Meet Our New Board Members

Meet Our New Board Members

By: Funders for LGBTQ Issues Staff on February 20, 2020

Please join us in welcoming Funders for LGBTQ Issues 2020’s cohort of board members; Karen Appelbaum, Operations Director, Northwest Area Foundation; Namita Chad, Associate Director of Programs, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice; Paulina Helm-Hernández, Program Officer, US Southeast, Foundation for a Just Society; William (Bill) Smith, President & CEO, Santa Fe Community Foundation and Judy Yu, Program Officer, SOGI, Wellspring Philanthropic Fund.

“We are so excited to welcome this talented and diverse cohort of new board members,” said Rickke Mananzala, chair of the Funders board. “This impressive group represents some of the leading funders of LGBTQ issues, both in the scale of their grantmaking and in the thoughtfulness of their funding strategies. They also range from gender justice funders to community foundations and stretch from Santa Fe and Louisville to Minneapolis and New York. Each individual has already contributed to our programs such as Out in the South and GUTC, and their wisdom, experience, and leadership will be a great asset to the board of directors.”

In addition to welcoming these five exemplary new board members, the board recently elected its new executive committee, which includes Rickke Mananzala, Vice President Of Strategy & Programs, Borealis Philanthropy, elected to a second term as chair; Cynthia Renfro, President & Ceo, Civis Consulting, LLC, elected as the new vice chair; Kristine Stallone, Philanthropic Consultant, elected to continue her service as treasurer; and Rye Young, Philanthropic Consultant, elected as the new secretary.

“As we embark on this important transition year, I am thrilled that we have both fresh new perspective and strong continuing leadership on our board of directors,” said Ben Francisco Maulbeck, president of Funders for LGBTQ Issues. “In particular, I’m appreciative of Rickke’s thoughtful leadership and his proactive work to engage board, staff, and members in our executive transition.”

To help you get to know our five new board members, below is a brief profile of each, including their personal perspectives on LGBTQ rights heroes and the roots of their passion for LGBTQ rights–in their own words.

Karen Appelbaum

Karen (she/her/hers) has been at the Northwest Area Foundation since 2008. As the Operations Director, she leads the Foundation’s office management and information technology departments. She oversees policies, processes, and procedures and directs all activities associated with the Foundation’s facilities management, emergency preparedness, business continuity planning, information governance program, and technology systems improvement initiatives.

She has held many operations related roles in her career spanning the non-profit, corporate and higher education sectors.

In her spare time, Karen volunteers weekly for a non-profit in the Twin Cities that prepares and delivers free, nutritious meals to individuals living with life threatening illnesses. She also enjoys spending time in nature, walking her three black Labrador retrievers, bicycling, and tackling Sudoku puzzles. She and her spouse have two daughters.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ rights hero?
As someone who is passionate about sports and was an athlete growing up, I admire Billie Jean King for being a champion of gender equality and an advocate for social justice.

What led to your passion for LGBTQ issues?
My passion for LGBTQ issues stems from wanting everyone to be treated equitably and have equal opportunities, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Namita Chad is a queer South Asian activist with 15 years experience in social justice philanthropy and over 20 years experience working with grassroots, LGBTQI people of color, migrant justice and feminist organizing groups as a collective member, board member, staff and in advisory roles. In both grassroots movement and philanthropic work, she has held diverse programmatic, administrative and operational roles – as a self-identified spreadsheet nerd, she believes in the power of liberatory structures that support long lasting change. She is Associate Director of Programs at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. She also has a background in Gender and Sexuality Studies and is currently completing a master’s degree and Public Administration.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ rights hero?
I’m not one for naming favorites, but I’m bringing Miss Major to mind today. Through her lifetime of work as a formerly incarcerated Black trans elder, organizer, educator and mother, she’s shown our movements what it means to stand in your power and show up for your people. She has so deeply influenced multiple generations of queer and trans community members, organizers and artists of color to build base, build new platforms for expression and push for greater humility, accountability and responsiveness in philanthropy. Learn more & support her retirement fund.

What led to your passion for LGBTQ issues?
So many things! Though I had started recognizing my own queerness earlier, my external queer life, activism and work really began in college and finding my way in the US in community with other queer migrants. I found political home as a volunteer at the Audre Lorde Project’s Immigrant Rights Working Group and amongst queer folks active in fights against the wars abroad and racism, detention and deportation here.

