Trans Leadership Exchange
The 2015 Trans Leadership Exchange:
Building the Power of Trans and Genderqueer Leaders
The National LGBTQ Task Force has launched a 6 month leadership development program for 22 transgender and genderqueer leaders from across the United States. This group of leaders will participate in a learning community that will offer peer coaching, opportunities for self-reflection, story sharing, skill development and action.
Founding CEO of TransTech Social Enterprises, Miss Ross is a Career and Leadership Coach who designs and develops online and in-person workshops and trainings.
Rev. Jakob Hero is the coordinator of the Transgender Roundtable at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry and a palliative care hospital chaplain. Jakob is passionate about queer activism, social justice, and enjoys art projects that involve fire and metal.
Aaryn Lang is a graduate of The Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, but she considers herself to be a real student of life. After coming out in 2014 as a trans woman she has witnessed first hand the struggles #girlslikeus have to go through on a daily basis. Considering herself a self-love warrior she noticed a narrative of shame, and self-hate that the mainstream media likes to uphold for trans people and is dedicated to changing that through elevating the actual lived experiences of trans women of color. Her ultimate goal is to change the way we talk about, and teach gender so that we can help our young people from feeling unworthy and erased in the world they live in, and ultimately contribute to. With the combined forces of her sisters with Trans Women of Color Collective she knows that her goal will be a reality. "Self-love is our weapon".
Alexa Elizabeth Rodriguez
Alexa Elizabeth Rodriguez is originally from Usulután, El Salvador where she founded Mi Nueva Familia. Mi Nueva Familia is a working group for people living with HIV and for transgender women. In 2009, Alexa arrived in the United States and continued her work as an HIV/STI prevention educator with groups such as Identity Inc., Mariposas Group, Empoderáte Youth Center, Casa de Maryland.
Rodriquez currently is a promoter for Miss Maryland Latin@, Vice-President of Latino GLBT History Project, an avid advocate for Transgender Latina equality, and a member of the Trans-Latina Coalition – a national organization that advocates for and builds the capacity of transgender Latina immigrants. She currently works as the Youth Center Transgender Program Coordinator for La Clinica del Pueblo in Washington D.C. Her work involves providing HIV testing to clients and leading weekly transgender youth support groups as a counselor and mentor. In addition, Rodriquez supports the Center by planning leadership and social events for transgender youth.
Rodriguez arrived in the United States ready to fight and work for the transgender community. She saw transphobia persist in her home country and wanted to ignite a call for action. She has been an activist for 12 years fighting for the rights of the HIV positive and members of the transgender community. As a transgender and HIV positive individual, Alexa will continue to fight to make sure her community does not fail.
Alexa Elizabeth Rodriguez
Danni Askini is a Social Worker and Trans Activist currently based in the Northwest. They are the founding Executive Director of Gender Justice League and Trans* Pride Seattle.
They have worked tirelessly to repeal Trans* health insurance exclusions in Washington and Oregon - including securing wins in Oregon & Washington's Medicaid
programs, private insurance, and for state employees. They also helped passed new policies for Multnomah County Jails, pressed to create the first Trans inclusive
public health campaign in Washington State, and created the second elective Medical School Class - "Clinical Management of Trans Patients" with Dr. Roberta Dalley
at University of Washington School of Medicine. They are the former Policy Director at Basic Rights Oregon and National Program Manager at GSA Network.
Ignacio Rivera is a queer, trans, two-Spirit, Black-Boricua Taíno, performance artist, activist, filmmaker, lecturer, sex educator and mother who prefers the gender neutral pronoun "they". Ignacio has over 20 years experience on multiple fronts including economic justice, anti-racist and anti-imperialist work, as well feminist and LGBTQ movements. Ignacio’s body of work has focused on gender and sexuality; specifically on queer, trans, kink and sexual liberation issues within a race/class dynamic.
Ignacio has traveled worldwide and locally is one of the founding board member of Queers for Economic Justice. Ignacio is currently the Director of Training for the Global Trans Research Project.
Joanna Cifredo is a writer and the founder of firebreathingtgirl.com. In addition she is also the Brand Ambassador to the DC Rape Crisis Center, she spends much of her time promoting awareness of transgender issues and implementing the Mayor of Washington, DC 2014 trans-inclusive non discrimination bulletin all while writing her upcoming novel: A Dark Road to Peace.
