bios

Steering Committee

Cara Page
Astraea Foundation

Cara Page is a Black Feminist Queer cultural/memory worker & organizer. She comes from a long ancestral legacy of organizers and cultural workers from the Southeast to the Northeast. For the past 20 plus years she has fought for LGBTQIA liberation, within racial and economic & reproductive justice movements. In particular she has organized to interrupt and intervene on policing and surveillance through state/communal scientific racism and eugenic violence. She is a current member of Southerners on New Ground (SONG), Project South, the Audre Lorde Project (ALP), and INCITE! Cara is the former Executive Director of the Audre Lorde Project; an organizing center for, by and about Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Two Spirit, Transgender & Gender Non Conforming People of Color in New York City. She is also the co-founder and former Co-Coordinator of the Kindred Southern Healing Justice Collective, a southeastern network of healers, health practitioners and organizers responding to and intervening on incidences of state violence & generational trauma. She is a current recipient of the Barnard Center for Research on Women Activist-in-Residence Fellowship in which she is committed to amplifying work that centers and re-imagines our traditions of wellness & safety as integral to our collective resiliency & liberation.

Cynthia Renfro
Laughing Gull Foundation

Cynthia is the principal and CEO at Civis Consulting LLC, a consulting firm launched in 2012 to support philanthropic institutions and community-based organizations in developing and implementing strategic and intentional programs. Cynthia served as a consultant on LGF’s LGBTQ Program Expansion project in 2016-2017 and is excited to transition to managing LGF’s LGBTQ Program. Cynthia previously worked at the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Beldon Fund, and the Turner Foundation in Atlanta. Cynthia serves on the board of directors of the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy, and is on the Capital Campaign Advisory Committee at the Highlander Research & Education Center. She previously served on the boards of the National Network of Grant-Makers, the Environmental Leadership Program, and the Neighborhood Funders Group. Cynthia is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history, and went on to become a Rackham Merit Fellow PhD student of American History at the University of Michigan. Cynthia loves to read sci fi, binge watch netflix with her partner, and sail in Puget Sound. But she is currently most excited about playing a role with some of the best social justice philanthropy in the South.

Jennifer Langton
Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund

jennifer 2016 smaller photo head shot webJennifer Langton has served as Grants Manager for the Amy Mandel and Katina Rodis Fund for five years.  Raised in the upper coastal corner of Washington State, Jennifer’s passion led her to work initially in marine biology and on environmental issues, focusing first on endangered species and later working for Habitat for Humanity International on affordable green building practices. She has volunteered her time over the years on various social justice causes. Today Jennifer loves researching issues and collaborating with diverse voices in order to build stronger movements of equity. Having spent much of her adult life in the South, she was engaged early in efforts to leverage and expand funding for LGBTQ equality work in the Southern United States.  Jennifer has served on several nonprofit boards, and is  currently a board member of the Movement Advancement Project based in Denver.  Jennifer finds inspiration from her long-time partner of 29 years, and from other family members, friends, and her dogs.  She loves creating and listening to music, cooking, hiking, boats and the outdoors. She lives in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina.

Desiree Flores
Arcus Foundation

Desiree Flores
U.S. Social Justice Program Director at Arcus.  Desiree brings more than a decade of social justice grantmaking and program development experience supporting marginalized leadership and constituency building at the local, state, and national levels. Most recently, she was the Director of Board Affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its nonpartisan advocacy and political arm, Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Prior to that, she was a Program Officer at the Ms. Foundation for Women, where she led programs on reproductive justice, HIV/AIDS, and school-based sexuality education. Through this work, she advised and partnered with foundations, individual donors, national advocates, and community-based organizations to create a more racially diverse and politically powerful domestic pro-choice movement. Having grown up on a dairy farm in California’s central valley as the granddaughter of Mexican farm workers, Desiree is committed to supporting equality and opportunity for the United States’ most vulnerable communities. She holds a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and a master’s in public administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

Loring McAlpin
Calamus Foundation
Loring McAlpinLoring divides his time between documentary film projects (Tegwan’s Nest, Herman’s House, How to Survive a Plague) and work with the Calamus Foundation. His involvement with AIDS activism through ACT UP and the collective Gran Fury provided the lens through which much of the Calamus Foundation’s giving has been focused.

