Staff and Board

Astraea is...

J. Bob Alotta | Executive Director | bio

Ruth Baldacchino | Intersex Fund Program Officer | bio

Sangeeta Budhiraja | Director of Institutional Partnerships | bio

Namita Chad | Senior Program Officer | bio

Miabi Chatterji | Program Officer, LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund | bio

Ana Conner | Development Database and Operations Manager | bio

Bridget de Gersigny | Director of Communications | bio

Mónica Enríquez-Enríquez | Senior Program Officer | bio

Sarah Fonseca | Communications Officer | bio

Mariam Gagoshashvili | Senior Program Officer | bio

Sarah Gunther | Director of Programs | bio

Matty Hart | GPP Coordinator | bio

Zakiya J. Lord| Regional Development and Engagement Officer | bio

Kerry-Jo Lyn| Director, LGBT Global Development Partnership | bio

Joy Michael | Senior Accountant | bio

Martina Morales | Junior Accountant | bio

Susan Neiman | Chief Financial Officer | bio

Ezra Nepon | GPP Associate | bio

Brenda Salas Neves | Grants Manager | bio

Naomi SobelDevelopment Officer, Major Gifts | bio

Jacob Tobia | Executive Assistant | bio

Robin Wilby | Development Assistant | bio

Simone Williams | Administrative Coordinator and HR Assistant | bio

Katherine Acey | Executive Director Emerita | bio

J. Bob Alotta | Executive Director

J. Bob Alotta is the Executive Director at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, a global foundation based in NYC that provides critical resources to LGBTQI organizations and individuals around the world. Bob is a lifelong activist and an accomplished filmmaker with a track record of leading exponential organizational growth and capacity building through visionary management and fundraising. She builds strong partnerships with diverse communities, grantee partners, donors, institutional funders, and corporate stakeholders. Bob served for four years as Board Chair of FIERCE, a longtime Astraea grantee partner, helping to build the leadership and power of LGBTQ youth of color. On behalf of the FIERCE Board of Directors, Bob was awarded the Stonewall Foundation's 2009 Alan Morrow Prize for Excellence in Board Leadership. Bob also served for six years as grant reviewer for Open Society Foundations' Community Fellowship Program, and has consulted for Swarthmore College, Williams College, WITNESS, and the Prison Moratorium Project. Prior to joining Astraea, Bob served as Director of Digital Media and Content for Zeitbyte Digital Media and as Director of Digital Technology for Film at the Columbia University School of the Arts. Bob's documentary and narrative films have aired on Democracy Now, GRITtv, and PBS, and have screened at festivals in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and the Middle East.

Ruth Baldacchino | Program Officer

Ruth Baldaccino

Ruth Baldacchino is from Malta and has extensive experience in community organising, international LGBTIQ activism and LGBTIQ research. Their human rights work started with the Malta Gay Rights Movement, where Ruth served on the Executive Committee for several years. Ruth was elected ILGA World Co-Secretary General in 2014 and has served on a number of boards in the past years including IGLYO, ILGA World and ILGA-Europe.

Prior to joining Astraea, Ruth worked at the Maltese Ministry for Civil Liberties in the areas of human rights and integration, where they were actively part of the process towards the passing of the groundbreaking Gender Identity, Gender Expression and Sex Characteristics Act, and strategies/policies on trans and intersex students and migrants’ integration in Malta. They have been closely engaged with intersex activists, particularly through the co-facilitation and coordination of ILGA’s International Intersex Fora, for the past 4 years. Ruth holds an M.A. in Women’s Studies from University College Dublin and a B.A. (Honours) in Sociology from University of Malta. They are a PhD candidate in Sociology/Gender Studies, and lecture Queer Studies at the University of Malta.

sangeeta budhiraja | director of Institutional Partnerships

Sangeeta brings over a decade of movement building experience and philanthropic advocacy skills to the Astraea Foundation as a seasoned activist, organizer, educator and advocate.   Sangeeta joins the Astraea Foundation after four years as Program Officer at the Ms. Foundation for Women, where she managed the Foundation's Movement Building, Southern Strategy, and Economic Justice Initiatives.  During her time as Regional Program Coordinator for Asia and the Pacific at the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), Sangeeta served as member of Astraea's International Funds panel. She also worked as a consultant to the International Fund from 2005-2007, and has worked with many of Astraea’s international grantee partners.  Sangeeta’s expertise with international women's human rights, sexual rights, racial and economic justice is paired with a strong base in local movement building. She is a community board member of the Open Meadows Foundation, served on the board of FIERCE! and Queers for Economic Justice (QEJ), and has been a consultant to the Urban Justice Center and Desis Rising up and Moving (DRUM).  She also participated in the Bridge Builders Leadership Development cohort of the Women's Funding Network.  Sangeeta is an Adjunct Lecturer in the Urban Studies Department at CUNY Queens College.  She holds a Bachelors degree in Women's Studies from Hamilton College, was a Thomas J. Watson Fellowship recipient, and earned a JD from CUNY School of Law.

Namita Chad | Senior Program Officer

Namita is a queer South Asian activist with over a decade of experience working with grassroots, LGBTI, immigrant and feminist groups including the Audre Lorde Project, DRUM (Desis Rising Up and Moving), and SALGA (the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association). At Astraea, she coordinates grants administration and data analysis, and is the program officer of Astraea's Emergency and Movement Resource Funds. She has also spent considerable time as an audio/visual tech assistant and movement security volunteer. She is currently a board member of CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, and lives in Queens, a borough for which she has much affection.

Miabi Chatterji | Program Officer, LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund

Miabi Chatterji joins the Astraea family with more than a dozen years' experience participating in and supporting our cross-issue movements for justice. She was formerly Director of Grants for the West at Resist, a community foundation that has a 45+ year history of funding intersectional social movements, from ACT-UP to AIM to the Black Panthers. She has worked with organizations such as Manavi for South Asian Women, UAW Local 2110, Restaurant Opportunities Center NY, and received much of her formative political training through Youth Solidarity Summer, a (now on hiatus) intergenerational collective of South Asian activists in the New York area creating youth political education. Miabi has a PhD in American Studies from NYU, where she studied and taught in the fields of race, gender, sexuality, labor, and immigration. She is a New York Rangers fan, is always planning an imaginary trip, and is thrilled to be working with the LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund to support our people and movements in the hard and beautiful struggle for liberation.

Ana Conner | Development Database and operations manager

Ana Conner

Ana Conner is a youth organizer and activist deeply committed to community empowerment and resilience. Coming to NYC from Polk County, Florida, she has organized with FIERCE for the past four years, taking up leadership as a National Program Fellow, and Education for Liberation Project Program Assistant. It was through FIERCE that she first encountered the important work of Astraea Foundation. She received a BA at New York University, with a focus on Gender and Sexuality Studies and American Studies. In her spare time she enjoys biking, inventing cocktails, and backwoods camping.

Bridget de Gersigny | Director of Communications

Bridget de Gersigny

Bridget de Gersigny is a communications professional, queer artist, and community organizer from South Africa. She brings over 15 years of experience in communications to Astraea, having cut her teeth in advertising where she worked as Senior Strategist for major firms like BBDO in the UK and South Africa. In her time working with global brands Bridget was recognised for her ability to develop and implement creative, goal-based, communications and marketing plans, skills that have become invaluable as she directs the communications needs of Astraea. Bridget has a passion for racial and gender justice organizing through the arts. Her artwork has been exhibited internationally, including the Leslie Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art; NY, The Hessel Museum; NY and Spazzio Morris, Milan. Bridget holds a B.A. (hons.) from the University of Cape Town, a postgraduate certificate from R&Y School of Media and Communications, and an M.F.A. from Bard College, where she was awarded the Director's Scholarship. She has worked with a number of social justice organizations including Visual Aids and LoveLife and has a deep desire to challenge oppression and bring lasting justice to LGBTQI communities around the world through conversation, new media and storytelling.

mónica enríquez-enríquez | Senior Program Officer

monica

mónica enríquez-enríquez is a queer Latina, born and raised in Colombia who migrated to the U.S. in 2001 and who brings to Astraea an extensive background on grassroots organizing both from within the US and on the international front.  mónica was the Co-Coordinator at Streetwise and Safe (SAS), a collaborative multi-strategy initiative to develop leadership skills among LGBTQQ youth of color who are criminalized for their involvement or perceived involvement in the sex trades. In 2006 mónica worked at the Global Fund for Women as part of the Latin America and Caribbean Region Program team and in 2010 at the Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training (GIFT) learning how to mobilize communities to resource movements and organizations. mónica also comes to Astraea with an in-depth practice of media and culture activism; art is for mónica a vital place for community participation as well as a critical site to question institutional oppression and challenge normative constructions of gender, desire, citizenship and nation. mónica has been a part of the International Fund Advisory Board of Astraea Foundation and is on the Davis Putter Fund National Scholarship Board. mónica earned an M.F.A in Digital Arts and New Media from University of California Santa Cruz in 2008 and is a member of Community United Against Violence, the NY Coalition against S-Comm, and the Queer Women of Color Media Arts Project as a festival curator and volunteer.

Sarah Fonseca | Communications Officer

Sarah Fonseca

Sarah Fonseca is an, essayist, content producer, and amateur archivist hailing from rural Georgia. Fonseca has over five years of experience working with publication teams, both remotely, and in-person. A 2012 Lambda Literary Foundation Fellow in nonfiction and a 2012 Young People for the American Way creative fellow, she has written and edited content for an array of LGBTQI-oriented news and entertainment teams, including Posture Magazine, BuzzFeed, NYLON, Autostraddle, The Lambda Review, Emily Books, and Glitterwolf Magazine.

Prior to coming to Astraea, Fonseca covered reproductive justice policy and activism throughout the Southeastern United States as a correspondent for URGE (formerly Choice USA).

Mariam Gagoshashvili | Senior Program Officer

gagoshashvili

Mariam is a queer feminist activist from Tbilisi, Georgia with 10 years of experience in the field of LGBTQI and women’s rights. During her teenage years she developed a passion for issues related to gender and sexuality, which since then have been fueling her work, education, and activism. Mariam came to the feminist movement from the LGBTQI organizing as her first experiences of grassroots activism are related to her deep engagement with the queer community of Georgia. Throughout her formal professional life, she has spent years either working for or supporting various women’s funds, including Urgent Action Fund, in her current role as a board member, and FRIDA The Young Feminist Fund, as a member of the founding advisory committee. Three years ago Mariam moved to USA to lead Global Fund for Women’s work in Europe and Central Asia during which she has provided support to feminist and LGBTQI organizations throughout the region. Before relocating to the US, Mariam spent six years at Women’s Fund in Georgia, a local feminist foundation, overseeing its grantmaking and fundraising programs. As a grassroots activist, in 2011 she co-founded the Independent Group of Feminists, an autonomous collective run by young activists in Georgia. Mariam holds Master’s degree in Gender Studies from Central European University, Hungary. She has also studied at European College of Liberal Arts in Germany and has lectured for the Gender Studies department at Tbilisi State University. By joining Astraea, Mariam is thrilled by the opportunity to combine her passions about LGBTQI activism, intersectional feminist politics, and social justice philanthropy.

Sarah Gunther | Director of Programs

Gunther

Sarah Gunther comes to the Astraea Foundation with extensive experience in philanthropic advocacy, social justice grantmaking and sexual rights work. She joins Astraea after serving as the Director of Africa Programs at American Jewish World Service (AJWS), where she oversaw a $3.6 million grantmaking program to grassroots organizations pursuing sexual health and rights, natural resource rights and economic justice, and civil and political rights in Africa. In addition to directing the Africa program and leading a team spanning six countries, Sarah played a key role in developing AJWS’s global sexual rights strategies with a focus on LGBTQI rights, trans justice, and sex worker rights. Before taking up that role, Sarah built AJWS’s grants portfolio in East Africa as a program officer. Prior to joining AJWS, Sarah managed microenterprise development programs in East and West Africa at international NGO Trickle Up and worked in Uganda with grassroots groups focused on women’s rights and sustainable livelihoods. She holds a B.A. in feminist, gender, and sexuality studies and African American studies from Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing a M.A. in human rights studies from Columbia University. She is passionate about getting resources into the hands of LGBTQI activists and transforming philanthropy so it advances movements for racial, economic, and gender justice around the world. She is thrilled to join the Astraea community.

Matty Hart | gpp coordinator

Joy Michael

Matthew “Matty” Hart is the Coordinator of The Global Philanthropy Project. As founder and principle of The Lafayette Practice, he specializes in advising on philanthropic strategy and management, supporting organizations from grassroots nonprofits and NGOs to International Foundations, in planning and implementation; institutional partnership-building; development and fundraising strategy; public relations and marketing. Hart serves as the President of the Board of Directors of the Calamus Foundation, and as a board member of Funders for LGBTQ Issues. He is a Jonathan Lax Academic Fellow, and received Degrees in Urban Studies and Cultural Anthropology from Temple University. Matty is based in Paris, France.

Zakiya J. Lord | REGIONAL Development AND ENGAGEMENT Officer

Zakiya J. Lord brings to Astraea a desire to increase and mobilize resources to areas, organizations and movements that are less visible (and often silenced), an enthusiasm for this work, and a yearning to get it right.

Zakiya was born and raised on the island of Bermuda. She began her career as a clinical therapist in Alabama, and speaks of the south with great affection. Over the course of her 15-year professional career, she has worked for private human service companies, civil liberties organizations, as well as quasi-non-governmental organizations. In addition, she has been responsible for leading teams of professionals in the nonprofit sector, as well as within governmental organizations.

She credits the LGBT activists and social justice community in Chicago for reigniting her passion for justice and for starting her down a path towards the integration of her professional skills and her personal passions. This path would come to include the opportunity to serve on numerous programming and allocation committees, two years of volunteering to lead a weekly group for LGBT youth in Chicago, and serving on numerous decision-making Boards in both the US and Bermuda.

Zakiya lives in Brooklyn with her spouse and their son, where she spends as much time as possible playing Scrabble and sending snail mail to her loved ones near and far.

Kerry-Jo Lyn | Director, LGBT Global Development Partnership

Kerry-Jo joins Astraea as a development professional with a particular passion for strategic planning, innovative design, grant-making and social enterprise. With over twelve years of experience, she most recently served as the Chief Operations Officer for the Digicel Foundation, the largest private sector funder in Jamaica. While there, she contributed to a radical shift from charity to strategy and designed programs to deepen the impact of and engagement with vulnerable communities by reducing inequalities and discrimination. Kerry-Jo holds a Bachelor's degree in International Relations and Psychology and a Masters in Development Administration & Planning from the University College London. She has also recently written the certificate course on Alternative Livelihoods and Entrepreneurship for the University of the West Indies. Based in Kingston, Jamaica - Kerry-Jo currently serves on the board of J-FLAG (Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays) and continues to be inspired by the courage of those who remain visible and speak for the voiceless.

Joy Michael | Senior Accountant

Joy Michael

Joy was born on the island of St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. Growing up in a family of ten, she graduated with honors in the summer of 2006 from Monroe College, earning a BA in Accounting. While completing her studies, Joy shared her love of math as a tutor at the Boys and Girls Club and Jefferson Elementary School in New Rochelle, NY. In her spare time she enjoys reading, swimming, listening to music, and traveling. Her next goal is to become a Certified Public Accountant. Joy believes in equal rights for all and that no person should be discriminated against based on their race, religion, gender, or sexuality.

Martina Morales | Junior Accountant

Martina Morales

Martina Morales was born and raised in Mexico City. She migrated to the United States in 2001. In high school she developed a love for accounting while working in her family business and keeping track of the business’s financial records. She has spent the last six years working in the field of non-for-profit accounting. She has a BA in Economics from The City College of New York. She is currently working on an MSA from the University of Phoenix and is set to gradaute this spring and thereafter, qualify as a Certified Public Accountant. She supports the need to protect the basic human rights of those who are most vulnerable to discrimination in society, and uses the skills she has in any way she can to inspire and be of service to others.

Susan Neiman | Chief Financial Officer

Susan comes to Astraea with more than 20 years of experience in the performing arts. She brings with her an array of skills in organizational operations and is looking forward to this next phase of her career with the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Prior to joining Astraea she served as the Director of Finance at The Roundabout Theatre Company where, in addition to managing the finances she oversaw Human Resources, IT and Office Administration. Susan held similar positions at American Ballet Theatre and Dance Theatre Workshop. Earlier in her career she worked for The American Museum of Natural History and the Boston Ballet. Susan has a BA in Linguistics from Cornell University and an MPPM from the Yale School of Management. She is a national level official for US Figure Skating and a member of CFO/Arts.

Ezra Nepon | GPP Associate

nepon

Ezra Berkley Nepon is a Philadelphia-based writer and serves as Associate at Global Philanthropy Project. Nepon is a partner in The Lafayette Practice, and has co-authored TLP reports including “Who Decides: How Participatory Grantmaking Benefits Donors, Communities and Movements” and “Funding Free Knowledge The Wiki Way: Wikimedia Foundation’s Participatory Grantmaking.” Previous development work includes William Way LGBT Center and Sylvia Rivera Law Project, where Nepon co-authored the 2013 SRLP report “From The Bottom Up: Strategies and Practices for Membership‐Based Organizations.” Nepon was a 2014 recipient of the Leeway Foundation Transformation Award.

Brenda Salas Neves | Grants Manager

Brenda Salas Neves is a feminist cultural worker and organizer born and raised in the southern Andes. She has collaborated on media-making and movement-building projects that explore transnational borders and focus on migration, race and sexual politics. Brenda has worked with the Portland Central America Solidarity Committee mobilizing around migrants' rights, and helped organize the ninth biennial meeting of the International Association for the Study of Sexuality, Culture and Society (IASSCS) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Brenda serves on the board of Deep Dish TV and is part of the Latin American Grant Making Advisers of FRIDA: The Young Feminist Fund. She is a proud member of the Safe Outside the System Collective (SOS) of the Audre Lorde Project and a graduate of the United World Colleges (UWC) movement.

Naomi Sobel | Development Officer, Major Gifts

Naomi Sobel is a writer, organizer, educator, and queer femme with roots in New York, a soft spot for Chicago, family in the Bay Area, and a home base in Jamaica Plain, MA. She has deep roots in progressive Judaism and a burgeoning interest in harnessing her class privilege for radical social change. She serves on the board of the Edmund and Jeannik Littlefield Foundation, based outside San Francisco, and spent two years on the planning committee for Making Money Make Change, an annual gathering where approximately 100 young people explore issues related to wealth, privilege, philanthropy, and participation in grassroots movements for justice and equality. She most recently spent two years running the teen program at Temple Israel of Boston; prior to that, she held positions at The Nation and Boston Review magazines, and at Jewish Funds for Justice (now Bend the Arc). Naomi is thrilled to be joining the Astraea team as a staff member and is excited to be part of this community.

Jacob Tobia | Executive Assistant

Jacob Tobia is committed to justice for gender non-conforming, genderqueer, and transgender people. Their writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, Buzzfeed and The Nation, and their activism has been profiled on MSNBC, MTV, The Washington Post, Huffpost Live, and other digital outlets. Jacob, who holds a BA from Duke University in Human Rights Advocacy, previously served as the Global Initiatives and Partnerships Fellow at Out Leadership, a global LGBT advisory firm dedicated to the intersection of business and LGBT equality. During their time at Out Leadership, Jacob helped coordinate international LGBT leadership summits in Hong Kong, London, and New York for senior leaders at global corporations. They have also worked for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and the United Nations Foundation. Jacob currently eats too much sriracha and lives in Brooklyn.

 

ROBIN WILBY | development assistant

Robin Wilby is an award-winning NYC based filmmaker who is deeply committed to social activism through storytelling. They graduated cum laude with a BA in Visual Media from American University and received their MFA with honors from Columbia University. Robin’s thesis film, Loop Planes, won numerous awards, including a production grant from Killer Films (known for challenging, thought-provoking movies, such as Boys Don't Cry) and was an official selection at over fifty festivals, worldwide. Previously, they were a mentor for LGBTQI youth, as well as a documentary filmmaking teacher at a NYC middle school, emphasizing the importance of using documentaries as platforms for social change. In addition to working at Astraea, Robin is currently in post-production on an independent feature-length documentary surrounding the intentional communities begun by several trans* identified teenagers.

Simone Williams | Administrative Coordinator and HR Assistant

When Simone Williams decided to join Astraea, it was in the hopes of being a part of an organization that made a difference in people’s lives on a global scale. With prior experience in community activism and a proponent of social justice, Astraea was the perfect fit. When not managing the day-to-day operations of the office, Simone, who has a BA in Magazine Journalism, keeps the literary fire going by working on a collection of short stories and managing 3 blogs. Her incessant desire to multi-task doesn’t stop there. She is the creator of OHM, a music lifestyle line and deejays at private events and lounges throughout the New York City area.

Katherine Acey | Executive Director Emerita

Katherine Acey served as the Executive Director of Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice for twenty-three years (1987 – 2010). Under her stewardship Astraea established the nation's first Lesbian Writers Fund in 1990, created the International Fund for Sexual Minorities in 1996 and in 2006 launched the U.S. Movement Building Initiative to support people of color LGBTQ organizations to collectively build their power and voice.

From 1982 – 1987 Katherine was the Associate Director of the North Star Fund in New York City, overseeing its grants programs and participating in donor engagement and fundraising. She was involved in the Women's Funding Network since its inception, serving as a founding board member and chair. She is also a founding member and past chair of the Funders for LGBT Issues and has served as a board or advisory member to countless organizations. Current affiliations include: Board Member and Treasurer for both the International Network of Women’s Funds and Political Research Associates; Steering Committee, Public Foundations Project; Advisory Committee, Pipeline Project; and Advisory Committee, OSF LGBT Initiative. Until her departure from Astraea she served on the Steering Committee of the Global Philanthropy Project: Expanding Resources for LGBT People.

The Women’s Funding Network honored Katherine for her leadership in building a multi-cultural women's funding movement. Other honors include the Cross Cultural Black Women's Studies Institute for International Women's Leadership Award, the NYC National Organization for Women Susan B. Anthony Award, the Women & Philanthropy LEAD Award, the FEX Vision Award for achievements in social justice, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Liberty Award and the Women e-news 21 Leaders for the 21stCentury Award.