I am a Senior Editor at Nonprofit Quarterly, the leading journal for civil society in the US. Here are some of my favorite articles. 

Platform Series

Platform Mastery: Designing for Interactions

image16

Many of us are familiar with platforms. We use them in everyday life, from ride shares, to home shares, to shopping on Amazon or eBay. It’s time to consider the affordances of this form in the nonprofit sector. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/platform-mastery-designing-for-interactions/

Launching a Platform: Solving the Chicken-and-Egg Question

image17

Platforms attract users—both producers and consumers—by structuring incentives for participation connected to the core interaction. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/launching-a-platform-solving-the-chicken-and-egg-question/

Platform Governance: Practicing Democracy

image18

Whether big or small, platforms are not only labs for innovation, they are spaces to practice shared decision-making, which is central to democracy. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/platform-governance-practicing-democracy/

Platform Life Cycle and Metrics

image19

Platforms amplify value and allow for clear measurement. They sidestep some of the challenges of measuring social change with their simple focus on curating high-quality interactions, which is also a key metric for a good society. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/platform-life-cycle-and-metrics/

Global Protests Signal the Need for New Political Identities

image20

Not only are social movements growing and spreading, they are evolving, becoming transnational, and moving beyond individual grievances to make large-scale claims for the development of a more equitable civil society. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/global-protests-signal-the-need-for-new-political-identities/

Rethinking Nonprofit Infrastructure

image21

When we talk about infrastructure for the sector, is the infrastructure there to support civic engagement, or nonprofit and philanthropic organizations? This tension has been there from the beginning. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/rethinking-nonprofit-infrastructure/

Playing By the Rules

image22

The practice of whiting out black excellence, of bending the rules so that black people don’t get to set the standard, goes hand in hand with the mediocrity, the unpreparedness, of white supremacy. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/playing-by-the-rules/

What Does It Look Like to Support Women of Color to Lead?

image23

The driving question in Wilnelia Rivera’s work is “What makes women of color successful?”

It is this kind of focus that helped Ayanna Pressley win a Congressional seat with the slogan, “Change Can’t Wait.” https://nonprofitquarterly.org/what-does-it-look-like-to-support-women-of-color-to-lead/

How Do Social Movements Mature

image24

In other words, today’s social change requires social production, the creation of new identities and ways of being. Politics, while important, keeps us at the surface. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/how-do-social-movements-mature/

Systems Change Is All about Shifting Power

image25

By now, system thinking has become deracinated, devoid of its true power implications. This quick review reminds us of what system change actually requires. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/systems-change-is-all-about-shifting-power/

Voice under Domination

image26

We will not make a dent in racial (or other kinds of) justice until we are able to imagine and develop more liberatory organizational forms. These forms must, above all, pay attention to voice. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/voice-under-domination/

Change Can Wait? The Privilege of Waiting

image27

“Change takes time.” How often do you hear this? But is it true? Some change does take time, like the building up of glaciers or the passing of seasons. But other change is a matter of shifts. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/change-can-wait-the-privilege-of-waiting/

The Revolution in Puerto Rico—Discourse as a Battleground

image28

It should come as no surprise then that the discourses for a more equitable future are coming not from leaders in these systems, but from artists. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/the-revolution-in-puerto-rico-discourse-as-a-battleground/

A Cult of Democracy—Toward a Pluralistic Politics

image29

In the United States and globally, there is much concern about both the devolution of democracy and the resurgence of racism and xenophobia. There is a sense that things are breaking down and the world no longer makes sense. But these challenges are intertwined and what are actually dying are the dominant narratives undergirding them.  https://nonprofitquarterly.org/a-cult-of-democracy-toward-a-pluralistic-politics/

Putting “Privilege” in Perspective

image30

The word “privilege” has been thrown around a lot lately. But does this kind of widespread use of privilege (and the call-out culture that rains shame on those accused) diminish the power of the word and negatively affect the causes of social justice? https://nonprofitquarterly.org/putting-privilege-in-perspective/

The Fetish of Agreement

image31

I have to come to a point, after years in the sector and movement work, that I strongly believe that there is very little on which we have to agree. It’s almost become a mantra for me, seeing how it squashes variance and creativity. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/the-fetish-of-agreement/

Sensemaking Series

SENSEMAKING SERIES | The Sensemaking Organization: Designing for Complexity

image32

Sensemaking workers have a keen ability to perceive change and not proceed as if nothing has changed. Ultimately, they organize themselves for learning—identifying what they want to learn and creating learning environments. It is this thrust that propels their careers. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/the-sensemaking-worker-organizing-for-learning/

SENSEMAKING SERIES | The Sensemaking Mindset: Improvisation over Strategy

image33

To be successful, the sensemaking organization must capture the learning from the past, but not be controlled by it, in order to meaningfully engage with generally unforeseen events.

