Speaking Out & Starting Anew: Anne Price, 2023 Community Leadership Award Winner

Speaking Out & Starting Anew: Anne Price, 2023 Community Leadership Award Winner

Growing up in the 1970s, Anne Price would sometimes go with her parents – a teacher and a public interest lawyer – to work. It was there that she witnessed systemic inequalities: seeing children her own age struggling with hunger, or seeing tenants at a housing project needing to fight for better rights.

“They showed me legal systems, housing systems, educational systems,” she says about growing up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “They allowed me to see inequality first-hand.”

Price has dedicated more than 30 years to nonprofit and governmental work, spanning across the United States. She said this has expanded her worldview, and helped her to understand how issues are interconnected across communities. 

Last year, she quit her job as the leader of the Bay-Area-based Insight Center for Community and Economic Development, due to what she says was an unfair work environment. At Insight Center, a national economic justice organization, Price’s salary was lower than her predecessor, a man. And, despite successfully fundraising for the organization, her salary remained lower during her six-year tenure as president. In addition, she said that some board members stated the organization had become too Black-focused.

In a demonstration of solidarity and trust in Price’s leadership, four of their staff — the majority — left when Price resigned in late 2022. “I felt very vulnerable,” Price said about going public with the news of leaving. However, she said “it just felt like what we needed to do.”

Price now had a chance to build something new, based on her own vision. She, along with Jhumpa Bhattacharya, Insight Center’s former Executive Vice President, co-founded the Maven Collaborative, launched earlier this year with the mission of advancing economic and racial justice – and changing systems for Black women in particular – through local, statewide, and national initiatives and partnerships. Five staff and two fellows currently work at Maven Collaborative. 

“She really does lift people up as she climbs,” Bhattacharya said about Price’s leadership style. “She believes in leadership as a collective practice.” She has so much integrity and leads with love, truth and vision.” 

Price says that the work needs to be intersectional, across gender, race, and economic lines. Working to change systems to advance the people who are most economically marginalized is the core of their work. 

Building on the work of San Francisco and Alameda counties, which were one of the first in the nation to eliminate criminal legal fees in 2018, Bhattacharya helped start the Debt Free Justice California Coalition in 2020 to work on statewide elimination fees. Since 2020, the coalition has been successful in leading legislation that eliminated more than 60 fees statewide and expunged over $18 billion in debt. (Read about SFF’s support for the elimination of unjust fines and fees).

Starting a new organization may seem scary to some, but for Price, it was a sense of renewed hope and a chance to be creative and not stifled by the traditional nonprofit model with a traditional board and organizational structure (the Maven Collaborative is currently a fiscally sponsored organization).

“I really believe in the nimbleness of small organizations that do deep work and build deep relationships,” Price said. “I’m excited about the future. I’m excited for the dreaming and visioning of the work ahead.”

By Momo Chang, SFF consultant