As we begin a new year and a new era in American politics, Arena will continue to recruit, support, and train the next generation of progressive leaders. Between now and the 2022 elections, two-thirds of states will elect governors, the entire U.S. Congress is up for re-election, and there are hundreds of other state and local elections. These campaigns need trained staff that reflect the communities we must organize to win.
That’s why Arena is planning seven Arena Academies and expanding our Careers work and Toolbox leading up to the midterm elections. These programs will continue to bring new leaders into politics and support those already in this work in deep and meaningful ways.
To ensure our success, we are expanding our team. We’re excited to announce that Jessica Angima (she/her) has joined us full time as a Training Associate — she spent the winter of 2020 with us as a Fellow.
Jessica is a first-generation Kenyan American cultural producer and healing artist, working in the field of meditation. In a constant state of process, she facilitates intimate community through the exploration of art, justice, and contemplative practice. She has taught for BRIC, the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts, SELF Magazine, SHAPE Magazine, Google, theSkimm and more. Jessica was a 2019 Create Change Fellow at The Laundromat Project and holds an MA in Arts Politics from New York University Tisch School of the Arts.
At Arena, Jessica will work closely with our Training Director, Julia Leitner, to design curriculum and training events that equip participants with the skills, knowledge, and tools they need to build winning campaigns and movements. Jessica believes, “to build a sustainable progressive movement, we must create a shift toward the equitable distribution of resources and power. I see this in Arena’s work and couldn’t be more thrilled to be a part of a team working toward this shift by investing in progressive talent.”
We’re also pleased to announce Taré Suriel (they/them) and Santiago Rosales (he/him) have joined us as Exploratory Fellows. Taré and Santiago will build on what we learned at the Arena Reunion after November’s election. They will seek to answer the question, “What can campaigns do to be more equitable, inclusive, and welcoming to people from all backgrounds, and especially Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)?” Taré and Santiago will do field research and synthesize first-hand accounts from 2020 cycle staff to inform the final guide they create. If you worked this election cycle, share your thoughts here.
Taré is based in Baltimore and currently works as a Tools Support Engineer at Catalist. They first got involved with Arena by participating in the Houston Arena Academy. Along with others, they gained the knowledge necessary to take a winding road through local politics and the DCCC, leading them to where they are now.
Taré believes, “to build a more equitable future, we need a groundswell of civic engagement at every level of community. We can’t sustain the level of turnover that has become the status quo in this industry. This fellowship is a precious opportunity to reflect and improve.”
Santiago Rosales is a queer, disabled Chicano organizer from Houston, Texas. From advocating for racial justice at the University of Texas to organizing for progressive candidates, Santiago is working towards building a state politics that is equitable and just. Outside of work, he enjoys trying to care for his plantitas, playing Catan, and finding the spiciest of memes.
Santiago is excited to work with Arena “to understand how campaigns can affirm and empower BIPOC staff because when we have more BIPOC staff on campaigns, our movement can more authentically organize with communities of color. And as we build a stronger cross-racial movement, we will elect more white and BIPOC progressive candidates and build governing majorities that can sustain progressive reforms.”
In the coming weeks, Arena will also hire a Talent Associate. The Talent Associate will work closely with the Director of Talent, Heather Schmucker, to tackle traditional hiring challenges within the progressive community. They will work to empower a diverse group of current and potential staffers to find their highest and best use in the progressive space. Check back for an update on who we bring onto our team.
These new additions will augment Arena’s ability to invest in progressive talent and take on the urgent and vital work ahead of us. We are thrilled to welcome our new team members and get to work.
You can see a full roster of Team Arena here.