Welcome to the Comadre Speakers Collaborative

Your Comadre

I’m Cynthia. I coach communities to work collaboratively in building the kind of cross-identity, cross-institutional, cross-sector relationships that embed, sustain, and nurture deep transformational change. I bring to my work my lenses that include multiracial Dominicana, parent, and learner and teacher of language.

Growing up, my mother’s comadres were women who came by for coffee and long chats, fussing over her children as if we were their own. The comadre relationship is one you choose – you could make a family member a comadre, but your comadre is more than blood. She is a sounding board; a reminder of your values; someone who doesn’t judge you but does keep you honest. Comadres are people you trust to create with you the future you envision together.

Cynthia Pesantez

Founder & Capacity Building Coach

Our Story

I met Debby Irving while I was working at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. I organized a couple of events with her, and during that process we both felt a connection to each other and to the work of racial justice education. A few years later, I applied to work as Debby’s Community Engagement Director, organizing events across the country and across sectors. With her, I learned about using events to build community. She took her own experience in the arts and education and showed me and our hosts how each event could be a catalyst for stronger community ties.

Immediately after the murder of George Floyd in the spring of 2020, there was a surge of interest in our work, which meant that in addition to dealing with my pandemic anxiety and my own racial trauma, I was fielding calls from many well-meaning white people who felt they needed to do something right in that moment, and whose commitment I had no way to trust would hold until the next hashtag.

It became clearer than ever to me that taking the time to design high-impact events that exist within a larger initiative could result in the kind of transformation that our hosts had been asking for. Slowing down, being consistent, and relying on our community came to the forefront as values we needed to convey. We began to imagine an evolution of our approach. What if DEI Directors, Heads of DEI, school committees, diversity councils, event planning committees, and other interested people had access not only to a roster of fantastic speakers to inspire their community, but also to thought partners who could help them ensure the event was well-received – and that the energy from the event could continue long after it was over?

This is how Comadre Speakers Collaborative was born. A dream of a future where everyone’s humanity is honored, and a path to get there. We could invite this future with a number of speakers, all of whom embodied that Comadre spirit of transparency, openness, connection, purpose, passion, and insight. We have a vision of a community made up of learners and doers. Hosts learn to galvanize their communities into action and listen to the voices that have been kept from the table. Speakers collaborate and share ideas. And communities grow, learn, and connect with each other.

white ceramic cups on the table
Photo by Eva 🌻 on Pexels.com

Our Mission

Our mission is to help open doors to the ease and peace that historically marginalized people and the Earth have long been denied. We will do this by uncovering systems of oppression that hurt both oppressed and oppressor (how to get at intersections – complex web of interlocking hierarchies that drive wedges, obstruct team building, trust building, knowing one another), and supporting people to find new ways of knowing, doing, and being.

Our Vision

To lead communities and organizations into transformative action for justice that fosters joy, abundance, well-being, and connection that disrupt systems of oppression

Our Approach

Our process is in itself transformative rather than transactional. From inquiry to event and beyond, every touchpoint encourages us to ask, “How are systems of oppression being replicated here? How can we envision a new way of being and doing?” We coach organizations & communities to use speaker engagements as opportunities to nurture justice-minded practices for and with their stakeholders that build and deepen commitment to one another and our shared goals.

Our Process



Let’s explore together what your opportunities are and where your pain points lie. Let’s set expectations and dream big about what kind of future your community wants to see.


Capacity Building

Let’s plan for long-term learning and action, setting the stage today for tomorrow’s impact. We can show you how to gather a team, build sustained community buy-in, and set your event up for success.



You’ve set the stage, now watch your speaker inform, move, and inspire your participants.


Follow through

The work has just begun! We provide countless resources and a community of other hosts, all so you stay inspired and energized to continue your work.