Still to come…
Daunasia Yancey is an African-American, aggressive-femme lesbian, sexual health educator, poet and activist who was born and raised in Boston, MA. She has worked for several Boston-area community based organizations and served on the Boards of Directors of the Boston Alliance of GLBT Youth and the National Youth Advocacy Coalition. In 2011, Daunasia was honored for her work by the Colin Higgins Foundation, as a recipient of their National Youth Courage Award. Receiving the Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award allowed Daunasia to take a break from working to begin her undergraduate studies. She is currently taking time off from pursuing an (expensive) degree in Public Health while continuing to change the world. Daunasia is currently the Assistant to the Executive Artistic Director at The Theater Offensive, an organization whose philosophy of OUTness as a tool to create safer more vibrant neighborhoods resonates with Daunasia’s commitment to the vitality of her community. She is also the Coordinator of Fenway Health’s Connect to Protect Evaulation Component. Connect to Protect’s focus on mitigating the root causes of HIV prevalence amongst young people through structural changes ties in perfectly with Daunasia’s passions for HIV prevention and social justice. You can also find Daunasia featured in the documentary, ‘Secret Survivors,’ produced in 2012 by Ping Chong & Company and the Ms. Foundation for Women.
In 2010, shortly after receiving the award, D’Ontace established Peer Support Peer Education[ PSPE] at the University of the Arts [UArts], a student group dedicated to educating and providing Health and Wellness resources to students, partially in Sexual Health. Over the past three year, PSPE was instrumental in the implementation weekly free HIV and STI Screening in the University’s Health Center, launched, “Sex in the Box”, a school wide condom distribution initiative and “Shades of Awareness” PSPE’s annual charity benefit that has raised over $3,000 for local HIV/AIDS service organization including Philadelphia’s AIDS FUND and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s: Connect to Protect. Last May, D’Ontace completed his bachelors in Jazz Vocal Studies at The University of the Arts and is currently enrolled in Grad School. D’ Ontace has been arranging his own jazz vocal music and looking forward to releasing an EP in June. “Receiving the Collin Higgins Award meant that my heart is ever too big to help someone in need. Receiving the award was not only a vital instrument in me furthering my studies, but encouraged me to create an organization that’s instrumental to thousands of students yearly. This award encouraged me to work harder in my mission to advocate for better education and resource systems for young adults-a mission that will never die.”
Since being presented with the Youth Courage Award in 2009, Lance has gained focus and insight to guide his ongoing community organizing work. Currently, Lance is working to support the transformation of GenderSpark (formed in 2008) into Detroit REPRESENT! an organization born out of a desire to make GenderSpark’s work more intentionally political, and more relevant. It’s a collective of LGBTQ youth activists of color from the city of Detroit, who create media to incite local, grassroots transformation. This summer, Lance is in the midst of leading the collective’s first ever summer fellowship, where a small group of LGBTQ youth activists of color will develop tight bonds, exploring ideas of social justice, grassroots community organizing, and radical DIY media. The fellows will develop a range of skills, from group facilitation, to digital media production, to conflict resolution. They’re spending their summer networking with organizations and activists on a local and national level, and these fellows will be encouraged to take on additional leadership roles as the summer comes to an end.
“Transforming GenderSpark into Detroit REPRESENT! was a process that came, in large part, though a number of community educational opportunities I’ve participated in, over the past few years. Some of the most substantial were the KICK L.E.A.D. (Learn, Educate, Advocate, and Drive) academy for young LGBTQ African Americans in Detroit, and the 2013 Detroit Future Media Workshops, where I spent several months of intensive study, learning about graphic design, video production, and transformative educational practices. Using the skills gained in the workshops, I was able to support the work of the up-and-coming community school, the Boggs Educational Center, learning about the deep and personal relationship between neighborhood and education, within oppressed communities.
At present, I serve on the board of directors for Detroit Latin@z, an organization dedicated to support and advocacy for LGBTQ Latin@ Detroiters, where I’m committed to supporting their work to provide more youth-friendly programming and to building efforts in the city for interracial solidarity in our LGBTQ communities. During the day, I work at Alternatives for Girls: a nonprofit agency in Southwest Detroit, answering our crisis hotline, offering case management, and providing street outreach to commercial sex workers. I attend Wayne State University, and hope to earn a Bachelor of Social Work within two years. I currently live on the west side of Detroit, in a rented house with my Canadian partner, and another family member. We spend our days gardening, hanging at the local women/queer/trans* bike co-op, and walking other people’s dogs.”
“After the incredible honor of winning the Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award I moved back to Little Rock, Arkansas to live with my Nana. I realized that I wanted very much to continue being involved with the GSA that I founded at Little Rock Central High as well as being a part of DYSC, the program for LGBTQ youth that I helped start at the Center for Artistic Revolution, CAR. As an intern I helped CAR renovate a space in the basement of the church where we have been housed for the past 7 years. I helped open The Centers at CAR, this consists of two very large spaces that are divided by a wall. On one side we have the CAR staff and intern offices and we also house Little Rock PFLAG. This space also houses an adult community center/meeting space. On the other side we opened the very first and to date, only drop-in center for LGBTQ and ally youth in Arkansas, The Lucille Marie Hamilton Youth Center. This space also serves as the home base for the DYSC program and its weekly Friday night meeting. I’m proud to see how DYSC has grown. We have over 350 members now and a second chapter has opened in Conway, AR and we will soon be opening two others. It turns out that I am on the autism spectrum and I have Aspergers Syndrome, so that has presented its own set of challenges, but I continue learning ways to better live with it. I went to Job Corp for a year and got my certification in network cabling. Today I am still involved with CAR and I work as a secretary for the church that houses us.”
