Sphere Spotlight — Rachel Farahbakhsh

It’s time for our next Sphere Spotlight volunteer, Rachel Farahbakhsh. Rachel is a private office tenant at Sphere, and an all-around “bringer of good vibes”. Beyond being the Operations Manager for Leaderspring Center, we discovered a few surprises about this dynamic womxn! Read on to learn more:

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Sphere: Rachel! Hi! You’ve been around Sphere basically since day one. What brought you to Sphere? 

Rachel: We as a team were looking to change our work environment, and we learned about Sphere! It’s very much in line with the equity lens and equity focus our company also has, as well as the focus on women, and on the whole person.

Sphere: Are you an Oakland gal?

Rachel: I am! I feel like it’s all in one place in Oakland. I love the weather, the diversity, the lake. Oh, and the food, and all the different dance classes. I love it here.

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Sphere: What type of dance do you do? 

Rachel: I do mostly Latin and Brazilian type dancing. For the past few years mostly Cuban style salsa and some samba. Movement, in general, is important to me so I always like trying different things. 

Sphere: Where are you from originally? 

Rachel: I was born in Florida but I spent most of my formative years north of Boston. I left ten years ago and lived in Guatemala for three years to work for a non-profit. I had studied abroad in Spain for a while when I was in school and I wanted to continue strengthening my Spanish and also just be abroad again, so a few things led me to Guatemala. Both of my parents are immigrants to the U.S. My dad is from Iran and my mom is from Cuba.

Sphere: So I see you are the Operations Manager for Leaderspring Center. What part of your job are you most passionate about?

Rachel: I think it’s the marriage of the two skill sets that I have. One is being a really detailed and organized person and loving process and systems. The other is being really relational and loving people. So I get to fit those two together in the work that I do and see my role as setting others up for success. 

Sphere: What advice would you have for your younger self or someone who wants to do what you do? 

Rachel: Something that has helped me in my position is learning how to be empathetic and compassionate. I still struggle with this. It’s easy to get frustrated with people who aren’t following the systems that you've set up. One of the things that’s helped me is learning to be a good listener, understanding other people’s perspectives, and being forgiving. 


Sphere: What conversation topics make you light up?

Rachel: I love hard conversations! I like talking about things that make me and others uncomfortable— anything from politics to personal relationships to equity issues and gentrification. I like the juiciness. It was the way I grew up, we had a strong emphasis on communication in my family and I’m sure that that has to do with my parents coming from different cultural backgrounds. As an immigrant, first generation family, there was always strong importance placed on talking about things directly and working together. I think that has created this lack of conflict aversion inside of me. I think conflict is important for individual growth, and also creates stronger relationships with each other and a stronger community.

Sphere: Did you debate in high school?

Rachel: I didn’t, actually! My dad always said I should be a lawyer because I liked to argue. In a debate, it’s about the logical back and forth, picking things apart, and it’s not about actually connecting with the other person, which is what I think I like about those kinds of tough conversations. 

Sphere: Lastly, what do you want Sphere to know about you? 

Rachel: For fun, as a passion project, I’m part of Batalá, which is a community band in San Francisco that plays samba reggae, which is afro-brazillian music that comes out Brazil. One of the really cool things about Batalá is that it’s actually an international network of bands, founded by a Brazilian musician who lives in Paris. There are Batalá’s all over the world and it’s a really cool way to share culture, meet people and travel abroad. It’s all percussion, and I play a big bass drum called a surdo.

I would also like to tell the people of Sphere that I love being here and I’m excited about meeting more people, so folks should say hi to me if they feel inspired! So far it’s really interesting to meet other members and hear what they do, we have such an amazing range of occupations here!

Sphere: Thanks for your time, Rachel! We are so happy you are part of this community.


Rachel is performing with Batalá at the El Cerrito 4th of July/World One Festival and on July 14th at the AIDS Walk in Golden Gate Park. LeaderSpring's next annual event is planned for March 2020; announcements will be shared by Rachel on Sphere’s internal on the message board!