Astraea’s next Executive Director(s) search begins!

A letter from Astraea’s board co-chairs about the launch of Astraea’s Executive Director/Co-Director search process.

 

Dear friends,

We hope this finds you and your community well.

As many of you know, Astraea has been undergoing an executive leadership transition process over the last nine months. Today, we are delighted to share that we are officially launching our search for Astraea’s next Executive Director or Co-Directors

With the confluence of global health, political, and economic disruptions unfolding amid tectonic shifts in philanthropy and LGBTQI movements, the need for bold queer feminist funding has never been greater. 

This is an exceptional opportunity for a strategic and visionary leader(s) to build on four decades of innovative grantmaking and philanthropic advocacy to fuel the organizing of powerful grassroots movements and realize a world where all people can actively and enthusiastically belong.

In January, Astraea staff and board came together for a two-day retreat in New York City with the goal of envisioning our future leadership, and laying out the values, skills, and expertise we want to see. It was also an opportunity for staff and board to build authentic relationships and alignment around our core values. We dreamed small and big, thought creatively and critically and, at the end of the two days, consolidated and shared our vision with Astraea’s newly established Search Committee. 

The staff and board search team is working with McCormack+Kristel search consultants to identify a new Executive Director or Co-Directors for Astraea. We are looking for fierce feminist leaders with an uncompromising commitment to advancing gender, racial, economic, and environmental justice, who are rooted in the politics of global solidarity, and comfortable articulating and advancing a radical vision. Our ideal candidate(s) will be innovative and adaptive and, ideally, have lived experience in the Global South and/or East. Please find the full job description and application details here.

We anticipate that our executive search process will continue for the next few months, as we work to find leadership that truly aligns with our values and principles. Throughout this time, we will endeavor to keep you all updated as regularly as possible. We look forward to sharing more and hope that we can lean into you, our community, to help us find powerful feminist leadership for Astraea’s next chapter!

As we know, Astraea’s charge to support the LBTQI frontlines around the globe is more crucial than ever. 

In ongoing solidarity,

Iimay Ho and Eboné Bishop, Board Co-chairs
on behalf of the Astraea Board of Directors

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Announcing Our 2019 Acey Awardees!

Astraea owes its existence and vision to the incredible, bold legacy and work of the lesbian, queer, and trans elders who paved the way for us. Today, we are delighted to uplift that legacy by announcing the awardees of the 2nd Acey Social Justice Feminist Award. 

Astraea owes its existence and vision to the incredible, bold legacy and work of the lesbian, queer, and trans elders who paved the way for us. Today, we are delighted to uplift that legacy by announcing the awardees of the 2nd Acey Social Justice Feminist Award

The Acey Social Justice Feminist Award was launched in 2017 as a way for Astraea to honor the lesbian, queer, and trans elders over the age of 62 whose activism and contributions to their communities paved the way for way for new generations of organizers working across the U.S. and without whom we would not be here today. 

Please join us in congratulating this year’s four awardees: Julia Bennett, Brenda Joyce Crawford, Miss Major Griffin-Gracy, and Norma Timbang. 

Julia Bennett is a healer based in Brooklyn, New York who has provided critical healing support to marginalized People of Color communities in New York City for over 30 years. Brenda Joyce Crawford is an unapologetic butch woman who has been in the thick of social justice work for over five decades; today she lives in Vallejo, California and her activism is based around cannabis justice for seniors. Miss Major Griffin-Gracy is a veteran of the historic “Stonewall Rebellion” and a survivor of Attica State Prison, a former sex worker, an elder, and a community leader and human rights activist. Norma Timbang is a lifelong queer activist whose work is well-known across the Pacific Northwest, where she is from. She has been deeply involved in domestic violence and intimate partner violence work, feminist anti-violence work, and disability justice movements. 

The Acey Award recognizes lesbian and trans women of color over the age of 62 who have made under-recognized contributions to our movements, and often have unmet financial needs as they age. The Award was created in honor of Astraea’s Executive Director Emerita, Katherine Acey, who led Astraea for 23 years and is herself a fierce advocate for queer, lesbian, and trans elders, particularly those who are less visible than others.

“This award is an opportunity for us to say to these incredible activist elders: We see you. We love you. We deeply appreciate what you’ve done and what you continue to do,” Acey said.

Join us in celebrating the powerful, lifelong activism of our awardees!

In Solidarity,

Namita Chad
Associate Director of Programs

Meet the 2019 Acey Awardees

Julia Bennett

Julia Bennett is a Board certified licensed acupuncturist trained in both Chinese and Japanese acupuncture. Her long standing passion is community health and the health concerns of women, women who have tested positive for HIV and AIDS, maternity, infant, and reproductive justice for all bodies. [Read more]

Brenda Joyce Crawford

Brenda Joyce Crawford has been in the thick of social justice work for over five decades. She’s an unapologetic butch woman who comes from a blue collar working class background in the U.S. South. [Read more]

Miss Major Griffin-Gracy

Miss Major is a veteran of the historic “Stonewall Rebellion” and a survivor of Attica State Prison, a former sex worker, an elder, and a community leader and human rights activist. [Read more]

Norma Timbang

Norma Timbang provides private consulting and facilitation toward transformative and transitional processes for human and health services, policy advocacy, grassroots, academic, community, and social justice organizations. [Read more]

A conversation with Katherine Acey and Namita Chad

A conversation on the Acey Social Justice Feminist Award with Astraea’s very own Katherine Acey, Executive Director Emeritus, and Namita Chad, Associate Director of Programs.

A conversation on the Acey Social Justice Feminist Award with Astraea’s very own Katherine Acey, Executive Director Emeritus, and Namita Chad, Associate Director of Programs

Namita Chad (NC): Katherine, to start with, can you tell us what the Acey Social Justice Feminist Award is?

Katherine Acey (KA): The Acey Social Justice Feminist Award was launched in 2017 and honors lesbian, queer and trans women of color in the United States who are at least 62 years, and who have made significant contributions to our movements, which have often gone unrecognized.

NC: And how did the award come to be?

KA: So Astraea had been looking for a way to support the LGBTQ elders in communities across the United States who face distinct financial barriers, and we decided on this award as a way to uplift the contributions of some of those individuals, and raise awareness about their struggles. 

We wanted to recognize that so many of them have been activists within and across our movements, but have not always been as visible as others. Several have worked as activists throughout their lives, often in low-paying jobs with not a lot of benefits. So the idea was to identify those people, and also to make a monetary award in recognition of their contribution that could be used in any way; they could buy a new computer with it or take a vacation, or whatever. It was really to give them an opportunity to take care of themselves for a moment.

So the award is really a way to amplify these individuals and recognize the pathways they have created for others who have come after them. Something I’ve really been struck by both times we’ve had the award, is that there are always a couple of nominees I haven’t heard of myself. It just reaffirms the fact that so many activists are out there tirelessly, but their work isn’t seen.

KA: Namita, as someone who has been at Astraea for a long time and knows the movements well, what do you think is the importance of this award?

NC: For me, the award is so important because it recognizes the work and legacy of our lesbian, queer, and trans elders, who have really paved the way for new generations of organizers and activists working across the country.

It’s also really connected to what Astraea was born to do, which is to recognize the leadership of lesbian and trans women of color, who have been leaders in all kinds of movements over generations – feminist and queer movements, responses to the AIDS crisis, fighting to end wars abroad, fighting to end intimate partner violence, domestic violence, state violence, incarceration. These are people who have been insisting on radical inclusion for a long time now, and creating radical openings for people whose voices have not been heard.

I really hope that with this award comes more visibility for the brilliant and bold leadership of these elders. And I hope that with that visibility, that younger activists will gain more access to their stories and experiences and can engage with and learn from them.

KA: And what do you feel is the political significance of the award?

NC: You know this award really highlights the political state we’re in today where LGBTQ elders but specifically lesbian, queer, and trans women of color elders are still so often disproportionately discriminated against – whether in terms of access to healthcare, housing, or support networks – and face lifelong barriers to financial security and resources. LGBTQ elders of color remain largely invisible within frameworks of most aging services, research, and public policy initiatives, and across organizations across the country, even LGBTQ and feminist organizations.

It’s a scary political moment in the US and globally, as we’re watching the right consolidate power. We’re seeing so many of the hard fought gains of the past from rights to services being dismantled and fought against. There’s so much we can learn from the contexts and struggles of the past, so the need for younger activists to be connected to elders and for there to be intergenerational strategy and dialogue, is so critical.

