A number of false accusations have recently been made against Campaign Zero, its Leadership Team, and Board members. In order to maintain focus and commitment to the impactful work of Campaign Zero, its employees, organizers, partners, and volunteers, we felt it was important to share a message from the organization directly.
Organizational Growth & Change
As Campaign Zero expanded and grew, it became clear the organization required a more formalized operation to scale with continued accountability, transparency, and sustained impact. This has resulted in, among other things, the following actions over the last 18 months:
- Expanding the governing Board of Directors, whose members were recruited and vetted by all of the co-founders at the time.
- Transitioning from a small patchwork of contractors and volunteers to a structure with more than a dozen full-time employees, an organized team of 58 researchers and consultants, and a sustainable 10-year operating plan.
- Strengthening financial and compliance controls, including internal and external audits and defining a staffing assessment process to protect the organization, its people, and its platforms, including filing 990s since 2016, which are publicly available.
- Establishing an Employee Handbook, hiring practices, and hiring a leader as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief People Officer to lead all operations and people (HR) responsibilities.
We are incredibly proud of the work of our employees and partners, whose impact has been progressing, unfazed by distractions directed at the organization and its staff, including Executive Director DeRay Mckesson. Their commitment to this organization and passion for this work have helped transform Campaign Zero into its most vital and effective iteration to date.
Donations & Work
We understand that community members, donors, and other activists have entrusted us with significant donations, totaling more than $40 million, and we have been working to make sure that these funds are carefully and thoughtfully spent on programs that best move our mission forward, not the individual interests of any members of the organization past or present. Our current operating budget includes sustaining more than a dozen full-time employees, a team of 58 campaign analysts and researchers, providing resources for community organizers, running 4 active campaigns (e.g. 8CantWait, NixThe6, EndAllNoKnocks, and FreeKeithDavisJr), and more than 10 emerging campaigns to be launched in the first half of 2022.
To be clear, any allegation that funds donated to Campaign Zero have been improperly used for the personal benefit of any of its executives or employees is categorically false.
Campaign Zero’s financial records are, and have always been, a matter of public record. Our tax ID number is 81-3764408 and these records can be accessed via the IRS or GuideStar. There is no 990 for 2015 because we received so few funds that no filing was required.
Integrity of Research & Data Initiatives
From the beginning, Campaign Zero’s work has been rooted in using and sharing data as a tool to dismantle the institution of American policing and ending policing brutality. That’s what guided our team when we built these platforms for the community to rely on and replicate in our collective work to end police violence – and still guides us today.
We have more staff dedicated to research and data than ever before, notably with a Managing Director of Research and Data with deep experience in criminal justice who has assisted and advised us for years. A core tenet of Campaign Zero’s social research is to allow any member of the public to recreate our publicly sourced datasets – that is what we have done and will continue to do. We have partnered with leading experts and academics to review and advise on methodology and research. Mapping Police Violence and all other Campaign Zero platforms, such as 8 Can’t Wait, EndAllNoKnocks and NixThe6 follow these same tenets. We develop detailed methodologies and rigorous documentation through an open and transparent process that not only allows – but encourages – the public to recreate it using the same publicly available information. This allows members of the public to hold us accountable by evaluating and double-checking the data and methodology.
Mapping Police Violence
The Mapping Police Violence platform is the intellectual property of Campaign Zero, primarily because the team who helped build it and maintain it over the years, including Mr. Sinyangwe, were retained and worked for Campaign Zero. Campaign Zero has always owned the domain and hosted the website. No one person from Campaign Zero is the “owner” of our campaigns or sites, which are all for public use (e.g., 8CantWait, NixThe6, and EndAllNoKnocks).
This data is public information. What Campaign Zero has done is create an additional unique set of variables that code out different components of the incidents, while working with other organizations and researchers that collect this information to aggregate it in a way to tell the story of police violence and brutality in this country.
Mapping Police Violence utilizes data from a number of sources, most notably Fatal Encounters. For the recent revamp of the platform which began 4 months ago, we have partnered with Fatal Encounters to develop an updated and evolved methodology that both include more details to allow the public to replicate the data and employs more rigorous data collection mechanisms, such as Meltwater for incident alerts. Fatal Encounters was the first endeavor to collect data on police killings, is the most comprehensive dataset, and is more frequently cited in academic journals due to its methodology, academic relationships, and tenure.
The recent improvements to the Mapping Police Violence dataset and methodology were made possible in part with the support and expertise of the Fatal Encounters team. The goal of the ongoing update of the methodology is to make the process more transparent, more accessible for public exploration, and more scalable to allow for the introduction of other data to support efforts towards a world beyond policing. We’re excited to share additional updates in the coming months.
Separation with Co-Founders
The work that we do collectively is hard and conflict sometimes arises. Most of the time we are able to work through these differences. With both Ms. Elzie and Mr. Sinyangwe, however, we were not able to reach reasonable and community-centered resolutions.
We are explaining the terms of their separation publicly to provide clarity given the accusations, misrepresentations, and misinformation that continues to be shared.
