GUTC Leadership Development Program Announces Second Cohort

By: Funders for LGBTQ Issues Staff on April 22, 2019


Funders for LGBTQ Issues launched Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC) in 2018 with the goal of inspiring a philanthropic culture that is inclusive and supportive of trans people through grantmaking and decision-making. As the initiative enters its second year, that goal is coming to life. To date, GUTC has published new research on funding for trans communities, convened funders for a first-of-its-kind funder briefing, and most recently, launched the historic GUTC Pledge campaign. Less than a month since the launch, over 35 institutions representing a range of foundation types have pledged to take concrete actions to make their foundations more inclusive and responsive to trans communities. Complementing those efforts, this month Funders for LGBTQ Issues is pleased to announce the second cohort of Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC) leaders Fellows.

Funders for LGBTQ Issues is committed to supporting, diversifying, and ultimately increasing the number of trans people working in philanthropy. The GUTC Leaders Fellowship was designed to address an urgent need for leadership development and support for trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary staff in the field.

Reflecting on the urgency of the leadership development program, Alexander L. Lee, Project Director of Grantmakers United for Trans Communities says, “while our sector has shown very modest increases in employing transgender, gender non-conforming and gender non-binary people, professional development opportunities to help more of us to take the next step into leadership positions still remain lacking.” This unique fellowship program provides ongoing support, peer networking, and professional development to emerging leaders over a 12-month period. The fellowship program  works in synergy with the GUTC pledge, which includes a component for funders to commit to improving recruitment and retention of trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary staff and board members.

The inaugural cohort of GUTC fellows brought together six emerging leaders from across the sector. During the fellowship period (March 2018-March 2019), three were promoted or hired into senior leadership roles in philanthropy, enabled in part by the increased visibility and support of the GUTC Fellowship. Kiyomi Fujikawa, Co-Director of the Third Wave Fund and 2018 GUTC fellow shared, “the fellowship was deeply meaningful for my personal and professional growth within philanthropy. It was essential to connect with other trans and gender-non-conforming people working in the field to be able to share and discuss our experiences, hopes, and work together to feel less isolated.”

The experience in the first year of the fellowship only confirmed our belief in the power of connection, community, and mutual support provided by the program, and we are honored to be able to offer the opportunity to a second group of emerging leaders. We will look forward to sharing the inspiring work our newest fellows will accomplish together in the coming year. With great pride, we are pleased to introduce the 2019-2020 Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC) Leaders Fellows!

Aldita Gallardo


Aldita Gallardo works as a Program Associate for the Fund for Trans Generations at Borealis Philanthropy. She has been organizing at the intersections of racial and gender justice, trans/queer liberation, immigrant rights, and youth leadership development for over a decade. Prior to joining the Borealis team, she trained trans/queer youth of color to advocate for racial, gender, and economic justice in their schools and communities with the Genders & Sexualities Alliance (GSA) Network, based in Oakland, California. A Northwestern University graduate, she currently serves on the advisory board for El/La Para TransLatinas. Born in Lima, Peru, she enjoys herbal teas and basking in the sun.

Pronouns: she/her/they/them

Ollie Gillett


Ollie is Program Manager for Community Engagement at Robin Hood’s Blue Ridge Labs, bringing together communities and technologists to build new solutions to address poverty in NYC. Ollie also co-teaches an MFA class on social ventures at the School of Visual Arts, facilitates an identity exploration workshop called GenSex NYC, and volunteers with the Parole Preparation Project. Previously, Ollie led communications for grassroots organizations partnering with the UN, worked at a local food tech startup, organized alongside farm workers, and filmed a documentary. Ollie graduated summa cum laude from Boston University with a B.A. in International Development & Multimedia Journalism.

Pronouns: they/them

Ebony Harper


Ebony Harper is one of the shining lights of Sacramento’s Transgender community as Program Associate with The California Endowment. Her recent appointment to the California State Office of AIDS Planning Group reflects her vital and respected role in our community as a go-to contact for many for a broad range of consultation and services. Ms. Harper began her career in community service as a teenage volunteer for the Los Angeles Youth Network, beginning in 1995. This experience propelled her into a staff position at Children Of The Night in Van Nuys, CA, a nonprofit focused on rescuing America’s children from human trafficking and prostitution. It was there that Ebony learned community-based outreach and how to apply her lived experience as a Peer Counselor, helping homeless youth going through many of the same disadvantages and tribulations she experienced. Ms. Harper has also worked in the private sector, including operating her own business for nearly eight years. Immediately before beginning her role at The California Endowment, Ms. Harper served as a a PrEP Program Coordinator and Community Organizer for the Gender Health Center.

Pronouns: she/her

Shaena Johnson


Shaena Johnson is the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund Program Officer at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Shaena brings over 15 years of organizing and advocacy experience as well as her extensive work in the community focusing on issues facing LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice system. Shaena investigated conditions of confinement for incarcerated youth and supported defense attorneys with zealous advocacy and investigation for court-involved youth in New Orleans as a Youth Advocate and later the LGBTQ Program Coordinator at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and as an Investigator at the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights.  Shaena is also the former Co-Director of BreakOUT!

Pronouns: she/her

Klie Kliebert


Klie is a native New Orleanian, digital strategist, writer, and community organizer who has served extensively within environmental, racial and gender justice movements for more than a decade. As Communications Manager at Foundation for Louisiana, Klie’s work is rooted deeply in Southern storytelling. Klie has also served as the Communications Director for both Water Works and Transilient, a project that documents the everyday lives of transgender people across the United States. In their spare time, Klie is a programmer for the New Orleans Film Society and an Equity Moderator for an online peer group of over 40,000 non-profit professionals.

Pronouns: they/them

Bré Anne Rivera


Bré Anne Rivera is a black trans organizer from Detroit, Michigan. Bré is a founding member and the previous executive director of Trans Sistas of Color Project-Detroit. She has advocated for people living with HIV for over a decade, working with Positive Women’s Network, AIDS United, Positively Trans, Greater than AIDS. Currently, she is a Fellow for the Groundswell Fund, a US-based reproductive justice funder, and impact producer of the web series Femme Queen Chronicles.

Pronouns: she/her

Congratulations to our fellows!

The fellowship program and the Grantmakers United for Trans Communities initiative are made possible in part by the support of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, Gilead, an anonymous funder, Groundswell Fund, the Kicking Assets Fund, the Wild Geese Foundation, Borealis Philanthropy, and the Third Wave Fund.