NC: Katherine, finally, what kind of impact do you think this award might have on the awardees?

You know, in the early days of Astraea, when our grants were very small, they didn’t necessarily sustain an organization. But the fact that a group of peers recognized that organization and its people, was affirming and helped keep them going.

So I would like to think these individuals would feel similarly. I hope it affirms and says, “We see you. We love you. We deeply appreciate what you’ve done and what you continue to do.”

Reverend Gale Jones

Intergenerational work is a natural part of me, when I think about who I am right now. From the time I was a very small girl, it was elders across gender who felt an urgent need to pour something into me. I remember sitting there with them and I was a little girl and I’m thinking, ‘Why am I here?’ But they would hold me in this rapt attention as if there was something they needed to give me.

2017 Acey Awardee, Reverend Gale Jones

At 65 years, Reverend Gale Jones has been working for decades on behalf of LGBT people of color in the New York area, particularly working to combat the AIDS crisis and to support homeless LGBTQ youth. Born in 1950, Reverend Gale attributes her social justice awakening to the teachings of Malcolm X in early adulthood. Several years later, by then a mother, she found her way into queer organizing and the Unity Fellowship faith community. As a woman, as a queer member of the clergy in West Babylon, New York and as a Yoruba Priest, Reverend Gale has always sought to draw the margins to the center of Christianity and to use faith to spark and sustain activism.

There’s a tremendous resilience and a tremendous commitment to taking care of each other in any way possible [among LGBT elders of color]. That gives me heart.

Katherine Acey, Astraea Executive Director Emerita

Watch a conversation between Reverend Gale Jones and Katherine Acey by clicking the video below.

Julia Bennett

Julia Bennett is a Board certified licensed acupuncturist trained in both Chinese and Japanese acupuncture. Her long standing passion is community health and the health concerns of women, women who have tested positive for HIV and AIDS, maternity, infant, and reproductive justice for all bodies.

Currently, Julia partners with a group of diverse revolutionary practitioners who have built an alternative community health clinic in Brooklyn, NY with the goal of making health care a safe, informed, accessible, and affordable choice.

Julia ardently believes that the health challenges of our humanity must address wellness as a birthright and continues to be in partnership with movements that are committed to bringing justice to the disparities in our health care systems. Julia stands as a committed vessel for the manifestation of this work for the greatest good and well being of all.

Q&A with Julia Bennett

You have a long history of providing critical healing support to some of the most marginalized POC in New York City. Why do you see healing work as an important part of social justice movement work? What role do healers play in movement work?

Having been and continue to be in spaces that allow me to view the sundry angles of social justice and activist movements, what I continue to witness is the high incidence of burnout. With all of the lofty visions, tremendous strides, passionate and compassionate hard work, what cannot be ignored is the impact of burnout on the physical, psycho-social and emotional body of both those on the line and the efficacy of the movements themselves. For this reason alone, healing justice is a must. Alma John reminded us of the value of “Each one teach one.” If I may add to that, that in our giving to others may we heal ourselves so that the vibrancy of our commitment to transformation and parity in the world be reflected in the presentation of our personal wellness. Strong partnerships and healthy alliances allow sustainability in any movement and healers should be arm in arm with movement work every step of the way.

How have the communities you’ve worked with and the political environment they’re working in changed over the course of your healing practice?

Many things come to mind with this question. I think about the deeper ways the politics of movements have grown but also the superficial ways in which social justice movements have appeared to have affected change. My grandmother always pops up here and I just have to tell this story, again. I grew up in Jim Crow South in the 1950’s. Long story short, I remember my grandmother’s fear every time one of her younger sons left the house, who were teenagers when I was 5 for so. I remember her admonishing them to make sure they crossed the street if they were passing a white man, make sure they did not look anyone white in the eye, and ultimately not to look or heaven forbid touch a white woman. What has changed as a result of the politics of the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement, of which I have history, is that it appears Black folks are more liberated, have more freedoms and rights, and have gained access to the American dream. What is disturbing is that I hear Black mothers in my community giving that same speech to their sons with the same terror in their voices here in 2019. I don’t question the authenticity of movements and what drives our social justice movements, but I do question how the intersection of politics, government, and privilege can challenge movements. In the early 1990’s at the height of the AIDS pandemic, I ran a support group for lesbians who were HIV+ and/or had full blown AIDS. Since that time the funding for HIV/AIDS in POC communities have not been as prominent as the virus continues to plant itself. This is political. Perhaps, things have shifted in ways I am not able to comprehend or perhaps, the more things change the more they remain the same. I trust the former will be my conclusion.

