NCG is thrilled to announce that Qurratulain “Q” Sajid (she/they) has joined the team as the Senior Director of Public Affairs. Q will lead our efforts to build narrative power rooted in racial equity and align our communications and public policy strategies. Join us in welcoming Q to the team! You can learn more about Q here.
President and CEO Dwayne S. Marsh had a chat with Q about the new role and prioritizing values within our work. Read on to hear Q’s take on philanthropy’s work of today, narrative strategy, trusting our wholeness, and grandmothers’ recipes.
Dwayne S. Marsh: We know why we chose you for this role. I’d love to hear why you chose us and what excites you about stepping into this role?
Qurratulain “Q” Sajid: I’m coming to NCG with 15 years of both professionalized and grassroots movement-building experience. I’ve lived many “lives” in movement-building. The throughline in my work as a policy advocate and narrative strategist has been stewarding a flow of resources back to marginalized communities. The question guiding my work has been “how do we invest in movement-building that helps us all get more free, more whole, and more accountable to each other?”
What excites me about NCG is its long-standing history in transforming philanthropy as an ecosystem. I’m excited to work with a talented group of people who are grappling with similar questions and reimagining what is possible in this moment.
D: You and I have talked a bit about narrative in this moment and how important it is for some of the things you’re naming. But for you, what does narrative power mean?
Q: I think narratives have the power to move people to action. This role feels special because at NCG we clearly see how cultural change and policy change are inherently connected. In a time of so much noise, we need to get clear on how to cut through dominant narratives and disinformation. And in turn, impact policy and systemic change. I’m interested in working with the policy and communications team at NCG to amplify stories that shift material conditions.
D: How do you think philanthropy can show up for historically marginalized communities?
Q: Philanthropy has a deep responsibility to disrupt inequities at their root causes, not just at their symptoms. I would love for philanthropy to expand its muscle to build deep accountability to marginalized communities.
I’m new to philanthropy so I would love to learn with and from those in the NCG ecosystem who have taken risks, made mistakes, and learned from them. During a recession and compounded pandemics, how do we create real pathways for marginalized communities to reclaim wealth and resources? How can we build solidarity economies where resource redistribution is the norm not just the exception?
I’m excited by those questions because I think that’s what will move philanthropy towards racial equity.
D: You know as well as anyone how intense recent years have been for folks in this work. What sustains you to show up and continue to do racial equity work?
Q: I think we’re living in a time that goes beyond “unprecedented.” Our collective nervous system is in survival mode and that makes it harder to trust we are safe enough to experience joy. As a healing justice practitioner, I know the importance of creating moments of embodied joy to build up that internal reserve of safety.
Just this weekend I went to a sunflower field. As I was marveling at sunflowers taller than me, I noticed some Black and brown families needed someone to take family photos, so I became the unofficial photographer for multiple families. Moments like that feel so fun and joyful to me.
And of course…I love TikTok and all the niche communities within it.
D: I knew TikTok was coming in at some point…
Q: As a platform TikTok really lets us in to people’s everyday realities and there’s something magical to me about that.
D: Speaking of everyday realities… say a valued guest is coming over to your home and you want them to feel happy. What are you going to cook for dinner?
Q: Biryani! It’s a long process to make it but as a South Asian Muslim person in the diaspora I love biryani- both making it and eating it.
D: Besides making biryani, we know you’re bringing great skill and energy to the task. What would you say your superpower is?
Q: My intuition feels like a superpower. I think it’s a part of racial equity work for marginalized folks to trust our intuition, to trust the power we have, and to trust that we belong in whatever space we’re in. I’m grateful to cultivate this with other practitioners in my community.
D: You’ve talked a lot about communities you’re a part of. Who are your people?
Q: My people are dreamers, strategists, thought-partners, and people with expansive imaginations and a high appetite for curiosity. My people are those building new solidarity economies and interdependent ways of relating to each other. My people understand how much joy, humor, and trusting our wholeness are key to the work. In terms of ages, I really love babies and elders and love to learn from them.
As someone who has been in partnership with philanthropy but not in philanthropy, I am excited to show up as a student and a teacher within the NCG ecosystem. I want to understand from members and nonmembers as a whole on how we can transform philanthropy together.
D: You’re writing a book… what’s the title?
Q: I would love to do a biryani recipe book tracing the ancestral roots of this food and gathering grandmothers’ recipes across the diaspora. Hmm, I’d call it “Elevating Our Grandmother’s Hands.”
D: Okay, last question. What is possible right now?
Q: I think of Arundhati Roy’s quote, “Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
Let’s explore philanthropy’s role in making that possible.
Connect with Q
To connect with Q Sajid or chat more about narrative power, solidarity economies, and/or biryani recipes, she invites you to reach out for a one-on-one at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join us in welcoming Q to our NCG ecosystem!