Our Village

Co-Founders

Hakima Abbas

“When I close my eyes, I can see, taste and feel the warmth of liberation in the breeze.  I aspire to tend the land, dance with the ocean and to be surrounded by the laughter of children.”

Hakima’s activism came from her childhood. She cannot remember a time when she didn’t long for collective liberation or “tremble with indignation at every injustice”. For the last two decades, Hakima has dedicated her labor to supporting and strengthening social movements. She was the Executive Director of Fahamu, a pan-African movement support organization and is currently the co-Executive Director of AWID, a global feminist movement support and membership organizaiton.

Learn More About Hakima

She is a member of the Jang! popular education collective and has served as a board member to: Greenpeace Africa, the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation Eastern Africa, the African Sex Workers Alliance, and the Center for Citizen Participation in the African Union. She has also contributed in advisory roles to several donor and multilateral initiatives including: UHAI – the East African Sexual Health and Rights Initiative, the Heartland Alliance, The Other Foundation, the UN Trust Fund on EVAW, UN Spotlight Initiative and the UN high level taskforce on financing for gender equality.

She is the author and co-editor of several articles and publications including: Africa’s Long Road to Rights; From Roots to Branches: the African Diaspora in the Union Government; Aid and Reparations: Power in Development Discourse; Queer African Reader; People-led Transformation: African Futures; and the Pan-Africanism and Feminism issues of Feminist Africa.

Tynesha McHarris

“Before the BFF was started, we stood on the shoulders of our ancestors and of movements that have come before. There has been a long legacy and generation of folks, who not just fought for us to be here, but also created frameworks, visions and ideas, so that we can actually transform the world.”

Tynesha’s philanthropic roots are in her early work, leading programs for young people. She has worked closely with young people who have experienced criminalization and incarceration, as well as dutiful work for survivors of gender-based violence.

Learn More About Tynesha

She is a graduate of Rutgers University, and has completed post-graduate training from the Columbia Business School’s Social Enterprise Executive Education Program, as well as Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Centre for Creative Leadership’s Executive Education Program.

Tynesha was responsible for designing NoVo Foundation’s portfolio for girls of colour in the United States, a 90 million-dollar investment, and the first of its kind in the sector. She has served on the board of Grantmakers for Girls of Colour, Just Beginnings Collaborative, and Funders for Justice. She is also the Principal at Black Harvest, a Black feminist consulting firm partnering with social movement leaders, donors of wealth and institutional philanthropy to bolster work advancing racial, gender and youth justice.

Amina Doherty

“As an African-Caribbean feminist and women’s rights advocate, my work is centered around raising awareness for social justice through movement-building, and innovative approaches to philanthropy. Through actively supporting transformational work – from artists, dreamers, activists and organizations that strengthen social change – I am focused on helping to build a more colorful, equal and just world.”

Across her work, Amina Doherty has found the natural flow between creativity and activism. Through actively supporting transformational work from artists, dreamers, activists, and organizations that strengthen social change, Amina remains focused on building a more colourful, equal, and just world.

Learn More About Amina

She holds a BA in political science and women’s studies from McGill University (Distinction) and a M.Sc. in gender, development and globalization from the London School of Economics (LSE).

 Amina serves as a Caribbean advisor to Mama Cash, and as a Board Member for Global Fund for Women board members. She has managed funding for women’s rights organizations at the Sigrid Rausing Trust, she is a founding member and the first director of FRIDA | The Young Feminist Fund, an organization that aims to strengthen the capacity of young feminist organizations around the world, and she has worked extensively with movement support organizations such as: the Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID); Just Associates (JASS); and the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF). Amina is currently the Program Director for the Caribbean Women’s Voice and Leadership Program at The Equality Fund. 

She  is based in Antigua and Barbuda, but has lived and worked in Nigeria, Canada, Jamaica, and the UK.

Team

Naeemah Davis, Operations Manager

It started with two essential values for Naeemah: joy and family. On these principles, she’s founded small businesses, and has worked with organizations such as The Frontline and Black Harvest. As a successful entrepreneur, her experiences have taught her that with the right support, our Black women can do anything.

