Press

Task Force Policy Institute announces selection of 2008 fellows

Date: 
September 24, 2008

MEDIA CONTACT:
Pedro Julio Serrano, Communications Coordinator
(Office) 646.358.1479
(Cell) 787.602.5954
pserrano@theTaskForce.org

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute announces the selection of its 2008–2009 LGBT Fellows: New York-based journalist/researcher Kenyon Farrow and Seattle-based activist/MBA candidate Mala Nagarajan. The Fellows’ projects will serve to advance the Policy Institute’s primary goals of equipping grassroots leaders with essential tools in the struggle to gain lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) political power and creating new movement conversations and perspectives that lead to innovative strategies and fresh possibilities for change.

Kenyon Farrow, a leading black gay male thinker, journalist and activist, will spend the year researching and writing about the alarming increase in HIV infection rates among black gay and bisexual men, examining the racist mythology used to explain these figures, and looking deeply at how social, racial and economic forces combine and inform health behaviors. Farrow has co-edited a major anthology on radical voices for change, Letters From Young Activist: Today's Rebels Speak Out, and is a well-known blogger and contributing writer to the independent press. See below for more about Kenyon Farrow.

South Asian activist and MBA candidate Mala Nagarajan, who is one of the principals in the Washington state same-sex marriage lawsuit, will spend the year creating practical analytical tools and resources for LGBT people of color organizations with an eye toward capacity building as it relates to identity-based work. Nagarajan is one of three leading Asian Pacific Islander (API) activists working tirelessly to develop a national LGBT API organization by building the capacity of a national network of small LGBT API community-based groups. See below for more about Mala Nagarajan.

“We are thrilled to announce the selection of Kenyon Farrow and Mala Nagarajan as the 2008–2009 LGBT Fellows of the Task Force Policy Institute,” says Policy Institute Director Jaime Grant. “This fellowship program — made possible by a grant from the Arcus Foundation — is designed to put the brightest and the best independent and academy-based thinkers to work on pressing LGBT movement issues. Farrow and Nagarajan are a part of the next generation of LGBT-focused progressive thinkers who will help shape our movement and policy conversations for many years to come.”

The Fellows Program is designed to encourage the best LGBT thinkers in the academy and the larger community to apply their work to pressing movement questions and problems. It is also designed to address the dearth of people of color in leadership positions in the LGBT movement. Current fellows will enjoy a $30,000 stipend and the support of the Policy Institute in developing, publishing and disseminating their work.

The Policy Institute is the movement’s premier think tank dedicated to advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The Policy Institute nurtures future generations of young leaders and researchers through its undergraduate research internship, Vaid Fellowship and Ph.D. fellowship programs. The Policy Institute conducts research, public policy analysis and strategy development on an array of issues including: aging, anti-LGBT movement, bisexuality, demographics of the LGBT community, discrimination, economic issues, education policy, elections and politics, faith, family policy including marriage/partner recognition and parenting, hate violence, health, HIV/AIDS, public opinion, racial and economic justice, transgender issues and youth. For information on Policy Institute reports and analysis go to http://www.thetaskforce.org/our_work/policy_institute.

Kenyon Farrow Bio


Kenyon Farrow has been working as an organizer, communications strategist and writer working on issues at the intersection of HIV/AIDS, prisons and homophobia. A current Policy Institute fellow with the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Farrow will be working on a report about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Black gay and bisexual men in the U.S. As the national public education director for Queers for Economic Justice, he is working to build a national network of grassroots LGBTQ racial and economic justice organizations. He also served as press coordinator with a U.S. delegation of advocates at the 2008 International AIDS Conference coordinated by Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP) to advocate for a national AIDS strategy with other advocates from the U.S.

While the director of communications for CHAMP, Farrow lead the strategic communications efforts for the Prevention Justice Mobilization and helped launch Project Unshackle — a network of AIDS activists and prison activists from across the country to work more strategically together at the intersection of mass imprisonment and HIV risk.

Farrow has also led successful campaigns to tackle homophobia in the Black community. While with the New York State Black Gay Network, he launched a faith-based project — the REVIVAL! Initiative, helped shut down a performance of homophobic dancehall artists, and launched a groundbreaking social marketing campaign challenging homophobia in the Black community, which has now been replicated in several cities across the country. He is also a founding board member of FIERCE! and served on the national organizing body for Critical Resistance.

In addition to his political work, he is the co-editor of Letters From Young Activists: Today's Rebels Speak Out (Nation Books 2005) and the upcoming A New Queer Agenda (NYU Press). His work has appeared in publications such as Utne Reader, Black Commentator, Left Turn, POZ, The Indypendent, City Limits, and in the anthology, Spirited: Affirming the Soul of Black Lesbian and Gay Identity (Red Bone Press 2006).

He has been honored as one of the “Movers and Shakers” in HIV/AIDS activism in the African-American community by The Body.com, and was named as one of Out magazine’s Out 100 for 2008.

Mala Nagarajan Bio


Mala Nagarajan is a second generation South Asian, raised in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area. She lives in Seattle, Wash., with her partner of ten years, Vega Subramaniam. Nagarajan’s interest in cross-sector strategies, collaboration and resource sharing, and her commitment to equal access, opportunity and protection has led her to search for ways to integrate organizational, management and technology systems for the benefit of progressive social change.

In MBA studies at the University of Washington-Seattle, Nagarajan has concentrated on the intersections and applications of management practices across sectors, in areas such as social entrepreneurship, organizational strategy, human resources and multi-issue, multi-constituent and multi-identity partnerships. She is the founder of Creative Collaborations, a newly forming nonprofit that conducts infrastructure research and development and provides support and management services for nonprofit collaborations, operations and administration.

Nagarajan has been involved in social change work for almost 20 years — as a volunteer, staff or management — in the nonprofit, government and business sectors. She co-founded Trikone-Northwest, an organization serving the South Asian LGBTQ community in the Pacific Northwest, served on community boards of Equal Rights Washington, the City of Seattle Women’s Commission and Seattle PFLAG. She also advocates for issues affecting communities that have been disproportionately disadvantaged and disenfranchised through systematic and institutional under-representation, under-utilization and under-privileged (e.g., comprehensive immigration reform, consumer protection, access for persons with disabilities, and LGBTQ, predominantly people of color, communities).

Currently, she is one of three co-directors at the National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, a federation of grassroots LGBTQ API organizations.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the grassroots power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. We do this by training activists, equipping state and local organizations with the skills needed to organize broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.