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 Astraeafoundation.org

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 development@astraeafoundation.org 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 lramirez@astraeafoundation.org

Event on LGBT Organizing in China

MAKING HISTORY: FIRST EVER LA LA* CAMP HAILED AS GREAT SUCCESS!

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:
meanirene@gmail.com
yy@tongzhistudies.org
mai@tongzhistudies.org

Open Society Institute Features Joo-Hyun Kang at LGBT Global South and East Research Briefing

Open Society Institute Features Joo-Hyun Kang at LGBT Global South and East Research Briefing

The Open Society Institute’s Sexual Health and Rights Project (SHARP) & U.S. Programs Presents:

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Funders Research Report Release

JOO-HYUN KANG
Director of Programs, Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice

ROBERT ESPINOZA
Director of Research and Communications, Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues

Thursday, June 21st
11:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Lunch will be served
Open Society Institute, Conference Room 3AB – 3rd Floor
400 West 59th Street (btw 9th and 10th Ave)
New York, NY 10019
Please RSVP to Jill Wood jwood@sorosny.org

Joo-Hyun Kang will share several recent cases which highlight both challenges and successes for promoting LGBT health and rights worldwide. Her work with the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice has helped promote social, racial, and economic justice in the U.S. and internationally through fundraising and grant-making. Joo-Hyun will discuss achievements in challenging oppression and empowering LGBT persons to claim their human rights as well as how additional resources can help to further these efforts.

Prior to her work at Astraea, Joo-Hyun served as Executive Director of the Audre Lorde Project, a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit and Transgender (LGBTST) center for people of color in New York City, which was established to provide support and advocate for the rights of LGBTST peoples of African/Black/Caribbean, Arab, Asian and Pacific Islander, Latina/o, and Native/Indigenous descent.

Robert Espinoza will present an overview of a first-ever report on the needs and resources related to LGBTI giving in the global South and East. The report was commissioned by Funders for Lesbian and Gay Issues (FLGI) which remains the sole organization dedicated exclusively to increasing institutional giving to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) communities. FLGI’s mission is to seek equality and rights for LGBTQ individuals and communities by mobilizing philanthropic resources that advance racial, economic and gender justice.

Prior to working with FLGI, Robert researched and authored policy briefs on prisoner reentry for Family Justice; served as the Director of Communications for the Service Employees International Union Local 105; was part of the founding communications department for the Gill Foundation, the nation’s largest funder of LGBT issues; and was one of six panel members on the OUT Fund, an activist-advised, national grant making panel of the New York-based Funding Exchange.

GO NYC Magazine Names Astraea Development Director Wendy Sealey in “100 Women We Love”

While pursuing a teaching career and doctorate at Stanford, Sealey had a moment. Though she had studied at several prestigious East Coast schools, Sealey abruptly left academia realizing her skills and talents were best suited for non-profits.

Click here to read this article on gomag.com.

100 Women We Love
by Melody Wells, editor

Wendy Sealey
While pursuing a teaching career and doctorate at Stanford, Sealey had a moment. Though she had studied at several prestigious East Coast schools, Sealey abruptly left academia realizing her skills and talents were best suited for non-profits. The 37-year-old Staten Island-raised Harlem resident became the lifeblood of the Harlem Textile Works. When it lost funding, she set inner-city kids on a path to success as Director of Professional Advancement Opportunities at Prep for Prep. Now, as Director of Development for The Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, she’’s expanding their donor base so more grants can be made. For Astraea’s 30th anniversary, Sealey will continue “cultivating the under-30 crowd” for its donor pool, ensuring a crop of young professionals to lead Astraea to its 60th year. She’s proud that Astraea “is often one of the first funders for many of our grantee organizations. We’re making a difference in people’s lives.” –MW

Celebrate Pride with Astraea Staff

For thirty years, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice has funded organizations that challenge oppression and support human rights around the world. Astraea Staff invite you to join them in celebrating another year of funding change and strengthening communities.


Staff House Party Organizers Shaheen Nazerali, Development Associate and Miles Goff, Executive Assistant

Celebrate Pride in Brooklyn

Missed the Party or want to relive it? View photo gallery.

