This post originally appeared in the PLACES Connection April 2022 newsletter.

BY Talissa Lahaliyed, Equity Programs Manager

“Sometimes we have to do the work even though we don’t yet see a glimmer on the horizon that it’s actually going to be possible” – Angela Davis

I’m writing this message as I prepare (physically and spiritually) for the month of Ramadan, which this year takes place from April 2 to May 2. Ramadan is not only a month marked by fasting and worship, but it is also one of deep self-reflection, community care and humility.

I began to reflect on my purpose, which is something I’ve battled with since I began my career in philanthropy, particularly in my pursuit of justice and liberation. My purpose is guided by my faith, which has instilled in me a strong sense of justice and resistance to oppression.

However, the overwhelming inequities we see in the world accompanied by slow change has at times left me paralyzed by helplessness. It also made me question my approach to the work. Am I doing enough? Am I truly making an impact? Though I recognize many of these thoughts are derived from white supremacy culture and capitalism, there is validity in pausing, contemplating our intentions and re-routing our path.

While I am yet to find the answers to my questions, I have come to the conclusion that doing nothing is never an option. And knowing that I am not alone in this pursuit of justice and liberation, and that there are remarkable individuals leading the way for change, has brought me comfort and hope. All change might not happen in our lifetime, but we must follow in the footsteps of those who came before us and forge a new path toward justice.

Working in this sector is a privilege, and being unable to act is a disservice to our communities. I will continue my reflections and give myself some grace, with the hope that I will come closer to a resolution by the end of Ramadan. I also encourage you to think about your purpose, as a means to guide us and hold us accountable in our fight for liberation for all.



PLACES — which stands for Professionals Learning About Community, Equity and Sustainability — uses learning, coaching and reflections to explore structural racism, community empowerment and equitable grantmaking practices. In addition to the PLACES curriculum, Fellows learn from the people and places we visit. Our Fellowship Cohort, selected annually from a highly competitive pool of applicants, embarks on year-long journey that includes four site visits to communities across the U.S. and Canada.

The PLACES Fellowship concludes with a capstone presentation and graduation — but that rarely marks the end of the PLACES experience. As any PLACES alum will tell you, the deep bonds and professional connections forged by the Fellows extend well beyond the end of their cohort year. Learn more about the PLACES fellowship and alumni here.


About the Author

Talissa Lahaliyed is TFN’s equity programs manager, responsible for supporting the implementation of TFN’s Racial Equity Action Plan and contributing to the design and implementation of the PLACES Fellowship program, including alum engagement.




Photo by kordi_vahle is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA