Staff and Board
J. Bob Alotta | Executive Director | bio
Christian Baer | Executive Assistant | bio
Sangeeta Budhiraja | Director of Programs | bio
Namita Chad | Program Officer | bio
Mónica Enríquez-Enríquez | Program Officer | bio
Jennifer Estevez | Junior Accountant | bio
Ariel Federow | Development Assistant | bio
Mai Kiang | Director of Grantmaking | bio
Zavé Martohardjono | Media Communications Officer | bio
Joy Michael | Senior Accountant | bio
Zahara Raine | Deputy Director | bio
Lolan Sevilla | Program Associate | bio
Naomi Sobel | Donor Engagement Coordinator | bio
Alvin Starks | Director of Global Partnerships | bio
Jenn Sturm | Director of Communications and Digital Strategy | bio
Arlene Swartz | Interim Director of Development | bio
Katherine Acey| Executive Director Emerita | bio
J. Bob Alotta | Executive Director
A lifelong activist and accomplished filmmaker, Bob has a long track record of exponentially expanding organizational capacity through skillful management and fundraising. She is adept at developing strong partnerships with diverse communities, donors, institutional funders and corporate stakeholders.
Bob served for four years as the Board Chair of FIERCE, a longtime Astraea grantee partner and effective policy advocate working 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 a grant reviewer for the Community Fellowship Program at the Open Society Foundations. She has consulted for Swarthmore College, Williams College, WITNESS and the Prison Moratorium Project.
Prior to joining Astraea, Bob was as Director of Digital Media and Content at Zeitbyte Digital Media. There, she grew the firm’s staff ten-fold as the principal executive responsible for technical, financial and staffing infrastructures. Earlier in her career, Bob was the Director of Digital Technology for Film at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, one of the most highly regarded film programs in the U.S. During her tenure, she expanded the program; secured multi-million dollar gifts; and taught numerous graduate and undergraduate workshops in post-production. Bob has also taught at Williams College and at various youth services agencies throughout NYC.
Throughout her career as a filmmaker, Bob has used the medium to elevate the lived experiences of LGBTI communities. Bob’s documentary and narrative films have aired on Democracy Now, GRITtv and PBS and have screened at festivals in the United States, Canada, Europe and the Middle East.
Christian Baer | Executive Assistant
Christian Baer was raised by two moms in Houston, Texas, and holds a degree from Hampshire College. Besides being very pleased to work at Astraea, Christian works for the New York State Immigrant Action Fund, and as an assistant video editor.
sangeeta budhiraja | director of Programs
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 | 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.
jennifer estevez | junior accountant
Jennifer Estevez was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY to Dominican parents. Her past experience includes working at educational institutions, as a tutor, and as an office assistant. She received a BBA in Accounting from Baruch College in the summer of 2012. At Baruch, she was the treasurer of Solutions Across Borders, a club that strived to increase awareness among the community about tangible solutions for the challenges of globalization. Her future goals involve pursuing a Masters in Taxation and earning her license as a Certified Public Accountant. Aside from working part-time at Astraea, she currently works in the payroll department of Mitchell/Martin, Inc., a recruiting agency for IT and health care.
mónica enríquez-enríquez | Program Officer
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.
Ariel Federow | Development Assistant
Ariel Federow is an activist and artist whose work has taken several forms: community fundraising, membership organizing, and social justice theater and arts work. Originally from Seattle, she performs around New York City, and has worked extensively with Jews for Racial and Economic Justice to create theater that addresses issues of inequity and liberation. Ariel is also a member of an informal network that raises funds for grassroots nonprofits by throwing house parties and public events. She holds a BA in English and Dance from the University of Washington.
Mai Kiang | Director of Grantmaking
Mai is a culture activist, born and raised under martial-law in Taiwan. Mai first joined Astraea's staff as the Associate Director of Grantmaking and then served as Director of Programs before becoming Director of Grantmaking. She is a past member of Astraea's U.S. Community Funding Panel, a two-term board member and a former board chair. Throughout her career, Mai has worked extensively with grassroots queer, feminist of color, and progressive media groups. She most enjoys bringing communities together to provide a space for sharing and dialogue across disciplines, focuses and strategies.
