Astraea featured in Chronicle of Philanthropy

More philanthropists are making substantial bequests to help support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender causes, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

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Donations to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Causes Increase

More philanthropists are making substantial bequests to help support lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender causes, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Over the last 30 years, gay nonprofit groups like the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the Horizon Foundation, and the Pride Foundation have funneled millions of dollars into numerous HIV/AIDS treatment services, and civil-rights, social-advocacy and political campaigns. Such organizations have traditionally relied on large numbers of small donations, but that trend is changing.

According to Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues, a New York group that advises grant makers, charitable donations made by donors in New York to gay organizations nationwide increased from less than $30-million in 2002 to $65.5-million in 2006.

And according to a survey of 1,300 donors conducted by the Horizon Foundation, about 52 percent said they are “very likely” to make estate gifts to gay causes, and 87 percent said they think it is “important” and “very important” to help future generations. The foundation estimates it will receive at least $35-million in future estate gifts to its lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender endowment fund.

““The success of this vision does not depend on any assumption that LGBT people are richer than the non-LGBT population,”” said Roger Doughty, executive director of the Horizon Foundation. “”All our projections are based on assumptions that we are ‘average,’ except that fewer of us have children and the lives of many reaching their ‘planned giving years’ have been deeply touched by the growth, struggles, and triumphs of the LGBT movement.””

Astraea House Party

Astraea House Party hosted byBoard Member Robin Rosenbluth and Friends

Join hosts Board Member Robin Rosenbluth, Tracy Scott, Deirdre Kidder, and Sharon Brick for a sunset cocktail party to celebrate the victories and the vision of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Enjoy the company of amazing women, views of the harbor and New York City skyline, door prizes and an opportunity to win a two for one trip on Olivia, the premier travel company for lesbians.

At the home of Deirdre and Shannon
Brooklyn (RSVP for Address)
Suggested donation $100

To RSVP or for more info: Robin OR Deirdre Kidder

Open Studio Visit with Award Winning Artist, Chitra Ganesh

The Astraea Lesbian Visual Arts Committee invites you to an Open Studio Visit and Discussion with Award Winning Artist, Chitra Ganesh

The Astraea Lesbian Visual Arts Committee invites you to an Open Studio Visit and Discussion with Award Winning Artist, Chitra Ganesh

December 6, 2007 6:30 – 8:00 PM

428 East 18th Street, Brooklyn, NY
(Between Cortelyou and Dorchester. Q train to Cortelyou. Studio is in small freestanding garage next to the house.)

This is a free event. Following the presentation, folks will gather for dinner (on your own) at a nearby restaurant.

Space is limited for the studio visit. RSVP is required by December 3 to

About Chitra: A 2003 awardee of the Astraea Lesbian Visual Arts Award, Chitra Ganesh is a gifted artist whose work weaves together cultural and social themes. Creating images that are humorous and provocative, she focuses on areas of sexuality, mythology, graphic art, and sheroes. She works in a broad range of media including comics, installation, and photography. Chitra’s work has been exhibited in Toronto, Brazil, India and an array of venues in New York including the Queens Museum, The Bronx Museum, Momenta Art and White Columns.

Awards include residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and the Henry Street Settlement Abrons Arts Center. Chitra served as a Board Member of the South Asian Women’s Creative Collective (SAWCC) and was part of SLAAAP!, a queer Asian arts activist group in New York City. She has been featured in Velvet Park magazine and was named as one of OUT magazine’s top 100 people of the year. A graduate of Brown University, Chitra earned a Masters in Fine Arts from Columbia University.

View Current Astraea Visual Arts Winners

GONYC Magazine–—Still Acey After All These Years

On Wednesday, Oct 10 when friends and family gathered to celebrate Katherine Acey’s 20 years as Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, it was laughter and appreciation that prevailed. There were easily three generations of feminists, young grantees, people from all walks of life, and supporters from both coasts who had gathered to pay tribute to this champion of lesbian causes.

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A Tribute to Katherine Acey
20-year Executive Director of Astrea, honored.
by Isa Goldberg

On Wednesday, Oct 10 when friends and family gathered to celebrate Katherine Acey’s 20 years as Executive Director of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, it was laughter and appreciation that prevailed. There were easily three generations of feminists, young grantees, people from all walks of life, and supporters from both coasts who had gathered to pay tribute to this champion of lesbian causes.

