We are thrilled to welcome three new members to the Funders for LGBTQ Issues Board of Directors: Karina Claudio Betancourt (Program Officer, Open Society Foundations), Rickke Mananzala (Director of Programs, Borealis Philanthropy), and Jason McGill (Co-Executive Director, Arcus Foundation).
Funders for LGBTQ Issues also bid fond farewell to two board members after six years of service: Cindy Rizzo of the Arcus Foundation and Mitchell Singer of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors. In addition, the board recently elected its new executive committee, which includes Rebecca Fox of Wellspring Advisors, elected to a second term as chair; Brandie Balken of the Gill Foundation, elected as the new vice chair; Kristine Stallone of American Jewish World Service, elected to continue her service as treasurer; and Bia Vieira, philanthropic consultant, elected to continue as secretary. “Cindy and Mitch have been invaluable assets to our board over the past six years, both helping lead our organization through a major executive transition and the development of our current ambitious strategic plan,” said Ben Francisco Maulbeck, President of Funders for LGBTQ Issues. “They will be sorely missed! At the same time, we’re excited to welcome three amazing new board members who bring a tremendous depth of experience in philanthropy, the LGBTQ movement, and other issues of social justice.”
We asked each of our new board members to respond to a few questions and share a bit more about themselves. Get to know these amazing leaders and join us in welcoming them to the Funders family.
I grew up in a Catholic household in Puerto Rico, so my earliest experience of “giving back” was at the Church. But as a conscious adult, I started volunteering my time at an animal shelter, and with several pro-independence, feminist and social justice groups in the University of Puerto Rico. When I came to the US at 23, I volunteered my time at Make the Road NY, where I ended up working for 6 years.
I believe that especially in the context of Trump’s election in the US, and a global tendency towards electing right wing governments, LGBTQ Philanthropy needs to play a distinct role in helping build solidarity between the LGBTQ community and different movements for social justice, but also amongst ourselves. Something I’ve heard in lieu of the Trump election is—“well he’s not so bad for the gays” (aka he supports the Supreme Court decision on marriage). But his cabinet and administration picks are the most anti-LGBTQ we have seen in many years, and his VP supports government funded conversion therapy programs. So we need to look past marriage and understand that many in our own communities have been at risk and are going to be further at risk—literally, lives will be lost. In fact, we have already lost two TGNC individuals in the US in 2017. So it is time to step up, and not only fund programs that support the survival of LGBTQ people, but also our need to organize and resist in these very difficult times.
I am excited to work with a dynamic and diverse board to educate other philanthropic leaders on the need to protect and step up for the LGBTQ community now more than ever. I have specifically seen the work that Funders for LGBTQ Issues has done to shed light on the lack of funding for TGNC led organizations across the world. And I want to be an ally in making sure this shifts. TGNC communities in the United States have been under attack, especially in 2016 when we saw over 200 anti-trans bills pass in different local and state legislatures. We should expect this to increase in the coming years with the Trump Administration, but if we dedicate resources to organize at the very local level and build the leadership of TGNC people from the grassroots up; I am hopeful that we will see some shifts in these trends.
I am at the beach, in Puerto Rico, playing salsa at full blast…I am with a group of my friends and it is sunny and warm and the breeze is hitting my face under a palm tree, while I am reading poetry and occasionally commenting on whatever my friends are gossiping about.
I learned about generosity from my grandmother and mother. They were selfless women who both worked long hours as domestic workers, yet still found the time to give back by cooking for others in need. I got involved in institutional philanthropy in 2002 when I joined the board of the Third Wave Foundation (now the Third Wave Fund led by Funders board member Rye Young!). I’m thankful that my first experience in philanthropy was with a foundation focused on intersectional gender justice organizing led by young people.
The challenges our various communities are anticipating in the coming years is a terrifying prospect for many. One possible response to fear is to turn inwards. For philanthropy, this could take the form of retreating back to narrow funding silos rather than doubling down on grantmaking that’s based on the value of interdependence. There are key parts of LGBTQ and progressive philanthropy that have and will continue to push broader philanthropy to move resources in a way that builds stronger alliances within and across communities.
Funders for LGBTQ Issues has been integral to promoting the aforementioned approach to interdependent and intersectional grantmaking in philanthropy. I also appreciate that the staff and board team seems to have mastered the art of working hard and having fun with each other while doing the work.
While I love NYC, my ideal Sunday would involve getting out of the city and hanging out somewhere in the woods hiking or mountain biking or riding my motorcycle on winding country roads.
I got involved in philanthropy back in 2000, helping a nonprofit fellowship program build a “give back” program for its alumni. All of them were people of color and many of whom had flourishing careers on Wall Street. It was a huge learning curve to design programs for a large group of professionals of color who came from widely divergent perspectives on issues of racial and social justice.
We have a remarkable opportunity to serve as a bridge builder to other movements, since LGBTQ leaders are intimately involved in advancing progress on so many fronts including racial justice, youth issues, economic justice, and education reform among others. We need to encourage partnership and collaboration in the field so we can ensure all of these efforts achieve collective impact.
Funders is doing amazing work connecting with the larger philanthropic sector. The organization is promoting LGBTQ issues by actively seeking opportunities to partner and coordinate with funders of other social justice movements. Funders has excelled at this work by producing critical research that underscores the disparities facing LGBTQ communities and the organizations that serve them.
I’m usually at Quaker Meeting and then head home to shop and cook for the week.