Awards 2022!

Join us on Saturday, 11/5 for a fantastic evening in Maplewood, NJ celebrating two outstanding leaders in our community–– Sandra Pérez and Ross Murray!! Purchase your tickets here!

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Our 2022 Transformational Leadership Initiative cohort



Haleigh Fitzpatrick-Owen

Haleigh Fitzpatrick-Owen (she/her, right), Emery Rivera (he/him, center) and Lucy Isman (left)  are the core organizers of DYKE HANG RVA, a Richmond, Virginia-based group that plans events to unite the local lesbian community.

Haleigh, a femme lesbian, public school educator, and DYKE HANG’s lead organizer, will be her group’s ambassador for the Pride Network’s Transformational Leadership Program. Haleigh began DYKE HANG as a way to bring together Richmond’s fragmented lesbian community after realizing how difficult it was to connect with other lesbians in a city affected by the pandemic. Using “teacher skills” such as embarrassing icebreakers, weird attention-getters, and mandatory fun, Haleigh began conducting outrageous outdoor mingling events to encourage folks to meet new people. Since their first event in September, DYKE HANG has expanded from brewery meetups to park picnics, art pop ups, and dance nights. In 2022, she aims to expand the lesbian community’s connectedness and visibility by fundraising for mutual aid and furthering relationships with local businesses, organizations, and LGBTQ+ nonprofits. While one of her dreams is to create a lesbian arm wrestling league, her true ultimate hope is that no Richmond lesbian will ever have to feel alone, invisible, or isolated from the community again.

Matthew Yekell

Matthew Yekell (he/him) is a student at Stanford University studying computer science and sociology. Prior to starting at Stanford, Matthew served on GLSEN’s National Student Council, where he advocated for safer schools for LGBTQ+ students. In 2020, Matthew was named Texas’ Top Youth Volunteer by the Prudential of Community Awards for his homemade meal program and collection drives serving LGBTQ+ youth experiencing homelessness. During his gap year, which took place during the 2020-2021 school year, Matthew co-founded Impulse Learning, an online learning institute that has served hundreds of students. His activist and entrepreneurial endeavors have been featured in People Magazine, CNN, and The Huffington Post.

Angie Tamayo León

Angie Tamayo León (she/they) is a writer and community educator. They are a queer Latine immigrant and first-generation college student studying English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies focusing on Social Justice Theories. She is interested in helping queer and immigrant communities flourish despite the barriers placed before them; she advocates for mental health awareness and generational healing in the Latino community. As a community educator, she has experience working with immigrants, LGBTQ+, and youth of color using a culturally responsive, intersectional, and trauma-informed approach. She believes that informal education that is intentionally accessible to all community members can empower communities of color to create change. As a daughter of immigrants, they strive to learn about financial freedom, emotional wellbeing, and spiritual connection to their ancestors. Keep up and connect with her through here.

Brandon Banks

What started as bar buddies who loved going out to support local LGBTQIA+Entertainers turned into an initiative to give them the chance to continue to perform once the pandemic started and Columbia, Mo lost their own drag bar. Now, two years later a group of co-founders and a community of entertainers, venues, and audience members are collaborating to create LGBTQIA+Safe Spaces all across Missouri (and hopefully one day beyond the state boundaries). Nclusion Plus is an LGBTQIA+Entertainment, Education, and Event production organization that produces on average over 2 events per week for the Missouri community including drag shows, speaker workshops, Pridefests, University partnerships, online content, small business infomercials, and even a membership magazine. Their ultimate goal is to build a membership base that allows them to afford and support a new drag bar in their local area.

Dymin Ellis

Executive Producer of Punq Noire Fest, Dyme “Indigaux” Ellis (they/them/their) is a Black nonbinary artist and organizer based in New Haven, CT. Passionate about bringing opportunities and resources to QTBIPOC artists, Dyme is driven by an internal mission to foster and stimulate Connecticut’s colorful communities through creative, eventful experiences. December 2019, Dyme Ellis organized a pop up fashion show at Yale Architecture Gallery. August 2020, Dyme Ellis organized Black Art Matters/Black Art is Resistance (BAM/BAR) at nonprofit art gallery, Artspace. Each of these events entirely featured artists of color from Connecticut. In 2021, Dyme Ellis decided to develop their skills as an arts administrator, and gained experience as an assistant at Arts Council of Greater New Haven. Now that it’s 2022, Dyme Ellis is excited to present the Punq Noire Festival of Underground Arts, a manifestation of their passion, love for, and dedication to Connecticut’s rich and eccentric artist communities.

