Founder of NextRiver, Author of "How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community", IFTF Equitable Enterprise Initiative Fellow
Mia Birdsong is a pathfinder, author, and facilitator who steadily engages the leadership and wisdom of people experiencing injustice to chart new visions of American life. She has a gift for making visible and leveraging the brilliance of everyday people so that our collective gifts reach larger spheres of influence, cultural and political change, and create wellbeing for all of us.
In her book How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community (Hachette, 2020), Mia maps swaths of community life and points us toward the promise of our collective vitality. In “More Than Enough,” her podcast miniseries from The Nation, she expands the guaranteed income movement by tapping into the voices and visions of low-income people. Previously, as founding Co-Director of Family Story, Mia lifted up a new national story about what makes a good family. As Vice President of the Family Independence Initiative, she leveraged the power of data and stories to illuminate and accelerate the initiative low-income families take to improve their lives.
Believing that, taken collectively, we are the guides we most need, Mia has made an art out of inviting people into rich explorations of how we map paths forward. Her public conversations, like the New America series centering Black women as agents of change and her 2015 TED talk “The Story We Tell About Poverty Isn’t True,” draw targeted attention to the stories of people who are finding their way into leadership roles despite myriad barriers, while also highlighting the vibrant terrain of all marginalized people who are leading on the ground and solving for tomorrow.
Mia is the founding Executive Director of Next River, an institute that moves conversations, culture, and resources to nourish the people and communities whose ways of being, doing, and relating can move us toward a liberated future. Mia is a Senior Fellow of the Economic Security Project. She was an inaugural Ascend Fellow of The Aspen Institute. Mia lives in Oakland California on the occupied land of the Chochenyo Ohlone people where she tends to bees, chickens, plants, and people.