Sunset Announcement from Common Field

Dear Friends,

We write to you today with important news about Common Field’s future.

After a comprehensive auditing and strategic visioning process in 2021, Common Field has made the decision to begin an intentional sunsetting process and will close as an organization in December 2022.

Having considered a number of paths forward with trusted field colleagues, our primary funder and financial advisors, we believe this decision holds the founding values of the organization most responsibly and addresses all of the complex challenges the organization faces intentionally. Sunsetting this organization is not an easy decision, but it is the responsible one.

Common Field’s review process began in late 2020 after the departure of Common Field's former executive director following official complaints filed by employees about harm they experienced, among other concerns about the organization's leadership. Common Field underwent an internal review process conducted by the board, and in response to the findings, the board brought on new staff leadership and the organization committed to conducting a 360° Organizational Audit with consultants Shana Turner, S. Mandisa Moore-O'Neal, and their team in 2021.

This audit process set out to understand misalignments between the organization’s founding mission and vision and its work and practice by listening to the experience of our community –including Network members, former and current staff and board, partners, and community members. The resulting report provided the leadership team with clarity on the value of the organization to the field. However, it also uncovered evidence that expressed an internal culture of harm, missteps in the approach to supporting collaborative work, as well as critical lapses in communication from leadership that led to a lack of attention to ensuring long-term organizational sustainability. The resulting report provided recommendations for repair, restoration, and planning for moving the organization forward. You can read the full Audit Report and a summary of key findings here.

When we began the audit, the leadership team (board of directors and executive director) had the full intention of setting the stage for the next phase of Common Field for the years ahead. We also planned to respond to and address repair work, utilizing the recommendations and learnings from the report. During this same time, however, we identified a critical financial challenge that posed both a short- and long-term threat to the sustainability of the organization, while also undermining the ability for the organization to embark on planned forward visioning in 2022.

This process revealed that Common Field currently faces a concurrent set of critical financial and structural challenges that no one person can or should be blamed for, that no one person in leadership can fix—and most importantly, that would take years of a board and staff working at a gross deficit of capacity and resources, with the organization’s annual sustainability in constant threat while attempting to address all of these complex issues for our short- and long-term survival. You can read more about these challenges and our process for arriving at this decision here.

Though sunsetting does not allow us to carve a path forward for Common Field as an organization, we believe this intentional process can provide the field with a unique set of tools from our experience. Equally as important, we believe this process will allow us to remain committed to our 2022 programs and partners to ensure our final year of program is fully supported. We are also prioritizing an organizational archival process to ensure the work you and so many others have contributed to Common Field is held for others to access and learn from in the future.

We know you may have many questions and encourage you to spend time with the materials we have prepared and shared on our website for you, our community. These documents include further details about the path to this decision and the ways we are working to ensure our staff and program commitments are supported during this year.

In May and through the summer months, Common Field will be sharing more details about our final slate of programs, plans for transitioning our membership program, and more about our sunset activities and resource outcomes. Until then, we welcome you to reach out to us at questions [​at​] if you have any questions, and appreciate your patience as we intentionally plan and share our work for the remainder of the year.

After moving through this process, and in preparation for the next phase of transitional work, the Common Field staff will be taking a recess from April 18 through April 22. During this time, our board will be keeping an eye on the questions [​at​] inbox to address your inquiries. When our staff returns on April 25, we will be able to respond to any inquiries that come directly to us as well. We appreciate your patience as our leadership team and staff continue to move through this process with thoughtfulness and care for each other and for our community.

Thank you for being part of such an important effort to shape and impact our field and we look forward to sharing more with you soon.

With gratitude,
Common Field Leadership & Staff

Sarah Williams, Board Chair
Jackie Clay, Board Secretary
Eunsong Kim, Board Member
James McAnally, Board Member Emeritus
Sheetal Prajapati, Executive Director
Kristel Baldoz, Administrative Manager & Board Treasurer

E. Maude Haak-Frendscho, Convening Program Director
Chris Tyler, Communications and Operations Manager
Mars Avila, Producer, Programs and Special Projects
Cat Yang, Network Associate