COVID-19 Hits Home: A message from Karla Monterroso, CEO

Photo by Kenneth Eke.

Community, today we are sharing some important and heavy news.

Karla has COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. She’s doing well, resting at home, and texting us her ideas and observations and thoughts. She is so ready to jump back into our work, though the team has given her strict orders to pause and allow herself to make a full recovery

To be honest, we hesitated to share this. We weighed the outcomes of keeping it inside knowledge or communicating it to our community. So many questions went through our minds: What if funders think we’re unstable in this moment when confidence in our ability to weather the storm is everything? Should we risk losing funders in this time of uncertainty? What if folks think that we aren’t as strong without our leader?

And then we realized that fear and scarcity are not within our values. That sharing vulnerably and asking for love and support are the only ways we as individuals and institutions will survive this. And that if knowing that one of us is sick helps make this virus more real for our community, if it makes people shelter in place and keeps others from getting sick, it is worth it.

Here’s what Karla wants to share with you in this moment:

Hello community,

It’s been a really tough 13 days with this thing. I’m definitely getting better but it was a little scary for awhile. I think I’m going to be a very lucky person to have come out of this thing without having to be hospitalized. When Mimi asked me if I wanted to say something to all of you, the number one thought I had was, please take this seriously. This virus is a beast. You want none of this.

There have been so many reports about how younger folks are not as susceptible to coronavirus. This has proven to be inaccurate. Yes, the Covid-19 fatality rate for older people is higher, but that does not mean people under 40 are immune. Your lives are precious and important and I encourage you to treat this pandemic with the knowledge that every moment you spend social distancing and sheltering in place is an investment in yourself and your community.

The world changed in the last month and we will be required to change with it. This will mean a number of different things. I am so deeply proud of the Code2040 team. They are working so hard to be responsive to the moment and think about where our perspective and abilities can be valuable while simultaneously planning for that drastically different world. I’m still likely another week or two away from being able to be “back,” so please be in community with them when and how you can.

I really think the question we all need to be asking ourselves right now is, “Where am I uniquely suited or called to do something in this moment?” And that is not just about our movement — it’s about our multiple communities, our families, and our internal lives. We’ll be doing our best to support our community in identifying how you may be able to grab a paddle to support forward movement in the next few months. We’ll all be needed as the fall out from this moment crystallizes. For now, I encourage giving yourself the time and space to ask those questions and to move when you are moved.

I want to take a second to specifically address the Asian Pacific Islander community in our volunteer network. I know the last few weeks have been really tough for you. You’ve been in my heart even as I’ve been laid up in bed. You should never be subject to the ridiculous language and abuse that is coming straight from the White House and into our communities right now. This community stands in solidarity with you. You are a part of us. You are important to us. It will always be unacceptable for anyone here to treat you any differently than that.

I’ll tell you what multiple people have told me over the last few weeks. Your job is to get and keep yourself healthy right now. Sending you all my belief in the next steps.

In solidarity,

If you want to send Karla some love, please click here to sign a virtual card that we’ll send to her on Monday April 6th.

Next Steps for the Team

Our board has asked Mimi Fox Melton, VP of Programs, to serve as Acting CEO while Karla recovers, and our entire team is working overtime to redesign our summer programming and events, reach out to our funders to confirm our focus and their support, and to make sure we staying physically and mentally healthy so we are able to serve you for years to come.

As we navigate a new remote world, there are still ways for us to stay connected virtually. Join us tomorrow, March 31 at 9am PST, for our first 15-minute Mindful Meditation Break. We’ll host these every Tuesday for six weeks as part of our Mindfulness Health and Wellness Series led by Alia Peera. Karla will be joining us from home. We’ll post the link on Twitter 30 minutes before the session.

For now, consider reading this article on young folks with coronavirus and please talk to your friends and family. Tell them someone you know is sick.

Thank you for all the ways that you support the Code2040 family. And thanks for supporting Karla during this time.



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