A Letter from Cassie Haynes, Co-Executive Director
I am writing with the fullest of hearts to share the bittersweet news that while I will always wear the title of Resolve Philly’s Co-Founder, my last day as Co-Executive Director will be June 2, 2023. I could not be more proud of what the Resolve Philly staff, newsroom and community partners, and Board of Directors have done together over the last five years nor could I be more blessed to have had the opportunity to build, dream, and grow with these same folks.
My journey to co-founding and co-leading Resolve began twelve years ago when I moved to Philadelphia to begin my career as an attorney, realizing very quickly that lawyering was not my mighty purpose. After leaving the firm, each next step—there were many—brought me closer to my calling until 2018, when I chose to take a risk… And I ended up stepping into exactly what I knew I was meant to do.
Fresh from work experiences that left me feeling angry, devalued, and tokenized, I relished the chance to build something different.
So when Jean Friedman-Rudovsky and I started talking about what we could do together, our conversations went from casual to serious very quickly. The year-long reporting project that would evolve into Resolve Philly had three months of my salary in the bank when I left my job with the City of Philadelphia. On a hot August day in 2018, Jean and I wrote Resolve Philly’s mission statement in a small conference room at Community College of Philadelphia (OG champions of Resolve Philly and the Broke in Philly collaborative reporting project). We co-created a vision of a more equitable, accessible, and community-driven local news environment—in Philadelphia and beyond. We articulated shared values of authenticity, radical imagination, and love, and we committed to putting one foot in front of the other, stepping into unknowable territory anchored in these values.
As co-Executive Directors, Jean and I have navigated organizational growth through a global pandemic and built Resolve’s capacity from a scrappy startup team of two to astrategy-oriented team of 25 leaders representing a wealth of professional and educational backgrounds, experiences, and identities. As fundraisers, we’ve welcomed many individual donors and institutions into leadership with us, catalyzing over $9,200,000 in service of Resolve’s mission to develop and advance journalism rooted in equity, collaboration, and the elevation of community voices and solutions. As friends and #workbaes for life, we have cheered on, called in, and loved deeply. We have taught, learned from, and leaned on one another. We have celebrated the birth of a child and grieved the loss of a parent. As a duo, we have lived so much life together over the last five years.
Jean and I have known that the time would come for a new iteration of leadership. We never intended to build an organization that revolved around either one of us as individuals and the good news is that we haven’t. Our vision of success has always been a sustainable future for Resolve that outlasts both of us, and while there are many feelings that I am holding right now during this time of transition, my confidence in the team, structure, and vision that we’ve built together means that at the top of the list is my excitement for Resolve Philly’s next phase.
As I reflect on my time here, I am struck by how much I have learned and grown both personally and professionally. Resolve has had a profound impact on my sense of self and my capacity for leadership. Working with Jean, in particular, has challenged my understanding of what is possible in the best, most inspiring way imaginable. I’m leaving the role of Co-Executive Director as a more strategic and dynamic leader, a more empathetic collaborator, and a more authentic version of myself.
Having recently moved back to my hometown of Ann Arbor, MI to be with family, I don’t know exactly what the future will bring, but I’m ready for it to unfold. Over the coming months I will rest, continue to consult with Modifier, Resolve Philly’s internal coaching and consulting practice, and serve as a thought-partner to Jean as she navigates a new version of Resolve Philly leadership with the support of an expanded executive team. I will also spend time dreaming, scheming, and manifesting my next step. I love leading, building resilience, and developing resources and I want to continue practicing in these spaces. Among the items still on my career bucket list: movie-making, book-writing, and exploring systemic models for the radical redistribution of wealth. DMs are open, as the kids say.
While this is one of the hardest goodbyes of my life, I’m looking forward to what comes next. I have no doubt that Resolve Philly will continue to thrive under the strong leadership of a team of talented and extremely capable strategic thinkers, journalists, editors, and operations, fundraising, communications, community engagement and product professionals.
In the coming weeks, Jean and I will share more about how Resolve intends to continue down its path of shared leadership, in addition to writing and talking more about our experience with succession planning and what we are learning through this transition process. In the meantime, please know just how grateful I am for your support and investment in Resolve Philly and in my leadership. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your commitment to a world in which all people, especially those who have been excluded by the lever-pullers, have unfettered access to the authentic, accurate, and useful news and information we all need to thrive.
With love and infinite gratitude,
Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director