Funders for LGBTQ Issues Elects First Trans Chair, Two New Board Members Rooted in the South

Funders for LGBTQ Issues Elects First Trans Chair, Two New Board Members Rooted in the South

By: Luis Ramirez on January 31, 2019

With the new year upon us, Funders for LGBTQ Issues is pleased to announce the election of new officers, including new board chair, Rickke Mananzala of Borealis Philanthropy, and of two new board members with extensive experience working in Southern philanthropy, Kelli King-Jackson of the Simmons Foundation and Cynthia Renfro of Civis Consulting. The election of Rickke Mananzala represents a historic step for the organization as the first transgender chair of the board of directors. He brings to the role extensive experience in both philanthropy and social justice leadership. Rickke currently serves as Vice President of Strategy and Programs at Borealis Philanthropy, a philanthropic intermediary that brings funders together to support organizations creating a more just and equitable world. There, he oversees collaborative grantmaking and strategic initiatives that support organizations and movements to build power in communities most impacted by injustice, including initiatives focused on immigrant rights, racial equity, and transgender movement-building. Rickke previously served as the Executive Director of FIERCE, a grassroots organization for LGBTQ youth of color in New York City, and was a Ford Foundation New Voices Fellow at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project. In addition to serving on the Funders board since 2017, he is also on the board of the New York Foundation and previously served on the board of Third Wave. Newly elected board member Kelli King-Jackson is a Senior Program Officer with The Simmons Foundation, based in Houston, Texas. With 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Kelli leads the Foundation’s implementation of grantmaking strategies in homelessness, youth, and LGBTQ issues. Her new role as a board member builds on years of leadership in Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ Out in the South Initiative, including developing strategies for more LGBTQ-inclusive grantmaking around homelessness and youth. She is also on the board of sister affinity group Funders Together to End Homelessness and an alumna of the ABFE Connecting Leaders Fellowship Program. Most recently, Kelli has been lending her philanthropic expertise to the grants committees of the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy Hurricane Harvey Fund. Also newly elected to the board is Cynthia Renfro, President & CEO of Civis Consulting, LLC, a Seattle-based consulting firm that supports philanthropic institutions and community-based organizations in developing and implementing strategic and intentional programs. Current clients include the Laughing Gull Foundation, a leading funder of LGBTQ issues in the South; the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a leading health equity funder; and the Arch Community Fund, an emerging supporter of grassroots transformative organizing in the U.S. Cynthia has deep expertise in social justice philanthropy in the U.S. South and played a crucial role facilitating some of the early planning phases of the Out in the South Initiative. Prior to launching Civis Consulting, she spent more than nine years as program officer then program director at the Marguerite Casey Foundation; two years at the Beldon Fund in New York City and three years with the Turner Foundation in Atlanta.

“Our new board leadership is ideally suited to lead us into the next chapter of Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ urgent work”

“Our new board leadership is ideally suited to lead us into the next chapter of Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ urgent work,” said Ben Francisco Maulbeck, President of the organization. “Rickke’s deep experience in social justice will help us shape a new strategic plan that centers racial equity, deepens the work of our Grantmakers United for Trans Communities Initiative, and expands our intersectional LGBTQ training programs. Cynthia and Kelli are both inspiring leaders who have helped make the Out in the South Initiative such an impactful program. They both bring to our board an invaluable understanding of the unique landscape of the South, of mainstream philanthropy, and of social justice movement building.” In addition, Jason McGill, Co-Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation, was elected Vice Chair of the board of directors. Kristine Stallone, Vice President of Finance and Administration, was renewed for another one-year term as treasurer. Rebecca Fox, Senior Program Officer of Wellspring Philanthropic Fund and the outgoing Chair, was elected Secretary. The new executive committee is 50 percent people of color, further diversifying the leadership of an organization that is already majority people of color on both the board and the staff. Brandie Balken, Deputy Director of the Hopewell Fund, completed her term as Vice Chair, and Bia Vieira, Chief Program Officer of the Women’s Foundation of California, completed her term as Secretary. Both will continue their terms as members of the board of directors. In addition, three board members cycled off the board in the latter part of 2018: Karina Claudio Betancourt, Program Officer for the Open Society Foundations; Gabriel Foster, Co-Founder and Director of the Trans Justice Funding Project; and Surina Khan, Chief Executive Officer of the Women’s Foundation of California;

“The beginning of every new chapter also carries the bittersweet closing of another”

“The beginning of every new chapter also carries the bittersweet closing of another,” said Ben Francisco Maulbeck. “Surina, Gabriel, and Karina have all been invaluable thought partners, offering sage guidance on everything from funder cultivation to living our social justice values in every aspect of our work. I’m especially appreciative of Rebecca for her three years of service as board chair. She’s led us through a challenging time: the tragedy of the Pulse shooting, the 2016 election, and a sharp rise in vicious attacks on our community. In the face of such adversity, she’s not only provided decisive leadership, but also a much-needed warmth and thoughtful attention for the well-being of the staff and for our fellow board members. We’re eternally grateful.”  

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