NAME: Anoop Kaur
TITLE: Grants Manager
PREVIOUSLY: Grants Administration Officer, Silicon Valley Community Foundation
GUIDING QUOTE/TAGLINE: I have two taglines; they sort of represent the two aspects of life we generally tend to focus on, the part that has gone by and the one that has yet to occur.
It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.
– Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Travel far enough, you meet yourself.
– David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
CURRENTLY READING: Bananas, Beaches and Bases by Cynthia Enloe, and The Mothers by Britt Brennett
FAVORITE MOMENT OF CALIFORNIA HISTORY: In 2011, Jerry Brown signed the “Dream Act”. California has always been a haven for immigrants in one way or another; however, I remember this feeling that California valued its immigrant communities when the Dream Act was passed. This probably also had to do with the fact that my family and I were newly minted American citizens at the time and that idea of being legitimized was comforting.
What was it about California Humanities that first appealed to you?
California Humanities and its ethos represent a haven of knowledge and access. It’s an organization that listens with an open mind and has positively shaped the history of California. I am inspired by the work we do every day to ensure Californians have access to resources to tell their stories. I see it as an affirmation that we care about any and every story that Californians want to tell and that we are here to listen.
You come to us from the foundation world, is your approach to your work different at a smaller nonprofit, are there challenges or surprises you didn’t foresee?
The foundation world and California Humanities in a sense are aiming for the same positive change, so it feels like I’m building and advancing with the knowledge and experience gained at a large foundation. Before working at a foundation, my educational background was in International Policy and Development and I’ve consistently found a common thread between my education and my work, that being positive change through human actions. I’ve found that my approach to my work hasn’t changed between the two organizations as I generally approach tasks systematically and with enthusiasm, although the tasks at hand are different. I am very much enjoying the hands-on experience at California Humanities, in that I am able to directly connect with grantees and understand their difficulties and share in their triumphs.
At California Humanities, we believe that the humanities are relevant and meaningful ways to connect us to each other. How do you see this coming across your everyday life?
The humanities for me are the essence of life itself, it comes so naturally to us that it’s hard to define which part of our lives don’t involve humanities. We tell our stories every day, whether it’s about what happened over the weekend or sharing family and community history from centuries ago. Humanities not only help us connect with each other but they help create an unbreakable bond of shared experiences, as we’re truly able to step into someone else’s shoes and connect our experiences to someone else’s.
I think before coming to California Humanities, I took for granted the role that the humanities played in my life and how they’ve helped inform my decisions and world view. If we don’t value our stories, history and culture, it’s not hard to imagine how incomplete our lives would be.
I believe humanities are even more important in our technologically minded world as our culture and experiences are being shaped by our shared experiences through technology. It is even more important for me to ensure that the very basic connection at the human level remains intact across my everyday life.
What, if anything in your own personal life has led you to the nonprofit world? Was there the possibility of another path for you, if so, what was it?
This is a hard one for me, as I can’t think of a ‘single’ experience in my life that led me to the nonprofit world. I would like to say that my collective experience as an immigrant to this country and growing up here led to the nonprofit world. There were definitely other paths I thought about in college as I started out as a math major and decided to change my direction to International studies. Why? Well…I’ve thought a lot about this over time and I think it has to do with inspiration and where you find it. I found myself inspired by the amazing work nonprofit organizations are doing around the world. Today, I find myself being inspired by the work that California Humanities funds and how committed the staff is to showcasing California and its stories.
Tell us one thing that you would like people who don’t already know you, to know about you?
Well…I have two very important necessities in life. I cannot live without these two things, that is, good coffee and good books. Yes, good is subjective and completely up to me to define in this case. These are also the two items I always travel with, like I said, I cannot live without them.