Homebase: Queens, New York, USA
Job title: Manager
Reshma Persaud is a Manager of Principal Giving at the International Rescue Committee. She is responsible for the portfolio management of multi-million dollar gifts within the United States and oversees the implementation of funding within programs focusing on safety, health, education, economic well-being, and empowerment for refugee populations worldwide. Previously, Reshma held various positions within New York University (NYU), the CUE Art Foundation, and the Association of Professional Art Advisors. Her 2020 master's thesis at NYU Steinhardt focused on the rise of female artists within art history. She holds a master's degree from NYU Steinhardt in Art Administration, focusing on non-profit management and a bachelor's degree in Art History from NYU College of Arts and Science. Reshma is an active volunteer with South Queens Women's March. Inspired by global and national women's rights movements, the South Queens Women's March amplifies the voices of South Queens' diverse women. They are a multi-generational, intersectional platform working to foster women's empowerment through dismantling norms, practices, and institutions that support patriarchy and gender injustice. They aim to unify women and gender non-conforming individuals in their community, connecting them to the tools and resources necessary to empower their own lives and thrive.
South Queens Women's March (SQWM) is an all-volunteer gender justice organization that fosters empowerment for women and gender non-conforming folks in South Queens. Formalized early in 2020, amid COVID-19, the organization quickly realized that the South Queens community had pressing needs such as wellness, food, period supplies, and efforts to curb gender-based violence.
Through social media outreach and funding from the Alfred Landecker Democracy Fellowship, SQWM aims to provide COVID-19 relief by hosting essential distribution drives to deliver groceries, face coverings, menstrual supplies, and safe sex products to community members. They have ensured that distributions span the breadth of South Queens in areas like Richmond Hill, St. Albans, and South Jamaica. They plan to conduct several more distributions throughout South Queens.
With SQWM’s database launch, their COVID response will be streamlined for the community, who have very few touchpoints to government services. Essential distributions will curb period poverty and food insecurity among black, Latinx, and South Asian/Indo-Caribbean women and gender non-conforming individuals in South Queens. SQWM would like to ensure that this database is accessible and reaches community members to share resources and information while protecting their identities.
Incidents of gender-based violence are prevalent in the community and have increased during the pandemic with victims trapped at home with their abusers. To curb violence and provide tools to address/prevent it, SQWM launched its Healthy Relationship Series. To date, they have hosted four workshops within this series. SQWM will continue to host workshops, and the fellowship would be utilized to host additional sessions including but not limited to topics such as physical and emotional stressors women experience and toxic masculinity and behavior-shifting tools for men (potentially a panel including men, relationships advisors, activists, and mental health professionals) and more.
They have hosted remote gatherings during the pandemic with activities that promote wellness, including art, dance, and yoga. To foster peace and health in these communities, they would like to host additional yoga and meditation sessions and ensure that programming remains on digital platforms until meetings in person are feasible.
For professional development in the community, they will launch a Woman's Power series that supports women's economic empowerment in key growth sectors to foster self-sufficiency and upward mobility. Focusing on the next generation, they will work with local high schools, colleges, and nonprofits to circulate and increase the attendance in their programs. They will also support education on women's equity, gender-based violence, democracy, immigrant advocacy, and how their voice is a powerful tool to create change.
In support of activism through art, they will host an exhibition highlighting immigrant communities, families, or/and anonymous GBV survivors for them to "Tell their Stories Through Art" either virtually or in-person. Artwork from the event will be sold to benefit the artists during these uncertain times. Reshma hopes to leave a lasting impact to promote a world free of gender-based violence, a world on equal footing, in the home, the workplace, in houses of worship, and in broader community spaces.