Kathryn Gilje is an auntie, cousin, daughter & sweets who loves (and relies on) plants and insects. She works with institutional philanthropy to shift money, hearts and minds to organizing and movement–building for a just and regenerative economy. She is director of Ceres Trust, a foundation that supports healthy and resilient farms, forests and communities; and the ecosystems upon which we all depend. Kathryn co–chairs Justice Funders, a partner and guide for philanthropy in reimagining practice; serves on the advisory board of the Building Equity and Alignment for Impact Fund and allies caucus, born of a shared recognition that we must support and resource grassroots groups led by people of color, Indigenous people, and working class white people to create community–based solutions to ecological crises. She sits on the steering committee of the Health and Environmental Funders Network, which works to mobilize philanthropy around solutions for environmental health and justice. Kathryn organizes money because it is a core currency of power within current economic and governance systems, and also because she loves math.
A community organizer raised in the forest, prairie and city, Kathryn received training and guidance from Voices for Racial Justice/Organizing Apprenticeship Project, the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training, and the Gamaliel Foundation, along with Victor and Gloria Contreras, Doug Nopar, Monica Moore, and Sarojeni V. Rengam, among many others. She previously was co–director of Pesticide Action Network (PAN) North America, working with global allies to transform food and agricultural systems in the face of multinational chemical corporations; co–founder of Centro Campesino, a migrant farmworker–led organizing group focused on issues of worker justice, immigration, affordable housing, and health promotion; and was facilitator with the Program on Intergroup Relations and Conflict, where she dove into deep learning about systems of oppression, co-facilitation practice, and dialogue across identities as education for change. She learned foundational skills during her years as a secretary, and as personal assistant for Yvonne Duffy, disability rights activist, who taught her so much about ableism and its damage on our souls, bodies and society, teachings she comes back to again and again as she lives with (in)visible disability. She studied crops and soil science on Dancing Winds Farm, where she fell in love with goats (and became a milker), for a brief moment in Cuba with other Minnesota farmers, and with the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture.
Kathryn participates with #Interfaith4BlackLives, and studies with the Oakland Peace Center and the Chaplaincy Institute toward understanding interfaith histories, possibilities, principles, and practice for people within regimes of white supremacy, wealth and power to intentionally disrupt, repair/heal and transform – toward our full humanity, interdependence, stewardship of creation, and deep joy.