Taryn Palumbo

May 16, 2023

In this episode we connect with Taryn Palumbo, Executive Director of Orange County Grantmakers. Taryn is our partner in producing this series, curating the list of incredible guests, and leading the charge to share these conversations about equity in practice. Taryn shares the story of OC Grantmakers from a small group of funders wanting to coordinate their efforts to help enact change throughout their community to now over 50 funders and grantmakers throughout Orange County.

Keith Swayne and Anne Swayne-Keir

May 9, 2023

In this episode we connect with Keith Swayne and Anne Swayne-Keir of the Swayne Family Foundation. Our conversation explores how philanthropy aides in creating equity in community beyond writing checks. They share the importance of multi-generational viewpoints when it comes…

Natalie J. Graham

May 2, 2023

In this episode we connect with Natalie Graham, Director of the Institute of Black Intellectual Innovation at California State University, Fullerton. Originally from the South, Natalie talks about the potential for Black culture and Black voices in Fullerton and throughout…

Lindsey Spindle and Erin Samueli

April 25, 2023

In this episode we connect with Lindsey Spindle and Erin Samueli of the Samueli Foundation, a philanthropic organization in Orange County, to discuss the foundation’s efforts to create and increase equity and support social justice throughout their community. We discuss…

Carlos Perea

April 18, 2023

In this episode we connect with Carlos Perea, Director of the Harbor Institute for Immigrant and Economic Justice. Carlos shares his story of immigrating to the US at age fourteen, the journey across the border and the challenging transition to…

Tracy La

April 25, 2023

In this episode we connect with Tracy La, co-founder and Executive Director of VietRISE. We discuss the power of community organizing to create change and the importance of creating solidarity in the fight for social justice. She shares how VietRISE…

Wajahat Ali

April 4, 2023

In this episode we connect with Wajahat Ali, author of the book, Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American. We discuss how relatability in storytelling can be used as an access…

How do we build a compassionate and inclusive America in an age of distrust? WAJAHAT ALI knows from personal experience that when we come together to be the superheroes of our own stories, we can create honest social change. The beloved TED speaker has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, and The Atlantic about our urgent issues—immigration, politics, parenthood—with boldness, hope, and humor. His memoir Go Back to Where You Came From, one of Amazon’s Best Books of the Year, follows his life as a Muslim Pakistani-American on a surprising, emotional, and challenging quest for the good life. Iconic journalist Katie Couric says that “we are all so fortunate to be on the receiving end of his intellect, his humanity, and his heart.”

Wajahat Ali

“With wit and charm, Ali delivers a masterful meditation on growing up brown in America...he gives us a clear-eyed affirmation of the country America could be.” — Mara Gay, New York Times

Wajahat Ali uses his platform to fight tirelessly for the social change we need in our country—and he isn’t afraid to get personal while doing it. The Daily Beast columnist and former New York Times writer, TED speaker, award-winning playwright, and Peabody-nominated producer of the documentary series The Secret Life of Muslims offers us his experiences of triumph over hardship as a beacon of hope and resilience in the face of life’s impossible situations. From his experiences of Islamophobia growing up as a Muslim Pakistani-American to his two-year-old daughter’s liver cancer diagnosis, Wajahat is living proof that when we share our authentic stories, we build the America we wish to live in.”

In his memoir Go Back to Where You Came From: And Other Helpful Recommendations on How to Become American, Wajahat teaches us how to create our own superhero origin story, invest in hope for the future of America, and enact real social change. The book was called “biting and funny and full of heart” by NPR. Representative Ilhan Omar called Wajahat’s work “hilarious” and “deeply moving”, and legendary writer Dave Eggers said it was the book he’d “been hoping Wajahat Ali would write for ten years—hilarious, stylistically fearless, deeply humane.”

Wajahat is also the author of The Domestic Crusaders—the first major play about Muslim-Americans in a post-9/11 world. He was the lead researcher and author for the Center for American Progress’s seminal report “Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America,” and served as a national correspondent for Al Jazeera America, where he told stories about communities and individuals often marginalized or under-reported in mainstream media.

As Creative Director of Affinis Wajahat Labs, he worked to create social entrepreneurship initiatives to support and uplift marginalized communities. He also worked with the US State Department to design and implement the “Generation Change” leadership program to empower young social entrepreneurs. Wajahat initiated chapters in eight countries, including Pakistan and Singapore. For his work, he was honored as a “Generation Change Leader” by Sec. of State Clinton and recognized as an “Emerging Muslim American Artist” by the Muslim Public Affairs Council. 

He has given keynote speeches around the world such as TED, The Aspen Ideas Festival, Google, the United Nations, and The New Yorker Festival. His writing appears regularly in the New York TimesThe Atlantic, the Washington Post, and The Guardian. He’s a Senior Fellow at The Western States Center and Auburn Seminary and co-host of Al Jazeera’s The Stream.