Erycka Montoya, Acting Director of Community for The Movement Cooperative
“We have to remember we’re all part of a system. We’re all nodes. We each affect each other one way or another. We forget that. It’s why our healthcare system is seeing a surge in interest in wellness. We need to start seeing ourselves as part of a collective and how… my bounty can be your gain as well.”
Meet Erycka Montoya. Erycka is a Corona, Queens native of Colombian heritage, and identifies as Latinx. She is the Acting Director of Community for The Movement Cooperative – which was launched at the beginning of 2018 by Civil Hall members Josh Nussbaum and Jenn Shaw. Previously, Erycka worked for Friends of The High Line and began her career working on constituent services for Councilman Hiram Monserrate. A new mommy, she is a passionate advocate for rent reform (particularly where abuse of M.C.I.’s is concerned.) She briefly did environmental work in Colombia and is dying to make her way back there at some point. You can reach Erycka via email and follow her on Twitter.
What Does She Do?
Erycka describes the work of TMC as “a co-op where the shared bounty is both [affordable] access to consumer/voter files and best-in-class data and technology resources.”
Since TMC launched this year, it has grown to include a membership of 32 partners (and counting) and an annual budget of $4 million. TMC’s cooperative members include MoveOn, Democracy for America, VoteProChoice, Faith in Action (PICO), Working Families Party, Color of Change, and the Women’s March.
“I support the work of The Movement Cooperative on different levels. I managed TMC’s transition to being a Board-led organization via Board elections and organizing its first Board meeting. I also provide operational support for our membership convenings.”
How Did She Get Into This Work?
“I am a Quaker at heart.”
Erycka received a foundational civics education at Westtown School, a Quaker school which “inspires and prepares its graduates to be stewards and leaders of a better world.”
She recalls that equity was an organizing principle at the school. According to their work program which dates back to World War II, both boarders and the affluent day students who live in the vicinity, are both expected to work in the kitchen or janitorial.
Erycka’s first job after university was working in constituent services for City Councilman Hiram Monserrate, where she met his then Chief of Staff, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland. Ferreras-Copeland won his seat when Monserrate became a State Senator (for background on Monserrate’s school for scandal go here) and decided not to run for re-election last year. While she had literally only a handful of days to get her paperwork into Albany, Erycka decided to make a run for the open City Council seat.
“I went to school; repaid my [student] loans. And I can’t afford to live in my own fucking city and raise my kids without living in my mother’s home. This is absurd. My mother is a retired home healthcare aide and her pension is $50 a month! What is she supposed to do with that?
We need to create spaces where generations can come and stay there. It’s a city I love. I want it to flourish and be great, and I want my kids to be in this space. This shouldn’t just be the greatest city for those who can afford to live in Hudson Yards.
It became really clear to me that if you wanted representation to change things, that you had to find new representation.”
Look for Eryka to mount another electoral bid at some point in the future.
How Did She Come to Civic Hall?
Eryka was at a Vote Run Lead event at Civic Hall last year and asked Friend of Civic Hall and founder Erin Villardi to recommend a campaign manager. Erin suggested Jenn Shaw. While Jenn was not available, the two clicked and then met a second time at the Women’s March convention in Detroit last October. They stayed in touch and Erycka became TMC’s first operations hire back in February.
What is She Reading?
As a new mom, Erycka is consumed by two books: The First 40 Days and The Fourth Trimester. “The first forty days refers to the time a mom is centered on her baby and she’s being taken care of, and how to create that support system. I’m looking to support changes in how we approach giving birth and post-partum care. (Shout out to new Civic Hall mothers Nancy Vitale, Missy, and soon-to-be mom Brittany Spatz .)
Professionally, Erycka picked up Emergent Strategy: Shaping Change, Changing Worlds to help her develop a theory of the case where organizational development meets building organizational culture. “As a collective how do you determine what the culture will be for your organization, and is reflective of your org?”
What Is Her Ask of Civic Hall?
Being part of a startup has taught Erycka many lessons where being a culture of intention is concerned: “It’s been tough. It’s grown big very quickly. Sometimes urgency can take over intentionality. It’s something I push back on a lot. You have to take a step back, if you want to live your progressive values. Look, our senior team is very white. What does that mean for the culture you’re setting? How do we include those who have been directly impacted by unjust policies?”
More broadly, Erycka is a voice against seeing the world in zero-sum terms: “We have to remember we’re all part of a system. We’re all nodes. We each affect each other one way or another. We forget that. It’s why our healthcare system is seeing a surge in interest in wellness. We need to start seeing ourselves as part of a collective and how… my bounty can be your gain as well.”