We had the good fortune of connecting with Tiffany Caldas and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tiffany, how do you think about risk?
Risk feels like such a complicated word. Sure, I’ve taken many risks in my life, but oftentimes it did not feel like a risk to me. Instead, it felt like something I was moved to do, something I absolutely had to do. It was not until I shared this information with others or asked for other’s opinions that I was told it was a risk.
Oftentimes, risk is used as a way to dissuade us into being brave, into being courageous with our personal and professional lives. It’s viewing the action of courage through a scarcity mindset, forgoing the benefits that may not only come from the action, but the benefits that come from taking that action in itself — like how the mere act of stepping out and trying something scary is something to be proud of, no matter the outcome.
Risk taking also means having to accept the outcome and what I cannot control. Not every risk taken will turn out exactly how I want (or any for that matter). What I can try to control, however, is how I learn from the journey and how I adjust my choices moving forward.
Risk taking has definitely played a role in my life – but more so, it’s my mindset on “risk” that has truly propelled me to move forward.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Empactify is a small consulting firm that focuses on supporting organizations, particularly those that serve Black and Indigenous communities, on initiatives that center racial equity as a goal and process. Some consulting services that we offer include executive strategy, strategic planning, cross-cultural dialogue facilitation, community engagement facilitation, and grant writing.
As a social worker, I am particularly invested in utilizing a “mezzo” or “middle” approach to my work – essentially being able to combine “macro” big picture approaches, such as policy, leadership and organizational change, with “micro” individualized approaches, such as facilitation and community engagement. I first developed the idea of Empactify in 2015, and it has grown slowly over the years. Overall – I still have a lot to learn, and am lucky to have amazing mentors and friends that challenge me to do and be better.
I’m also an artist – I’m trained in dance, drawing, painting, and like to dabble in photography. I think having a creative approach to work helps with all aspects of my business, as I am still creating by transmuting the spoken and unspoken things my clients are facing into collaborative solutions.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
LA – a city made up of cities! Whenever I show folks around LA, some of the sites I include are…
– Pine and Crane in Silver Lake – the family owned Taiwanese food is bar none. Try their seasonal fresh vegetable and boba passion fruit beer mix
– GiGi’s Cuban Bakery & Cafe in Echo Park – this cafe has a special place in my heart –– beautiful cakes and pastries, and Cuban coffee.
– Guisados – great taco and agua fresca options
– Cafe Brasil in Mar Vista – a super colorful restaurant that always makes me happier just being there.
– Venice Bakery & Cafe in Palms – the best Mexican breakfast I’ve had in LA
– South LA Cafe in South Central – a Black owned coffee shop that does more than just good coffee, but has actually become a community staple in South Central for many things, including food access, especially during COVID-19.
– Bloom and Plume – a Black queer owned coffee shop and florist in Echo Park
– Rainbow Acres in Mar Vista – a cute natural food store with prepared foods and a great smoothie bar
– Gjelina Take Away or Gjusta in Venice – a delicious spot for fresh pizza or salad to grab on the way to the beach
– India Sweets and Spices in Palms – a small Indian spice store with a very informal buffet, but it is some of the best Indian food I’ve had in LA
– Gloria’s Cuisine in Highland Park – delicious Latin food options
– Hiking at Griffith Park and seeing the observatory (I have other favorite hikes but they’re hidden gems and I swore an oath to keep them that way… sorry!)
– Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook and Kenneth Hahn State Park – You’ll see big families, kids, elders, and people of all backgrounds. This is a rarity in such a segregated city. The steps up are a great work out, and the view is spectacular, especially after a good rain and clear day.
– Dance class with Viver Brasil – Viver Brasil is a dance company and cultural institution in LA that works to preserve Afro-Brazilian culture.
– Venice Beach, particularly south of the pier and boardwalk. Important fact: Venice was a historically Black community.
– Community Coalition, South LA – CoCo bought the building several years ago and renovated the inside into a state of the art HQ and community space – a must see! I worked at CoCo for 2 years and planned the renovation of it’s outdoor space into a green art filled community space.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to shout out: My loving and supportive family and my ancestors.
My alma mater University of Miami and University of California Los Angeles.
LA and specifically South Central community members who taught me about the importance of racial equity work.