Mai arrived in New York in 1991 to join the staff of Women Make Movies, an independent feminist film distributor, and helped bring about feminist film exhibitions and productions locally and internationally. Later she joined Impact Visuals, a leftist photo cooperative where she was elected to multiple terms as the chief steward to the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers' Union. Mai was also a part of the management team that administered an archive of a million social-issue photographs by over nine hundred photojournalists worldwide. Before joining Astraea's staff in late 2007, she was the Special Events Manager at New York University.
Mai is the co-founder and co-chair of the Institute for Tongzhi Studies, a New York-based group that supports queer artists and scholars in Chinese communities worldwide. She is also the co-convener of the 2007 Lala Institute, the first multi-region Mandarin-speaking LBT leadership camp held in mainland China.
Zavé Martohardjono | Media Communications Officer
Zavé received a B.A. in International Relations with a focus in Political Economy from Brown University in 2006. While studying development, he became interested in new media outlets as platforms for political education and organizing. Returning to New York City, he began working in video production and youth-media training alongside the filmmakers of New Children/New York. He then went on to study Writing and Directing Documentary at the City College of New York, receiving his M.F.A. in 2009. Zavé has since worked professionally as a producer, director, shooter, editor, and webcasting technician for documentary film projects, grassroots organizations, individual artists, and corporate clients both in freelance positions and as Associate Producer and Editor at Zeitbyte Digital Media. He has also been involved in media-activist and arts projects as an artist, curator, and producer, collaborating with the MIX Queer Experimental Film Festival, P.S.1, FIERCE, Into the Neon, Accidental Movement, Theater Transgression, and the EMERGENYC program at the Hemispheric Institute at NYU.
Joy Michael | Senior Accountant
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.
Zahara Raine has over a decade of experience working with non-profit and non-governmental organizations in the arts, education, and social justice. She most recently worked at Movement Strategy Center managing a range of fiscally sponsored projects, both local and high-profile, with small to multi-million dollar budgets. Previously, she held a national position at Lambda Legal, and designed, launched, and ran African Services Committee’s first education program for HIV+ and immigrants. She was also on a community grantmaking committee at Foley, Hoag & Elliot law firm in Boston. In 2000, Raine worked in advocacy around violence against women and girls at the United Nations in Kathmandu, Nepal. Later returning to the U.S., she ran an education program for hundreds of immigrants throughout New York City, and organized with various feminist, racial justice, and LGBT communities, including ACT-UP.
Raine spent four years as second-in-command to the Founder and Executive Director of African Film Festival, worked in education at Global Film Initiative, was a programmer at MIX Queer Experimental Film Festival, and was on the curating and communications committees of the Queer Women of Color Film Festival.
Currently Raine participates on the Liberty Hill Foundation's Queer Youth Fund’s grantmaking committee and she is an active member of the Audre Lorde Project’s Board of Directors. Raine provides strategic planning and development as an advisory board member for the Queer African Youth Networking Center and also contributes to their quarterly magazine. In her spare time she consults for independent artists, is a freelance writer and photographer, and produces and directs video and film. Raine received her Bachelor's of Arts degree in African American Studies at Columbia University, and her Master's of Arts in Non-Profit Management at the Graduate Institute for the School of International Training.