With that in mind, her role as Operations Manager at the Black Feminist Fund allows her to utilize her over a decade of education and business administration to support the Fund’s model for the philanthropic sector; solidarity funding for Black women in all their diversities.

Timiebi Souza-Okpofabri, Programs and Grantmaking Coordinator

Timiebi Souza-Okpofabri (they/she) is a queer feminist researcher, archivist, writer, artist, and DJ from Trinidad and Tobago. They have a Bachelor’s degree in Ethnic Studies, and a Certificate in Human Rights Studies.

Over the last few years, they have worked as a researcher and consultant, focusing on challenging the erasure of historical narratives of resistance through archival research, storytelling, art and education. They also have experience working within student movements and civil society, and they are a co-founder of Batti Mamzelle, Trinidad and Tobago’s first queer DJ collective. Outside of work, they love hiking and the outdoors, making music and reading stories from Africa and the diaspora.

Movement Leadership Council

Sibongile Ndashe

As the founder and Executive Director of the Initiative for Strategic Litigation Africa (ISLA), Sibongile has served her community as a public interest lawyer for over twenty years. She focuses on what is important to her; litigating gender and sexuality before the African human rights system, and supporting litigation before national courts.

Sibongile had spent considerable time designing capacity strengthening programmes. Her goal is to develop a pool of African feminist lawyers who can litigate on women’s rights issues. Her savvy networking skills allow her to collaborate with other lawyers who provide quality legal representation to people who face violations because of their sexuality. 

Gay McDougall

Gay brings extensive and varied experience in the field of human rights to her position at the Black Feminist Fund. As the first UN Special Rapporteur on Minority Issues, and a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Award, Gay has spent her career working on issues of race, gender, and economic justice in the global context.

She is an independent expert for the UN Committee on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, and she is currently a Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the Leitner Center on International Law. As Special Rapporteur on the issue of systematic rape and sexual slavery practices in armed conflict, she presented a ground-breaking study calling for international legal standards for the prosecution of such acts. She was one of five international members of South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission, which successfully organized and administered that country’s first non-racial elections.

Sharlen Sezestre

Born and raised in Martinique, Sharlen developed a political awareness of racial and gender-based inequalities from a young age. For over 10 years, she has opposed domestic violence and gender-based discrimination at the Union des femmes de la Martnique (Union of Women of Martinique) and Culture Egalité (Culture Equality). She remains committed to defending the sexual and reproductive rights of all women and girls, and her activism has kept her involved in the fight against police violence within grassroots collectives in France. 

Sharlen believes that feminist and political Generation Equality Forum cannot be achieved without the full and complete participation of those women most affected, or without concrete government commitments to sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender equality.

Maie Panaga Babker

Maie has spent her time providing women with an opportunity to express themselves outside the confines of the society in which they live, and enable them to develop an imagination that extends beyond their daily realities. She assists women in exploring how they express (or don’t express) themselves during various stages of their lives and during different political eras.

As a Sudanese woman based in Cairo, Maie is the co-founder and co-editor of the Cairo-based Ikhtyar Feminist Collective. “Ikhtyar” meaning choice in Arabic, aims to promote and educate the community on gender and sexual equality. Since 2014, Maie has been devoted to feminist knowledge production in Arabic, covering areas of: feminism, sexuality, reproductive health and rights, and feminist Internet.

Mukami Marete

“My dream is Black feminist movements being able to organize, knowing they’re supported in the long term. Because the problems aren’t going away any time soon.”

With a long and broad activist career of 18 years, Mukami has worked at the intersection of organizational development, human rights and social justice, and her career has particularly focused on the resourcing organizing for and by LGBTIQ persons and sex workers. 

She is currently the Co-Executive Director of UHAI EASHRI, the East Africa Sexual Health and Rights Initiative, an activist LGBTIQ and sex workers fund. Mukami also serves on the boards of the: Global Philanthropy Project, the East African Philanthropy Network, the African Philanthropy Network Board, and the Sex Worker Donors Collaborative.

