Professional Development Fellowship Program

GUTC Leaders Fellowship Program

Encouraging funders to increase their grantmaking to transgender communities requires shifting philanthropic culture to be more inclusive and supportive of binary and non-binary transgender and gender non-conforming people as employees, colleagues, and leaders within the sector. Yet transgender people remain woefully under-represented in philanthropy, and trans-specific professional and leadership development opportunities remain rare.

Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC) develops trans leadership in philanthropy to strengthen the pipeline of trans professionals in the field, with the long-term goal of increasing the number of trans people working and taking leadership in philanthropy. The primary way we do this is through our Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC) Leaders Fellowship. 

Fellowship Components:

The GUTC Leaders Fellowship provides ongoing support, peer networking, and leadership and professional development to a cohort of 6 trans, gender non-conforming, or non-binary professionals in philanthropy over a 12-month fellowship period, beginning in the spring of each year.

Fellows will receive the following:


  • Invitation and comped registration to attend our flagship educational and networking conference Funding Forward
  • In-person retreats featuring peer networking, skills development, and self-care*
  • Ongoing job coaching and career counseling
  • Monthly group professional development and community-building activities
  • Help to develop a personalized professional development plan, with realistic goals and support
  • Linkage to a mentor who can provide advice and support related to fellows’ specific career interests and aspirations
  • Peer networking with the fellowship cohort, as well as with more-experienced trans and cis allies in the field
  • $2,000 in supplemental professional development funds

* In-person retreats will resume when COVID-19 and public health restrictions allow

Cost to Fellows and Employers

While there is no fee to participate, Fellows with professional development funds provided through their employer should plan to use those funds to support their participation in the above fellowship activities. If there are no such funds available, or if the funds are insufficient, Funders for LGBTQ Issues will cover the balance to ensure full participation.

Employers with fellows in the program are expected to allow their fellow to use their normal working hours to participate in the fellowship program’s activities.

Potential applicants are encouraged to contact Project Director Luna Moreta Avila to discuss any questions they have related to the application, the cost of participation, as well as for assistance in communicating with employers about the importance and value of participating in the fellowship.


The GUTC Leaders Fellowship is open to all binary and nonbinary trans-identified and gender non-conforming persons who are currently employed full- or part-time with a philanthropic entity based in the United States. For the purposes of this program, “Philanthropic entity” is defined as any grantmaking foundation (private, public, corporate, family, etc.), donor-advised fund, or philanthropic-supporting organizations (affinity groups, regional associations, etc.). Fellows may be employed in a variety of roles within the sector, including but not limited to programs, communications, finance, human resources, or organizational administration. Fellows can be based anywhere in the United States.

Priority consideration will be given to binary and nonbinary trans-identified and gender non-conforming persons of color, trans women of color, and those with less than five years of work experience in an office setting.

A maximum of one applicant per philanthropic entity may be selected in each cohort.

Applicants need not be employed by or affiliated with Funders for LGBTQ Issues members, or foundation supporters of the GUTC initiative.

Staff at organizations that do not award grants are not eligible for this program.

Frequently Asked Questions

How will the GUTC Learders Fellowship help advance my professional and leadership development?

The fellowship offers 50+ hours of personalized coaching, training, and mentorship customized to fellows’ individual professional and leadership development goals. Coaches and mentors assist fellows in identifying their own goals, and offer support and accountability to meet them. The fellowship also provides connections to a network of trans-identified and allied cisgender professionals in philanthropy who can offer additional advice, referrals, and opportunities for leadership development and visibility in the sector. Past fellows have been promoted to more senior positions (often during the fellowship), or have used the fellowship to further clarify and solidify their professional identity and career path in philanthropy.

What kinds of skills development trainings are offered?

Skills trainings are developed with the specific needs of each cohort in mind. Past cohorts have received trainings on developing management skills, self-care practices, improving in giving and receiving feedback, tips on working with search firms or job recruiters to secure more senior positions, developing personal elevator pitches, and more.

What makes this fellowship unique?

The GUTC Leaders Fellowship is the first (and to-date, only) leadership development program for trans-identified people working in philanthropy. Led by a trans-identified Project Director, great care is taken to create safer learning and community-building spaces where the rich and varied lived experiences of diverse trans people and the challenges we face in this field are centralized. Our trainings and coaching sessions help fellows strategize for career exploration and advancement while taking into account the real discrimination and bias our community faces, while connecting fellows to a community of peers to create lifelong relationships.

What are you looking for in GUTC Fellows?

We seek to build a diverse cohort each year, with an emphasis on supporting transgender people or color and trans feminine people who are early in their careers working in philanthropy. Racial diversity for us means attention to racial equity and justice, and we are particularly interested in supporting Black, Native, and Indigenous transgender foundation staff. We also seek to create a cohort of fellows from different types of philanthropic employers, ranging from private foundations with little to no track record of funding transgender communities to public intermediaries that have supported trans communities for decades. We also seek to have geographic and funding priority diversity among our fellows, with attention to regions and issues where philanthropy has underserved trans communities, such as the U.S. Southeast and Midwest.

How are fellows selected?

Each year, a selection committee made up of GUTC Working Group members and GUTC Fellow Alumni reviews and rates applications in accordance with the program’s goals and priorities. Semi-finalists are selected for phone or videoconference interviews with selection committee members, and the committee selects the final cohort of fellows shortly thereafter.

To avoid potential conflicts of interest, selection committee members who are employed at the same entity as any specific candidate, or who otherwise have a close relationship with the candidate, are recused from reviewing that candidate’s application. Each application is weighed on its own merits; no special consideration is given to applicants from foundations represented on the GUTC Working Group, or among Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ membership or foundation funders.

Testimonials from GUTC Fellows

  • Nicolas Calvo Rosenstone
    "Thanks to the GUTC Leaders Fellowship, I was able to carve out clear career goals and develop key skills that will help me reach them. Finding mentors and peers who believe in me and who understand the challenges and opportunities facing trans people in the field has been invaluable."
    Nico Calvo Rosenstone
    Communications Officer, Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, GUTC Fellow 2018-19
  • "The GUTC Leaders Fellowship was invaluable in helping me apply for my new role as the Co-Executive Director of the Third Wave Fund. In addition to helping me with my application and the interview stages, the support I received to think through taking on this new challenge in my career helped me see how I could succeed moving into senior leadership in philanthropy."
    Kiyomi Fujikawa
    Co-Executive Director, Third Wave Fund, GUTC Fellow 2018-19
  • "I especially valued the one-on-one coaching meetings. They’ve been incredibly helpful for me to think through how my life and career intersect and shape each other, both for my current position and in the long-run."
    Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez
    Program Officer, Edward W. Hazen Foundation, GUTC Fellow 2020-21
  • "The support I received from Alex and the facilitators at our in-person retreats helped me approach my work in new ways, and new ways to continue to take care of myself as I build my career. I also loved being able to connect with peers confronting the same questions I have working in this field. I feel like I have a new blueprint for taking bolder leadership in philanthropy."
    Ebony Harper
    Executive Director, National Alliance for Trans Liberation and Advancement (formerly Program Associate, California Endowment), GUTC Fellow 2019-20
  • "The GUTC Leaders Fellowship gave me new opportunities to take visible leadership in the field. With the fellowship's support, I was able to challenge myself to try new things and learn new skills."
    Agaiotupu Viena
    TRANSform Culture Program Director, Pride Foundation, GUTC Fellow 2018-19