Do you see yourself as a lesbian elder, and if so, what does that mean to you? What is your vision for feminist organizing?

I am a cis woman, nearly 70 years, and identify as lesbian, a woman who loves women. As an out lesbian in the 1970’s, though the shoulders I stood on then had already dug deep roots to nurture, direct, and protect me, they were still perilous times. We had to be vigilant in our commitment to walk a dignified and just life and movement building and forming allied relationships were intensely important. What being an elder lesbian activist healer means to me is that I am charged with staying the course to eliminate as much harm, disparity, injustice, and patriarchal oppression for all people through the lens of the feminine. I believe that female energy can uplift the vibratory rate on the planet where deep healing can occur and my vision for feminist organizing is to speak to that in all I do. Educate our young, middle, and elder populations to recognize oppression, speak out and take action in their own right, agitate the systems that continue to get in the way of all human beings living powerfully in a world where we all belong, and modeling and committing to extending as much goodness as I can muster.

What does it mean to you to be nominated for the Astraea Acey Social Justice Feminist Award?

I am humbled beyond words to be nominated for the Astraea Acey Social Justice Feminist Award. Astraea has been the Goddess of female empowerment throughout my journey here in NYC as an out lesbian. I remember as a member of SalsaSoul how proud we felt when any woman of color was recognized by The Astraea Foundation. It was and is the epitome of recognition. That Astraea has chosen to hold this space for me feels surreal and I am honored. More than that, I value all the ways Astraea continues to unpack and challenge oppression and open new gateways for the varied LGBTQ movements to thrive.</ br> Thank you ALL for your tireless, devoted, and brilliant work for years, and years. You are the bar that all social justice organizations would be proud to reach. May you, Astraea and your powerful herstory continue to gain all the momentum that thrusts you and your work deeper into the wide world. Thank you.

Welcoming our new Interim Executive Director, Sandy Nathan

Astraea is delighted to welcome Sandy Nathan as our new Interim Executive Director. We asked her a few questions about her vision for Astraea during the next 9-12 months and beyond.

ABOUT

Sandra Nathan is excited to be joining Astraea as Interim Executive Director for the next 9-12 months, leading the organization through a transition period. During this period, Sandy will work with the Board and staff laying the groundwork for the next permanent Executive Director.

Sandra comes to Astraea with extensive executive leadership experience in philanthropy, government, and the nonprofit sector. She currently serves as Principal and CEO for Apodictic Consultants, providing strategic consulting and transitional leadership to philanthropic institutions, nonprofits and government with an equity and social justice lens. Most recently, she served as the Interim Executive Director for Philanthropy Southwest, providing transitional and strategic leadership, enabling the organization to successfully position itself for new leadership and growth, and deepen its commitment to equity. 

Prior to starting her consultancy, Sandra served as Senior Vice President of Philanthropic Services and Community Investment for the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona (CFSA) in Tucson. There she was chief strategist for the foundation’s grantmaking, community investment opportunities and led the organization’s use of diverse capital streams. She also oversaw the work of CFSA’s affiliated partner organizations, including the African American Initiative, the Alliance (LGBTQ) Fund, the Latino Giving Circle, and the Santa Cruz Community Foundation.

Prior to that, Sandra was the Vice President of Grants and Loans at the Marin Community Foundation, where she oversaw grantmaking for the Buck Trust, an endowment of over $900 million. She oversaw grantmaking in excess of $20 million annually, all in support of MCF’s strategic initiatives, community grants, and loans. 

Sandra’s background also includes executive leadership in nonprofits at the national and local levels. She served as Executive Vice President for the National Council on Aging in Washington, DC; as Regional Director for AARP in Dallas, Texas; and Washington Director for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges.

Sandra has a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from the University of San Diego, a Master of Arts in Public Administration from National University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Theology and Christian Education. She also holds a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Harvard Business School. 

