Five Questions With Cynthia Brothers

In this edition of Five Questions, we chat with Cynthia Brothers, Program Officer of the Four Freedoms Fund.

WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF WORKING IN SOCIAL JUSTICE?

Social justice is a long-term fight. Sometimes the change we are working toward suffers significant setbacks or may not be realized until future generations, so keeping in mind the larger vision can be helpful for staying centered in the work.

WHO HAS BEEN THE MOST INFLUENTIAL ROLE MODEL/HERO IN YOUR LIFE THUS FAR?

My parents are my heroes. My dad is an incredible artist, teacher, and generous soul, and my mom is a force of nature—She was the first in her family to immigrate to this country from Hong Kong and has persevered and kicked butt every day to build a better life for myself and the rest of our family. They both worked in public education and always encouraged me to do what I was passionate about and to stay true to my values.

WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST REWARDING ABOUT WORKING AT NEO?

I get to learn every day from the tremendous work of groups and leaders in the field, as well as from my colleagues, who are similarly passionate about and committed to equity. Plus I have the privilege of contributing in my own small way to the larger immigrant rights movement.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE SOMEONE BEGINNING A CAREER IN SOCIAL JUSTICE?

Patience, humility, and self-care. Working in a field that involves complex social challenges is unlike any other. It can be both rewarding and extremely challenging, so finding balance and perspective can help keep one recharged for the longer haul.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE THINGS TO DO WHEN YOU AREN’T AT WORK?

I founded and run a social media account called Vanishing Seattle, which documents the disappearing and displaced local institutions, small businesses, homes, and cultures of Seattle, as well as the places and communities that give the city its soul. I also spend a lot of time working with the Chinatown-International District (CID) Coalition/#HumbowsNotHotels, a grassroots organizing group I helped start in 2017 that fights against displacement and for cultural preservation in Seattle’s International District.

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