This month's Know Your Hubber features Jennifer Lentfer, the Director of Communications at Thousand Currents. Thousand Currents recently went through a large rebrand led by Jennifer, so you might know their work as IDEX (International Development Exchange). Not only that, but Jennifer has been busy wrapping up her recently released book called Smart Risks, which is a collection of essays focused on responsive grantmaking in the Global South. Better yet, you can come hear all about the book at a book launch and celebration Open Gov Hub is hosting on June 22nd. Details and RSVP info can be found here.
Job Title and Organization
Director of Communications, Thousand Currents
Tell us what problems your organization is trying to solve and how they are doing that.
Broken food systems, rising inequality, climate change - no biggies!
Thousand Currents funds and supports grassroots organizations and movements — led by women, youth, and Indigenous Peoples in the Global South — that are creating lasting solutions to these shared global challenges.
Thousand Currents also works with donors in the Global North to adopt transformative giving practices that can dismantle injustice and inequity.
How do you help in doing this?
As the Director of Communications, I set the strategy for, and I lead Thousand Currents’ communications and branding. From our 100+ page website to the 140 characters of a tweet, from a video we produce to an interview with a journalist, I’m responsible for making sure we offer the same clear messages to external audiences about our and our partners’ work.
What are some new exciting projects your organization is working on?
We are starting an investment fund from scratch and it’s not business as usual. Rather than imposing terms designed by investors, the Buen Vivir Fund investment model is built upon lending practices developed by grassroots groups themselves that are already proving effective on the ground. Together, the Buen Vivir Fund members uplift these practices to the level of a global investment fund.
Through Thousand Currents’ artists-in-residence program, Sharon Bridgforth and Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, accomplished interdisciplinary artists and scholars in the theatrical jazz aesthetic, and Pregs Govender, South African activist, writer, and former parliamentarian, bring something profoundly different to our philanthropy table — the radical power of vulnerability; the opportunity for improvising in the midst of uncertainty and ambiguity; and the transformative potential of witnessing each other in community.
This year we merged with Africans in the Diaspora (AiD), a crowdfunding platform that emerged in 2012 to demonstrate the powerful impact that resources, skills, and ideas pooled from Africans on the continent and in the diaspora can have in home communities. Together we are nurturing a joint vision of decolonized aid and values-driven diaspora philanthropy.
What do you like most about being a part of the Hub community?
Inane yet fascinating conversations with Rob Pitman (of Natural Resource Governance Institute). Stop by and we’ll pull you in too.
Where is the most exotic place you’ve traveled?
The exotification of place is a vestige of colonialism and imperialism. All places - its people, history, geography, politics - can be fascinating if you’re curious.
[Editor's Note: Point made and future question changed.]
What keeps you motivated?
It sounds trite, but definitely Thousand Currents’ partners - their energy, creativity, intention, devotion to their communities. They do all the work. We just provide the funding.
What is the one book or article that inspires you?
One? Impossible! But this year (so far), it’s been The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
If you could have another career—sky’s the limit—what would it be and why?
Art gallery owner - I’m skilled at picking up on what kinds of work is appealing to certain people, and talented visual artists are rarely talented marketers.
It may surprise you that:
I grew up on a pig farm.
I’m a published poet and I have monthly salons at my home. You’re all invited!
Before puberty crushed my dreams, I wanted to be an entomologist.
I can’t live without:
Liz Lemon and now Kimmy Schmidt