George Anthony Pratt

George Anthony Pratt is a burgeoning scholar of Black Diasporic studies, Gender and Sexuality, and Religion, double majoring in History and Religion with a minor in Leadership studies at Morehouse College. He is engaged in various research and creative projects as a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellow, Quarterman Keller Social Justice Scholar, Andrew Young Social Justice Fellow, Covenant Fellow, and ESU Luard Morse Scholar. Additionally, George is a contributing writer for the oldest continuously published African American periodical, The Christian Recorder, and serves as the Editor-In-Chief of the Howard Thurman Honors Program literary journal, Litteratus. At Morehouse, he serves as the inaugural Historian-In-Residence of Student Life and founding Executive Director of HouseCorps, a social justice centered initiative dedicated to “telling the stories that are rarely told” through oral history and the digital humanities.

Molly Kennedy Irvin

Molly Kennedy Irvin graduated from Stanford University in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with honors and a minor in English. While at Stanford, she spent much of her time working to improve mental health on campus, on both a personal level (peer counseling at the Bridge) and a community level (co-directing the Mental Health & Wellness Coalition).  Currently, Molly is a Clinical Research Coordinator at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research, working primarily with patients with schizophrenia and depression.  She hopes to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology and conduct research on sexual health, dysfunction, and sexuality.  Outside of research, Molly enjoys teaching comprehensive sex education and reading nineteenth-century British literature.   

Jet Tran (they/them)

Jet Tran (they/them) is a library paraprofessional and creative writer. Their desire to uplift Black & brown queer people informs everything they create—and their background in middle grade education and customer service led them to the Central Arkansas Library System. As a library assistant, Jet pushed for queer & trans-centered outreach, which they do in their newly established role as LGBTQIA+ teen programmer. Jet aims to make library spaces more welcoming to those who are underrepresented both on the shelves and behind the front desk.


Elisha Freitas

Elisha is a queer Latina best-selling author, international public speaker, and award-winning editor. They use their art, stories, and ideas to empower, uplift, and motivate teens and young adults. Elisha is passionate about activism and social justice issues, including LGBTQ+ rights, immigration, feminism and women's rights, and mental health. She is working towards her undergraduate in editing and publishing with the goal to start a publishing company dedicated to telling stories about and by diverse under-represented communities. To learn more about and connect with Elisha, follow them at @artistaelisha. 

Hector Francisco Mañón

A South Florida native of Mexican and Dominican descent, Hector found his passion in education and mental health, teaching culinary arts and working with non-profit programs benefiting children and families, as well as individuals with disabilities and other life challenges. Currently, he oversees the post-secondary programs at Arc Broward in Sunrise, FL. In 2020, Hector founded the Association for Culinary Art Therapy. ACAT is dedicated to the development and promotion of Culinary Art Therapy (CAT) as a recreational practice and therapeutic skill. Hector truly believes there is a deep-rooted connection between food, education, and mindfulness. He earned his Associate in Science from Johnson & Wales University and is currently pursuing his Bachelor of Science in Culinary Arts & Food Service Management with a Minor in Psychology. Hector aspires to become a marriage and family therapist or psychologist and would like to specialize in working with LGBTQ+ couples and families.

Rowan K Ching

Originally from Honolulu, HI, Rowan K Ching is a trans masculine Asian-American artist and academic pursuing their Doctorate in East Asian Medicine. Rowan received their Bachelors Degree in Dance and did their undergraduate thesis on Somatics as a Practice of Freedom for People of Color, performing research on how the embodied understanding of one’s own anatomy can be a transformative experience. Based on Leni-Lenape land in what is now known as Philadelphia, Rowan currently works as a freelance teaching artist and consultant with various non-profits. Rowan strongly believes that movement, story telling, and community can aid in the healing of both personal and interpersonal wounds. In connecting with ancestral healing modalities, Rowan aspires to decolonize and queer the wellness field to make medicine more acessible. 

Peyten Sharp

Peyten Sharp (he/him) is a student at Berkeley Law and the Founding Director of Texans Against Conversion Therapy (Texans ACT). Peyten grew up in East Texas before studying Psychology and Economics at Harvard College. Between undergrad and law school, he worked as a paralegal in New York City and a legal intern at the Harvard Law LGBTQ+ Advocacy Clinic. He plans to become a litigator to fight for LGBTQ+ rights in the US and abroad. In his free time, he enjoys concerts, hiking, surfing, and fiction writing and literature.