Kyle Rapiñan is multi-racial law student currently attending Northeastern University in Boston. Since receiving a Colin Higgins Youth Courage Award, Kyle has blossomed into a fierce community activist for human rights, youth self determination, and re-imagining allyship as an action instead of as an identity. Kyle is best known in the queer community for designing and shepherding a new constituency based queer youth arts center in Seattle, Queer Youth Space. He has a strong and demonstrated commitment to ending economic violence, inequity, and youth homelessness. In his free time, he enjoys cuddling up with his kitten and avoiding his heavy backpack.
Ali Abbas is a writer living in New York. Ali graduated DePaul University and went on to get his Master’s at NYU. He worked as a journalist for a few different outlets including the BBC/PRI and Makeshift magazine. Though not a photojournalist by training, one of his favorite and most memorable works is his photo series on 2012 Noble Peace Prize winner and Yemeni revolutionary, Tawakul Karman. It’s been republished by the BBC/PRI’s World Service a few times. Another memorable publication is Why are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots– the 2013 recipient of the Stonewall Book award.
Last year Ali was picked as one of 12 computer programmers from around the world to attend IGN’s Code-Foo, a two month coding-intensive program. He was flown out to San Francisco to design tools for users to better interact with IGN’s news content. His application video for the program became so popular it was profiled in Laptop Magazine’s series on “how to get hired.” Ali also published in Mattilda Bernstein’s latest anthology, which has received the Stonewall book award and is currently up for a Lambda Literary award in non-fiction. Ali just finished his first fully produced sketch-comedy show at the Upright Citizens Brigade.
In 2005, Andy Marra won the Colin Higgins Foundation Courage Award allowing her to further her work in the LGBT movement. Today, Andy is the Public Relations Manager for the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN). Previously, Andy served as Co-Director for Nodutdol for Korean Community Development and Senior Media Strategist for the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Andy has also served on boards for the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Funding Exchange, Chinese for Affirmative Action, the National Campaign to End the Korean War and the New York Association for Gender Rights Advocacy.
Andy’s work and her commentary have been featured on programs including Access Hollywood, The Ellen Show, Oprah and The Rachel Maddow Show to outlets including the Associated Press, Reuters, The Huffington Post, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Korea Times, KoreAm Journal, Salon.com, FOX, MTV, MSNBC, ABC and NPR.
Andy has been honored by the White House for her contributions to the LGBT community and was profiled in The Advocate’s “Forty Under 40.” She is the past recipient of the GLSEN Pathfinder Award, the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force Creating Change Award and was honored by the City of New York for her work in the community. You can follow Andy on Twitter at @Andy_Marra.
LaJoya Johnson is an alumna of Michigan State University, degreed in Interdisciplinary Studies. She has used the training, opportunity and advocacy skills learned there to continue living in her passion for advocacy and activism.
Since receiving the Colin Higgins Courage Award in 2004, LaJoya has used this courage to become a fervent advocate for any and all disenfranchised persons, with special emphasis on the homeless, women and the LGBTQ communities. Her dedication and contributions have earned several accolades from other organizations such as the MSU Office of Affirmative Action, the City of Lansing, MI Association of Human Rights and the Lansing Area AIDS network.
LaJoya continues advocacy by engaging in volunteerism and professional work with the Georgia State Dept. of Family Services, Cobb County, GA Foster Care and similarly affiliated organizations. With many years of professional work in women’s and homeless shelters/ residency programs, LaJoya has seen firsthand the necessity of trained clinical staff, and the devastating effects when professional services are lacking. Seeking to provide the maximum impact of her advocacy, LaJoya has currently committed to becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, pursuing graduate study in fall 2013.
LaJoya’s other endeavors include the establishment of her own non-profit org, Sistahs United for Change, geared to professional lesbians of color for networking, support and activism. In addition, LaJoya continues to develop the self-founded MSU LGBT Students of Color Scholarship, one of her the most personal and significant accomplishments to date. “I sincerely appreciate the Colin Higgins organization for acknowledging the work I have committed to in the LGBT community. My greatest joy is helping other’s obtain self-sufficiency despite inequality.”
Since winning the award I went on to racing bikes professionally over in Europe for about 6 years. I lived in Belgium, Spain, Italy and Germany. I have also started a 5013C Non-Profit called www.StevenCozzaRaceforKids.org to help disadvantaged children locally and around the world. Since getting injured and having to retire from cycling, I am now a real estate agent for Frank Howard Allen Realtors. A huge part of my business in real estate is giving back to the local community that I serve. I am currently organizing a massive kids charity event called the Bici Sport Petaluma Kids Gran Fondo. Approximately 3500 kids will be able to cycle, walk or run a 1, 4 or 7 mile course. All the money the kids raise with pledge forms will go back to their schools and 4 chosen kids in the area with disabilities and or life-threatening illnesses. I am now recently married to my wife Jen and we have a 1 year old Golden Retriever named Poppy.