Allies for Life 2017 Leadership Team

Ground Facilitator: Jihan McDonald is a counselor, facilitator, educator, guide, and writer from Oakland, CA. Jihan developed in the deep diversity of the working class in 1980’s Oakland, in the homogeneity of the white middle to upper class, the cloister of Spelman’s all Black, all Female educational sanctuary, and continues to grow in the now gentrified world of a less diverse, less working class Oakland. Jihan means “universe, person of the world” in Farsi & Arabic and throughout their life has worked to embody this meaning. Jihan has lived in 3 and traveled in more than 20 countries, as well as almost all of the geographic areas of the continental U.S. Jihan has a knack for hearing people’s heart when they speak and connecting what’s in it to the larger currents of the world. img_2050

Jihan has received the Alpha Delta Leadership Award and a Changemaker Fellowship Award for their work in developing Allies for Life for people to learn pro-active interpersonal allyship. Jihan has worked with people ages 8-80 on learning skills, tools, and capacities for assertiveness, empathy, self-realization, and social change in contexts ranging from the redwoods to seminaries and college campuses.

Outside of facilitating, Jihan is founder & garden steward of We Take Care!, a gardening project for homeless & low-income children in South Berkeley; serves on the Advisory Board of Breaking the Silence: Oakland Town Hall on Women & Girls of Color at Oakland Impact HUB in collaboration with Dr. Kimberle Crenshaw and the African American Policy Forum; offers pro-bono counseling to community members in need; and is an assistant for several personal & social transformation programs in the East Bay.

“Change starts where we are and takes us to where we need to be. I have learned to live like a flower: to break down, reform, and re-emerge in a constant state of beautiful becoming. My living between classes, races, belief systems, and bodies of knowledge have shaped me to see/be like a kaleidoscope; everything is changing, all of it is beautiful if we can embrace the chaos in change.”

Branch Facilitator: Mazin Mahgoub cofounded The Holistic Underground in 2014, a Community Development Non-Profit that provides personal and professional development to artists, activists, and healers, as well as local community leadership groups including communication, leadership, and self-care tools. The diverse cultural and class experiences of his upbringing have positioned Mazin to empathize with different parties in complex conversations.

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“I leverage these privileges, spend my hours in service because it’s the only way I can feel ok about the immense poverty and inequality I’ve seen growing up between the US, NorthAfrica, and the Middle East. So far, I’ve learned to own my privilege and view it less as something to be ashamed or guilty for, but rather a blessing and responsibility to use it as a platform to further the cause of liberation.”