Introducing Jamin Pursell, New RPA Operations Manager
Interviewed by: Diana Wear
Jamin, congratulations on being hired for this new leadership position for the RPA. What led you to apply for this position?
Initially, I had not thought to take on the whole gamut of RPA’s structural needs. I’ve been with RPA since 2014 with a few lapses of school and other things, but since I’ve worked on several campaigns, served on various Action Teams and committees, and as a Steering Committee member, I have felt well positioned to help us transition to a new status. I think this is a pivotal moment for RPA as we are on the cusp of celebrating twenty years as a successful progressive organization in the East Bay. I would like to help RPA establish structures that will enable us to work more productively and effectively with other groups in Richmond. Our organization stands on the legacy of many RPA founders, friends, and colleagues over the years. It’s time to advance for the next ten years, to be as strong as possible for what it means to be progressive in Richmond and our surrounding communities. I aim to build on what all those people have done—we are a constantly moving machine. We have big problems to address, and I feel poised to help us do that.
What are your top three main goals that you hope to accomplish in this job?
First, I will bring a plan to address the organization's structural needs. The structural shift entails involving our members in conversations about structural needs, clarifying the organization's abilities, and collectively finding ways to operate more efficiently. The outcomes will allow the RPA to significantly increase our impact in Richmond and be an even better ally to our partner organizations.
I also believe in establishing and incorporating best practices into everything we do. That includes conflict resolution and accountability, and delegation of responsibilities. For example, we need to be better at sharing our workload, overseeing what all our groups are doing, and communicating those activities to our Steering Committee.
Building solid relationships and foundational support for Richmond and other East Bay alliances is also on my to-do list. RPA is a model for those smaller, newer progressive groups, and as we network, we can work on issues together to widen our net. In addition, it's important to build coalitions within the region of progressives, as some problems are regional and county-wide.
Tell us from your perspective where you see our organizational strengths and weaknesses at this juncture.
RPA has a tremendous background and list of successes. We have shown progressive values are American values and democratic values, and frankly, we’re pretty mainstream. We support equity, opportunity, and true justice. People deserve housing, to be fed, educated, and to live without fear. These are core to what we hold and strive for in our city.
However, engaging in many causes opens us up to political strife and attacks. That can deter broader engagement and is taxing. Instead, we need continuous community building. I want to show what RPA has accomplished and who we are to the outside community. That will start with more socials, having political education nights on what we believe and why, and learning where progressive values originate.
Do you have anything else you would like to share with our readers?
I am immensely grateful to the organization, the membership, and our allies for this opportunity. This endeavor will have challenges, but this will be an excellent year for the organization. I invite people to contact me if they have any questions or suggestions about how the RPA can grow and help serve the city's needs.