Press

Task Force taps Dr. Jaime Grant to head Policy Institute, the country’s premier LGBT think tank

Date: 
November 14, 2007

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“We looked for someone who could continue the legacy of the Policy Institute's past visionary directors — John D'Emilio, Urvashi Vaid, Sean Cahill — of combining exceptional academic, writing and policy analysis skills and activist heart, and we found that person in Jaime Grant.”
— Matt Foreman, Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has appointed Jaime Grant, Ph.D., as director of the Task Force Policy Institute, a leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) think tank. Dr. Grant succeeds Sean Cahill, Ph.D., who served as Policy Institute director for six years before moving to Gay Mens Health Crisis to serve as its managing director for public policy, research and community health.

Dr. Grant, a scholar, writer, researcher and longtime activist in the LGBT and other progressive communities, is widely recognized for her work on the causes and impact of discrimination. Most recently, she was program director for the Ford Foundation's signature leadership awards program, Leadership for a Changing World, at the Advocacy Institute/Institute for Sustainable Communities. Dr. Grant also has extensive experience in building resources, infrastructure and management practices for a diverse range of progressive academic and movement-based organizations, including the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and the Gaea Foundation.

“We looked for someone who could continue the legacy of the Policy Institute's past visionary directors — John D'Emilio, Urvashi Vaid, Sean Cahill — of combining exceptional academic, writing and policy analysis skills and activist heart, and we found that person in Jaime Grant,” said Task Force Executive Director Matt Foreman. “She will continue and strengthen the Policy Institute's unique work in racial and economic justice, build the Policy Institute as a catalyst to put forth new ideas, new language and new visions for LGBT equality, and will more directly use our existing body of research to support and push our public policy agenda at the state and national level.”

“Jaime Grant knows the university and she knows the world of grassroots organizing. She understands how research can be a tool for social change and how bold new ideas can provoke waves of activism for social justice. This was the vision of the Policy Institute from the beginning, and I can't think of anyone better suited than Jaime to lead it forward,” said John D'Emilio, gender studies professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and founding director of the Policy Institute.

“As a community, we have made huge gains over the last 20 years, yet we haven't truly examined the impact of our progress or the possibilities that lie ahead,” said Dr. Grant. “The Policy Institute will serve as an intellectual town square where activists, thinkers, funders, academics and policy makers can come together. This is also an exciting time for our movement to shape research and for grassroots activists to use it in innovative ways to affect change and support LGBT people in all areas of their lives. The Task Force is one of the rare places where I can bring my two decades of work exploring race, gender, class, and sexuality and put it to use as we build a just world.”

Dr. Grant lives in Washington, D.C., with her partner and their two children. She began her leadership of the Policy Institute on Nov. 9 and is based in the Task Force's Washington, D.C., office.

About the Policy Institute

The Policy Institute, which celebrates its 12th anniversary this year, is the LGBT movement's premier think tank. It is dedicated to research, policy analysis, public education and advocacy to advance the equality and greater understanding of LGBT people. It provides in-depth, comprehensive studies and reports on key issues. The Policy Institute integrates racial and economic justice issues into all of its work, and its materials and findings are used extensively by academics, national and local organizations, grassroots activists and the media. The Policy Institute has produced groundbreaking research on the demographics of the LGBT community, analyzed many of the policy issues affecting LGBT people and our families, held strategic convenings resulting in new ways of thinking and opened new conversations about LGBT lives and equality, developed strategies for advancing legal equality and conducted opposition research on the anti-gay movement.

The Policy Institute has prioritized underserved and marginalized groups within the LGBT community, particularly people of color, low-income people, elders and youth. Policy Institute reports that have received unprecedented attention from the media and the public include Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness: Youth in the Crosshairs: The Third Wave of Ex- Gay Ministries; Living in the Margins: A National Survey of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Asian and Pacific Islander Americans, and two reports from the 2000 U.S. Census: Black Same-Sex Households in the United States and Hispanic and Latino Same-Sex Couple Households in the United States. These reports and others have been utilized by educators, activists, policy makers, campaign managers and many others to educate the public on issues relevant to the lives of LGBT people and to the advancing of equality for all in the United States. Learn more about the Policy Institute here.

Jaime Grant holds a Ph.D. in women's studies from the Union Institute where she studied with Minnie Bruce Pratt, Barbara Smith and historian John D'Emilio. For six years, she directed the Institute's Center for Women, creating collaborative projects between scholars and activists. 

