Susan Misra founded AuroraCommons to nurture a society that embodies a “Whole Planet - Whole People - Whole Power” approach. We believe that liberation, justice, and equity will come when our social norms, policies, worldviews, structural incentives, and relationships enable all of us to be both different and whole together. How can we transform society so that people prioritize the planet, biota, and humans as much as they prioritize their own self-interest? How can this society realistically account for human and group differences rather than forcing one utopian ideal? Areas that we love supporting include: solidarity economy, just transitions, forced displacement (both immigration and gentrification), climate justice, creative place-making, regional planning, and environmental justice, just to name a few of the many fields that lie at the intersection of people and planet.
Susan has over 20 years of experience in developing equitable, sustainable organizations and networks for movement building. For funders, Susan has designed, managed, and evaluated capacity building and grantmaking initiatives on a range of topics such as strengthening senior leadership and fundraising of grassroots organizations, diversifying audiences and increasing the financial resilience of arts organizations, and developing equitable and sustainable business models for intermediaries. For nonprofits, Susan has worked with over 400 organizations and networks on complex strategic planning, leadership development (including executive coaching, shared leadership, leadership teams, and board development), organizational restructuring and culture change, and financial sustainability. She particularly specializes in aligning internal operations with social justice values through inclusive, participatory, and analytically rigorous processes.
Susan is also a thought leader who generates innovative ideas and works with others to turn them into reality. For complex and emergent systems change, Susan developed the “Systems Grantmaking Resource Guide,” has coached philanthropists on investing in movement building, co-wrote “Influencing Complex Systems Change,” and worked with community leaders on equitable systems change. For shared leadership, Susan has modeled shared leadership as a Co-Director at Change Elemental, co-wrote “Doing More with More: Putting Shared Leadership into Practice” and “Emergent Coaching: Becoming Nimble in Complex Times,” and has guided many networks and organizations on developing leaderful cultures and structures. For strengthening organizations and building power, Susan helped develop the Core Capacity Assessment Tool as an Associate Director at TCC Group, advised on integrating equity and networked ways of working into the Organizational Mapping Tool, and co-wrote “Essential Capacities for Building Community Power.”
Susan Misra is the former Co-Director of the nonprofit social justice consulting firm Change Elemental. In shared leadership with board and staff, she quadrupled the size of the organization, transformed the business model and brand, and developed new thinking around movement networks, building power for systems change, and racial equity. Susan was also the Associate Director of Program/Grants Management and Capacity Building at TCC Group. At TCC, she designed, managed, and evaluated capacity-building programs for foundations. These included several multi-million dollar, multi-year, national initiatives with regranting, capacity building, and learning community components. In addition, Susan has been a long-time volunteer organizer around issues like global justice, living wages, the environment, immigrant queer rights, and electoral politics. Susan holds a Master in Public Policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, where she gained advanced skills in strategic nonprofit management, leadership and political organizing, and economic development.
As part of the core curriculum of the NYU Wagner Masters program, Capstone teams spend an academic year addressing challenges and identifying opportunities for a client organization. Wagner's Capstone program provides students with a centerpiece of their graduate experience whereby they are able to experience first-hand turning the theory of their studies into practice under the guidance of an experienced faculty member. Projects require students to get up-to-speed quickly on a specific content or issue area; enhance key process skills including project management and teamwork; and develop competency in gathering, analyzing, and reporting out on data. Capstone requires students to interweave their learning in all these areas, and to do so in real time, in an unpredictable, complex, real-world environment.