For thirty years, the Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice has funded organizations that challenge oppression and support human rights around the world.

Astraea Staff invite you to join them in celebrating another year of funding change and strengthening communities.

ANNUAL PRIDE CELEBRATION
Thursday, June 14th, 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Home of Executive Director Katherine Acey
Brooklyn, NY
RSVP for Directions

Good eats, Good drinks, Good music, Good folks!
Suggested Contribution: $50 (more if you can, less if you can’t)

RSVP Shaheen Nazerali
(212) 529-8021 x14
snazerali@astraeafoundation.org

Astraea Partners with NewFest to Present Outlaw: Fora da Lei

Astraea Partners with NewFest to Present Outlaw: Fora da Lei

Outlaw
Fora da Lei
Portugal, 2006, 84 min, Video
In Italian with English subtitles
US Premiere

Directed By: Leonor Areal

Lesbian couple Teresa and Lena made national news in Portugal when they applied to get married. Leonor Areal’s camera follows them, one amid scores of reporters’ cameras, as they deal with the denial of their petition, and, more significantly, with the negative fallout the publicity generates. Though seeking equal rights, in the process of being recognizable public figures, the two women and their daughters instead find themselves facing even greater discrimination in housing, work, and school.

Sunday, June 3rd, 3:45pm
Purchase Tickets

Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society Conversation & Celebration

An Evening of Conversation & Celebration with Sunil Pant, Blue Diamond Society

Nepal’s Blue Diamond Society Conversation & Celebration

Astraea Lesbian Foundation for Justice, with Adhikaar, The Audre Lorde Project, CAAAV Organizing Asian Communities, Desis Rising Up & Moving, International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission, South Asian LGBT Association, and others invite you to join us for:

An Evening of Conversation & Celebration with Sunil Pant, Blue Diamond Society

Sunil Pant, founder & president of Blue Diamond Society, who is being awarded with this year’s Felipa de Souza Award by the International Gay & Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), will be joining us in this rare visit to NYC. Please join us to learn more about the work of Blue Diamond Society and raise funds to support their work in Nepal. Visit www.bds.org.np for more information about
Blue Diamond Society.

DATE: May 10th, 2007
TIME: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
LOCATION: Astraea, 116 East 16th Street,
7th Floor, NYC

Suggested contribution: $20 – $100 for individuals (more if you can, less if you can’t – no one will be turned away). 100% of funds raised will be given to Blue Diamond Society.

To RSVP and/or pledge a contribution or for information about how to have your organization cosponsor the event or for questions about the event, please contact Lorraine at 212-529-8021 ext. 22 or email: lramirez@astraeafoundation.org.

Tax deductible contributions via check may be made payable to: Astraea Foundation (please indicate “5/10 BDS Fundraiser” in the memo line). Contributions can be brought to the event, or mailed to: Astraea, 116 E. 16th St., 7th flr, Att: 5/10 BDS Fundraiser, NY, NY 10003

NYC & SF—South Asians Here and There: A Dialogue about LGBT & Human Rights

South Asians Here and There: A Dialogue about LGBT & Human Rights

Astraea is proud to co-sponsor the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission’s (IGLHRC) panel discussions on the LGBT rights situation in South Asia. The panels, in New York and San Francisco, will feature Astraea Grantee Partner Sunil Pant, the founder and director of Blue Diamond Society, Nepal’s only LGBT rights organization and the recipient of IGLHRC’s 2007 Felipa de Souza Award.

NEW YORK: Monday, April 30, 2007

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
LGBT Community Center (208 West 13th Street)

Panelists
Sunil Pant, Founder and President of Blue Diamond Society
Trishala Deb, Program Coordinator at Audre Lorde Project
Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC Executive Director, Moderator

SAN FRANCISCO: Wednesday, May 2, 2007

6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Asian and Pacific Islander Wellness Center (730 Polk Street)
Admission is free.

Panelists
Sunil Pant, President of Blue Diamond Society
Dechen Tsering, Program Officer, Asia and Oceania,
Global Fund for Women
Sandip Roy, New America Media, former editor
Trikone Magazine
Paula Ettelbrick, IGLHRC Executive Director, Moderator