Ten LGBTQ leaders of color and transgender leaders have been selected for the 2016 class of the Victory Empowerment Fellowship, which brings together movement leaders from across the country to expand their campaign skills and policymaking power.
The fellowship consists of two programs provided by the Victory Institute – the Candidate & Campaign Training and the International LGBTQ Leadership Conference – and a year-long mentorship program.
The fellowship seeks to address the unique barriers faced by LGBTQ people of color and transgender people when running for office or seeking leadership positions.
Meet the 2016 Victory Empowerment Fellows:
Paulina Angel began her career as an activist when she became the first trans woman elected to the Student Senate for California Community Colleges in 2009. As a senator, she advocated primarily for LGBTIA students’ rights and written resolutions and recommendations to protect trans and queer students rights. Today, she serves as a member of Trans Student Educational Resources, Human Rights Campaign Steering Committee in Palm Springs, and director of Trans Community Project.
Everett Arthur is a rising third year law student at Emory University School of Law with hopes of creating a more inclusive environment in the legal profession and the South. Through his involvement in SUITED, an HBO documentary, Everett discusses the overlap of clothing and how difficult it is to be a trans person of color in the legal profession. It is Everett’s greatest hope that his involvement in SUITED will move the legal profession closer to inclusion. Having received his undergraduate degree in cello performance, Everett is an advocate for the arts, and presents recitals when not studying for law school.
James Chan first became involved in politics through the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, where he interned for the United Faculty of Florida and former Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink. While he earned his Master of Public Policy at the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, he worked on the state and local government affairs team at Target Corporation. James is heavily involved in the Tampa Bay area with the Hillsborough County LGBTQA Democratic Caucus, the Tampa Bay Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, and New Leaders Council.
T Benicio Gonzales is a queer/trans activist and organizer focused on immigrants’ rights, working for racial justice and queer liberation. He works for the Louisville Metro Center for Health Equity addressing socioeconomic conditions which impact the public’s health. T serves as equity officer of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky board of directors and on the board of the Carl Braden Memorial Center, Inc. T earned a Master of Social Work from the University of Houston, and a Bachelor of Arts in social work from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas. He is a Texan and calls Louisville, Kentucky home.
Crystal R. Hudson is a seasoned marketing professional and entrepreneur, passionate about politics and social change. Her professional expertise is in developing integrated marketing campaigns and strategic partnerships in sports, entertainment and multicultural marketing, as well as in producing live events. Crystal currently serves on the executive board of the New York City chapter of New Leaders Council, and will serve as Treasurer for the 2017 re-election campaign of New York City Council Member Laurie Cumbo. Crystal received her master’s degree from The George Washington University School of Business, and her bachelor’s degree from Spelman College. She is from Brooklyn, where she currently resides.
Andrea Jenkins is a poet, artist, writer, transgender activist and educator. She is a former City Council policy aide in the City of Minneapolis, and previously worked as a vocational counselor for Hennepin County. Jenkins holds a Master of Science in community economic development, a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in communications. She is currently an oral historian for the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota.
A.D. Sean Lewis is an analyst/organizer collaborating to develop creative solutions to pressing problems. A.D. is the public policy and legislative affairs analyst at Chicago’s Independent Police Review Authority. Outside of work, Lewis co-founded the Chicago Community Bond Fund, a revolving fund that posts bond for pre-trial detainees. Lewis is a co-organizer with Love and Protect, which supports women and gender-nonconforming people of color criminalized or harmed by state and interpersonal violence. In 2015, Lewis successfully petitioned the City of Chicago to provide trans-affirming insurance.
Lisa Middleton is a member of the Palm Springs Planning Commission, chairwoman of the Organized Neighborhoods of Palm Springs (ONE-PS), and a member of the boards of directors of Equality California, Desert LGBTQ Center and Desert Horticulture Society. She retired after serving 36 years with the State Compensation Insurance Fund of the State of California. At her retirement she was the Senior Vice President of Internal Affairs. Lisa is a graduate of UCLA and USC. Recently married to longtime partner Cheryl, Lisa is a proud transgender parent of two adult children.
Sejal Singh is an aide to Brad Hoylman, the only openly LGBTQ member of the New York Senate, where her portfolio includes public and affordable housing and anti-poverty programs. She is a policy coordinator at Know Your IX, a national campaign against campus sexual and dating violence, where she leads state-level legislative campaigns to safeguard educational access and realize justice for survivors. As a Columbia University student, Sejal worked closely with Governor Andrew Cuomo to enhance and pass Enough is Enough, first-in-the-nation legislation to fight campus gender-based violence. She is a frequent speaker on civil rights in higher education.
Isaiah Wilson is the External Affairs Manager for the National Black Justice Coalition (NBJC), the nation’s leading civil rights organization dedicated to the empowerment of Black LGBTQ people. In his capacity, Wilson leads NBJC’s public policy team and has been essential in expanding the organization’s HBCU and Emerging Leaders Initiatives. As a Black gay man living with HIV, Wilson is a passionate about speaking out and ending stigma of HIV/AIDS. Wilson is a proud graduate of Morehouse College and served five years as a legislative assistant to former U.S. Congressman Steve Rothman before joining NBJC.