Yannia Sofia Garzon Valencia

As a Black Woman and community weaver, Yannia has worked for nine years in Columbia with the Process of Black Communities. Between 2013 and 2017, she invested her time into coordinating and facilitating several youth and women’s training spaces. The mobilization of black women for the care of life and ancestral territories remains among her largest schools of political training

 Yannia has been a part of the methodological and negotiation teams of the Black movement and the popular movement, and she is also a workshop leader and lecturer in numerous local, national and international spaces. She has centered her interests in the organizational processes of Black women who propose and conduct anti-racist and political realities and practices centered on the care of life.

Kym Oliver

Kym is a Writer, Speaker, Expert Lecturer, Sex & Dating aficionado, Peer-reviewed Vegan Food Critic, Consultant, and Professional Cackler, with an international and diverse list of credits within Academic, Corporate and Media spaces. Including the University of Oxford, NASA, Estee Lauder Companies, UNFPA, BBC and AJ+. Kym is also the ‘Official Goddess’ for The Triple Cripples – a platform dedicated to highlighting the narratives and increasing the visibility of Black Women & Non-Binary People, living with Disability. 

A queer, Black, Montserratian & Ghanaian, 6’1″, thinker, Kym uses the pronouns They/Them as a rejection of white supremacist binaries and to honour the ancestors of all expressions, who live vibrantly within Kym’s DNA and are celebrated through Kym’s existence. With a mission to create the research necessary to serve and protect all Black Women and children on the globe, Kym is determined to be the change they wish to see. They are dedicated to illuminating their ‘lived experience’ with a multivariate long-term condition; examining its psychological, emotional, practical, social, cultural, spiritual, structural and interpersonal effects, in order to create a blueprint for a more equitable future for our planet. 

A multifaceted creative, deep lover of Anime and Nollywood villain hopeful – Kym spends umpteen hours staring at a screen talking to an invisible, future audience. Ironically, they happen to be a qualified Personal Trainer & Integrative Health Coach, who spends most of their days lying in bed, feeling poorly and promising themselves that “tomorrow ” will be the day that they “eat better & go to the gym”…

Champions

Deborah Holmes

It was her energy, her affinity for music, and her joy that brought happiness to anyone who had the chance to work with Deborah. She was a confidante, a big picture thinker, and a voice that ensured the intersection of race and gender was at the forefront at all times. 

Deborah’s focus had always been on helping others, and to right the injustices women face – in particular women of color. A former investigative journalist, Deborah spent the last decade at the Global Fund for Women and Women’s Funding Network where she worked to advance justice and equality for women around the world. 

Learn More About Deborah

She joined the Black Feminist Fund advisory circle in 2014 and became a champion of the work.

Her strength was contagious. Nothing could stop Deborah on a mission. She pushed organizations and people to embrace change and think differently. She challenged and supported people to do better and to see a better future. She cared deeply about justice issues between people and she was not diplomatic about calling out racial injustice. Behind Deborah’s strength also lay deep compassion, thoughtfulness, and kindness.

Unfortunately, Deborah passed away in 2018 before she could see the BFF blossom. We carry forward Deborah’s light in this journey.

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

When Phumzile was a young girl in South Africa, she saw first-hand what fearless women could do. Since then, she has devoted her career to issues of human rights, equality, and social justice, both in the public and private sectors. She declared 2020 “A year for women,” with her “Generation Equality Campaign.”

She joined UN Women as Executive Director in 2013, and under her leadership, they significantly increased their influence within and outside the UN system, expanded its partnerships, and more than doubled in size and revenue.

Learn More About Phumzile

Most recently completing her second and last term at the United Nations, she will be remembered as a strong supporter of a more coherent, accountable and coordinated UN system, working together to achieve gender equality.

She has broken barriers and shattered glass ceilings. She believes that when you create opportunity for women, you actually unleash a force for good. Life has shown her that working with women introduces additional power that makes the world a better place.

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