I am writing today to inform you that Trace Foundation will be winding down most of its activities—more on that later—and coming to a close. It is a decision not taken lightly, but one that is consistent with the spirit of the foundation, which has always sought to support people meaningfully and directly, while celebrating a beloved, diverse and rich culture. Just a few years ago, Trace Foundation marked its 20th year anniversary with a program of events that highlighted a range of achievements in education, community development, healthcare, and cultural preservation. Even as we celebrated our accomplishments and our community, we knew that the conditions on the Tibetan Plateau had fundamentally changed for foreign organizations such as ours. We have found it more and more challenging to realize our original mission and be directly involved with communities in Tibet. It is therefore with sadness, but mostly an abundance of gratitude, that I acknowledge the end of the Trace Foundation journey.
Although we may be winding down, I will continue to be uplifted and inspired by the many people, places, and experiences we’ve encountered during these past few decades, and I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude. To start, my heartfelt thanks to our supporters over the years. This journey would not have been possible without you—the many individuals and organizations who made a grant or a donation, partnered with us, volunteered, or otherwise expressed their support of our mission.
Our team over the years has been one of our greatest assets and has always felt like a family, and I am grateful to all of you and your contributions in making a real and meaningful impact. I wish you well as you head into the future.
Most importantly, for everyone we met along the way— the strong and determined individuals and communities striving to maintain their way of life and to grow on their own terms—our interactions with each and every one of you helped to build an institution as unique as the communities it served, and you have deeply enriched my life personally. Trace Foundation’s own lifespan reflects a particular moment in the region and in the world. And while that moment has passed, the skills, aspirations, resolve, humor, compassion, love and cultural pride of the people of the Tibetan plateau is a beautiful and enduring force. Thank you for having us as part of your lives.
While we cherish but must let go of the past, we look with optimism to the future. As endings often lead to new beginnings, it is with pride that I would like to announce that one of our own branches will be taking a new opportunity to grow.
In 2003, Trace established what has come to be known as Latse Library, (previously the Latse Contemporary Tibetan Cultural Library,) the only Trace project to be based in the West, here in New York City. Through careful and comprehensive acquisitions concentrated on modern Tibetan studies, over the years Latse has developed a collection that is unique in the world. Its public programs, which have always strived to highlight contemporary Tibetan culture in all its forms, have successfully served as a bridge joining communities both inside and outside Tibet, and through its services and outreach, Latse has become a highly regarded forum for exploring and discussing contemporary Tibet.
Building on its distinguished record, Latse Library will be branching out on its own to become “Latse,” a public non-profit organization. Drawing upon a long-standing commitment to language, literature, and culture, the new Latse will concentrate its focus on childhood educational resources for linguistic and cultural literacy, the promotion of language use across all generations, and greater access to knowledge.
We are pleased that Kristina Dy-Liacco, former Latse Senior Librarian and Project Coordinator, has agreed to take on the role of Managing Director in this new endeavor. She brings her extensive experience in librarianship and Tibetan Studies, as well as project management. Kristina will work alongside Pema Bhum, who takes on a redefined role as Programs Director, one that is integral to the development of the organization's projects, as well as managing and developing Latse's collections and resources. Tenzin Gelek, as Programs Officer, with special concentration on Latse’s new scholarship program and special projects, will play a major role on the Latse team. These three individuals have been with us since very early days, and now carry on with a new and invigorating mission.
I have one additional, exciting change to announce. Trace Foundation’s Managing Director Paola Vanzo, after nineteen years of dedicated work, moves on to become the Executive Director of Here Now, a new multidisciplinary space at 132 Perry Street, upstairs from Latse. Here Now aims to encourage public engagement, foster creativity, and promote cultural exchange through programs, workshops, exhibits, and more. I am confident that she will bring her passion and keen eye for the arts, artists, crafters and the like, to develop dynamic and meaningful programming at Here Now. Her dedication to Tibetan culture will also have a chance to shine through in a range of activities,
In a year that brings both change and growth, I wish my colleagues every success. I encourage our old friends and look to new friends in the community and beyond who share Latse’s vision and mission, to welcome this new organization and support their work. And I invite one and all to join in on the activities at Here Now, especially those related to Tibetan culture and Latse’s work. See you there!