Best known for her radical efforts in achieving social justice for women, Acey was cited for her “decisiveness and radical vision” by long-time feminist Cheryl Clarke. In one of the many hilarious moments, Marjorie Hill toasted Katherine with her “favorite quote” from Dr. Martin Luther King, “We must constantly build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear”.

Moving right along the dyke theme, Dr. Hill and others enumerated Acey’s accomplishments as an activist and advocate of social change. To put it simply, Michael Seltzer, a pioneer in the field of nonprofit management and philanthropy commented, “Katherine has made the world a better place.” From 1982 when she served as the Associate Director of the North Star Fund to her leadership role in the Women’s Funding Network, to her participation on the boards of Women in the Arts, the Center for Anti-Violence Education and MADRE among others, Katherine’’s commitment to philanthropic endeavors seems boundless.

At Astraea where she began as a Board Member in 1987, Acey has been at the helm of the organization, generating grants to 181 organizations in 99 cities and 39 countries, issuing $1.9 million in grants this year alone. As a result of her efforts and tireless commitment, Astraea has recently been gifted an anonymous $1.5 million.

Gay City News Features Acey 20th Anniversary Celebration

More than 200 people gathered in the penthouse of the 1199 Conference Center on 42nd Street on October 10 to honor the 20 years of service executive director Katherine Acey has given to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Although the event was billed as a “toast and roast,” it was all cheer and no jeer for this icon of the social justice movement.

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All Toast, No Roast

More than 200 people gathered in the penthouse of the 1199 Conference Center on 42nd Street on October 10 to honor the 20 years of service executive director Katherine Acey has given to the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice. Although the event was billed as a “toast and roast,” it was all cheer and no jeer for this icon of the social justice movement.

“I was almost at a loss for words; the whole evening kind of took my breath away,” Acey said in an interview the following day. “To see so many old friends, colleagues, people who have made such a tremendous difference in my life and work; it was so great to have my family there, and friends from the West Coast and Chicago.”

Among the many community leaders, activists, and artists who took to the podium to laud Acey was Dr. Marjorie Hill, CEO of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis.

“Of the many accomplishments, the many lives, the many wonderful things Katherine has done to inspire not only those of us in this room, in this city, in this country, but in the world, the one thing I want to share is when Astraea came out,” said Hill of the move by Acey early in her tenure to openly identify Astraea in its name as a lesbian-focused organization.

“Now some of us remember what a traumatizing, agonizing, totally terrorizing event it was for those on the board, staff, and organization, but for those of us on the outside, it was pure heart. For all of us in that room, it was really Katherine’s tenacity, her absolute commitment to integrity, her absolute determination to be who she is, to celebrate whoever and however we wanted to be and to call it like she saw it.”

“My favorite quote of all time came from Martin Luther King. And Dr. King said, ‘We must constantly build dykes of courage to hold back the flood of fear.’ You were just what Dr. King had in mind,” said Hill, to waves of applause.

Kevin Cathcart, executive director of Lambda Legal, thanked Acey for the collegial and mutually enriching relationship they have had throughout the years. He was grateful for her single-mindedness of purpose.

“Katherine has brought so much to all of our collective work because of the politics she brings, the humanity she brings, her progressive politics, what she stands for, the stuff she keeps right up front and on the table so that no one else can avoid it, so it can’t get lost among all the busyness of fundraising and paying the rent and all the things that have to happen in our regular work,” said Cathcart. “I know I speak for a lot of people when I say… that I am a better person and a better leader for knowing and working with Katherine for all these years, and I hope there are more to come.”

It was no surprise that so many leaders in the LGBT community were among the crowd at last Wednesday’s event. Astraea has a long history of funding LGBT human rights organizations, and is the largest lesbian grant-making foundation in the world.

When Acey joined the organization, it was raising about $100,000 a year; this year alone, Astraea gave more than $1.9 million in grants to 181 organizations in 99 cities and 39 countries.

When Gay City News last spoke to Acey in 2005, she mentioned funding the group had given during the past year to the San Francisco-based National Center for Lesbian Rights; the Audre Lorde Project, the community center serving queer people of color in Fort Greene, Brooklyn; and Patlatonalli, a Guadalajara-Mexico based advocacy group for lesbian families.

