People Power is a nonprofit social enterprise with a mission to create a new equity-centered model for identifying and developing talent to power the movement for social justice. We provide two much-needed services: talent search services for mission-driven organizations and career advising services for emerging leaders. Seeking to bring transparency and joy to the way we connect talented people to meaningful employment, our vision is grounded in the collective wisdom of our broad and diverse intergenerational network. Currently piloting in the San Francisco Bay Area, we welcome partnerships across the United States.

How It Works

We provide affordable, efficient, and equity-centered talent search services to mission-driven organizations. We specialize in finding stellar early-to-mid career talent (3-15 years experience) because this is the greatest unmet need for most employers and the most underserved population by traditional recruiters. Our sliding-scale flat fee structure is designed to make high-quality services accessible to employers of all sizes.

We provide culturally competent career advising services for early-to-mid-career emerging leaders who are committed to careers in social change. We specialize in advising people who are experiencing systemic barriers to meaningful advancement or who might otherwise be underserved by traditional career pathways and networks. We identify and select these leaders from our broad and diverse network in the social change sector and via our talent search operation. We are able to offer these services free of charge because they are supported by the work of knowledgeable volunteers and generous philanthropists.

The Need

Organizations are struggling to connect with the kind of stellar early-to-mid career talent they need to power their missions. It is hugely time-consuming for organizations to manage ad hoc searches, especially to reach the broad networks and to staff the proactive strategies necessary to find diverse talent. Our senior leaders are doing critically important work in intensely stressful conditions and deserve more support with this; it is unreasonable and inefficient to expect that those who already have such vast responsibilities should also be expected to do their own recruiting and to do it well. Yet, most talent search services are financially out of reach for small-to-midsize organizations.

It is difficult and disheartening for people in their early-to-mid careers to access information about mission-driven careers and to connect with meaningful employment. Traditional career pathways were never designed to be welcoming to diverse social sector talent; career advising is limited and tends to be focused on the corporate sector and for those who are not served by networks of privilege, it can feel impossible to find the right opportunity. Those who have the greatest potential to be our future leaders should be affirmed in their choice to dedicate themselves to public service; they deserve access to culturally competent career advising services and to participate in equity-driven hiring processes. Yet, most relevant career advising services are financially out of reach for most people beginning a social sector career.

Our Story

This model for working and the values that inform it, was developed over time with Butler Koshland Fellowships, where we’ve had the honor of working closely with many of our nation’s greatest senior-level leaders and the joy of being in conversation with hundreds of emerging leaders who are eager to apply their time and talent to creating positive change. With their guidance and input over the years, we have developed tools and insights that are shaping the work and mission of People Power:

  • a talent search and selection process that is efficient, affirming, and equity-centered
  • a broad and diverse intergenerational network across all sectors of public service
  • a capacity for identifying leadership potential and a methodology for supporting emerging leaders as they work towards reaching their greatest potential

Leadership

Kate Brumage
Founder and Director, People Power

Kate Brumage is the Director of People Power, which she founded in 2019. It is her conviction that people are the most important asset to the movement for social justice and that a broad alliance of leaders working across traditional boundaries is best equipped to realize positive social change, a vision she is dedicated to with People Power and in her previous role as the first Executive Director of Butler Koshland Fellowships (BKF) where she served its mission to mission to identify and mentor the next generation of public service leaders.

People Power is informed by the collective wisdom of all the senior and emerging leaders Kate met through the BKF community. Through this work, she learned that mission-driven organizations were so overwhelmed with critical work that they were struggling to recruit the kind of diverse talent they needed to ultimately be successful. She also came into contact with hundreds of incredible emerging leaders who were eager to dedicate themselves to a career in public service, but were discouraged from doing so by a lack of access to skilled career advising services and professional networks. In response to this and with the help of a supportive community of enthusiastic colleagues, Kate created People Power to explore how to create a new equity-centered model for leadership development that includes both talent search services for employers and career advising services for emerging leaders.

Kate has an eclectic education and work history, which gives her insight into how career pathways are shaped in and by various institutions.

