Meet the team: Annika Gifford

Meet Annika Gifford, Program Strategy and Fund Development Advisor

Where are you from?

I was born in South Korea and grew up in Minneapolis, Minnesota. 

Where do you feel most at home?


What inspires you, professionally and personally?

Many things inspire me – right now given current conditions, I’m most inspired by communities’ tenacity, reimagining of systems, ways of being in relationship, and emergence. There is a lot of fertile ground right now to innovate, iterate, and transform. That inspires me and gives me hope. 

In terms of your work for Esperanza United, what are your areas of expertise or what areas are particularly interesting to you?

I am excited to co-create, reimagine, and build pathways forward with Esperanza United and partners that affirm the humanity, safety, and dignity of all communities. 

Share one thing you have learned, big or small, doing your work over the past year?

How important it is to also center and invest in team/organizational self-care.

Who inspires you?


What do you do to relax, de-stress or recharge your batteries?

I love to garden, spend time in nature, travel, cook (and eat), read international crime/mystery books, dance, and get in some belly laughs and sweet connection with loved ones. 

Why have you chosen to do this kind of work?

Sometimes I think the work has chosen me, but I stay because it is meaningful, connected to my purpose, and a way to manifest and practice my values. 

What is your favorite food?

It is impossible to choose one thing!

What is your favorite book?

I do not have a favorite book, but I LOVE poetry and international crime/mystery books