The stance of individuals is more akin to improvisation than strategy... https://nonprofitquarterly.org/the-sensemaking-mindset-improvisation-over-strategy/

SENSEMAKING SERIES | The Sensemaking Worker: Organizing for Learning

image34

Sensemaking workers have a keen ability to perceive change and not proceed as if nothing has changed. Ultimately, they organize themselves for learning—identifying what they want to learn and creating learning environments. It is this thrust that propels their careers. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/the-sensemaking-worker-organizing-for-learning/

SENSEMAKING SERIES | Structuring for Sensemaking: The Power of Small Segments

image35

The sensemaking organization is in a constant state of iteration. Because of this, Weick asserts that “the main product of an organization is interpretations rather than decisions.” https://nonprofitquarterly.org/structuring-for-sensemaking-the-power-of-small-segments/

Why Blackface Keeps Popping Up

image36

These are not random associations; they are carefully constructed power narratives, the management of which is highly political. These symbolic interactions impact physical bodies—from the anxiety of being black in a society with these potent images about you, to the physical violence that is increasingly directed at black people as a result of these images. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/why-blackface-keeps-popping-up/

On Not Being Constrained by the System You’re In

image37

Perhaps our sector should be more like Ocasio-Cortez and less like the Democratic Party. At least some of us should be blowing up the system. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/on-not-being-constrained-by-the-system-youre-in/

Signifying Blackness and the Future of Humanity

image38

The worlds of fashion and speculative fiction had two very interesting stories recently of note to the nonprofit sector. Both deal with blackness and the imagination as the terrain of the human battle for the future. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/signifying-blackness-and-the-future-of-humanity/

Ford @ Kavanaugh: Moving Beyond Reversals and Token Torturers

image39

Those of us who care about social justice and equity must engage the discursive terrain in ways that dismantle hierarchies of human value. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/ford-kavanaugh-moving-beyond-reversals-and-token-torturers/

The Hidden Narrative of Racial Inequity in Puerto Rico

image40

A newly forming nonprofit, Caribbean Cultural Corridor, a network of local economies for local Black art, seeks to challenge anti-black narratives on the island, starting in Loíza. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/hidden-narrative-racial-inequity-puerto-rico/

Don’t Be Like Sarah Huckabee Sanders

image41

If you are one of these white leaders, don’t be like Sarah Huckabee Sanders—don’t hide your power behind the pain of being held accountable. Time is short. The work is real. We need you to be bolder. The pain of giving up power is not the top priority right now. Others are suffering more.  https://nonprofitquarterly.org/dont-be-like-sarah-huckabee-sanders/

The Nonprofit Sector as White Space

image42

Now more than ever, as the US dredges up submerged racial dominance narratives, with an attendant shift from implicit bias to explicit violence, it is critical for the nonprofit sector, which is caught in its own narrative loop around racial inequity, to look squarely at these underlying master narratives of white space and black space. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/nonprofit-sector-white-space/

Designing for Difference

image43

Learning to live well with people who are different is the biggest challenge facing humans today, according to Richard Sennett, designer and scholar of the built-design world. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/designing-for-difference/

Does Your Nonprofit Teach Democracy?

image44

The failure to link nonprofit governance to democracy is reflected in the theory and practice of nonprofit governance, which is “strongly influenced by research on corporate governance.” https://nonprofitquarterly.org/nonprofit-teach-democracy/

Why We Need to Proliferate Inclusive Narratives

image45

We must call out and challenge the creation of and attacks against difference, the construction of Others, the unwillingness to accept change. As Mason concludes, this kind of identity politics, or disconnected stance, makes democracy hard because it precludes deliberation. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/need-proliferate-inclusive-narratives/

Public Responses to BLM and #NeverAgain: A Disturbing Contrast

image46

It’s almost whiplash-causing to witness the radically different responses to the Black Lives Matter and #NeverAgain movements. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/blm-neveragain-contrasting-responses-show-far-go/

Two Philanthropic Approaches to Strengthening Puerto Rico

image47

These two approaches beg the question: From where does one start when trying to strengthen a nonprofit sector in response to a devastating storm that, as many people I spoke with said, “pulled the veil to reveal extreme poverty and inequality” on the island? https://nonprofitquarterly.org/strengthening-puerto-rico-nonprofits-two-philanthropic-approaches/

Puerto Rico’s Nonprofit Sector at a Crossroads

image48

Many nonprofits in Puerto Rico and the US have jumped into the federal political vacuum to answer the call for help. But what does this moment make possible for Puerto Rico’s nonprofit sector? https://nonprofitquarterly.org/puerto-ricos-nonprofit-sector-at-a-crossroads/

Equity as Core Principle: Big Green and Environmental Justice Nonprofits Try to Align

image49

The environmental movement has long been divided along race and class lines. Perhaps there is some momentum to change all of that... https://nonprofitquarterly.org/equity-core-principle-big-green-environmental-justice-nonprofits-try-align/

Puerto Rico Must Recover from Hurricane Maria and Colonial Status

image50

So, as is too ordinary for nonprofits, we have disaster heaped on top of injustice writ large in Puerto Rico. Maybe it’s time for the nonprofit sector and philanthropy to consider how to help make this a passing-gear moment.

White Supremacy and the Fight for the Public Square

image51

The right to the public square is not absolute. It is mitigated by the rights of others to life and equality, including of the public square. This poses a challenge for democratic governments facing voluntary associations that are racist and destructive. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/white-supremacy-fight-public-square/

The Nonprofit Racial Leadership Gap: Flipping the Lens

image52

“One of the big problems in the nonprofit sector is that the leadership of nonprofit organizations doesn’t represent the racial/ethnic diversity of the country.” https://nonprofitquarterly.org/nonprofit-racial-leadership-gap-flipping-lens/

Black Institutions and Movements: Can the Two Intersect?

image53

While larger, more institutional groups appear to feed off the momentum of the smaller, grassroots networks, the smaller, grassroots networks do not appear to be supported by the larger, institutional groups. https://nonprofitquarterly.org/black-institutions-and-movements-can-the-two-intersect/