Tides was lucky to welcome Leena Barakat to our Strategic Partnerships team in October. Her background in human rights issues and social enterprises makes her uniquely able to identify opportunities for Tides to build new relationships that accelerate the pace of social change.

Photo of Leena Barakat

Where are you from?

I’m originally Palestinian, but born and raised in Southern California.

What do you do here at Tides?

I work on the Strategic Partnerships team, which sources new donors and fiscal sponsorship projects for Tides. We work with donors by offering a wide range of solutions to execute on their charitable strategies and we are also the leading provider of infrastructure and nonprofit management services to hundreds of nonprofit projects nationwide. It’s a fun job!

What gets you up in the morning?

My 2 year old—I love her curiosity at this stage and there’s just never a dull moment with that little one. My passion for advancing social justice and change is also very much a central part of who I am. No matter what stage of life I’m in, my passion and dedication towards every person’s right to live a dignified life free of oppression and inequality/inequity will always be a part of the work I do—in one form or another.

What issues are you most passionate about?

The issue area I’ve worked the most closely with, over the past 10 years, has been equality and human rights. But recently, I’ve been more focused on the refugee crisis in Syria. It’s the largest refugee crisis we’ve had since World War II and social media has made the issue more “accessible” to understand and get involved. Our CEO, Kriss Deiglmeier, is always asking us “what are you optimistic about?”—and while it’s easy to feel helpless or discouraged by the magnitude of the issues we’re witnessing today, it’s also important to remember the kind of progress we’ve made in how we’re responding to these catastrophes. For example, last year IKEA announced newly designed refugee shelters that can sustain record-breaking cold temperatures, has solar panels, protective locks and more. The refugee crisis (or any social issue for that matter) is no longer an isolated issue half way around the world that we can’t relate to. No. Hearing their stories and witnessing their plight has moved everyday people to action. Organizations are formed, funds are raised, creative products are invented, and thanks to advancements in technology, it can happen far more effectively, efficiently and creatively than ever before.

What brought to you Tides?

Before joining Tides, I had spent the past 8 years of my career working in the non-profit, social enterprise, and consulting sectors, and knew I was ready for something bigger. A way to scale impact effectively while staying connected to the grassroots at the foundation level. I was really impressed by Tides’ all-encompassing approach to accelerating the pace for social change—by offering some of the most comprehensive solutions to the needs of both the donors and doers. Once I met with the team here, I knew this is where I needed to be. People at Tides are incredibly dynamic: passionate, intelligent, hilarious, and nerdy in all of the right ways. Its been an absolute pleasure being here.

What project or activity has been the most fun since you joined Tides?

On my very first day of work, I was pulled into a meeting, which rightfully set the tone for what my work would be like here at Tides. It was with a client who was working on a way to build satellite infrastructures on the moon and he wanted to open what he called, “the world’s largest development fund”. He had received funding from world leaders, big industry leaders, universities, institutions, etc. and needed a fund that could handle the needs of his partners flexibly. Coming up with a solution that both made him and his partners happy while sticking tightly to IRS tax laws was a challenge our legal team and staff took on proudly. It was amazing to be a part of and an experience I’ll never forget.