The group’s Web site includes profiles of a diverse group of grantees, including ASWAT, an organization in Haifa, Israel that provides a safe space and resources for lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, and intersex Palestinian women; Mujeres al Borde (Women on the Edge), a social organizing and community-building group in Bogotá, Colombia; the Appalachian Women’s Alliance in Floyd, Virginia established in 1993 to combat the poverty, violence, and now homophobia as well that keeps isolated Appalachian women-many of them lesbians-without power or voice; the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a New York City collective that engages in impact litigation and public education on behalf of transgendered and intersex people; and J-FLAG, the Jamaica Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays, the only organization in that island nation challenging the violence and legal restrictions facing queer people.

Among the highlights for Acey in the past year was the group’s Dallas retreat, initiating a United States movement-building initiative, and experiencing growth among Astraea’s staff and board.

Acey said that the community in Dallas welcomed activists and donor activists from around the world to talk about “how to create movements, crossing the class divide, and what it means to be a progressive queer philanthropist.

One of Astraea’s anonymous donors made a multi-year pledge there for the next 12 years that will result in a couple of million dollars, said Acey.

Another highlight in Acey’s recent past was helping to build the political and organizational capacity of groups doing social change work in the LGBT community. Astraea gave seven groups $50,000 a year for three years to organize policy reform. They will help the groups shape their agenda, look at issues of capacity and build resources, both human and financial. These groups, many of which are working within communities of color and youth on issues of leadership development, will convene this week in New Jersey.

Acey is also pleased that Astraea’s staff and board are growing. Always quick to share the credit with her peers, she said, “I am delighted to be working with such a committed, talented, and gifted group of people.

They’ve helped me to grow and pushed me and the organization to new heights.”

The recent addition of an associate director of grant-making and a deputy director brings the Astraea staff to 17.

Acey had similar praise for all the speakers and attendees at the event, and expressed satisfaction that so many diverse people of all ages and sexual orientations were sipping her signature drink, “The Acey,” and building bridges.

“It was so great to see people having fun,” said Acey. “The energy in the room was great, people enjoyed seeing each other and coming together for celebration, not just of me but all of us together. That’s one of the beauties of Astraea, that we do cross so many communities. It is heartwarming to have all that love and give it right back.”

This reporter last took a look at Astraea in the May 25-31, 2005 issue of Gay City News, “Lesbian Powerhouse of Funding.” The online version can be viewed at

Class, Gender & Human Rights: Understanding Female-born Sexual Minorities in India

Class, Gender, & Human Rights: Understanding Female-born Sexual Minorities in India” Panel Discussion and Fundraiser

Co-sponsored by:
SALGA (South Asian Lesbian & Gay Association)
Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

Thursday, October 18, 2007
7pm – 9pm
Bluestockings Bookstore
172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington
(F train to 2nd Avenue)
Suggested donation $10 – $50

Please join SALGA and Astraea for this important discussion and opportunity to support activists working with sexual minorities in India to raise critical funds for skills building, crisis intervention, outreach and other ongoing programs. This event will highlight some of the issues facing female-born sexual minorities in India by focusing on LesBiT, a collective of Lesbian, Bisexual women and female-to-male Trans-men. LesBiT is part of Sangama, a human rights organization based in Bangalore, India, that works with sexual minorities.

Panelists will include:

  • Manohar Elavarthi: Founder and former Executive Director of Sangama
  • Svati Shah: Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s Studies at Wellesley College.
  • Krittika Ghosh: Research & Outreach Coordinator at Connect New York
  • Lauren Logiudice and Sonia J. Cheruvillil: Past American India Foundation Service Corps fellows at Sangama and LesBiT.
  • Moderated by Bhavana Nancherla: Past American India Foundation Service Corps fellow at LEPRA Society, Hyderabad.


You are also invited to an informal reception with the panelists on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 from 5-7pm at Leela Lounge, 1 West 3rd Street (between Broadway & Mercer)

Sangama is a sexuality minorities human rights organization for individuals oppressed due to their sexual preference. We especially emphasize the concerns of sexuality minorities from poor and/or non-English speaking backgrounds, sexual minority sex workers who otherwise have little or no access to information and resources. LesBiT is a support group for Lesbians/Bisexual Women and Transgenders. For more information, please email or visit their website at . See also

SALGA-NYC is a social, political and support group for lesbians, gay men, bisexual and transgender people who trace their descent from countries such as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Tibet as well as people of South Asian descent from countries such as Guyana and Trinidad. You may Contact SALGA at: or 212-358-5132. Further information about SALGA is available on its web site at

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice works for social, racial and economic justice in the U.S. and internationally.