 

 

Faron McLurkin
Unitarian Universalist Veatch Program at Shelter Rock

A seasoned social justice advocate with over 15 years of experience working for social, racial, and economic justice, McLurkin brings to the Veatch Program a deep knowledge of domestic and international social movements, and familiarity with the networks and institutions that comprise today’s progressive landscape.  Prior to joining the staff of the Veatch Program, McLurkin served as the Executive Director of the Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO). CTWO is one of the oldest training and capacity building institutions in the country committed to supporting people-of-color-led community organizations. As the Executive Director of CTWO, McLurkin doubled the organization’s funding by redesigning its core programmatic structure, rebuilding its philanthropic relationships, and reinvigorating the organization’s core constituency. McLurkin has also been a national organizing director within the labor movement, and led multiple successful campaigns that challenged multinational corporations to provide stable middle class jobs for working families.

Paulina Helm-Hernández
Foundation for a Just Society

Paulina is a queer artist, trainer, political organizer, and strategist from Veracrúz, Mexico, who has made the US South her home for more than two decades. For eleven years, she was the co-director of Southerners on New Ground, a social justice advocacy organization supporting LGBTQ people in the US South. Prior to that she coordinated the Southern regional youth activism program at the Highlander Research and Education Center. Paulina has a background in farmworker and immigrant/refugee rights organizing, anti-violence work, and gender and sexual liberation work that centers people most affected by poverty, war, and racism. Paulina is always exploring ways to deepen political unity with people and institutions willing to demand and organize for collective liberation.

Luna Yasui
The Ford Foundation
Luna YasuiLuna Yasui is a program officer on the Youth Opportunity and Learning team. She has worked on gender and equality issues for the foundation and is responsible for its work on advancing lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights. In addition, Luna has supported efforts to forge alliances across social justice movements and to elevate the experiences and leadership of marginalized LGBT constituencies, with a particular emphasis on people of color, women, youth, and low-income communities. Prior to her work in philanthropy, Luna served as an advocate and attorney at a number of social justice organizations. As associate director and policy director at Chinese for Affirmative Action, she established the organization’s first LGBT rights project and oversaw a variety of racial justice and immigrant rights policy and advocacy initiatives in areas ranging from language access and voter protection to economic development. In her legal work, Luna focused on protecting workers’ rights and promoting economic opportunity, first as a staff attorney with the Immigrant Day Labor Project of the National Employment Law Project and later as a staff attorney at Bay Area Legal Aid, representing individuals on public assistance who were facing legal barriers to employment. Luna received her juris doctor degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Law, where she was a public interest fellow.

 

“LGBT Americans have made great strides towards the dream of a lived equality, but our work is far from over. Baseline legal equality has yet to reach vast swathes of our country, especially for those who live in the Southeast.”
-Luna Yasui

Staff

Shaena Johnson Program Officer, LGBTQ Racial Justice Fund
Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Shaena Johnson brings over 15 years of organizing and advocacy experience as well as her extensive work in the community focusing on issues facing LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice system. Shaena investigated conditions of confinement for incarcerated youth and supported defense attorneys with zealous advocacy and investigation for court-involved youth in New Orleans as a Youth Advocate and later the LGBTQ Program Coordinator at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and as an Investigator at the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights.  Shaena is also the former Co-Director of BreakOUT!    Shaena comes to Astraea and RJF as a former grantee partner with a wealth of knowledge about organizing in the US South, and is no stranger to Astraea’s work and platform. Specifically, Shaena believes that Astraea’s strategy on philanthropic advocacy and healing fits perfectly with the current needs in the south.