In honor of International Women's Day and in celebration of Women's History Month, I sat down with thought leaders and female powerhouses, Sage Ke'alohilani Quiamno and Aparna Rae, co-founders of a new organization Future For Us, where women of color can network through community, career, and cause.
Womxn of Color Event
Courtesy of Future For Us. Photographer, Anthony Smith, Owner of Soulbreathing Photography

What is Future For Us and how did it come to life?

Future for Us is a platform dedicated to the advancement of women of color (WoC) at work. It came to life when we realized that there’s a huge gap in the market when it comes to opportunities to build community and drive differentiated solution for women of color in the workplace. After speaking at over 100 events in 2018, we saw clear patterns in who was not in the room and at decision making tables.  

What does success look like for the company?

Aparna: We want to be the most influential platform for women of color at work, and commit both to advocacy about WoC issues in the workplace and also partner to collect and disaggregate data so we can dive deep into challenges that different groups of WoC face.

Sage & Aparna Future For Us Workshop on The State of Womxn of Color
 Aparna Rae and Sage Ke'alohilani Quiamno Co-founders of Future For Us. Photographer, Anthony Smith, Owner of Soulbreathing Photography

We know there's power and value in women of color supporting each other. As two women of color in a male-tech dominated area, how do you feel we can harness this?

Aparna: We are unabashed and unapologetic about our support for other women of color and are committed to amplifying their voices. The only way to bring WoC’s voices to the forefront is by having WoC at every conversation, every table, and in every room. The word support often conjures images of care - dinners, walks, spa, “girl time”. A few years ago, I reframed my relationship to support and asked my friends and fellow WoC leaders to push me professionally, be great accountability partners to get exercise, and include me in opportunities that would help me grow personally.

Women of Color
Courtesy of Future For Us. Photographer, Anthony Smith, Owner of Soulbreathing Photography


Your work is tough, to say the least. What do you do for self-care and how important is it for women of color to indulge in it?

Aparna: Sage and I differ slightly in our approach to self-care. But one thing that we agree on, is the importance in finding a balance daily between work and care. When we put hard boundaries on work-time and care-time, we end up creating rules that don’t often work for our lives. So for instance, I will check emails or even schedule a call during vacation. Instead of viewing it as a breach of care-time, I feel balanced and sane coming back from “time-off” without an overfull inbox. That said, self-care is deeply personal. We encourage WoC to seek balance, enlist friends and allies, and build strong routines.

Both of you come from different backgrounds and places. What advice can you offer to others on how our differences can make us stronger as a unit women of color?

Sage: Early in our relationship, we found common ground as women, as people of color, as non-native Seattleites. Our differences are precisely what makes Future for Us a forward-thinking community. Diversity in thought,  cultures, backgrounds, and industries that leads to innovation and creativity.  

Sage and Aparna working
 Aparna Rae and Sage Ke'alohilani Quiamno Co-founders of Future For Us. Photography by Jill Chang, Owner of Jill Chang Photography.

Advocacy through storytelling a special skill set and responsibility. When did you realize it was your calling?

Sage: I knew it was my calling as soon as I started speaking up and people started connecting and admiring me for it. Being an indigenous Native Hawaiian woman, it’s in my blood to be a storyteller. Hawaiians hold storytelling as a sacred practice through traditional chant protocol, songs, and dance. I feel like it’s my calling being in front of a crowd on the stage sharing my story because it feels like home, it feels like Hawai’i and I feel like my ancestors are watching me.

While we are all responsible for contributing to the push for progress and gender equity by undoing all forms of systemic oppression, networks like Future For Us help provide the advancement of women of color through more than one channel. The organization challenges us to rethink inclusion in an effort to cultivate sustainable and impactful diversity.

Check out Future For Us' Facebook page for their event line up. You can also check out YWCA's Facebook page for our upcoming Luncheons and other ways to support women in the community.

Cover image: Courtesy of Future For Us, Photography by Jill Chang, Owner of Jill Chang Photography.

Tags
Race and Social Justice
Future For Us
International Women's Day
Women's History Month
Women of Color Networks
Salma Siddick

Salma Siddick is the Social Media & Content Manager at YWCA Seattle | King | Snohomish. An immigrant from Zimbabwe, Salma has lived, worked, and attended school on three continents.

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Wed, 03/06/2019 - 11:08
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