Roasted and Toasted at Astraea (New York Blade, 2007)

Activist powerhouse Katherine Acey, looking cool and chic in a many-colored striped suit, smiles as she talks about being roasted next week.

Roasted and Toasted at Astraea
Lesbian Foundation distributes grants, creates networks.
By Erline Andrews

Activist powerhouse Katherine Acey, looking cool and chic in a many-colored striped suit, smiles as she talks about being roasted next week.

““I’’m looking forward to it,”” says Acey, seated in the conference room at the Manhattan headquarters of the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, the grant-distributing organization she’’s headed for two decades.

She was, in fact, its first paid employee when the organization changed from being staffed entirely of volunteers. At that time, she’d been working unpaid with Astraea for four years.

Next week Astraea will thank Acey for leadership. The event—–set to take place Oct. 10 in New York City—–will take an unusual format. There will be the expected accolades, yes. But there’’ll be digs too. The event has been dubbed a “roast and toast.”

“”I love the idea of a roast,”” says Acey, “”because I love humor, and I think it’’s very important that we keep a sense of humor doing this work.””

It doesn’’t seem that Acey has to worry about maintaining her composure while enduring the barbs.

A community activist and volunteer since her youth, Acey, 57, has built of an impressive cache of goodwill and respect through the myriad organizations she’’s worked and been otherwise affiliated with.

“The lesbian community, and indeed how lesbians are viewed in the world, has changed dramatically since 1987. “Katherine Acey’’s phenomenal leadership and commitment to social justice has been a key part of that change,”” writes Marjorie Hill, PhD, the CEO of the Gay Men’s Health Crisis, in one of many tributes posted on Astraea’’s Web site in anticipation of the roast and toast.

Acey, who grew up in Utica, N.Y., the older of two daughters in a Lebanese-American household, came to Astraea after many years on what she called the “planning and developing” side of activism. She’’d worked with another foundation—–the North Star Fund–—for five years before becoming Astraea’’s executive director.

She values the ability to affect many different organizations at once, she says, particularly groups from communities that would find it difficult to get help otherwise.

““Social change happens at many different levels and requires many different strategies; it requires the participation of many different people,”” Acey says. “”Many of our groups are building a base and trying to promote policy reform.””

About Astraea
The Astraea Foundation, named for the Greek goddess of justice, was founded in 1977 to address the specific needs of lesbians, particularly lesbians of color. Its reach has since spread to LGBT advocacy groups around the world, and it boasts of being the only foundation solely dedicated to funding LGBTI organizations in the U.S. and internationally. It distributed more than $1.9 million in grants so far this year, including a portion dedicated to lesbian writers that were the first of their kind when Astraea started them in 1990.

Among Astraea’’s beneficiaries are the Jamaican gay rights collective J-Flag, the Palestinian lesbian group Aswat, and the Virginia-based Appalachian Women’’s Alliance.

Besides distributing money, Astraea provides a platform for groups to learn from each other through regular retreats and other gatherings and Astraea’’s newsletters and annual reports.

““We’’re able to communicate with each other and share best practices because of the kind of support Astraea was able to give us,”” says Andrea Densham, the interim executive director of the National Lesbian Health Organization, another Astraea grantee. “”We were able to develop a network and to make lesbian health a national discourse in a way that just simply wasn’t possible if we all were struggling alone. Astraea gave us a megaphone as it were.”

Much of the growth in Astraea’s influence and grant-making ability happened under Acey’s direction.

Gathering donations and support is difficult for any organization; it’s particularly difficult for one assisting a population still so misunderstood and even ignored in much of the world, including the United States. But in the past two decades Acey’s observed a shifting of attitudes and the evolution of an environment more receptive to the work she’s doing, a change brought about partly through the operation of organizations helped by Astraea.

“They have many challenges, but they’re flourishing,” Acey says of Astraea’s grantees. (This year the foundation gave financial assistance to 181 organizations in 39 countries.) “They’re working in communities, but they’re also having national and, in some cases, international impact.”

One of the pleasures of her job, she says, has been seeing LGBT movements emerge in places where previously they had been unimaginable.

“I feel privileged,” she says, “to be in this work for so many years.”

Toast and Roast of Katherine Acey, 6:30–9:30 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 10, The 1199 Conference Center, 330 W. 42nd St. For information, visit their web site at

Astraea Commissioned Print Artist receives MacArthur “Genius Award”

The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice is proud to congratulate Joan Snyder, a contributing artist to Astraea’s commissioned print series, on her MacArthur Foundation Fellows Award. Commonly called the “Genius Award,” the MacArthur Fellows Program awards unrestricted fellowships to talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.

