Staff of the Month: Lana Tilley


Name and Title:

Lana Tilley, Grants Manager & Storyteller

How long have you worked at RYSE?

Since September 2017.

How did you first hear about RYSE and why did you choose to get involved?

Back in 2014, I saw a RAW Talent (an early iteration of RYSE performing arts) performance. The play was written by Donté Clark about an investigation into public housing conditions in Richmond. I’m in love with platforms linking young people and our community elders, so that play had me hooked. I really wanted to get involved when I learned about RYSE’s community health approach and holistic ways of generating paths for youth to lead and reimagine our future.

As the Grants Manager and Storyteller, what do you do?

I work to build partnerships with foundations and businesses that can support RYSE financially and in other ways. This includes describing RYSE’s grounding in a youth organizing movement ignited in response to community violence, as well as sharing stories and data about the many ways young people are leading, dreaming, connecting, and learning with RYSE today.

What do you love most about your job?

I enjoy getting to know young people at RYSE, as well as with my co-workers who are amazing people! And it’s powerful to every morning walk in the building and see pictures on our walls of young people, past and present, who embody social justice leadership and holding our systems accountable. It shifts my connection to our collective histories to be reminded that young people have always led us and that our daily, ongoing relationships with each other will carry that leadership forward. RYSE culture and our Theory of Liberation feel really good to be part of, to learn and grow within.

If you had to describe RYSE in three words, what would they be and why?

Rooted, Responsive, Creative.

Tell us something that happened in the RYSE community that resonated with you this month.

I feel moved by how RYSE staff turn toward each other with love during difficult times. After last weekend, when gun violence caused fresh harm in our community, RYSE staff and youth members came to RYSE as a place to connect, process, and to just be. I read heartfelt notes left on our community altar; heard shouts released during a video game competition and murmurs of quiet consolation in the counseling room; saw colorful marble painting activities and young people connecting over a card game; and listened to poems being read. Where else can we find all of that in the midst of painful experiences? Yet it’s key to healing and creating relationships that allow for transformative change. This is why we look forward to coming together in hope and determination for our fundraiser Be A Kid: 90s House Party on April 27th! Join us in sustaining our safe space and programming for young people.

What's something that other staff and youth members don't know about you?

I love games! Card games, word games, active games, imagination games, group games…


To find out how you can support RYSE, click here.