Evan Zhao

Evan Zhao is a sociologist-in-training from the Midwest who works to shed light on underserved and invisibilized people and minoritized identities. They are currently a researcher at the Institute of Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing at Northwestern University where they are studying social determinants of health among health disparity populations including racial and ethnic minorities and sexual and gender minorities. They also contribute to the University of Chicago's Urban Labs, researching the impact of innovative interventions deployed in partnership with the City of Chicago. They earned their B.A. and M.A. in Sociology with a minor in Comparative Race and Ethnic Studies from the University of Chicago, where their thesis was based on fieldwork in China studying intercultural queer communities. Evan has served as an American Bar Foundation Research Diversity Fellow, a Pozen Center for Human Rights Research Laboratory Fellow, and a Wanxiang Ambassador Fellow. Trained in social science research methods, Evan is experienced with ethnography, in-depth interviews, and survey research. Through challenging exclusionary narratives, Evan hopes to give voice to those who are underrepresented at the forefront of conversations in social justice.



2022 Transformational Leadership Initiative



Selected participants will be announced by March 18th, 2022

The Transformational Leadership Initiative will begin on March 25th, 2022 @5pm EST




Transformational Leadership Initiative


Part 1: SociaL Impact Grants

Part 2: LGBTQ+ Mentorship

Part 3: EMERGE+ Leadership Training

This year, ten, emerging LGBTQ+ leaders will be selected to participate in The Pride Network's Transformational Leadership Initiative–– a year-long, three-part leadership initiative that aims to cultivate heart-centered leadership and provide participants with the resources and opportunities they need to create change within themselves and in our communities.


Our 2021 Transformational Leadership Initiative recipients



Grace Wickerson

Grace is an engineer, organizer, and educator working to help young people critically evaluate structural injustices and design interventions to re-imagine our current systems. They are a recent graduate of Rice University, where they received their B.S. in Materials Science and Nanoengineering and were a Point Foundation Scholar, Buick Achievers Scholar, and Trustee Distinguished Scholar. While at Rice, they served as Student Body President, and sought to re-think the way the University administration, faculty and the student body approached diversity, equity and inclusion, financial inclusion, sustainability, and engagement with the larger Houston community. For their work, they were recognized as one of the Outstanding Seniors of the Class of 2020, an honor only awarded to ten students in a +1000 person class. They also initiated the only class on design and social good at Rice University, working with +30 students over three years. Now, as a PhD student in Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University, Grace is utilizing their engineering knowledge to design biodegradable, biocompatible therapeutic medical devices for chronic diseases and working to increase access to innovative, cutting-edge healthcare interventions. They are continuing their work in design education, founding Design for Equitable Systems to research educational methodologies that show young people how to understand the way a system is constructed to then understand how they can redesign them for a more equitable future. Their future goals are to create a think-tank for collaboration across fields of expertise on addressing systemic challenges in healthcare, education, the environment, etc.

Jia Hurd

Jia (They/She) is a Black non-binary femme from the South Bronx of NYC. They are a suicide attempt survivor, a creative, Mental Health advocate and community organizer. She is pursuing a Master’s in Clinical Social Work at CUNY Hunter College. She is a New York Transgender Advocacy Fellow for 2020. Jia has 7 years of non-profit program management + 4 years of Mental Health advocacy experience. She trained as a holistic wellness practitioner at The Reciprocity Foundation and an end of life hospice volunteer with New York Visiting Nurses Services. Jia has 7 years on successful social justice movements for LGBTQ+ and Black liberation with Black Trans Media, The New York Transgender Advocacy Group, Hetrick-Martin Institute, Cookies’s Joint, The Audre Lorde Project, BUFU, Equality 4 Flatbush, Sadie Nash Feminist Foundation, Black Lives Matter, BYP 100, and F2L.

Alec Fischer

Alec Fischer is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, digital content creator, TEDx speaker, and nationally featured LGBTQ+ advocate based in Minneapolis. At age 17, he created a short documentary titled “Minnesota Nice?” addressing the rising suicide rates of high school students in Minnesota. The documentary led to legislative changes throughout the state and was screened in schools across the world.  As a sophomore in college, Alec was named a Dalai Lama Fellow for his advocacy work and has since been featured by sites including MTV, Buzzfeed, The Washington Times, and USA Today. Now a 27 year-old digital influencer and founder of the media company Fischr Media, he continues to use storytelling as a catalyst for conversation and change. His latest documentary-series, Covid Confessions, highlights stories from more than 100 workers across 15 industries impacted during the pandemic.