An active volunteer with various organizations, Kate is also the former Director of Publishing Partnerships at Heyday, a Berkeley-based independent publisher that specializes in celebrating California’s natural beauty and ethnic diversity with a special emphasis on Native publishing. In that role, she worked closely with Heyday’s Board of Directors on marketing and development, and served as managing editor for the Yosemite imprint, a joint project of the National Park Service and the Yosemite Conservancy. She brought a fresh perspective to park publishing, creating a best-selling line of multicultural children’s books with an editorial mission: to show women and girls being active in the outdoors and to represent the great ethnic diversity in our connection to national parklands. She is the author of two children’s books on Yosemite—Baby Yosemite and Super Silly Yosemite—and a children’s activity book created in partnership with the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail National Park, Many Worlds: Indian Life Along the Anza Trail. Some of Kate’s passion projects at Heyday included developing the properties that became A California Bestiary (written by Rebecca Solnit and illustrated by Mona Caron (in partnership with the Evelyn & Walter Haas Fund’s Creative Work Fund and the Oakland Zoo) and the boundary-breaking civic geography/art book All the Saints of the City of Angels, by J. Michael Walker, which expanded into a featured exhibition at the Autry Museum of the American West.

Kate attended Seattle Community College where she participated in a trade program for Offset Lithography and earned an AA degree while proudly working in the restaurant industry to support her studies. She pursued further education at the University of Washington, graduating Phi Beta Kappa with an honors degree in English Literature, and with the help of her mentors, applied and was accepted to graduate school, earning an MA in the Humanities from the University of Chicago. Both her undergraduate and graduate work concerned critical race theory and gender studies, with a focus on literary representations of racist, sexist, and homophobic pseudo-scientific theories of evolution. Her literary studies embedded in her a profound respect for the power of representation, and drives her to create opportunities for people to speak their own truths.

Our Values

Equity-centered

We need to harness the power we can have when we commit to creating a hiring culture that that proactively works towards creating a society where everyone has the opportunity, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, and disability, to participate to their fullest potential. In our sector, we have the best intensions when it comes to diversity, equity, and inclusion. But intentions aren’t enough. Many of our standard hiring practices actually perpetuate inequity and inadvertently exclude highly-qualified candidates. There are some simple steps that organizations can take internally to address some of these barriers, but other, more complex solutions require outside support and guidance. People Power aims to bring employment equity into the center of our sector’s work, enthusiastically embracing it as an ongoing learning process that will ultimately make our organizations more powerful and effective.

Efficient

Leaders and staff at mission-driven organizations are experts in their fields, giving all they have to create a better world. But when we task already-overburdened staff with taking on the additional responsibility of managing hiring processes without providing them any additional resources or training, we are not likely to get the best results either for the individual search or our sector in general. This model can be harmful if mismanaged, with staff taking hours away from important mission-related work and candidates often involved in protracted processes. We need to recognize that it takes a tremendous amount of work and skill to find the right people, regardless of the position. And in order to create a deeply diverse talent pool for any given position, organizations must have access to a broad network. For organizations that hire only sporadically, it is very difficult to build such a network. By combining our resources and working together regionally, we can help keep organizations on mission while also creating a nexus of stellar talent that can help us seed our entire sector with emerging leaders who are representative of the communities we serve.

Affirming

If we want to have representative leadership tomorrow, we need to attract the best and the brightest emerging leaders now and retain their talent for the sector over time. Building and sustaining this leadership pipeline begins with the basic concept that we should be welcoming to the people who have made the decision to dedicate their lives to public service. We owe applicants a hiring experience that is affirming, or at the very least, not alienating. But although most people would agree with that statement, many organizations simply do not have the time, experience, or resources to dedicate to intentionally developing these kinds of hiring processes. As a sector, we need to reclaim the joy around connecting with one another. Given the right resources and support, we can re-envision the hiring process as a place to affirm our candidates’ choice to commit to public service, while also giving our staff the opportunity to reengage with their own excitement for this work. With the right kind of support, organizations can be freed to lead from a place that’s unburdened by the technicalities of searching and instead come to the table refreshed by the opportunity to think more deeply and creatively about the broader concerns of leadership development and how to operationalize equity.