Joan Snyder created My Maggie, the 2nd in a series of Astraea commissioned prints in 2000 to benefit the Astraea Foundation. In addition to numerous solo shows and exhibitions, Snyder’s works are in the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Metropolitan Museum of Art among others. In 2005, the Jewish Museum in New York showed a retrospective of Snyder’s work.

Astraea’s commissioned print series also includes works by artists Deborah Kass and Miriam Hernandez.

To read learn more about Joan Snyder and the award, and to watch an interview with her, click here.

To purchase the Joan Snyder Limited Edition Print or other commissioned prints, email or call 212-529-8021 x17.

Briefing on HIV/AIDS & LGBT Issues in Ghana

The Wednesday, September 5, 2007 NYC Briefing at Astraea on HIV/AIDS & LGBT Issues in Ghana has been postponed due to problems with travel logistics.

Astraea thanks the Centre for Popular Education & Human Rights Ghana (CEPEHRG)–Ghana’s premiere sexual rights and HIV/AIDS organization–and hopes to reschedule the event this coming year.

We also thank our co-presenter of this event, American Jewish World Service, as well as the event co-sponsors: amfAR, The Audre Lorde Project, GRIOT Circle, House of Moshood, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, and Liberation 4 All Africans

A briefing and fundraiser for
Centre for Popular Education & Human Rights Ghana (CEPEHRG): Ghana’s premiere sexual rights and HIV/AIDS organization

We welcome CEPEHRG leaders to NYC, as they launch a two week Advocacy and Study Tour. CEPEHRG, a grantee of American Jewish World Service and Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, will discuss their work on HIV/AIDS and LGBT issues in Ghana.

Postponed–Date to be determined
Astraea Offices 116 E. 16th St. (bet. Park & Irving) 7th floor
Take the 4, 5, 6, N, R, Q, L trains to Union Square.

Suggested contributions: $50 – $500 and all proceeds to benefit CEPEHRG directly.
Contributions of any amount are appreciated, and no one will be turned away for lack of funds.

RSVP to Lorraine Ramirez, 212.529.8021 ext. 22 or

Event on LGBT Organizing in China


Come learn about exciting LGBT organizing efforts in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan! Meet New York participants from the very first La La (lesbian and bi women) Organizer Training Camp, who will share recent victories, highlights and challenges facing queer Chinese activists from a wide range of experiences and geographical regions.

Date: Thursday August 23, 2007
Time: 7:00 – 9:00 PM
Place: Astraea Offices
116 East 16th Street, 7th Floor 212.529.8021
N R 4 5 6 trains to Union Square

ABOUT LA LA CAMP: On July 13 , 2007, close to one hundred lesbians, bisexual women and trans activists from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States gathered together in the beautiful city of Zhuhai for the first ever multi-region Chinese La La Organizer Training Camp. The four day gathering included leadership trainings, networking and community building for participants from more than 20 cities/towns and from 40 different local LBT groups– some of whom traveled by train and bus for hundreds of miles. Attendees ranged from freshmen in college to long-time activists in their fifties and sixties.

This Training Camp brought together activists from different sectors of the queer movement in combining theory and practice. There was a focus on the intersections of social policy, human rights, international collaboration, gender theory and community building. The goal was to provide this new generation of Chinese-speaking activists a stepping stone with a full range of human and informational resources. Training courses included topics such as:

  • local movement history and recent experience
  • self-affirmation
  • family relationships
  • gender identity continuum
  • cultural activities and their social impact
  • working with media
  • law and public policy
  • models and strategies and their local/historical context
  • building communities
  • sustaining a local group
  • fund seeking and proposal writing
  • organizational development
  • network building and mobilization
  • sexuality

Training Camp participants were able to share local accomplishments and challenges and improve their understanding of the unique conditions of each area, bringing groups closer together.

The La La Camp hosting committee was diverse in terms of location and experience. The six groups included Astraea grantee partners: Beijing Common Language, Gender and Sexuality Rights of Taiwan, Women Coalition of HKSAR, as well as New York Institute for Tongzhi Studies, New York’s Q-wave and Lavender Phoenix in U.S.

The La La Camp idea originated at the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice Giving and Activism Retreat, in November of 2006. After the culmination of seven months of cross regional planning, the first annual La La Camp was a resounding success!

Questions or more information: