Meet Our New GUTC Leadership Development Fellows!

Meet Our New GUTC Leadership Development Fellows!

By: Funders for LGBTQ Issues Staff on May 28, 2020

Funders for LGBTQ Issues is pleased to announce the newest cohort of Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC) Leaders Fellows!

This year’s GUTC Leaders Fellows represent diverse foundation types, ranging from private foundations with a handful of staff members and little history of funding trans work to foundations that pioneered some of the best funding practices supporting transgender communities. They also span the length and breadth of the U.S., hailing from the South, the Northeast, the Northwest, and, for the first time, Hawaii.

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 meet an urgent need for leadership development and support for trans, gender non-conforming, and non-binary staff in the field. This need has been made all the more urgent as the COVID-19 pandemic and ensuring economic fall-out has disproportionately negatively impacted trans communities. 

“As our communities suffer significant harm during this time of increased crisis, and with the very real prospect of some foundations withdrawing their fledgling support for trans communities in anticipation of an economic recession, we need trans-identified professionals ready to take leadership in our field now more than ever,” said Alexander Lee, Project Director of Grantmakers United for Trans Communities

In response to the unique challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s fellowship cohort will receive support, coaching, peer networking, and professional development over a  period of at least 18 months. 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 success of past cohorts has only strengthened our belief in the power of community and mutual support provided by the program. Despite the new challenges to connecting in person presented by the pandemic, we are honored to be able to offer this opportunity to a new group of emerging leaders. We will look forward to sharing the inspiring work our newest fellows will accomplish in the coming year. With great pride, we are pleased to introduce our newest cohort of Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC) Leaders Fellows!

Jeremiah Allen

Pronouns: he/him
Director of Programs, Pride Foundation

Jeremiah is a mixed race Black and Indigenous queer trans man from the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Nez Perce and Oglala Sioux Tribes. He is passionate about the intersections of race, gender, socioeconomic status, and sexual orientation. He believes in the power of courageous storytelling, and looking critically at the social systems he belongs to. Jeremiah has spent years working toward LGBTQ+, racial, and gender justice and inclusion. Jeremiah previously served as Pride Foundation’s Project Director for TRANSform Washington, and is now Pride Foundation’s Director of Programs. Jeremiah holds a Master of Public Administration from Seattle University’s Institute of Public Service and a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Oregon State University. In his free time, Jeremiah enjoys exploring the PNW with his three amazing kids, reading all things nonfiction, journaling, and writing poetry.

Nicole Fernandes

Pronouns: she/her
Finance & Administrative Associate, Funders for LGBTQ Issues

Nicole has strong experience in both administrative and programmatic roles, including roles in nonprofit and grassroots organizations.  Some of Nicole’s experience includes serving as a Transform Fellow at the Sylvia Rivera Project and working with Black Trans Media to help organize their Trans Women of Color convening. Most recently, Nicole served as an Information and Referral Specialist at The Center.

Cathy Kapua

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Deputy Director, Trans Justice Funding Project

Cathy has worked with the transgender community in Hawaii since 2003, first starting off as a Peer Educator at Kulia Na Mamo, then eventually moving on to become the Transgender Service Manager at the Hawaii Health & Harm Reduction Center. Cathy is proud of her academic accomplishments in the University of Hawaii- West Oahu where she received a B.S. in Public Administration and continues to use these skills to help transgender communities of color. She has been successful in advocating for transgender programming and providing culturally competency trainings throughout the nation but prides herself mainly on being a role model for younger transgender women in Hawai`i.

Jade Lenore LeDuff

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Program Manager, AIDS United

Jade Lenore LeDuff hails from the beautiful city of New Orleans, Louisiana, born and raised in the south rooted in true southern hospitality. Jade is known to be an emerging leader in the LGBTQI+ community. From a very early age, she has always had a heart for people, especially those who were under-served in any way. Her passion for people has led her to be a public educator, advocate, humanist, volunteer, a leader for Black Transwomen Inc., Black Trans Advocacy Coalition, and currently a Program Manager for AIDS United. Though newer to the HIV/AIDS Research field Jades background includes a combined 10+ years of Compliance, Project Management, Training/Development, Facilitation, Reporting, and Event Planning. Throughout her work, she has experienced and noticed that Trans and GNC folx, may encounter setbacks, obstacles, discrimination, and other adversities. Recognizing and identifying those adversities while developing solutions to eradicate them, has continued to fuel her work in the Movement towards true equity and equality for Trans and GNC folx.

Evelyn Quintana Ochoa

Pronouns: they/them/theirs
Grantmaking Program Assistant, Groundswell Fund

Evelyn Quintana Ochoa is a non-binary individual who was born in Madera, Chihuahua Mexico. When Evelyn was 5 years old, they and their mother migrated to Colorado, where Evelyn spent their childhood and teen years. Their lived experience navigating the immigration system, being a young queer working class person and personal studies, have positioned them to advocate for the abolishment of borders, wage labor and to uplift reproductive, gender, environmental and racial justice through a decolonized lens. Although education is important to Evelyn, they didn’t have access to a formal education after grade school. They spend a large portion of their time self-learning and participating in community led political education and workshops. Evelyn has experience in the service and hospitality industry, where they waited and tended bar. Including experience as an independent sex worker. In 2019, they were a fellow of Third Wave Fund’s Sex Worker Giving Circle, which awakened a deep appreciation for the need and power of social justice philanthropy. Since November of 2019, Evelyn has been employed with Groundswell Fund as the grant making program assistant. Today Evelyn spends their personal time learning political education from local organizing folks in NYC, as well as volunteers with abolitionist grassroots organizations.

Darius Soler

Pronouns: she/her/hers
Grants Associate, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust

Darius Soler works as a Grants Associate at the Helmsley Charitable Trust. She serves as the organization’s training liaison on the Grants Management team and works on the administration and management of a portfolio of several high-volume programs. She is passionate about DEI and forwarding the efforts and conversation inside and outside of her organization. She has also written op-eds, most recently for PEAK’s Winter 2020 issue focusing on DEI and the Black LGBTQ+ intersectional voice in grants management. Darius has also volunteered on the Grant Advisory Committee for the New York Women’s Foundation to award grants to transgender, gender nonbinary, and nonconforming communities. When Darius isn’t fighting against for equality, she stays connected to her community by spreading love and light through her drag persona, SOL.


Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez

Pronouns: she/her/they/them
Program Officer, Edward W. Hazen Foundation

Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez was born in Bogota, Colombia and moved to New York from Florida. Prior to becoming the Program Officer for the Edward W. Hazen Foundation, Isabel was the Director of Organizing at the Florida Immigrant Coalition. Isabel has published peer-reviewed articles detailing the effects of legal status marginalization on undocumented families. She served as a state coordinator of the Mexican Initiative on Deferred Action that provided legal aid to DACA recipients across NY state and has also served in leadership at Trans Justice Funding Project, DREAM.US Undocumented Youth Scholarship Fund and the Miami Worker’s Center.

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.

About GUTC

Funders for LGBTQ Issues launched Grantmakers United for Trans Communities (GUTC) in 2017 with the goal of inspiring a philanthropic culture that is inclusive and supportive of trans people through grantmaking and decision-making. As the initiative continues into its third year, we draw ever closer to meeting that goal. To date, GUTC has published new research on funding for trans communities, convened funders for groundbreaking funder briefings and webinars, and launched the historic GUTC Pledge campaign. To date, 46 institutions from a wide  range of grantmakers and supporting institutions have pledged to take concrete actions to make their foundations more inclusive and responsive to trans communities.

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