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Jun 30, 2021

Back to At The Table

Emerging LGBTQIA+ Leaders

For more than two decades, The Legacy Fund at The Columbus Foundation has supported causes that advance equity for the LGBTQIA+ community in central Ohio. The founders of the fund recognized the importance of a financial support system that provides operational stability to LGBTQIA+ serving organizations and allows them to achieve programmatic excellence. Today, we carry on that core ideal and believe that, to make long-term, transformational progress, we must invest in emerging leaders, such as those featured here. In doing so, we help to build a sustainable future for the next generations to boldly advance us toward a more just and equitable community.

— The board of The Legacy Fund

Ed Chin (Chair), Sara Colton (Treasurer), Jen House (Secretary), Karen Cookston (Founding Member), Sue White (Founding Member), John Barber, Megan Kilgore, Laura MacDonald, Lana Moore, Natalie Moretz, Molly O'Shaughnessy, Densil Porteous, Kevin Terry Smith, and Marc Spindelman.

Introducing A Generation of LGBTQIA+ Healers, Holders, and Helpers


Leaders selected by Erin Upchurch, Executive Director of the Kaleidoscope Youth Center. Photos courtesy of Sterling Clemmons.
 

I believe that each and every person has the capacity, gifts, and skills to be a leader. This perspective is one rooted in abundance; and puts us in a position to question not whether we can be a leader, rather what type of leader we wish to be. Leadership is an inside job. It is the ongoing process of learning, curiosity, self-reflection, humility, vulnerability, experimentation, and adaptation. My own approach to leadership is unequivocally informed by my lens and experiences as a queer Black, woman. Embracing all that I am, belonging to myself, has grounded me in the practice of ‘queering leadership’. In the anthology Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines, Black queer feminist scholar and poet Alexis Pauline Gumbs writes, “Our definition of queer is that which fundamentally transforms our state of being and the possibilities for life. That which is queer is that which does not reproduce the status quo.”

Leaders have the capacity to be the healers, the holders, and the helpers. We can hold the bigger picture without losing focus on the details presented before us. We support individuals and we build communities. In each moment, and in each movement, we are the ones. Each time is the right time for us to show up, for we are truly here for all the times, and especially for such a time as this.

As members of the LGBTQIA+ community, it is not uncommon for our learning, training, and working environments to be ones that harm us and our communities; and that limit our capacity to fully express our identities. This is why representative, daring, and unapologetic leadership is necessary to shift and expand possibilities of freedom, and ultimately liberation. I believe that we can create a social fabric that holds the inherent dignity of all people. I believe that we can connect each other and ourselves to our belonging; and that we collectively have the power to pursue something different through our everyday acts of service and labors of love. Leaders have the capacity to be the healers, the holders, and the helpers. We can hold the bigger picture without losing focus on the details presented before us. We support individuals and we build communities. In each moment, and in each movement, we are the ones. Each time is the right time for us to show up, for we are truly here for all the times, and especially for such a time as this.

It brings me great joy to celebrate and lift up these beautiful leaders in our community. Not only do they embrace ‘queer leadership’, they reject the status quo, and embody the spirit of what’s possible. Their collective work creates, builds, and sustains programs and opportunities that empower and amplify voices that often exist on the margins, and are sadly altogether ignored or dismissed.

Erin Upchurch

Erin Upchurch, MSSA, LISW-S ​(she/her/hers)
Executive Director, Kaleidoscope Youth Center

 

 

 

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