On July 1, 2020, Ali Knight was appointed the new President and CEO of FLY after our Founder and CEO of 20 years, Christa Gannon, moved into a formal Founder role. He explains the focus of this new era at FLY: using our energy and resources, and lifting up the voices of our youth, to disrupt the pipeline to prison and help further bend the arc of the universe toward justice.
This post contains the text of Christa Gannon’s last speech as FLY’s CEO, as she passed the title to Ali Knight and stepped into her formal role as Founder. Words cannot express our love for Christa and gratitude for all she has done for youth, for FLY, and for justice.
The Leadership Training Program (LTP) is an opportunity for young people to receive one-on-one support and do more for their community while learning life skills in the process. This video describes how our 2020 Peer Leaders in Santa Clara County chose to learn more about families experiencing homelessness and the ways this impacts their community.
On Wednesday, June 24, the Oakland Board of Educators voted unanimously to eliminate its police department. OUSD was the only district in the county with its own school police force. This victory was the culmination of years of work in the community with leadership from Black Organizing Project and the youth of Oakland. FLY’s Alameda County staff and youth strongly supported their work and contributed to the effort’s success.
On Tuesday, June 30, Christa Gannon will step down as FLY’s CEO after 20 years, and pass the helm to FLY’s COO, Ali Knight. She wrote a letter to our FLY community about how she views this historic transition at FLY.
FLY is honored to publish an open letter from June Wang, Vice Chair of our Board of Directors, about her perspective as an Asian American supporting the black community. She also includes a list of writings and references that have helped her learn about systemic racism.
FLY is unequivocally and unambiguously pro-Black in this moment. We acknowledge and support Black people who have been killed, who have lost family members and friends, who live in fear for their lives and the lives of others, who are protesting and risking their own safety, and others in their communities who are affected by police brutality.
Thank you for standing with us during this critical time in our country’s history and at such an important intersection of FLY’s past, present, and future. We hope you’ll join our virtual CEO Transition Ceremony on June 30 from 4:00 – 5:00 p.m. as we invite Christa and Ali into their new roles at FLY.
Throughout my personal crusade for justice (and my journey into adulthood, too), I’ve often had to remind myself of this very famous quote by one of the great thinkers of all time. It is how I have allowed my rage and my passion for this work to fuel my efforts without feeling like I have to apologize for it—for being an “angry black man.” To that end, I am sharing it with you all in hopes that it helps you find some validation in your feelings, whether they may be a sense of sadness, frustration—or rage.
Thanks to Carmen Andino-Talavera, FLY’s CAFA (Court Appointed Friend and Advocate) Mentor Program Manager, Santa Clara County, and Felicia Cantu, FLY’s Leadership and CAFA Mentor Program Manager, Alameda County, who shared a recent FLYlight (what we call our highlights) with all of us. Using technology to overcome the separation caused by the current shelter-in-place orders, their teams jointly hosted FLY’s first-Ever Virtual New Mentor training via Zoom for 18 future mentors. The event even included a panel of current and former youth, who provided laughs and inspiration as they spoke and then answered questions about their experiences in the program.