Joanna and her family are also featured in Before God: We are all Family, a new short film from the HRC Religion and Faith Program’s A La Familia project.
Born and bred in Newark, "Brick City," NJ, Kiyán Williams is a Black femme queer artist, writer, and advocate. Their creative and advocacy work elevates the lived experiences of economically marginalized queer and trans people of color. They helped organize the Queer Newark: Our Voices, Our History Conference at Rutgers University-Newark and hosted Rebellious Literatures: Our Voices, Our Stories, a literary event for Black trans and gender non-conforming artists. As a staff member at Hetrick-Martin Institute (an LGBTQ youth service organization) they work to empower LGBTQ youth in New York City. Kiyán has appeared on local and national outlets, including National Public Radio and The Feminist Wire. They attended Stanford University, is a Gates Millennium Scholar, and an alum of the EMERGE NYC fellowship for artist/activist at the Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics at NYU.
K’ai is the Director of Programs & Operations for South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), a national non-profit policy organization that works around racial justice and immigration justice, serving those in the US most affected by post-9/11 backlash issues. As DPO, K’ai manages community mobilization, leadership development, and partnership programs. K’ai also coordinates projects to build capacity and infrastructure within SAALT and the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations (NCSO)
K’ai has worked in many leadership roles to bring a gender justice, LGBQ, and trans*/gender variant lens to movement-building work.
K’ai has also worked in direct services serving LGB, trans*/gender variant, People of Color, immigrant, PLWA, serodiscordant couples, migrant worker, LEP, DV survivor, homeless and indigent, IDU, and sex worker populations.
When not serving as a social justice troubleshooter, K’ai volunteers with local harm reduction organizations serving transgender sex workers and substance users; various theatres; and a CSA farm. K’ai enjoys most things circus and has recently been introduced to the flying trapeze.
William Posadas is the child of Mexican immigrants and proudly lives in the South Central LA neighborhood they grew up in. William recently received an MSc from University College London in Archaeological Science and has been involved in projects based in South America, West Africa, California and Louisiana. William is currently the Assistant Curator of Archaeological Collections at the Fowler Museum at UCLA and is building an independent project that focuses on queer and trans cultural heritage preservation. The project works with collectives in Los Angeles to build independent archives, hold workshops, and use new media to explore, preserve, and express queer and trans* cultural heritage.
Malita is a multi-racial trans xicana from California living in Brooklyn, NY. She works as a paralegal at the New York Civil Liberties Union, the New York affiliate of the ACLU. She works on a range of public interest issues including: reforming the criminal defense system, decriminalizing HIV/AIDS transmission, ensuring Trans* people have access to public accommodations, reforming NYC's process for changing vital records, and broadly combating discrimination against Trans* people. She plans on pursuing a career as a legal advocate and social justice attorney and continuing to fight against the life-threatening discrimination and violence that trans women and gender nonconforming people of color experience daily.
Mia Tu Mutch
Mia "Tu Mutch" Satya is a San Francisco based educator, activist, and community organizer. While serving two terms on the San Francisco Youth Commission Mia advocated for Free Muni for Youth, housing for homeless youth, and co-created a landmark LGBTQ cultural competency training for the San Francisco Department of Public Health. Mia has experience coordinating wraparound services for homeless youth, internships for LGBTQ youth, and HIV prevention programs for transgender women. She currently studies Public Policy at Mills College and as a TAY Advocate Fellow for Transitional Age Youth San Francisco she provides platforms for young people to engage in conversations with City Departments to inform policy decisions that impact their lives.
Mia Tu Mutch
Neola (no-lah) Young was born and raised in the wilds of Mississippi. They've journeyed to and from Portland, OR where they now reside. Their passion for community organizing is rooted their extensive knowledge of the history of social movements. Neola has over a decade of experience in community organizing, program development, and policy intervention. They spent several years working to transform education systems in Mississippi, organizing Southern Jewish communities, and showing up as an advocate for racial justice, voting rights, and reproductive justice. In Oregon, they've worked to empower queer and trans youth, break ground on LGBTQ competency with teachers and school administrators, and support trans-inclusive healthcare through Oregon's Medicaid program, Oregon Health Plan. The last several years of working in advocacy and activism with the most marginalized communities in our country showed Neola that while the work never stops, it can still be fun! They are deeply interested in the way art and culture can help people find common ground. Neola is dedicated to challenging and changing systems that carry adversity for trans and genderqueer folks, including education, health, and housing. Neola also really loves the time they get to spend with their partner snuggling two ridiculously cute pups and holds a secret love of soap operas.