With a passion for board service, Sandra serves on the Board of Directors of Northern California Grantmakers, UC Berkeley Pacific School of Religion, the Tohono Chul Park Foundation, Equality Arizona, and provides pro bono consultant support to Tucson Senior Pride.


QUESTION & ANSWER

How did you come to know about Astraea?

I’ve known about the Astraea Foundation for many years, and have always had tremendous pride in the foundation’s lesbian/feminist roots and focus. But it wasn’t until I became more active in social justice, gender and LGBTQI issues and along with that, a career shift into philanthropy, that I fully understood how Astraea has evolved into an innovative funder for LGBTQI activism around the globe. As a leader and a seasoned grantmaker, I love that Astraea has remained true to its DNA as a funder of feminist and LGBTQI issues, and goes about its work in partnership with movement leaders domestically and abroad, who are committed to shifting power.

What inspires you about leading Astraea through this transition period?

What inspires me about leading Astraea through this transition is a strong alignment between the work of the foundation and my core values. This is a role in which I can bring my full self to the table. I am also inspired in that I have absolute clarity that we are living in a time of profound social change, and that I have the lived experience, passion and heart to lead the organization into a new and desired future as it prepares itself for a new, permanent leader. Astraea has grown exponentially in the past few years, thanks to leadership, dedication and hard work. Astraea is now poised for that next level of growth.  In order to reach that level some internal transformation now needs to occur. What I am bringing to my role as an Interim is experience ensuring there is a solid foundation strategically and operationally for new leadership. At the center of my leadership style is also an understanding that organizations cannot be transformed or transformative unless heart is at the center of what they do. To me that means also ensuring there is a vibrant and healthy organizational culture, and a solid infrastructure so that the mission and goals of the organization are achievable for a new leader. Stepping into an interim leadership role really requires a certain level of selflessness, and the capacity to not look for outward recognition as a leader. I am here for the good of the organization.  So for the next nine months, I am excited to bring heart centered leadership, and a commitment to serve and support the board and staff so that collectively, we can bring our best selves to the exciting future ahead for Astraea. 

What secret feminist super-power should we know about?

If I told you, I’d be giving up one of my best trade secrets.

What do you love to do in your ‘downtime’?

During my downtime, I love doing yoga, reading, cooking and spending quality time with my family and friends.

A favorite person, quote or mantra that you’d like to share?

One of my favorite quotes is “My silence will not protect me.” ( Audre Lorde)

Our 2019 Healing Justice Funder Convening

On May 16, 2019 in New York, Astraea held a Healing Justice Funder Convening. We brought together 60 funders from 30 philanthropic institutions, alongside 15 organizers and healing practitioners, to strategize how we can bolster our movements by funding healing justice work.

On May 16, 2019 in New York, Astraea held a Healing Justice Funder Convening. We brought together 60 funders from 30 philanthropic institutions, alongside 15 organizers and healing practitioners, to strategize how we can bolster our movements by funding healing justice work. At a time when our communities are facing an onslaught of violence and oppression, including targeted attacks on people of color, immigrants, women and trans people, the convening was a critical opportunity for funders to discuss how healing justice can promote collective safety and build the power and resilience of movements. The convening followed the launch of Astraea’s new report, Healing Justice: Building Power, Transforming Movements.

As a public foundation, one of Astraea’s roles is to align philanthropic resources with the visions, needs, and priorities of movements. The convening honored the legacy and roots of healing justice work in the U.S. by centering the voices of organizers and practitioners from across the country. Throughout the convening, funders listened to organizers share how they can be most supportive of their struggles.

Organizers emphasized how locally-grounded and culturally-specific healing justice work is and must be. They shared how healing justice work helps build their capacities to live and thrive, as well as the power that enables them to win. They asked funders to listen, to give them space to experiment, and to trust. The convening aimed to embody healing justice throughout the day, with facilitation by healer Adaku Utah and massage, Reiki, acupressure and herbs from an amazing team of community-based practitioners.

It was a reflective, generative, and (unusually-for-philanthropy) honest space in which funders and activists exchanged ideas and worked towards a collective vision for healing justice. We’re excited to share some of the learning from the day with you:

  • If you’d like to learn more about the day’s conversations, our summary report shares the highlights.
  • Spot yourself in photos from the day here!
  • To get a feel for the convening and hear some brilliance from the speakers, watch our video above and panel recordings!

