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.
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.
Ali Knight, Chief Operating Officer, Fresh Lifelines for Youth March 2020 As we are seeing through the global spread of COVID-19, the virus is infecting and affecting the human race without consideration for race, gender, class, or social status. Yet how we respond as a human race seems to be divided accordingly. Indeed, this pandemic appears to have created a new way to discriminate against certain parts of our population, which puts the most marginalized at the greatest risk. As a justice-focused organization, we see this public health crisis as a justice issue. We will take this opportunity to advance
FLY is 20 in 2020 October 2020 will mark exactly 20 years since the first FLY law class was taught by Christa Gannon. At the time, Christa was FLY’s only staff member and she worked with a handful of volunteers to serve youth in a few neighborhoods in San Jose. Today, with 65+ staff, 200+ volunteers, and a growing list of programs, FLY serves approximately 2,500 youth annually throughout the Bay Area. We’ll celebrate this coming October with our longest-running supporters and stakeholders, then with all of the FLY Family at our Showcase event in December. Systems Change FLY believes
An update from our CEO: In many ways, the pandemic has further exposed the long road of work that we have ahead of us. We believe now more than ever in the importance of FLY’s strategic plan to continue to expand our direct services, build evidence that demonstrates our programs work, create and implement a systems change plan in partnership with those systems, and figure out ways to offer our learning to others through technical assistance…all the while centering youth and their voices as key leaders and collaborators in working toward the change we all hope to see. We look forward