Nico is the policy and programs director at Basic Rights Oregon helping to lead Basic Rights Oregon's policy and training initiatives on racial justice, trans justice and LGBT lived equality. Before joining Basic Rights Oregon, Nico worked in Washington, DC for about 9 years doing policy, organizing and programatic work with the DC Trans Coalition, DC TransLAW, the Congressional Hunger Center, Center for American Progress and on Capitol Hill as a congressional staffer. Nico worked on trans health, safety and economic justice initiatives with the DC Trans Coalition, organized the 2013 rally for trans health equality, and helped develop client leadership programs with DC Trans Law. Nico was also an author for the Center for American Progress report, “On The Street: The Federal Response to Gay and Transgender Homeless Youth.
I grew up in Bangladesh moved to the U.S. when I was 16. Currently I am a Junior at Emory University studying Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. I am interested in the intersections of feminist and queer activism at Emory, Atlanta and beyond. I am the Vice President of Emory Pride, work at the Center for Women at Emory and am one of the coordinators of RespectCon (a national conference on sexual violence prevention). I am a coffee enthusiast, love spoken word poetry and writing for the Emory Wheel- the student run newspaper.
Owen Paul Karcher
Owen Paul Karcher is white, transmasculine artist, art therapist, activist, and a scholar. He has created and facilitated trainings across the country in LGBTQ inclusivity, anti-racism, serving transgender individuals, community organizing, using a social justice approach to therapy, and working with survivors of sexual and intimate partner violence. He cares deeply for people, invests wholeheartedly in his work, and feels a responsibility to humbly serve his community by forming meaningful relationships and being conscious of dynamics of power and privilege.
Owen Paul Karcher
Preston Van Vliet
My name is Preston Van Vliet, and I am a white, queer transman who grew up in and continues to live in the suburbs around Detroit. I became more involved in queer activism in the fall of 2010 during the wave of nationally reported LGB suicides. Corey Jackson, a young gay man on my campus, completed suicide and that propelled me to seek out more training on changing systems so that young LGBTQ people could feel safe and celebrated. After graduating from the Civic Engagement Academy through the Center for Progressive Leadership in March of 2011, I began a campaign plan as President of Oakland University’s Gay-Straight Alliance to get a full-time staff person for the campus’ Gender and Sexuality Center. I continued to do collaborative programming with other organizations around issues of race, disability, and the LGBTIQ community.
In early 2012, I was hired as Michigan Voice’s intern, co-managing the civic engagement kick-off for the LGBT Community Center Network (CCN) project. In December of 2012, I graduated from Oakland University and was hired by Community Housing Network to do outreach to individuals who were experiencing homelessness in Oakland County. In March through June of 2013, I attended the BASIC Institute through Allies For Change which focused on the analyzing the intersections of racism, ableism, and classism. This workshop helped to build a frame for how to start looking at my own social location as a white transman from the suburbs in supporting the autonomy of Detroit while trying to reduce further historical damage. In July of 2013, I was promoted to the Supportive Services Coordinator position, where I currently serve as a housing-specific case manager to individuals who entered into the organization’s Leasing Assistance Program.
I volunteered with the One Royal Oak anti-discrimination campaign in September of 2013 to support a ballot initiative that would add gender identity/expression and sexual orientation to the human rights ordinance in the city of Royal Oak. From there, I had volunteered with several healthcare organizations, such as Planned Parenthood and MICHUHCAN, to help educate and enroll individuals on the health insurance marketplace. In June of 2014, I had written a grant through the Unity Coalition to fund a transgender leadership project (now known as the Trans* Leadership Project) to support a fully-inclusive amendment to Michigan's statewide Civil Rights Act. The project hired a main organizer and several stipend on-the-ground trans* leaders. The group continues to work today on educating legislators and community leaders about the importance of including trans* individuals in policy and policy creation.
Preston Van Vliet
Sam Peterson is a writer/performer who marched for gay rights in DC in 1978, and hasn't stopped except for naps since. His one-person show, "F to M to Octopus" enjoyed a brief residency at 3Legged Dog in New York City, and his blog on being a transgender recovering-addict, "Octopusandback," is preparing for publication in 2016. Outspoken as an unorthodox person of faith who calls himself an Activist Mystic, Sam is currently the development director for Integrity USA, the LGBTQ advocacy arm for the Episcopal Church. He is lives with his wife and two cats in North Carolina where there is plenty of work to do.