Our deepest gratitude to all the participants. We are honored to have brought together so many funders to deepen support for healing justice. We look forward to continuing to build, strategize, and vision together.

Farewell to J. Bob Alotta!

As we bid farewell to Bob, we wanted to take this moment to reflect on her immense legacy and celebrate her profound impact.

As we bid farewell to Bob, we wanted to take this moment to reflect on her immense legacy and celebrate her profound impact. Bob’s passionate, visionary, and bold leadership grew Astraea in ways we could not have imagined. Bob steadily charted a course for gender, racial and economic justice that positions Astraea at the leading edge of intersectional LGBTQI philanthropy, while staying true to our lesbian feminist roots. Our founding mothers would be proud. 

Bob always saw Astraea’s role as shifting power and resources from where they intentionally were to where they intentionally weren’t, yet needed to begrassroots LGBTQI movements around the world. Bob accomplished this by expanding Astraea’s capacity to deliver resources to the most bold and brilliant LGBTQI groups in the U.S. and globally, as well as deepening our philanthropic presence and leadership, bringing an intersectional queer feminist lens to fields as diverse as internet freedom, communications, gender equality and racial justice. She started in 2011 as Astraea’s second Executive Director, with an organizational budget of $3 million and stewarded that to the sizable $13 million budget it is today. 

A leader in queerying philanthropy, through Astraea, Bob imagined new and transformative ways of working togetherto name just one example, she was the visionary behind CommsLabs, an innovative participatory movement-building initiative that networks LGBTQI activists and technologists. At regional and country-level convenings, grassroots activists connect with trainers, technologists, and healers who support them to effectively address threats and seize the opportunities available in the digital age. These convenings, co-designed by activists and centering wellness and holistic security while also building skills and capacity, exemplify Bob’s ability to break down silos and respond to the ways our movements are changing.  

Under Bob’s leadership Astraea also expanded global LGBTQI philanthropy through strategic decisions to partner with bilateral governments like the innovative LGBTI Global Development Partnership. Through this initiative, we expanded grantmaking in 12 countries and shifted over $15.5M to grassroots LGBTQI movement-building, laying the foundation for future bilateral relationships and partnerships which have positioned us excellently for the next phase of our work. 

With Bob, Astraea launched the first Intersex Human Rights Fund in the world in 2015, leveraging more than $2 million for the intersex movement globally, and we grew our U.S. work to combat the criminalization of communities of color, particularly Black folks and migrants. Bob oversaw the Global Arts Fund, building on our long legacy of supporting artistic and cultural change work, our Healing Justice: Building Power, Transforming Movements report, and our recent Feminist Funding Principles

We are grateful to Bob for laying the foundation for Astraea’s next phase, setting us up so well to support the next generation of our leadership and the vision and talents of our incredible staff. We are excited to announce that we have identified an Interim Executive Director who will start in the coming weeks, and who will lead Astraea through a transition period for the next nine to twelve months. During the transition period, the Interim Executive Director will work with the Board and staff on laying the groundwork for the next permanent Executive Director. We look forward to introducing her to you soon!

It’s clear that Astraea’s role is more critical than ever in this time of escalating violence and oppression against LGBTQI communities, and the Board is committed to working closely with the Interim Executive Director and staff to continue to provide critical grantmaking and capacity building for LGBTQI grassroots leaders around the world. We will share next steps as they unfold and look forward to introducing you to the new Interim soon. Please join us as we enter this next phase of Astraea, share your support, questions and dollarstogether we are building a more just and joyous world. 

In solidarity,

Iimay Ho and Eboné Bishop, Co-Chairs 
On behalf of the Board of Directors

Astraea Envisions Queer Liberation: Pride Month 2019

We want a Pride Month that is truly inclusive and leans into the LGBTQI grassroots visions for where our movements are headed. We’re holding both the accomplishments we are proud of, as well as shining a spotlight on the many political, social, and cultural battles still ongoing around the world.

What we say NO to!

