We are thrilled to introduce you to Fund the Change recipient Janeen Bryan
An advocate and catalyst for building community capacity since 2000, Janeen Bryant is an intersectional educator, facilitator, trainer, and agitator. A graduate of Davidson College with a B.A. in Anthropology, she completed her Master of Science degree in Leadership and Management in 2010. Formerly, vice president of education, Ms. Bryant is known widely as a facilitator and community-centered program developer both regionally and nationally.
Now, after launching her consultancy Facilitate Movement, she serves as a community engagement specialist and catalyst for building organizational capacity. Her recent stint as guest columnist for the Charlotte Observer continues her work in social impact for marginalized communities. Her writing can be seen in that newspaper and other industry-specific contributions such as the MASS Action (Museum as Site for Social Action) tool kit and for Museums & Race.
We asked Janeen…
What does your activist, social justice, anti-racism, anti-oppression, or intersectional work look like?
I see accountability, working together, and encouragement as a constant cycle in my work. If the big “we” is to be successful we must be critical of our selected tactics, we must ask hard questions, and we must be willing to work together to solve the issues. If a particular tactic made us feel great but actually exacerbated the issue we claim it fixes, then one way to help strengthen the “we” is to look for an actually effective strategy. So while it may seem like an attack, asking hard questions can lead us to real solutions and call us to reflectively redirect our energy.
What keeps you going?
My daughter. She is truly an inspiration who demonstrates active kindness, love, and consideration. I love watching her use her voice, even when she uses it to challenge me. She teaches me every day.
I make space for self-care by honoring my desire to communicate in intentional and clear ways. I feel that this demonstrates a commitment to myself and my truth, and I give myself permission to feel as good as I can every day.
What are you proud of?
I am proud that I have created a way to harness my purpose and passion into a career. By launching Facilitate Movement three years ago, I married my undergraduate degree in anthropology, my years as a classroom teacher, my work as a museum educator, and my ability to organize communities into one social impact organization.
What do you want to see change in the arts/museums/cultural sectors?
Embrace the risk! I want to see institutions quit waiting for models and act as models for social change. There’s an over-reliance on data, proof points, and “best practice” that inhibits innovation in the field. The critique of a strategy that feels good to you, but has been largely ineffective in practice, is the very definition of performative activism.
Who are your mentors? What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the sustained leadership of Museums & Race, MASS Action, and the Empathetic Museum. Particularly the work of Gretchen Jennings and the fearlessness of Porchia Moore are consistent inspirations to my ongoing practice of reflection and self-care while committing to hard work. I have been in service to the field for more than 10 years and I find myself in awe of the courage of the young activists in the cultural sector who relentlessly disrupt our complacency. I believe that we need each other; I think it is essential that we recognize and reciprocate with each other constantly to build something better- maybe even something beyond our own imaginations.
How can we support you and your work?
As an independent consultant, I thrive most when in connection with challenging issues and committed groups of thinkers who are willing to take risks. I like wrestling with complex issues, mapping power, and strategizing solutions.
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