Dr. Grant has written extensively on feminism and racism, including “Racism in the Women's Movement,” which appeared in The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, and “Affirmative Inaction” in The National Women's Studies Association Journal

As director of the Union Institute Center for Women, Dr. Grant led the only academic women's center dedicated to coalition work between scholars and activists, and held prime responsibility for critical projects such as the Women and Organizing Documentation Project; The Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press Transition Coalition; Making the Connections; and the Women's Teacher's Work Life Project. Her work has been innovative and has largely focused on the relationships among race, class and gender. Her Ph.D. dissertation, The Confluence of Art, Theory and Activism in Post-Stonewall: Lesbian Writer/Activists, looks at 10 groundbreaking yet unsung lesbian activists who served as movement pioneers in the arenas of art, theory and activism.

Dr. Grant has conducted workshops on sex and gender expression at Whitman Walker's Lesbian Services Program in Washington, D.C., and the Task Force's Creating Change conference. Her piece on butch/femme erotics was developed at Whitman Walker and appeared in Leslea Newmans anthology, The Femme Mystique, and in Sojourner: The Women's Forum.

A longtime activist, Dr. Grant served as development director of the Task Force in the early 1990s, and later on the board of the National Youth Advocacy Coalition.

She received her Master of Arts in women's studies from Bucknell University and her Bachelor of Arts in economics and government from Wesleyan University.

What other leaders have to say about Jaime Grant

“Jaime Grant brings decades of passionate commitment to our struggles for justice. Her incisive intellect and ability to work with diverse groups and individuals ideally suit her to contribute to the work of the Task Force and to lead the Policy Institute.” — Hon. Barbara Smith, Writer/Activist, Founder, Kitchen Table: Women of Color Press, and Member of Albany Common (city) Council, New York

“Jaime Grant knows the university and she knows the world of grassroots organizing. She understands how research can be a tool for social change and how bold new ideas can provoke waves of activism for social justice. This was the vision of the Policy Institute from the beginning, and I can't think of anyone better suited than Jaime to lead it forward.” — John D'Emilio, Gender Studies Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago, and Founding Director of the Policy Institute

“Jaime has an unparalleled breadth of experience and perspective about how LGBT issues fit within a broader political and cultural framework. She is exactly the kind of visionary leader we need at this critical moment in our movement.”  Shannon Minter, National Center for Lesbian Rights

“I am thrilled to learn that Jaime Grant will be joining the staff of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. I have worked with Jaime on numerous projects and she is fantastic! What a coup for the entire community. Jaime brings a unique combination of grassroots gender and LGBT-specific organizing, critical thinking and academic practice to the role of Policy Institute director. She has worked many years with disenfranchised communities and developed innovative tools to bring together activists and academics to achieve meaningful advances in policy direction and community life. I can't think of a better person to lead the Policy Institute at the Task Force.” — Rev. Darlene R. Nipper, Special Assistant, Office of the Director, D.C. Department of Health, Addiction Prevention and Recovery Administration, Office of the Mayor of the District of Columbia
 
“With the presidential elections looming large, Jaime Grant is an astute choice for director of the Policy Institute. She brings a seasoned eye to the shifting political landscape inside the Beltway and across the country. She seamlessly synthesizes academic research with her considerable advocacy experience to interpret trends, frame problems and identify paths of action. She has a keen understanding of the machinations of electoral politics as well as a honed sensitivity to the significant everyday politics of media, youth culture or the street. With a vast network across the LGBT and social justice worlds, and an ear tuned to news of consequence, Jaime will be well-placed to guide nimble and effective responses to unfolding developments of consequence for LGBT life. Under her leadership, the Policy Institute will continue to strengthen its connections to social justice projects in the post-9/11 world. Jaime has the capacity to bring together pre-Stonewall gays, Second Wave feminists, queer street youth, and Two-Spirit voices in effective conversation. She has the right skills to produce the kind of anticipatory and sensitive policy work we need for these turbulent times.” — Ara Wilson, Director, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program, Duke University, and Director of The Furies

Selected Publications by Jaime Grant

“Who Is Killing Us? A Study of Community Responses to the Murders of Black Women in Boston in 1979” in Femicide, Diana Russell, editor, Twayne Press, 1992

“Transformational Organizations” in Sojourner: The Women's Forum, 1996

“Building Community-Based Coalitions from Academe:  The Kitchen Table Press Transition Coalition” in Signs:  A Journal of Culture and Society, University of Chicago Press, Volume 21, Number 4, Summer 1996

“Affirmative Inaction” in The National Women's Studies Association Journal, University of Maryland Press, Volume 9, 1997

“Racism in the Women's Movement” with Sharon Parker, in The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, Wilma Mankiller, et al. editor, Houghton Mifflin, 1998

“The History of National Lesbian and Gay Organizations” with Patricia Bonica, in The Reader's Companion to U.S. Women's History, Houghton Mifflin, 1998

“Barbara Smith” biographical entry, in Significant Contemporary American Feminists, Jennifer Scanlon, editor, Greenwood Press, 1999

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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.