Akaya Windwood facilitates transformation. She advises, trains, and consults on how change happens individually, organizationally, and societally. She is on faculty for the Just Economy Institute, is Lead Advisor for Third Act, and is founder of the New Universal Wisdom and Leadership Institute, which centers human wisdom in the wisdom of brown womxn. She was President of Rockwood Leadership Institute for many years, and directs the Growing Roots Fund, which supports young womxn’s finance and philanthropic learning and leadership based in generosity and interconnectedness.
Akaya received the 2020 Vision Award from Middlebury College, was one of Conscious Company’s 30 World Changing Women of 2018, and has been a featured speaker at the Stanford Social Innovation Institute, the Aspen Institute, and the New Zealand Philanthropy Summit conferences. She is an Ella Award recipient from the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights and served on the Alameda County Human Rights Commission. Akaya is deeply committed to working for a fair and equitable global society while infusing a sense of purpose, delight, and wonder into everything we do. Akaya co-authored Leading with Joy: Practices for Uncertain Times, which was recently published in October 2022. She lives in Oakland, CA where she reads science fiction, makes sauerkraut, and relishes growing enormous squashes in her garden.
Reflecting on JEI’s core values — Community, Interconnectedness, Transformation — which value speaks to you most, at this moment in time? Why?
Interconnectedness — we cannot make the changes ahead of us alone. We need each other in order to collectively transform.
What are a few things about you that would surprise other people?
I have a worm farm in my garden. The worms eat my kitchen waste which often comes from what I’ve harvested from the garden, and every time I feed them I am reminded that the cycles of life are often simple and elegant.
What movements for a just economy, past or present, inspire you?
I’m inspired by folks who take care of their neighbors. The ones who keep an eye out to make sure that the elders are cared for, and that the families going through hard times are attended to. This isn’t a “movement” but a way of being. What if we had global neighborliness?
I work to create contexts in which beloved community happens and is sustained. I believe that humans are inherently connected, and just need permission and the right conditions to remember that.