Lolan sevilla | program associate
Lolan Buhain Sevilla comes to Astraea with over a decade of experience in multisectoral grassroots community organizing & non-profit service, primarily around issues of anti-violence, Human Rights, and LGBTQI people of color liberation. She has a passion for developing organizational infrastructure and strategizing systems that enable organizations to focus on programmatic & campaign goals. Lolan is a queer butch cultural worker who roots her art in community, study and practice. She is a member of Filipinas for Rights & Empowerment-GABRIELA USA, and the National Writers Union, UAW Local 1981. Lolan was co-founder of Kreatibo, a queer Pin@y Artist Collective, and has been published in Maganda Magazine, The Womanist Journal, Cheers to Muses: Contemporary Works by Asian American Women (2007), and TAYO Literary Magazine. Her first collection of writing, Translating New Brown (2005), was followed by the co-editing of Walang Hiya… Literature Taking Risks Toward Liberatory Practice (2010). She recently completed a Hedgebrook Writing Residency to work on her first novel.
naomi Sobel | Donor Engagement Coordinator
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 Somerville, 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.
alvin Starks | Director of Global partnerships
Alvin Louis Starks is a seasoned social justice executive with over a decade of experience in domestic civil rights advocacy, international human rights enforcement, and philanthropy. He has worked on such contemporary racial justice as: Voting Rights Act enforcement, international rights advocacy, Native American and tribal sovereignty, LGBT rights, United States Supreme Court decisions, arts and media, affirmative action protection and immigration reform.
His international achievements include re-establishing the NAACP’s United Nations status to strengthen human rights standards and foster alliances among international allies. While a program staff member at the Open Society Foundation, he created the national racial justice initiative and led efforts to connect the issue of ethnicity and race among United States education advocacy to the conditions of Roma children. His tenure at the Foundation also created a pipeline around racial justice comparatives across France, the United States, and South Africa around migration, criminal justice, and the use of racial data. He also developed the Joint Action Project to Eliminate Racism (JAPER), a multi-year international technical assistance advocacy model between the United States and Brazil.
Alvin worked at the Open Society Foundation for over 8 years. He created and directed the foundation’s Racial Justice Initiative in 2004 and led the creation of its black males initiative in 2007. Alvin formerly was the Senior Program Officer for Racial Justice and Gender Identity at the Arcus Foundation. Previously, he was the Program Officer at the Echoing Green Foundation. In late 2009, Alvin joined the staff of the NAACP. Alvin also worked at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, supporting their efforts in a $75 million dollar campaign to foster racial equity.
Alvin received his education from the State University of New York and Columbia University. He sits on several non-profit boards and has received numerous awards and fellowships for his leadership in philanthropy and racial justice.
Jenn Sturm | Director of Communications and Digital Strategy
Jenn has over fifteen years of communications, online strategy, and technology experience for progressive, human rights, and social justice causes. Prior to joining Astraea, Jenn served as Director of Online Communications at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. At CAP, Jenn led digital communications, outreach, and advocacy for Enough, the project to end genocide and crimes against humanity. While at the Human Rights Campaign, Jenn launched the Webby award-winning hrc.org website, which became the leading online source for news and information about LGBT civil rights in the U.S. As Director of Technology for the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network, Jenn led the development of the National Sexual Assault Online Hotline, winner of the NPower Greater D.C. Technology Innovation Award.
Before beginning a career in communications and digital strategy, Jenn worked as a bread and pastry baker, and as a cab driver in Madison, WI. She received a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
Arlene Swartz offers a unique combination of expertise in fundraising, board development and nonprofit management with a focus on leadership transitions in fundraising. She offers on-site direction and management of development staff, often while a search is in process. As a consultant, Arlene conducts senior-level searches in the nonprofit sector and designs custom workshops for staff and board members focusing on effective fundraising solutions and board development.
Arlene served as Director of Development for City Harvest, the AIDS Resource Center and NYS-NARAL. In these positions, she created comprehensive fundraising programs from the ground up, recruited and trained development staff, and worked collaboratively to achieve effective boards of directors.
Arlene is an adjunct professor teaching The Nonprofit Board of Directors for Columbia University’s M.S. program in Fundraising Management and was Vice-Chair of Programs for Fundraising Day in NY 2007 and 2008. She served on the WID-NY Board for six years.
Katherine Acey | Executive Director Emeritus
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.