  • NO policing of LGBTQI bodies
  • NO rainbow capitalism
  • NO normalizing of white gay cis identity at the expense of Black and Brown LBQTI folks
  • NO depoliticization of our causes
  • NO homogenization of our identities and struggles
  • NO exclusion of bi/pan, asexual, intersex, trans, and others

From the time of Stonewall, LGBTQ patrons of the Stonewall Inn—fed up with being harassed and targeted, who were predominantly People of Color—fought back against the police. Today, we know that Pride activities and marches in many parts of the United States and around the world are still spaces of resistance. Oftentimes, these spaces and the LGBTQI people who participate in them are criminalized, discriminated against and/or face violence and backlash.

Pride marches often include a heavy police presence, which can be triggering and unsafe, particularly for QTPOC. Police and law enforcement have a history of violence against LGBTQI communities, which continues into the present in many contexts, making Pride marches violent and dangerous for some members of the LGBTQ community.

Putting Pride in the context of remembering Stonewall 50 years on, we acknowledge this is a year where in the U.S anti-LGBTQI violence is escalating, particularly the anti-trans actions introduced—from trying to ban trans people from the military, to rescinding Obama-era memos that protected trans workers and students from discrimination. Just as of June 15, 2019, four trans women have been reported murdered during this Pride Month, and at least 10 have been reported murdered overall in 2019.

What we say YES to!

  • We want a Pride that is truly inclusive and leans into the LGBTQI grassroots visions for where our movements are headed. We’re holding both the accomplishments we are proud of, as well as shining a spotlight on the many political, social, and cultural battles still ongoing around the world.
  • We commit to engaging around the problematic politics of corporate Pride rather than being complicit or silent around these issues. We say yes to queer liberation and not rainbow capitalism.
  • We take care of and are joyous in our communities, while we keep fighting for justice. LGBTQI grassroots activism has always combined struggle with celebration. Pride can and should be both celebratory and healing, and heavy and political.
  • We call for a Pride that is centered around highlighting and protecting self-determination, bodily autonomy, gender justice, diverse gender identities and sexualities, and rejecting violence, discrimination, and gender-based oppression. We see our role as uplifting the tremendous work of our grantee partners, and the work that we are proud of having done.
  • We acknowledge that as a philanthropic institution with power and resources, we have a particular responsibility to amplify those communities who are not always heard during Pride month or at all, as well as to call out efforts to corporatize and homonormalize Pride.
  • We uplift Pride actions around the world that are truly radical, political and liberatory. Some examples include: Annual NYC Dyke March // Trans Day of Action // Queer Liberation March // Soweto Pride

What we’re PROUD of:

  • Our 40+ year history of resistance through lesbian feminist philanthropy— read our Feminist Funding Principles here
  • Supporting grassroots organizations and leadership around the world that center LGBTQI people
  • Our commitment to centering the leadership of queer, trans, & GNC People of Color in the U.S.—over 99% of our grantee partner organizations in the U.S. are POC-led
  • Healing Justice practices as a response to generational trauma, policing, and surveillance—read our Healing Justice Report here
  • Uplifiting queer digital activism and holistic security for organizers and activists
  • Our overt support of intersex activism and global local organizing—read more about our Intersex Human Rights Fund here

SOME RESOURCES

#AstraeaPride 2019 Videos:

U.S. Fund:

The U.S. Fund is Astraea’s longest-standing fund, working for racial, gender, economic, migrant and reproductive justice and centering the leadership of queer, trans and GNC People of Color in the U.S. For #Pride2019, we’re celebrating the U.S. Fund and all we’ve accomplished through the Fund so far. Read more about it: buff.ly/2Z7E6h8

LGBTQI Digital Activism:

Astraea believes in the power of digital LGBTQI-led activism. For #Pride2019, we’re highlighting some of the ways we’ve recently supported digital activism in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

Healing Justice:

Astraea is invested in supporting LGBTQI communities to heal, rebuild, learn, collaborate, and grow through the #HealingJustice work we support. This #Pride2019, we’re uplifting some of the ways we’ve recently worked to collectively build power, resilience, and joy through #HealingJustice. 

Intersex Human Rights Fund:

Astraea is proud to work side-by-side with intersex activists and organizations around the globe who are demanding justice for intersex human rights, contesting the pathologization of intersex bodies, and defending intersex people’s rights to self-determination, bodily autonomy, and physical integrity through our Intersex Fund. For #Pride2019, we’re celebrating the Fund and all it’s accomplished in recent years.

