He is the executive director of Rainbow Railroad. Prior to that, Kimahli Powell worked as the director of development for the HIV Legal Network. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and international development from the University of Ottawa and a doctorate in law from the University of Victoria.
What inspired you to join Rainbow Railroad?
So, I’ve been working in human rights in social justice for most of my career. Prior to Rainbow Railroad, I was working for an organization called the HIV Legal Network, working on Legal policy. We were launching a challenge to Jamaica’s anti-sex or sodomy law. And the idea of joining an organization that supports the protection of people at risk was really appealing to me, which is why I decided to take on the role of executive director.
Interesting! So, the work you do at Rainbow Railroad is amazing but must be time-consuming and demanding. As an executive director, how do you manage your mental health?
One of the things I’m striving for with the organization, at least for myself and my colleagues, is to have as much balance between the work as we can find. So, for me personally, it means trying to be physically active and spending time with my close friends and family.
That was short and sweet. So, what are some of the challenges facing the organization now?
I think the biggest challenge we face is just the sheer volume of the requests that we receive. Last year we received 7000 requests for help. We have received nearly 3000 requests for help since January of this year. So, many people are looking for our support, and we don’t necessarily have solutions for every person who reaches out to us. I think that’s something that we think about often; it is just how to manage so many requests.
“THE ARC OF THE MORAL UNIVERSE IS LONG, BUT IT BENDS TOWARD JUSTICE.”BY DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.
What is the one quote or motivational word that keeps you during challenging times?
Hmm. my favorite one is, I think, from Martin Luther King. And it’s “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Rainbow Railroad’s work is in solidarity with the global LGBTQI movement. Everyone deserves the right to live their lives as their authentic selves, free from persecution anywhere in the world. We don’t exist because we feel that people have to flee. If people want to relocate to another country, there are many immigration pathways that they can use. Usually, people reach out to us because they have no choice. And so, I truly believe and hope that we have a society where everyone can live without persecution wherever they want. And there are times when things are not looking great. So, It’s a long journey. But until everyone has human rights wherever they live, we exist to provide support for those who have no other choice.
All right. Thank you so much for your time today, Kimahli.