Gabriel and Katie-Jay envisioned a world where the dignity, humanity, and agency of conflict-affected people are recognized, affirmed, & supported. They believed it was not their role to empower, but to honor & support others as they stood in their own power. They entered each situation first with trust, viewing those most affected by conflict as leaders & experts. It was their mission to create a more mindful humanitarian system; one where refugee-led solutions were centered, and refugee voices were heard, trusted, and embraced.
Founder, Chief of Vision and Strategy
Gabriel spent his early years in Monterrey, Mexico, before moving to San Antonio, Texas. He once said what defined him most was “being of two places.” Growing up living between two worlds – Mexico and the United States – gave him a special connection to the refugee communities he worked so closely with over the years. Inspired into action by a conversation with his oldest daughter, Gabriel took his first step into activism in 2005 always focused on love, relationship, and making it personal. Especially close to his heart was ensuring children around the world had joy and hope in their lives.
"We see the refugees as the ones that have all the solutions within them already."
Gabriel took hope seriously. He lived the values of radical hope and pursued a vision of a world that worked for everyone. His style of mindful humanitarianism, steeped in compassion and empathy, enabled him to center the voices and the power of conflict-affected individuals in every move he made. While Gabriel held many titles – founder, chief of vision and strategy – from the Darfuri refugee camps in Chad to his home in Redondo Beach, many simply called him “Brother.” That is who he was, how he worked, and how he built his relationships.
Over the years, Gabriel made more than 30 trips to refugee camps on the Chad-Darfur border, Cameroon, Tanzania, and the Central African Republic. He spearheaded campaigns such as the 100-Day Fast for Darfur, Darfur Freedom Summer Vigils, Camp Darfur, and the Darfur Fast for Life, and was instrumental in the co-creation of iACT’s innovative and award-winning programs such as Little Ripples, the Refugees United Soccer Academy, and Darfur United. Gabriel is featured in The Enough Moment, a book written by activist John Prendergast and actor Don Cheadle.
I act because "it’s personal. I am a father and cannot help but thinking what it would be like if it was my kids sitting in the middle of the desert, with so much danger and so little hope. I know so many refugee fathers, mothers, and children. They are friends. I must act.”
Katie-Jay Scott graduated from Portland State University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a focus on community development. She also held a certificate in executive management from the Center for Nonprofit Management. Through her positions as founding Board of Peers member of Education Network for Global and Grassroots Exchange (ENGAGE), AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer coordinator with “I Have a Dream” Foundation-Oregon, and founding coordinator of the Portland Coalition for Genocide Awareness, Katie-Jay brought extensive leadership, community organizing, facilitation, and organizational development experience to iACT.
Katie-Jay led her life with empathy, weaving it into the fabric of the organization. She grounded everything she did in the practice of lifting up and centering the power of those around her. From her work directly with iACT, to her various roles coordinating, consulting, and volunteering with other projects, to her passion for racial justice, she embodied what it means to be a mindful humanitarian. She taught us to be compassionate listeners, and reminded us that “to be heard is to unbury your own empowerment; to find the space between giving up and moving forward; to be part of something greater.”
"Refugee camps are full of doctors. They’re full of community organizers. They’re full of teachers and midwives and people who’ve had experience. They’ve just gone through a horrific experience themselves, but that doesn’t take away all the assets that they bring with them when they come into the camp."
Katie-Jay radiated radical hope, and believed in the potential for a radical peace in this world. She was passionate about grounding all of iACT’s work in restorative practice and a trauma-informed approach, about giving agency back to refugees by collaborating with communities to bring culturally relevant and replicable programs, and ultimately creating a more mindful humanitarian system.
I act because "“I feel we are all part of one community and one humanity. It’s a value that runs deep and I feel obligated to not only share this but to help build the next generation of leaders. I’ve always felt that I will leave this world a better place, and each day there is something I can do to work towards this. Educate. Activate. Empower.””
MOVING THE VISION FORWARD
iACT as an organization is committed to embodying the vision of our founders, to honoring and supporting conflict-affected communities as they stand in their own power, and to centering the voices and expertise of these communities in our work.
We invite you to support our mission by contributing to the memorial fund established in honor of Gabriel and Katie-Jay.