March 13 — New Florida Majority (NewFM) Executive Director Gihan Perera announced Monday that he is moving on to join the Ford Foundation as Program Officer effective May 15. NewFM Co-Founder and Board Member Maria Rodriguez thanked Perera for all his hard work guiding the organization and announced that a search for a new Executive Director would begin immediately.
“Words cannot express the impact that Gihan has had both in South Florida and across the state in organizing and empowering community residents as Executive Director at New Florida Majority,” said Rodriguez. “We are deeply grateful for his vision and hard work creating a local platform and national model for social justice activists to channel their electoral and political aspirations in a principled and impactful way.”
Rodriguez stressed that the new Executive Director would be taking over an organization that is uniquely positioned to make a significant impact in expanding democratic rights and participation. NewFM will continue training grassroots leaders from all communities to improve life for all Floridians and not just well-connected elites.
“NewFM is in a strong financial position and growing, with an incredibly talented, committed, and diverse staff team,” said Rodriguez. “The work that they are carrying out – both in the public eye and behind the scenes – will change the landscape of our state, ensuring that not just our electorate but also our electeds reflect the fierce beauty, humble hard working nature, and rich diversity of our state.
Reflecting on NewFM’s current period of growth, Perera said, “The organization is innovating its organizing and communications model, building Black leadership and participation, expanding into new areas to build deeper Black-Latino unity, and developing new diverse leadership inclusive of youth, women, Blacks, Latinos, LGBTQ and formerly incarcerated.”
Perera will join Ford’s Civic Engagement and Government division as Program Officer, where he will lead the Foundation’s work on expanding democratic participation to ensure that communities – especially ones that have been historically excluded – have greater voice and power to shape the policy decisions that impact their lives.
“Like my role at NewFM, this is a dream job,” said Perera. “I’m honored that the Ford Foundation has chosen me to take on this role and great responsibility.”
Community partners like Marleine Bastien expect that the next several months will be a time of reflection and renewal, as Miami’s community of progressive leaders honor the role that Perera has played in developing the leadership of Floridians of color and building progressive infrastructure for more than two decades.
“Gihan has always seen the movement as being about building relationships — between people, between organizations and between communities,” said Bastien, Executive Director of FANM Ayisyen nan Miyami/Haitian Women of Miami. “I’m ambivalent about him leaving but I know that he won’t be far to provide the same kind of inspiration and leadership.”
Miami Dade County Commissioner Daniella Levine-Cava was one of dozens leaders who hopped on social media Monday afternoon to congratulate Perera on the news.
“This is such exciting news for a local hero, our entire community and the country,” said Levine-Cava. “Gihan has the know how, experience and heart to help communities everywhere build inclusive powerful civil societies. Go Gihan!”
Perera also announced that longtime NewFM ally and former Wellstone Action President Ben Goldfarb will serve as Transition Manager effective immediately, helping the NewFM board and senior leadership team steer the organization and on-board a new Executive Director.
“Ben brings decades of experience organizing for progressive change, and as former Executive Director of Wellstone Action, he represented one of NewFM’s staunchest national allies,” said Perera. “ NewFM is fortunate to have him on board in this capacity to offer a steady hand in this transition.”