Namita Chad

Paulina Helm-Hernandez

Paulina is a queer artist, trainer, political organizer, and strategist from Veracrúz, Mexico, who has made the US South her home for more than two decades. For eleven years, she was the co-director of Southerners on New Ground, a social justice advocacy organization supporting LGBTQ people in the US South. Prior to that she coordinated the Southern regional youth activism program at the Highlander Research and Education Center. Paulina has a background in farmworker and immigrant/refugee rights organizing, anti-violence work, and gender and sexual liberation work that centers people most affected by poverty, war, and racism. Paulina is always exploring ways to deepen political unity with people and institutions willing to demand and organize for collective liberation.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ rights hero?
My brother Angel. Him coming out, and his activism as a queer young person forced me to look at myself in the mirror to confront my own shame, pain and queer longing. His humor, honesty and incisive eye for queer joy, migrant queer culture and left subversiveness is a touchpoint of much of my political work around gender, sexual liberation, healing justice and migrant rights.

What led to your passion for LGBTQ issues?
The migrant rights and LGBTQ movements have transformed my life and given me kinship, mentorship, love and political family. Southerners On New Ground and Mijente in particular have really pushed my own analysis and lit a fire in my belly about what’s possible when we center the most marginalized, when we take collective risk, when we confront and unmask our opposition, when we have a generational mandate to uplift our legacy and advance the work of our ancestors, and that winning IS self-care!

William (Bill) Smith, President & CEO of the Santa Fe Community Foundation (SFCF), is originally from the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania and now resides in Santa Fe, NM. Prior to joining SFCF, Bill had a 20+ year career doing domestic and international health policy and advocacy work based in Washington, DC. Bill holds an undergraduate degree in Political Science from Elizabethtown College (PA) and a Master’s Degree in Political Philosophy from the Catholic University of America.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ rights hero?
Rea Carey. She’s been a transformative and inspiring leader for our communities. Also at the National LGBTQ Task Force, my dear friend Kierra Johnson inspires me always!

What led to your passion for LGBTQ issues?
I came out in my early twenties, but not until after experiencing a great deal of trauma as a result of not feeling safe to live openly. I thankfully moved to a metropolitan area and quickly found friends who supported my journey toward healing and living authentically. I’m grateful to have spent nearly three decades using my professional life as a platform and mechanism for positive change for LGBTQ+ people whether that has been in in the nonprofit and advocacy spaces or now, in philanthropy.

William (Bill) Smith

Judy Yu

Judy Yu is a program officer in the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (SOGIE) program at Wellspring Philanthropic Fund. She has over 20 years of experience working to create a more just and humane world through supporting the leadership of LGBTQ youth of color and people of color. Previously, Judy was the Director of the Juvenile Justice Project at the Correctional Association of New York (CA), where she oversaw and managed the CA’s youth justice advocacy reform efforts in New York.
She also served as Director of Programs at APEX, an Asian American youth organization in NYC, and Associate Director of the youth program at the NYC LGBT Community Center. Among other affiliations, Judy was a member of the Equity Project Advisory Committee, an initiative to ensure that LGBTQ youth in juvenile delinquency courts are treated with dignity, respect, and fairness. She also served on the School Climate Working Group of the New York City Mayor’s Leadership Team on School Climate and Discipline, a task force charged with developing policy recommendations to enhance the well-being and safety of students and reduce harsh discipline responses and arrests. Judy currently serves on the board of directors of Queer|Art.

Who is your favorite LGBTQ rights hero?
My favorite LGBTQ rights hero are all the many amazing young people I have had the honor of working with over the years who fight to end the criminalization of LGBTQ people of color because they and their families have been directly impacted by carceral systems, who educate each other and speak out about what it means to live with HIV/AIDS, who are artists using their art as a form of activism, who know and remind me that joy, sex, and love must be part of liberation.

What led to your passion for LGBTQ issues?
Growing up queer and Asian in white suburbia made me feel like a powerless extraterrestrial and it was only when I connected with a community of queers and POC, doing activism and arts, that I felt whole. I have the deepest love and respect for how community has saved me and believe that our community has the vision and creativity to transform our world!

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