Mirandy Li

Mirandy grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was a survivor of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. This inspired her to go to medical school, after witnessing the health and resource disparities that resulted from the storm. She attended Emory University, where she studied biology and global health.

After graduating, Mirandy returned to New Orleans as an MD/PhD student at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center (LSUHSC). As the only queer woman of color in her medical school class, she joined, led, and created organizations that focused on student activism. As co-president of Tiger Pride, Mirandy organized community seminars on PrEP, and regularly volunteered to test individuals for HIV and Hepatitis C at local homeless shelters. In her second year of medical school, Mirandy established the Diversity Advisory Committee at LSUHSC, through which she facilitated a monthly “Social Justice Talk,” where students discussed issues of social justice on campus and in the community. Mirandy was also co-president of LSUHSC’s chapter of Medical Students for Choice (MSFC), where she organized student trainings on IUD insertion, contraception counseling, and abortion. For her work, she was selected as a MSFC Reproductive Health Extern in 2017, and was awarded the Women in Medicine Leadership Award in 2018.

Mirandy decided to pursue her PhD in public health, where she could research health disparities that marginalize vulnerable populations. Her dissertation focuses on smoking cessation strategies for LGBTQ populations. After graduating with her MD/PhD, she plans to continue her health disparities research, while also being an abortion provider.

Liana Giangiuilo


Liana Giangiulio is a white nonbinary playwright and performance artist from Philadelphia. Their writing breaks down the conventional barriers placed gender, culture, language, and sex as means to cultivate an American society where multiplicities of experiences are welcomed, prioritized, and celebrated. Their plays have been workshopped and performed by Reground Theatre Collective (Love in the Valley of Mexico and Camp Out), and featured in Vintage Soul’s Quick Quarantined Festival (Round 5), and Dysfunctioning Just Fine and Shea Theater Art’s Queerantine Virtual Fringe Festival (To Be Out and Unafraid). Previous Boston performance credits include the world premieres of The Nestwives of the Cretaceous (Boston University), Dead House (Boston Playwright’s Theatre), and Make Way for Ducklings (Wheelock Family Theatre). For their senior thesis, Liana wrote a new collection of trans centered monologues for the BU Trans Monologue Workshop, for which Liana won two school sponsored grants to facilitate and execute.

Follow Liana on Instagram @liana_tcg to see their love of fitness, food, and Latin dance.

Yabundu Conteh

Yabundu Conteh is a proud Sierra Leonean-American from The Bronx, NY. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Sociology and Africana Studies at Bryn Mawr College where she is set to graduate in May this year. She aspires to use artistic mediums to connect and educate young people about the numerous social issues affecting our world today. Outside of her time in school, Yabundu enjoys exploring global perspectives through the worlds of film, fashion, music and creative writing.

Hao Zhou

Hao Zhou is a filmmaker and photographer from a rural district in southwest China. Often informed by personal experiences, Hao’s work centers on LGBTQ+ people resisting marginalization. Hao has produced several short films as well as a feature film and play. After working in Europe and Asia, Hao moved to Iowa, where he is pursuing graduate degrees in filmmaking and photography. Hao has continued to carry out LGBTQ+ media projects in Iowa, focusing on BIPOC and immigrant LGBTQ+ communities. Hao’s latest project, funded by Art With Impact (AWI), explores queer immigrant mental health and has been featured in AWI’s public mental health workshops. In addition to creative work, Hao is passionate about advancing inclusive, accessible education. With support from the University of Iowa’s Graduate Teaching Fellowship, Hao is developing a new diversity-centered course and workshop. Hao has also won a UIowa Libraries grant to create open-access course materials aimed at reducing educational costs.

Yeshiva University Pride Alliance

The Yeshiva University Pride Alliance is an unofficial group of undergraduate YU students hoping to provide a supportive space on campus for all students, of all sexual orientations and gender identities, to feel respected, visible, and represented. Our goal is to foster awareness and sensitivity to the unique experiences of being a LGBTQ+ person in YU and the Orthodox community, and to advocate for their unconditional inclusion and acceptance. Our space will promote open dialogue for all, regardless of religious views and political affiliations.


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