Sandy James became a civil rights advocate focused on laws and policies that affect the transgender community after a career as a forensic toxicologist. He has worked on trans-related legislation, policy, and research at several organizations, including the National LGBTQ Task Force and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Sandy earned a J.D. and an M.A. in American Government from Georgetown University, and he is pursuing his Ph.D. at Georgetown University. Sandy is currently the Survey Project Manager at the National Center for Transgender Equality, where he works with a research team to lead the development, fielding, analysis, and presentation of the U.S. Transgender Survey (USTS), the second iteration of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey (NTDS). Sandy was born and raised in the United Kingdom and is proud to be of Caribbean descent. He is a musician and a lifelong soccer player and fan.
Tori is a University of Miami student who is currently studying Health Science with a minor in Women's and Gender Studies. He is very passionate about social justice and human rights movements as well as environmental issues. Tori leads by seeing the interconnected nature of all people and empathizing with those around him. He has done a lot of volunteering with SAVE Dade, a grassroots organization in South Florida dedicated to protecting LGBT people from discrimination. Helping SAVE Dade in their successful campaign to add Gender Expression and Gender Identity to Miami-Dade County’s Human Rights Ordinance was an empowering experience for him. There is nothing quite like standing up for yourself and having the difficult conversations that come with fighting to protect human rights. He first discovered activism through the University of Miami's Undergraduate LGBTQ+ organization, SpectrUM. The members of this organization gave him the space he needed to express his identity and finally be able to come out to his family as transgender and as pansexual and showed him that he could really make a difference in the world. He shares his experiences as a transgender person and a queer person through his writing, primarily poetry. He will be published in a book written by him and some of his classmates called The Queer Classroom: Teaching Our Stories, Learning Ourselves.
Trudie Jackson, an enrolled tribal member of Navajo Nation from Teec Nos Pos, Arizona. She is Bitter Water Clan born for Leaf Clan. The Mexican Clan are her grandfather and Yucca Fruit-Strung-Out-In-A-Line Clan relatives.
A nontraditional student at Arizona State University pursuing concurrent degrees in Public Service Public Policy & American Indian Studies. Actively involved in ASU Rainbow Coalition and ASU TRiO Downtown Campus.
Chair (2010-14) Southwest American Indian Rainbow Gathering, 2014 Equality Arizona Skip Schrader Spirit of Activism Award, 2013 Women of the Year by Echo Magazine, 2013 Dan Galloway Scholarship by Phoenix Pride, 2012 Outstanding American Indian College Student of the Year by Phoenix Indian Center, 2011 Udall Scholar by Udall Foundation, 2008 Red Ribbon Award by National Native American AIDS Prevention Center.
Tunde is a passionate activist who has been putting time in to changing the world for at least the last 4 years. Working to improve the lives of fellow people of color, queers, and youth, Tunde has put a lot of energy into a plethora of organizations including SNaPCo, SPARK Reproductive Justice, Georgia Equality, GSA Network, Center for Third World Organizing and HRC. Tunde is a hard femme who loves to self educate, cook, laugh, dance, and craft.
Xian Brooks, is from Louisville, KY, where he worked as an LGBTQ community organizer for seven years, assisting in the passage and maintenance of anti-discrimination laws. Xian’s interests combine his community organizing foundation and health. He is currently conducting research on HPV and cervical cancer, as it relates to transmasculine men, masculine presenting gender non- conformers and genderqueers in the Southeast United States. A first generation college student; Xian is a graduate of North Carolina Central University, with a Bachelor’s of Science in public health, and is currently pursuing his master's in community and behavioral health at The Colorado School of Public Health. Xian is a graduate research assistant at the mHealth Impact Lab at the Colorado School of Public Health; conducting data analysis for program evaluation.
Zoe Steinfield is in love with the Great Lakes State and is doing her best to make it a more just place for people of all gender identities and expressions, so that more trans and genderqueer people will want to live there. Zoe graduated from Michigan State University in 2012, where her Arts and Humanities major had introduced her to concepts of privilege and oppression, after which she worked at MSU's LBGT Resource Center doing media outreach and coordinating volunteers. Most recently, she has been a member of Michigan's Trans* Leadership Project, developing skills as a leader and organizing around trans* civil rights. Zoe likes swing dancing, beaches, and going to the movies.