Honoring Clare Bayard’s 21 years of leadership in Catalyst

Clare Bayard, Catalyst Project co-founder, leading security for the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance contingent at the 2017 Women’s March in Washington, DC.

Dear Catalyst Community,
After more than two decades, Clare Bayard, one of Catalyst’s founders, will be moving on at the end of 2021. Whether on the frontlines in post-Katrina Gulf Reconstruction, fighting for migrant rights in Arizona, organizing internationally and locally for Palestinian liberation, or co-constructing direct action to shut down the Oakland Police headquarters with the Movement for Black Lives, Clare has worked passionately to build multi-racial movements for justice and white anti-racist leadership. 

Clare organized and facilitated over a decade of Anne Braden Programs to build accountable leaders, mentored hundreds of anti-racist organizers, trained up many people in community safety practices, and worked with leaders nationally and internationally on developing movement building strategy. 

Clare has led Catalyst’s anti-war/anti-militarism work, engaging with organizations like War Resisters League and About Face Veterans Against War, helping groups bring their practice into alignment with their anti-racist goals.

Clare’s contributions to social justice movements are too numerous to include here. One thing we are certain of – whatever Clare’s next steps may be, they will continue to bring political sharpness, vision, profound internationalism and relationship-centered organizing that helped make Catalyst the organization it is today.

From Clare:

Dear Friends, 

As this year closes, I am wrapping up my time in Catalyst Project.

Catalyst has been my political home, the movement institution I have put the bulk of my life into building, the place from which I’ve done the majority of my political work for the last two decades. In the late 90s, life moved me into work against racism and war, and I have never looked back.

Some of you know Catalyst through me and others of you I’ve never met in person! Many of you have supported Catalyst’s work in so many ways– with your time, your attention, your money, your guidance, your partnership. If you first came to know Catalyst through me, I ask you to continue supporting this work because it is needed more than ever. Particularly if you are a white person living in the US, this is both our responsibility and shared interest.

Catalyst has been the work of my hands and my heart. So much sweat and so many tears, tears of joy and grief and despair and hope. This has been my whole adult life. Building this scrappy, ambitious organization, this unusual little hybrid lovechild, consensus-based shared leadership collective initially shaped as an entirely unpaid volunteer collective, and now trying to also be an ethical employer as we keep scaling up the volume and quality of work we can do, while trying to fulfill our commitment to prioritize and center the leadership of people raised poor or working class. 

I have found my best self in this work, and I’ve been so deeply challenged. Sometimes thrown in to sink or swim, other times held so tenderly and with such infinite patience by the people and organizations who have raised me. To all of you who have invested in me, taught me, schooled me, journeyed alongside letting me learn from you…. I promise to continue paying it forward. I’m still in this work. 

It’s hard to leave when this work is needed more than ever– specifically for white people to work with each other, in coordination with and accountable to our indigenous, Black and people of color comrades, to increase our full-bodied and constructive participation in racial justice. But it’s time to make new room, for myself and for Catalyst. Catalyst is stronger than we’ve ever been. We’ve taken new risks of scale and style in the past few years, pushed by our advisors, by the dire political and environmental circumstances, by the pandemic. I have such deep trust in and respect for the members of our collective, and could not be more confident in their vision and leadership. To all of you who’ve made up Catalyst over these past almost 22 years, and to everyone we have partnered with, it’s been an honor and privilege to work with you to take down US empire and build a just, loving, and sustainable world.

The time is right for me too. I was trying to adapt to being a movement parent with an infant, then suddenly I had a toddler in a pandemic. The last couple years have been a different kind of struggle than what I was prepared for, but that’s life. It’s pushed me to be more flexible and more patient while also deepening my commitment to change work. Every passing day makes it more obvious that we are all needed if we want survivable futures for everyone’s kids, and for many people, right now (and yesterday). A lot of my beloveds died this past year. Constant reminders that we don’t ever know how much time we have. It’s time for me to find out what’s my next chapter in working for demilitarization and real safety, for healing, and multiracial democracy instead of white nationalism. 

I am not going to move directly into another organization from Catalyst. I’ll take some time for reflection and integration. I’m beginning a term on the board of About Face Veterans Against War, an organization I love and a political community I am very committed to. But you’ll probably be hearing from me sometime in 2022 as I seek advice on where to bring my specific set of skills and experience to best serve grassroots organizing to build people power.  

This chapter is over for me but the work continues. May we be in it together, in new forms, for many years and many successes.

In solidarity,

Clare with current collective member Rahula Janowski at an action for Palestine in 2010.
Clare in a group of Occupy San Francisco protesters shutting down Wells Fargo. Photo by Anda Chu