Meet Our New Executive Director and Program Director
Crossroads Fund is excited to welcome Jane Kimondo as our new Executive Director and Michael Aguhar as our new Program Director.
Jane has been with Crossroads Fund for almost 14 years in our Program Department. As a known and respected leader in the grassroots, philanthropic, and donor communities, Jane has a strong track record of engaging grantees and donors in the work of Crossroads Fund.
Michael is an avid advocate for immigrants and workers rights and comes to us from Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment (AFIRE) where he was the Executive Director. AFIRE is a long-time Crossroads Fund grantee.
Take a listen to a brief conversation between Jane and Michael and get to know them a little better.
(The interview has been edited for clarity.)
Lizette: Hello, my name is Lizette Garza and I’m the Program Manager at Crossroads Fund. We’re excited to introduce you to our new Executive Director, Jane Kimondo, and new Program Director, Michael Aguhar. Keep listening to get to know Jane and Michael a little better.
Jane: Hello, my name is Jane Kimondo and I’m the new Executive Director of Crossroads Fund.
Michael: Hi, my name is Michael Aguhar and I’m the new Program Director of the Crossroads Fund. Jane, what are you most excited about in being the Executive Director at Crossroads Fund?
Jane: It’s one question that I’ve been asking myself, why am I the new Executive Director of Crossroads Fund and what excites me at this particular moment? One, I want to acknowledge that I stand on shoulders of people. I want to, first of all, acknowledge the founders of Crossroads Fund, who took a lot of time and energy and resources to dream and dream big and make this a reality. Then, all the folks who have come along with us for the last 39 years, which has been a long road and a long journey to be where we are. When I look at this particular moment, and think about all the leadership of color that we have at the state, at the county, and also in the philanthropic field, what does this mean? What’s our mandate? Because even as we ascend to these positions of power, our communities are not benefiting directly. They still have a lot of things that destabilized their lives, whether it’s ICE raids or being pushed out of their communities because of high rents or development that comes into the community. That’s not for them, but for others. Or, just lack of public education that is really well equipped so that all children can reach their full potential. This is where the disconnect falls. So what’s our mandate and how do we always stay true to the communities that we come from? This is what makes me very excited about being the new Executive Director of Crossroads Fund.
Michael, what are you most excited about in this new role as a Program Director of Crossroads Fund?
Michael: First of all, I’m excited to be working with you, Jane, and the rest of the staff and board of Crossroads Fund to realize the collective vision that we all have and those of the founders. I’m also really excited to get to know the grantees and all of the work they do throughout Chicago to realize some new possibilities. The grantees who are working on building communities that don’t rely on the police, the grantees who are working with queer youth to find a sense of home and belonging, and the ones who are working throughout the city to hold government and other institutions accountable. Finally, I am really excited to be working with everyday folks who want to get involved and move their money into new models of organizing and movement building. I’m really excited to work with them so that they can realize that they too can make an impact and create change with every dollar they give, with every hour that they volunteer and with every relationship they build throughout the city and with grantees and other activists and organizers. So, yeah, all that really excites me and I’m looking forward to working with you.
What does it mean to be you and all that you embody and be the Executive Director of a public foundation that funds activists working for systems change?
Jane: Working at Crossroads Fund really embodies what it means that all the systems are interconnected. As a Black woman, as a parent, as an immigrant, I am not immune to the issues our communities are facing. I’m part and parcel of the community. So every day that I come to a Crossroads Fund I ask myself, "what can we do better?" "How do we change or replace the systems that are intentionally not made for us?" What drives me is to fundamentally change or replace the systems. These are systems that are made from a notion that some people are deserving and others are not deserving. As folks who collectively do not accept this notion, we have a duty to change the systems and replace them as much as we can. Given that the systems are not made for us.
Michael, as you transition from AFIRE into the philanthropic field, what are some of your thoughts?
Michael: My first thought is change is possible, right? That transformation, most importantly, is possible. I’ve seen it happen when domestic workers get in front of the mic and demand their rights; they demand a right to a fair wage, they demand protection from sexual harassment and discrimination. So I’ve seen it happen and I know that grantees across this city are doing that same thing. Change is possible when we uplift those voices of grassroots folks and create opportunities for them to shine. Change is possible when we’re able to share our stories with one another. When we connect those stories to our broader structure and a political analysis that understands that those systems of oppression are interconnected and that they work to oppress all of us, not just one of us. And change is possible when we move with intention with each other and with other communities who share our values to work at those intersections and create change for everyone. So it’s possible and I’m excited to be working with grantees to realize that and to support their work.
Jane: Welcome, Michael, to Crossroads Fund.
Michael: Welcome, Jane, to being the new E.D. of Crossroads Fund.
Lizette: Crossroads Fund is a public foundation supporting community organizations working on issues of racial, social and economic justice in the Chicago area. Learn more at crossroadsfund.org.
Thanks for listening!