Farewell tribute: Charlotte Tsui and Yassi Eskandari-Qajar

Charlotte and Yassi farewell tribute

Our colleagues Charlotte and Yassi will be moving on to their next adventures in 2022. Both of them have shaped our organization in countless ways, guiding us with their unique leadership styles and innovative ways of approaching the work. Here are a few ways we appreciate them.

To Charlotte

Charlotte threw me the most heart-warming welcome party when I first started! I felt comfortable asking her all the questions during my onboarding period, and she provided such thoughtful guidance as one of my project support people. (Alejandra)

Charlotte is great under pressure. If I recall correctly, Charlotte essentially saved the SoCent 2019, when there was a last minute venue change. She kept her cool the whole time when I think many of us, myself included, would have been running around screaming. She found an alternative location and it went off without a hitch. Also, during the EBPREC and People Power launch party,  we kept having to turn people away because we were sold out, and although people had all sorts of very convincing reasons why they should be let in, we would call Charlotte over and she would just say "no."  Just like that, and they had to turn around and leave. It was magical. (Cameron)

Charlotte, I so appreciated and learned from your steady commitment to community and clients, and your joyful enthusiasm for life. Blessings to your family and your continued journeys for justice! (Chris)

Charlotte was the first past/current fellow I talked to about the fellowship application process. I remember I was so nervous to start reaching out to people... She shared some of the challenges of her fellowship project when starting up because she didn’t have an organizing background, and I remember feeling better like okay, maybe it’s ok to not have it all figured out and I can do this too. (Erika)

Charlotte has been a source of renewable energy for the Law Center and I feel deep gratitude for the countless ways she generously infused energy into our work. So often, Charlotte was the one who piped up to say “I can do it” or “I can try it,” when a project needed a boost. She pitched in on everything from our financial management to party hosting, from legal support for solar projects to cooperative kitchens. And when Covid prompted a surge in the legal needs of mutual aid groups, Charlotte quickly spearheaded our project to meet those needs. She also tuned in deeply to her coworkers and relationships, nurturing all of us in a way that she will hopefully not mind me describing as “grandmotherly.” What a gift to this organization! (Janelle)

Charlotte listens with her ears and her heart. Her kindness, compassion, and commitment to justice permeate all of her work. And only Charlotte could get everyone on Zoom to do the chicken wing dance challenge! I’m gonna miss your silliness! (Mwende)

Charlotte was very encouraging to me when I started volunteering at SELC events, especially at Cafecitos Legales - I remember her always saying "Oh yay, it's Tobias!" when I arrived. She has also been a great mentor to me since I started working at SELC in January this year, guiding me about everything that was so new and different from other workplaces, and how to manage my project workload. Sometimes I have a tendency to go on a tangent in meetings, and she helped me realize and work on that by gently acknowledging what I was saying and redirecting me to the topic at hand. It was like when I meditate and redirect my mind back to my breath. During my annual review Charlotte also encouraged me to speak up more during meetings and to lead more on projects where I previously had been staying in the background. (Tobias)

Charlotte and I were onboarded to the Law Center at the same time so were kinda like SELCSisters.  I couldn't have asked for a better person to learn the unique governance structure that is our worker self-directed nonprofit. We've had such great conversations about so many things.  I'll miss working with you Charlotte. (Sue)

At an intern welcome party, we played a game where we were supposed to find something we ALL had in common: tomato plants, civil disobedience, disdain for neoliberalism... and a bunch of us also said we had to go to the bathroom. Charlotte was scandalized. She said, "This is a worker self-directed nonprofit. We can pee whenever we want." And every time I find myself holding it in too long because I don't think it's a proper time to take a break, I think of Charlotte and I go to the damn bathroom. (Tia)

To Yassi

I was always so impressed by Yassi's ability to speak her mind clearly and directly. She exuded confidence and power when she spoke, and was just so quick and organized! (Alejandra)

She is a master facilitator and I have NEVER, EVER seen Yassi lose her cool. Yassi brings a calm and reasoned approach to even the most difficult of conversations, I will miss working with her and I will miss the perspective she brings. (Cameron)

Yassi -- your heart is big enough to hold the whole world; your hands can literally accomplish anything you set them to do (except maybe type all day); your mind is as rigorous and playful and deep as any river I know. I wish you blessings of adventure and joy and hearthmaking in this next chapter of life! (Chris)

Yassi first brought her sense of adventure and sense of humor to the Law Center over 10 years ago, when the Law Center was a ragtag bunch of passionate volunteers. She made me laugh often and kept me motivated as she co-led the Law Center into a an eclectic set of program areas, including urban agriculture law, community currency laws, renewable energy, cooperative development, and a range of city and state policy efforts. Behind the scenes, she pulled off the badass feat of becoming a lawyer without going to law school, while demonstrating an impressive ability to sustain long-running pun themes involving cheese. (Janelle)

Yassi isn’t afraid to think big! She has such clarity of vision and a steady determination that made it feel like whatever I was working on with her was possible. I'm going to miss you! (Mwende) 

I've never seen our General Circle meeting run as smoothly or be more effective as when Yassi facilitates them. Yassi's fairness, brilliance, and dedication to the Law Center and skill made so many things happen here.  We don't even know how much we'll miss her! Hopefully we all learned some skills by being facilitated by the best! (Sue)

Yassi is a master at working with many people in a coalition and moving everyone forward. When I was not doing so well managing upcoming summer vacations of various members of the Local Butcher Shop client team, Yassi graciously created an absence tracker in our client management document for everyone to complete so everyone knew when each person would be out and what steps each person would take to mitigate the impact of their absence. Yassi is also a master communicator. She has a real knack for laying things out clearly so everyone is on the same page. She doesn't leave anything implied or assume that someone already knows something they may not. I am grateful for everything she has taught me about working in coalition and clear communication. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to get to know and work with Yassi and Charlotte. I will miss them very much and wish both of them all the very best for their next steps. And of course I hope they stay connected with us! (Tobias)

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  • Mwende Hinojosa
    published this page in Blog 2021-12-16 13:29:06 -0800

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