Healing Work: Creating Spaces for Rest and Reflection for Leaders of Color


Leaders of color who choose racial healing, organizing, and advocacy as their profession are experiencing dehumanization and racial trauma in their daily lives while committing to the work. We advocate for funders to reject the notion that sacrificing one’s physical, mental, and emotional health are synonymous with great leadership. To truly value leaders of color, grantmakers must invest in their health and well-being by funding the time and space they need to sustain their efforts.

“Philanthropy can acknowledge the sacrifices of leaders of color by allocating general operating support to the time and space they desperately need to take off the cape and heal from their traumas.“

“To both demand that leaders of color continue to emerge and organize amidst great adversity and to applaud their physical, mental, and emotional martyrdom is unfair and truly dehumanizing.”

“[…We] must help leaders prioritize their health and demonstrate to others that health and wellness are not just luxuries for wealthy or better-resourced communities.”


  • Data shows that the long-term negative impacts of racism on leaders of color are akin to the effects of PTSD on first responders.
  • As grantmakers support communities of color through their giving, they should also fund rest for the leaders in those communities.
  • Grantmakers need to view nontraditional pathways to leadership equitably. Many leaders of color ascend to leadership via their lived experiences with particular crises and traumas. They, too, are experts.
  • Philanthropy should trust leaders of color to effectively manage general operating support and larger budgets for the good of their communities.