Farewell but not goodbye – A letter from Astraea Executive Director, J. Bob Alotta

“Today, after eight years, I am announcing I will be transitioning out of my role as the Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. While it is a move I do not make lightly, I do so with the full support of the board and the incredible staff of Astraea.” – J. Bob Alotta

 

Today, after eight years, I am announcing I will be transitioning out of my role as the Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. While it is a move I do not make lightly, I do so with the full support of the board and the incredible staff of Astraea.

Astraea is and will ever be an entity of enormous transformation and purpose. As only the second Executive Director in an over 40-year herstory, I have had the incredible honor of evoking the anchor of lesbian feminism bestowed on us by our founding mothers, while building a future-forward organization that has now granted over $40 million dollars to LGBTQI grassroots activists and artists in over half the world.

We have realized exponential growth in such a short period of time: nearly six-toupling our budget, doubling our staff—who now span 10 cities, 6 countries, and three continents—with an ever-evolving eye for providing radically transformative grantmaking and capacity building on the ground. We have done so while expanding our philanthropic voice. Astraea has shown up and spoken up for philanthropic action that embodies the best of what we have learned as an institution: fund the long-game, respect the steps, fund without restriction, trust the innovation in our communities, center the voices at the intersections of lived experience, know we are the ones we’ve been waiting for. In short, be bold. And we have.

I am proud to have served a vision so much larger than myself—embodied by every activist/artist/donor who bravely shows up to bring a just and joyous world to fruition. They (you) have allowed me to bring my best self to work every day I was able. Running a foundation is not easy! Working in the movements you’re from is difficult. Building partnership and ally-ship, starting and sustaining conversations, growing while doing, being a singular entity in every room—all without a roadmap because it had never been done before—because I had never done anything like this before—is profoundly challenging, but that is Astraea’s charge. The staff shows up to this calling magnificently. My gratitude to them is immeasurable. It has been my deepest honor to work alongside them and steward us during this time.

Paramount to my decision to transition was being able to leave the organization in the best possible position. Two key factors make me confident I am doing so. This past year, we have secured significant multi-year partnerships that will ground the work both programmatically and organizationally for many years to come. These partnerships mark the next wave of “new beginnings” for Astraea. And now. I will work alongside staff and board leadership during a period of transition. You will continue to hear more from us as our next steps unfold. I suspect we will lean into you, our trusted community, as we enter the next stage of Astraea’s evolution. I am writing to you with so much gratitude and so much excitement for Astraea’s future. I urge you, as I surely will, to continue to support Astraea’s growth, purpose, and vision. We need her more than ever.

In deep solidarity, 
(as ever)
– B

 J. Bob Alotta
Executive Director 
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice


A letter from Astraea’s board:

As Bob announces her transition, we express our deep gratitude for her visionary leadership of the profoundly challenging and liberatory work that is Astraea’s charge. In the constantly shifting political landscape of the past 8 years, Bob has stayed steady, bold, and clear about Astraea’s role in transcending borders and building futures for LGBTQI people pursuing social justice and human rights. 
 
She has expanded the organization and kept us on the cutting edge, positioning Astraea to the level of global influence we have today. As an ambassador for Astraea, Bob has excelled at navigating complex cultural and political spaces, breaking down silos, and centering LGBTQI human rights wherever she goes. Through her vision and work in partnership with Astraea’s incredible staff, we have accomplished many breakthroughs in strengthening the capacity of LGBTQI grassroots leaders.

Bob has led Astraea in a powerful arc of organizational growth and sustainability, and we are well-positioned to pivot to welcome a new leader. We ask our grantee partners to act in bold and transformative ways and so we are transforming ourselves as well by celebrating Bob’s accomplishments and meeting the evolving needs of the movement. In this current political moment of escalating violence against LGBTQI communities, it is clear that there is a heightened need for Astraea’s role. We are deeply committed to working with Bob to steward Astraea through this transition so that we can continue to provide critical grantmaking and capacity building for LGBTQI grassroots leaders around the world.

The Astraea board has begun the process of identifying an interim executive director and working alongside staff to create a roadmap for the steps forward. We thank Bob for her immense dedication to Astraea’s mission and wish her the very best as her next chapter begins.

Signed,

Iimay Ho and Eboné Bishop, Co-Chairs 
On behalf of the board of directors