In 2021, this Board made the decision to terminate Ms. Elzie for cause and to end all business relationships with Mr. Sinyangwe. We worked with both individuals to avoid separation, but in the end, both acted in ways that left the Board with no option but to pursue complete separation.
Ms. Elzie was terminated as she consistently refused to come to work, refused to complete role-specific tasks, refused to meet with any supervisory staff including members of the Board of Directors, did not follow-up with external partners, and ignored repeated attempts to remedy these failures. Ms. Elzie received a separation letter that provided a severance payment and extended health benefits. The separation letter did not contain any non-disclosure, confidentiality, or non-disparagement provisions.
Mr. Sinyangwe’s business relationship was terminated in September 2021 due to his unauthorized use of Campaign Zero funds, his attempt to sabotage the organization by using his credentials to take the Campaign Zero website offline, his attempt to acquire a personal trademark for a Campaign Zero project unbeknownst to any Campaign Zero team members, and then repeatedly misrepresenting those actions. We engaged in months of negotiations towards a fair compensation structure for his employment, but were unwilling to engage his demands to either personally control the board of directors or receive $15 million.
As an activist-led organization committed to transparency, we do not believe in silencing any voices, even when disputes and conflicts arise between those working closest with us. We have therefore never asked any employee or contractor to sign anything that required them to keep their experiences working with Campaign Zero confidential. We believe that teammates, past and present, should have no restrictions to speak about their experiences, even when we disagree. We do encourage those voices to be honest.
We are deeply grateful for the contribution of all four of our co-founders, who have served the organization, and the movement, in unique and extraordinary ways. The contributions of Ms. Elzie and Mr. Sinyangwe that helped to create Campaign Zero will remain invaluable.
Above all else, it is the people – those who are committed to this work and those we serve – who suffer if we allow ourselves to get distracted. We will not engage in attacks, nor will we tolerate baseless claims that threaten to hurt the people and work that bind us together. Our work is far too important.
We are proud to have helped Campaign Zero grow and mature as an organization these last few years and are honored to continue to support this talented and passionate group of activists who show up every day to help our community. We will continue to grow – and learn as we do – and always remain accountable to the movement.
Now, it’s time to get back to work.
Sharhonda Bossier, Chair
Sharhonda is CEO at Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC), and a committed advocate for Black and Brown children who have been denied adequate educational opportunity. Under Sharhonda’s leadership, the organization is expanding its scope and focus by strengthening its growing multi-racial coalition, expanding its grantmaking, and designing holistic solutions to disrupt cycles of generational poverty in the communities EdLoC serves. Sharhonda started her career in education as a public school teacher.
Donnell O’Callaghan, Secretary
Don is the co-founder of Torace, a technology platform designed to support critical mentorship activities in K-12 and Higher Ed, and a Partner at The Calsoyas Group, a consulting firm that partners with school system leaders to help tackle human resource challenges. A career spent primarily in education, Don’s focus areas include enhancing leadership development and educator leadership pipelines through initiatives centered on data, analytics, and technical infrastructure. Don began his career as a middle school science and physical education teacher in New York City.
Bobak Emamian, Treasurer
Bobak is an entrepreneur and co-founder of Debut Capital, an early stage venture capital fund focused on investing in Black, Latinx, and Indigenous founders. Prior to Debut Capital, Bobak was the co-founder and CEO at Prolific Interactive. Acquired by WeWork in 2019, Prolific was an award winning strategy-led mobile product agency that designed and built apps for companies like SoulCycle, Saks, Gap, and American Express. Prolific was recognized as one of Inc. 500’s fastest-growing private companies and one of Crain’s Fast 50.
De’Ara Balenger, Director
De’Ara is an attorney, strategist and co-founder of maestra. She has extensive experience in directing and accelerating mission driven work. Prior to maestra, De’Ara spent over a decade in public service, including both domestic and international work to eradicate inequities in criminal justice systems and increase representation and voter engagement amongst communities of color. She has worked on two presidential campaigns, including Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign where she served as Director of Engagement, and served in the Obama Administration in the U.S. Department of State.
Trier Bryant, Director
Trier is co-founder and CEO of Just Work which helps organizations build more equitable and productive workplaces. She is a strategic executive leader with distinctive Tech, Wall Street, and military experience spanning over 15 years. She’s previously held leadership roles at Astra, Twitter, Goldman Sachs, and proudly served as a combat veteran in the United States Air Force leading engineering teams. Trier has an unwavering commitment to create more diverse, inclusive, and thriving workplaces producing prosperous companies with clients like Equinox, Airbnb, SoundCloud, Gusto, and the Community Food Bank of NJ.
Kanyi Maqubela, Director
Kanyi is a Managing Partner at Kindred Ventures. He focuses his investment and formation work in theme areas including fintech, health and wellness, ecommerce, supply-chain, and sustainability technology. He previously served as a Partner at Collaborative Fund, where he was a seed investor in over two dozen mission-driven technology companies. As an entrepreneur and operator, Kanyi is a co-founder at Heartbeat Health, ran growth at venture-backed technology startups, and served as a campaign staffer for Barack Obama in 2008. Kanyi has also served as a Lecturer and Adjunct Professor at NYU Tisch School of the Arts, a curriculum adapted from his time as a student at Stanford University.