Reverend Kazimir Brown serves as the National Director of Religious Affairs for Repairers of the Breach. This nonpartisan nonprofit was founded in 2015 by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II (Bishop Barber) to organize and support activists as they pursue moral analysis and moral public policy agendas.
“I actually first heard about Bishop Barber when I was working in Washington D.C. as a graduate intern,” Kazimir says. She was inspired by the work Bishop Barber was doing. At the time she was completing her Masters of Public Policy and didn’t yet know how to bring her passion for faith into her work.
Kazimir was interested in social justice from a young age. She grew up in a loving, eclectic community in San Francisco. She and her family were active members of the local African Methodist Episcopal Church. But life in the Bay Area also brought some harsh realities to her attention.
“Growing up in San Francisco, there’s just too many experiences of just walking down the street, and seeing people who are unhoused. And even as a kid, I can remember not understanding that,” Kazimir explains. “The language that I had when I was younger was, ‘this isn’t right and what can we do about that?’ And that has always stayed with me. And it keeps staying with me.”
Following the Calls
These experiences led Kazimir to double major in sociology and political science with a minor in Spanish at Santa Clara University. From there she went to U.C. Berkeley for her Masters of Public Policy. After graduation, she started her career working as a Budget Analyst for the San Francisco City Administrator’s Office.
“For me, understanding public policy and how it directly impacts people is understanding the processes that gets money to those programs and to people,” Kazimir explains. She quickly moved from municipal level to federal level budgeting when she was asked to work as a political appointee with FEMA under the Obama Administration. This work gave her a deeper appreciation for the level of planning that goes into making policy changes happen. While serving as a political appointee her vocational understanding took an unexpected turn.
“It was while I was serving there, that the Mother Emanuel massacre happened, which is a sister church to the church that I attend. And that just changed my life perspective. I had always known that my life’s mission and purpose is to help people get access to a more fulfilling life. And I really had seen that solely in the public policy sphere, undergirded by my faith. But when the Mother Emanuel massacre happened, that made me realize that I wanted to do ministry and public policy” Kazimir shares.
She spent the next few years earning her Master of Divinity from the Yale Divinity School. And through this program, she connected, again, with Bishop Barber.
“I ended up hearing him speak with one of my professors. He was talking about moral fusion movements and I was like, ‘that’s what I want to do.’ A year later I ended up working with him as a student fellow with the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival,” she explains.
Now, Kazimir works directly with Bishop Barber in her role with Repairers of the Breach.
“It still blows my mind how things came full circle,” she says.
Listen to Your Passions
Reverend Brown finds fulfillment in her work. As an ordained minister, she creates sermons and liturgy, which she loves. But she also gets to fuse her faith into her public policy work. She is currently helping organize the Mass Poor People’s & Low Wage Workers’ Assembly and Moral March on Washington and to the Polls which will take place on June 18, 2022.
She encourages others to spend time reflecting on the things that ignite their souls on fire. But she emphasizes there is no right time or age limit to figure out your passions and how those can be used to help your community. “One of my favorite quotes from Frederick Buechner is ‘The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet’.”
Reverend Brown’s final advice for those interested in following her path is “Follow your passion. Howard Thurman once said ‘Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’ Know that your path is uniquely yours. Know that your experiences are coming together in exactly the right way that they’re supposed to come together.”