeLab, Tate was a director of corporate communications for the multinational biotechnology company Chiron Corporation, through its acquisition by Novartis AG. He managed communications and media relations related to Chiron’s biopharmaceuticals business, working closely with company executives, product marketing teams, investor and government relations personnel, research scientists and patient advocates. He began his career in communications as an editor and journalist and held editorial positions at the national news magazine The Advocate,, and the Los Angeles lifestyle magazine Buzz. He also was an assistant director of undergraduate admissions at the University of Southern California.

He is board chair of OUTWORDS and a board member of the Bay Area Surgical Mission, participating in the organization’s trips providing free medical care in remote communities in the Philippines challenged by poverty and limited access to health services. Tate earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Southern California, where he was a Deans Scholar and winner of USC’s Edward W. Moses Writing Competition. Tate has lived and worked in California since 1991 and is based in the Cal Wellness Oakland office.

Target Audience

This event is open to NCG members and non-member funders. 


Staff Person

Kayla Ballard's picture
Find More By

Event type 
Geographic Location