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Meet Our Team: Priscilla Tomaz

Priscilla Tomaz

02 October 2023

Meet Priscilla, who has recently joined our team as the Administrative Assistant. Priscilla is passionate about social mobility, minority rights and her career in the charity sector. But Priscilla also sees challenges in the sector and is working to be part of the solution.

What has your journey been so far to lead you to this role at the Young Trustees Movement?

As a young person exploring my future career options, I signed up for a mentoring programme focused on immigrant social mobility. I requested a mentor from within the  charity sector , and excitingly I was placed with a mentor from Getting On Board, a charity that aims to support aspiring trustees.

While I was being mentored , I carried out a lot of research on charities that focus on issues of social mobility and minority rights. I was amazed that there are so many of them and they each contribute  in different and important ways. Yet, I noticed that their governance structures didn’t often reflect their pledges of diversity and representation. I found that many of them were still entrenched in a ‘white-old-men’ governance system that I wouldn’t have otherwise associated with the charities’ broader values.

I believe that the barriers to representation in the charity sector are often unexplored: many charity roles are unpaid or low-paid; job insecurity pervades the sector; and roles are often not advertised, being awarded instead to someone's friend-of-a-friend who knows this and that, producing a system of nepotism and personal contacts. All of these factors, mean that many charities are unable to attract a workforce that is diverse in terms of gender, class, ethnicity, religion, and others. I wanted to be a part of the change against the perpetuation of this system.

Young people’s voices add a diversity of opinions and understandings of the world that are essential to any form of governance system. As a woman of colour from a low-income background, I also find that charities must start by having conversations with individuals who have lived experience of the social challenges they aim to address.

However, one of the main barriers I see to young people becoming charity trustees is the time commitment necessary to apply and hold the position of trustees, as a voluntary role. Like many other young like-minded people, I have put my plans to pursue trusteeship on pause whilst I finish my studies. I have decided to content myself with building a growing list of charities I would like to contact in the future.

Since my menteeship days with Getting on Board I have followed the Young Trustees Movement’s (YTM) updates on social media. I was very attracted to its values of intergenerational governance as a starting point for essential conversations on diversification, but also to its core values of intersectionality. Having heard that they were recruiting for an Administrative Assistant, I jumped onto my desk’s chair and started writing an application straight away!

Why are you passionate about diversification of trustee boards and the meaningful inclusion of young people in governance?

Trustee boards are at the centre of the strategy and operation processes of charities, so having young people able to share different opinions and perspectives is essential to healthy governance decisions.

Being at the table, however, is not enough. Young people can often relate in workplaces, boardrooms or elsewhere to those  odd moments where people’s eyes become slightly vacant when it's suddenly our turn to speak; or when a task is passed on to someone else because of their age and the assumed superior knowledge that results from it. It is important to give young people the opportunity to speak their minds and acknowledge their contribution to conversations.

Charities cannot claim to work for, or represent,  a certain group of people without involving that group in its decision-making body. Age is an identity that cuts across gender, race, class, religion and all other forms of  intersectional oppressions. Having intergenerational-based decisions, therefore, is important in including a diversity of perspectives to the discussion.

What have you enjoyed the most about the role so far?

As the Administrative Assistant I get a lot of queries from charities wanting to work with the Young Trustees Movement and it’s always exciting when I come across those that work on social mobility and minority rights. I get to explore what they do, their values, and their impact in local/national communities. This interaction has already broadened my knowledge of the different ways charities operate and the sorts of things they get involved with.

I am equally excited to learn more about how charities are run internally - what does a board look like, how do they make decisions, and how do they keep the staff team running? Having the opportunity to sit on the Young Trustees Movement’s board meetings has been very enlightening, especially since the YTM doesn’t have a traditional board (currently all board members are  under 30).

It has been incredible to see how much each board member is able to add to the conversation, whether they have had previous work experience in the subject or not. A key takeaway has been that young people contribute to the debate in many ways beyond their previous work experiences, and that the identity of being a young person is an important one that deserves to be heard.

When you’re not working - what is it that you enjoy doing?

Like many other young people privileged enough to be in education, most of my time not working is spent on my academic work. I am currently a student reading for Refugee and Forced Migration Studies. I love my subject and deeply enjoy pursuing the topics of social mobility and minority rights from an academic perspective. So most of my non-working time is spent in libraries, glued to a screen and a queue of ten articles on my screen.

Outside of my paid and academic work, I also love to read fiction books. Underlying all these stories are always tales about women breaking different types of oppression, people fighting for their rights, and social justice becoming widespread.

Key Definitions

Social mobility

I find the definition by the OECD the most encompassing: social mobility refers to the change in a person’s socio-economic conditions in relation to their parents. It is associated with equality of opportunity, the extent to which people have the same chances to do well in life regardless of their parent’s socio-economic background or the person’s gender, race, ethnicity, etc or a combination of these.

Minority rights

I define minority rights as the protected rights of minorities based on nationality, ethnicity, religion, amongst other traits. These groups are particularly vulnerable to discrimination, violence, and global inequalities, and must therefore have key rights of existence, non-discrimination, and equality protected and promoted. See the OHCHR definition here.

If you've been inspired by Priscilla's journey join our Champion Training, just like she did! Register for the next event here.

Free Champion Training

Join a 1 hour training session to understand the power of young trustees, have a framework to understand how to approach board diversity and take practical next steps. New dates are added every month.