After six months of planning and transition, Got Green Director Michael Woo has officially passed the baton to Jill Mangaliman, who steps into the role as the organization’s new director. Mangaliman previously served as Got Green’s lead community organizer.
“In the last six months, Jill’s already been leading the organization taking on media relations, communications, and other new challenges,” said Woo, a veteran labor organizer who recognized Mangaliman’s potential in taking over the organization as early as 2009.
Got Green, a Seattle-based organization under the umbrella of the White Center Community Development Association (CDA), formed in 2008. The organization’s mission is to level the playing field among low-income communities and communities of color for jobs and meaningful participation in the green economy emerging out of the Great Recession.
Got Green’s community organizing efforts, leadership development, and public policy advocacy have led to the protection of the “Fresh Bucks” Program that matches every $10 in food stamps with $10 in Farmer’s Market produce. This year, Got Green has also preserved critical city funding for youth apprenticeship and employment programs and forged the passing of Seattle’s first targeted local hire initiative.
Woo said he will continue to lead efforts to see Seattle’s local hire initiative through implementation into the next couple of years or however long it takes. He stressed the importance of “intentionally trying to pass on leadership to younger leaders.”
“That’s what we do with leaders like Jill,” he said. “And [Jill will] take us and lead us in a new direction. … What we tried to do with Jill is pave a pathway … that was forward-thinking, was directional, but also would allow [Jill] to lead in [Jill’s] own way. I think people give Michael Woo too much credit for Got Green because in reality, it’s always been a team effort, and Jill will always have a team … that is confident in [Jill’s] ability to lead. …We have all the confidence in the world for Jill.”
Mangaliman first came on board with Got Green in the winter of 2009 while working as a campaign organizer for Washington Community Action Network (WA-CAN).
“I recognized [Jill’s] contribution in building a network of organizations that were part of a ‘Color of Cuts’ report,” Woo remembers. “That report wouldn’t have been as good as it was if it weren’t for Jill. … [Jill] built or had those relationships with organizations on the ground and had those relationships with not just the leaders of the organizations, but their constituents. To be able to extract the stories and the data—I mean, that was all Jill. … Those are all the kinds of strategies and tactics and methods of reporting that good organizers have. It was clear that within Got Green, [Jill] was the one that clearly had the most potential.”
That year, Woo recruited Mangaliman to lead canvassing efforts for Switch Project, a joint effort between Got Green and the city of Seattle offering residents weatherization services and resources and installing green light bulbs in peoples’ houses.
“Jill was exceptional because of the kind of work that we were doing,” said Woo. “You had to be willing to engage the resident and be able to talk. And because [Jill] was a canvasser, [Jill] had that natural talent. … At the end of 2009, [Jill] was someone that I wanted to do more leadership development and organizing with.”
By 2010, Mangaliman had demonstrated solid leadership on Got Green’s “Women in the Green Economy” program committee, “helping newer activists and grassroots leaders find their voice,” said Woo.
Mangaliman invested in the leadership of many grassroots organizers during this time, including Got Green’s current staff program organizer Tammy Nguyen. In 2011, Mangaliman joined the board, and from there, deeper involvement with the organization was inevitable. Last April, Mangaliman officially joined Got Green’s staff as a lead organizer.
“My heart was with Got Green from the beginning,” Mangaliman said. “Got Green is a place where I can be my full self, be supported and be a leader.”
From April through the end of 2013, Mangaliman has been a director-in-training with the organization, thanks to a thoughtful and well-executed leadership transition plan consulted by longtime activist Wendy Watanabe. Thanks to the thinking and resources that went into the six-month-long transition, Mangaliman moved into the role smoothly, taking on nonprofit management, fundraising, human resources, and budgeting.
Though Mangaliman is a little sheepish about being the face of Got Green and representing the organization in a more authoritative capacity, Mangaliman is proud of the team’s work and grateful for their support.
“I never imagined having this opportunity,” Mangaliman said. “I thought I was going to be an organizer forever. This is my contribution, my way of stepping up.”
As director of Got Green, Mangaliman is also looking forward to everyone on staff taking advantage of the opportunity to contribute more.
“Even though I am stepping up, I am learning how to step back and just let other people lead,” Mangaliman said.
With a tremendous body of advocacy work and long road ahead in pursuing justice and equity through all of Got Green’s campaigns, Mangaliman intends to invest in the internal health of the organization.
“Something that I value a lot is … making sure organizers don’t burn out,” Mangaliman said.
This includes Mangaliman.
“I feel like I am unlearning some habits of how we are supposed to work because I am surrounded by so many supportive people,” Mangaliman said. “I really care about this work, and I want to be able to do it for a long time.”
Learning from veteran organizers like Woo who have decades of experience under their belt, Mangaliman is in it for the long haul.
“Michael is a legacy,” Mangaliman said. “To win racial and gender equity on a system level —that’s a 40, 50-year fight. I do want to keep him along as much as we can.”
With retirement on the horizon, Woo is proud of the time invested in leaders like Mangaliman.
“Five years later, who would have thought we would have had a grassroots organization that has evolved the second wave of leaders that have developed their own organizational priorities to make us a prominent organization when it comes to voices from communities of color and low-income communities?” he said. “Five years later, I am proud to have been part of an organization that I think is relevant and will be around for a long time because of the infrastructure that we built, because of the leadership that’s in place.”
Editor’s note (Monday, 6:41 p.m. on 1/6/14): A change was made to reflect that “Fresh Bucks” Program is the $10 match that was preserved, not “Farmers Market Nutrition Program.”
Editor’s note (Tuesday, 1:00 p.m. on 1/7/14): Changes were made to incorporate gender neutral pronouns.