ROOTers at ROOTS Week 2019. Photo: Melisa Cardona
March 17, 2022 | Aimee McCoy
Hello Fellow ROOTers,
As I prepare to lead the newly created Membership Team I wanted to take this moment to happily introduce myself. First, I want to thank God for blessing my life and path and holding me up over the last few challenging years. I also want to say I am honored and humbled by the opportunity to lead this new work for the organization. I began my journey with Alternate ROOTS eight years ago. As a theater and film artist working in Atlanta, I had recently founded The Artizen Company (TAC) with my friend and long-time collaborator, Natae Eady Copeland. Shortly after that, we met then Programs Director Ashley Walden Davis at an Atlanta event. She encouraged us to join ROOTS because the organization was offering funding to individual artists members for their work. I officially joined as a general member in 2014. TAC was later fortunate to be invited to participate in a youth-focused ROOTS Weekend at Highlander Research and Education Center in 2016.
At Highlander, I connected with other ROOTS members in a meaningful way, inspiring me to make sure I attended the next ROOTS Week. In 2017, I experienced my first official ROOTS Week, and it was the defining moment in my ROOTS journey. For a newbie, the energy and events during ROOTS Week can sometimes be overwhelming. For me, it was profound and grounding. Not only was I being supported through grants by this community, but the members of this community showed me at that ROOTS Week that they genuinely strive to live up to their ideals. After that experience, I was committed to this organization and, more specifically, to my fellow members.
Later that year, ROOTS offered an Arts Management Fellowship, and I took the chance and applied. I wanted to learn how to build, grow, and maintain an organization with the hope of having my own million-dollar budget one day. I am happy to say I was selected for this opportunity because it altered my work and life trajectory. I learned so much from the staff, Executive Committee, and membership. Later on, in 2019, I was offered an administrative position where I could support staff, ExComm, and members during the sabbatical of Ashley Walden Davis. I had hoped to repay a portion of what I felt I gained as a ROOTS fellow through service in this role. This role was followed by an offer, one year later, to join the operations team led by the amazing Paige Huertin. In Operations, I was allowed to assist with the organization’s financial health and then stepped in to lead while Paige took her sabbatical. ROOTS continued to teach me many things and has been essential to my growth as a leader. These roles have also allowed me to give back to a membership that has offered me so much.
In my new role, I have an opportunity to give back in a way I never dreamed of. Honestly, I was surprised by the offer and humbled by our Executive Director, Michelle Ramos, ExComm, and the staff’s confidence and belief in me. The gravity of this position and its responsibilities hit home, especially in these uncertain times, continuously plagued with social, political, and economic injustice and attacks, a pandemic, and so much more. The need for Alternate ROOTS as an organization with a membership base that is activated and leading the charge is beyond apparent. Our mission says it all; we want to change the world and use art to do it. This reality has also led to the exponential growth of ROOTS in membership, staff capacity, and budget size.
ROOTers at ROOTS Week 2019. Photo: Melisa Cardona
I recognize the power of this momentum we are experiencing. I am committed to maintaining it and focusing all I can toward serving in the most basic ways, from supporting members in orientation, maintenance, retention, and recruitment; to the most expansive ways like fostering connections between members in their local areas and across our region; as well as highlighting ROOTS’ members and their work.
However; first things first, we need to hear from you. There is nothing like crowdsourcing a community of brilliant and compassionate minds to determine what we need to restore, create, or relinquish. The ROOTS’ Membership Team is coming to you to kick off this work through the ROOTS’ Rhizome Tour. We will travel to meet you face-to-face to listen and continue the conversations we began last year around membership. If you would like to serve as a Hometown Host on the ROOTS Rhizome Tour, please fill out the request form HERE.
I hope that we can connect and continue to build with each other, harnessing our momentum to change the world. I ask for your support and participation as I shepherd this work. We are looking forward to seeing you soon!
Aimee L. McCoy
Director of Membership of Alternate ROOTS
If you are interested in seeing more information on my artistic work, please visit The Artizen Company’s social media profiles. Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, SoundCloud, Website.