Kerani Mitchell has served the Sisters Folk Festival for the past four years. photo by Lynn Woodward
It's been almost four years since Kerani Mitchell joined the Sisters Folk Festival staff as volunteer and program manager. Over the years her time with SFF staff, volunteers and students has truly evolved into a family of co-workers and friends.
Volunteer Kip Wheeler reflected on Mitchell's impact: "I've never worked with a better volunteer coordinator. Kerani's ability to combine head and heart never failed to amaze me. She will be missed at SFF."
Mitchell worked to streamline the volunteer management process by implementing new database management software. She also spent time in the public schools overseeing SFF's Americana Project classes. As a Sisters High School graduate, she enjoyed walking the halls of her former high school and supporting students as they navigate their academic and artistic endeavors. She also served as a volunteer at Sisters High School as an ASPIRE mentor where she helped students prepare for college and life after high school.
During her tenure with SFF she joined the Portland nonprofit Oregon Humanities as a facilitator for their Conversation Project. She has travelled throughout Oregon leading discussions on what it means to be an Oregonian and the role race and other identifiers play in feeling a sense of community. She's a founding board member for Bend International School, a public charter school, where her son attends. She's proud to be part of the founding team of the Community Conversations Bend and an advisory member for the Bend 2030's Civic Equities Project.
As she's travelled across Oregon for the Oregon Humanity's Conversation Project, Kerani has seen how much work still needs to be done in Oregon and the United States around equity, diversity and inclusion for nonprofits as well as mainstream society. Her passion for supporting underrepresented populations kept her focused on using her skills to benefit others and build community. Mitchell met the Groundswell Fund CFO at a diversity training session at COCC. Eventually, a position opened up and Mitchell was encouraged to apply.
Mitchell will join her new co-workers in early December at a staff meeting in New York. She's excited to work with women who share her vision and mission for making life better for women of color and those in the LGBTQ communities. Mitchell's new employer focuses on providing resources that enable those populations to access healthcare.
"I'm excited about Groundswell's approach to grant-making, where they believe that those who are closest to the problem are best able to develop strategies to achieve solutions," said Mitchell.
Her position as an accounting assistant includes supporting the CFO so they can deliver their grants. Since their inception, Groundswell has awarded over $32 million in grants engaging women of color, low-income women and LGBTQ people to access and advocate for healthcare services.
Mitchell's former SFF boss, Ann Richardson, respects her both professionally and personally.
"Over the almost four years she's been working with us, Kerani has demonstrated her passion, intelligence, and ambition in all she does. She has dedicated herself to helping SFF personalize and professionalize our volunteer program and bring consistency and support to the Americana Project students and activities."
Although Richardson is sad to see her go, she knows that Mitchell's skills will benefit an even larger group in her new role.
"Kerani has earned this amazing opportunity to use her gifts to support a cause dear to her heart. It's time to let this butterfly expand her wings and fly - to learn, grow and continue to help others. It has been my pure joy and pleasure to work with her," said Richardson.
Mitchell has been deeply touched by her time back in Sisters.
"Being a part of SFF has been a gift and stepping stone. I reconnected with friends both old and new, where I grew up, while supporting an organization dear to my heart. I'm ecstatic to keep growing with Groundswell Fund and to support its critical grant-making and approach to fostering equity. I intend to stay in touch with SFF and look forward to enjoying the music as a patron and friend. I'm so grateful to everyone who has been a part of this journey and transition!"