Our hope is that donors and supporters come alongside our partners, Scholars, and staff as we continue this journey together.
One Step Closer: Setting Intentions For Our Vision In 2024
By Kendra Nicolai, Director of Operations and Upasana Saha, Director of Programs (India Consultant)
January 12, 2024Reading Time: 4 minutes
It’s the dawn of the new year and with it comes a chance for us to reflect on the learnings from the year before and rechart our course for the journey ahead. Grassroots leaders across the world are continuing to lead the way for a more equitable and just future, emphasizing the need for collective action and solidarity against systems of oppression.
In this blog, Kendra Nicolai, Shadhika’s Director of Operations and Upasana Saha, Shadhika’s Director of Programs (India Consultant) lay out their intentions for 2024 and for our vision to build a future where each person in India can choose their own path to meaning, purpose, and happiness.
What is your biggest hope for 2024?
Kendra: In envisioning a hopeful 2024, the journey is marked by a commitment to sustain Shadhika’s programs, continue our work towards gender justice in India by promoting girls’ education and livelihoods, and to maintain a resilient and hopeful team spirit. As we embark on this collective pursuit, the potential for positive change becomes not only a vision but a shared reality that holds the promise of a brighter future for all women and girls in India. Our hope is that donors and supporters come alongside our partners, Scholars, and staff as we continue this journey together.
Upasana: The world’s cataclysmic events, such as natural disasters, ethnic violence, the global democratic recession, and civil war and unrest, do not seem to be slowing down as 2024 unfolds. Women, girls, and children are disproportionately affected, falling further behind everyone else in terms of socioeconomic status. With skewed funding opportunities, fractured freedom of expression, and stringent laws and policies, the need to provide consistent funding to local women-led organizations to sustain their feminist movement-building work in India remains critical. It is the support they need to prepare a cadre of future women leaders to break free from the cycle of gender discrimination, inequity, violence, and poverty.
What is one mindset you want to try to uphold more as we step into the new year?
Kendra: Cultivating a mindset of trust emerges as a guiding light for 2024. Trust has always been a core principle of our work at Shadhika, so it is no surprise that it will show up even more concretely in 2024. We have always worked diligently to uphold trust in ourselves, our partners, our board, and our donors. This year we lean on this trust as we navigate challenging times ahead.
Upasana: As we enter 2024, I want to embrace the mindset of collaborative leadership. Gender justice work is difficult and requires patience, kindness, collective strength, and transformative leadership to effect systemic change. This will mean moving away from traditional leadership frameworks and making them more flat by involving people in leading together through the unknown. For Shadhika, it would entail developing organizational-level solutions by relying on the staff’s wisdom and leadership, listening to and understanding interactions among program partners, scholars, and their environments, and navigating a variety of unpredictable situations along the way.
What was one transformational learning from 2023 for you, and how will it inform 2024?
Kendra: 2023 was a year of immense programmatic growth alongside a challenging year for fundraising. The path to financial stability and our efforts to try and reach our fundraising goals for 2023 was an uphill, challenging road that required a full team effort from our board, our staff, and our partners. I believe that the effort our collective team and community put into fundraising in 2023 will show in 2024. The growth mindset and learning from 2023 which will carry forward into 2024 and beyond is learning how to balance urgency with patience.
Upasana: An important way in which our learnings from 2023 will carry through the new year is by preparing a space for diverse and divergent perspectives. In 2024 we will continue focusing on fostering connections among program partners, and developing locally led, transformative solutions that enable them to advance change by reducing grantee and grantor dynamics and uplifting Trust Based Philanthropy.