Back to top

Two Decades of Funding Trans Artists: A Conversation with Denise Brown, Gabriel Foster & V Varun Chaudry

Tuesday, June 4, 2024
6:00pm - 7:00pm EDT
Add to Calendar

Presented by Leeway Foundation and co-sponsored by Funders for LGBTQ Issues, Grantmakers in the Arts, Gender Justice Fund, Justice Funders, Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, Trans Justice Funding Project and William Way LGBT Community Center

Join this conversation with Denise Brown, Gabriel Foster and V Varun Chaudhry on funding transgender artists. In 2005, the Leeway Foundation expanded its grant funding to artists who identified as trans. After almost twenty years, we look back at Leeway’s decisions, strategy, processes, and impact on philanthropy and nonprofits. The three speakers will also discuss how this work evolved over the years, what is still needed, and what’s next.


About the Presenters:

Denise M. Brown (she/her) is a cultural organizer and strategist, coach, and facilitator who is passionate about using her skills and energies on creating, supporting, and illuminating work at the intersections of art, culture and social justice and working intergenerationally to support the development of young leaders. She is the Executive Director of the Leeway Foundation, an organization whose mission is to support women and trans* artists and cultural producers creating art for social change. For over 30+ years, Denise has worked with cultural and social justice organizations, individual donors, and foundations like the ArtPlace/Philadelphia Assembly, Grantmakers in the Arts, Philanthropy Network Greater Philadelphia, Rauschenberg Foundation, and Surdna Foundation on program development and grantmaking strategies regionally and nationally. She currently serves on the boards of the Henrietta Wurts Memorial Fund of the Philadelphia Foundation and Scribe Video Center, a Philadelphia-based media arts organization.

*Leeway is a trans-affirming organization committed to gender self-determination, and we use the term “trans” in its most inclusive sense, as an umbrella term encompassing transsexual, transgender, genderqueer, Two-Spirit people, and anyone whose gender identity or gender expression is nonconforming and/or different from their gender assigned at birth.

Gabriel Foster is a black, queer, trans "momma’s boy," is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Trans Justice Funding Project. Gabriel has had the opportunity to work with brilliant leaders, mentors, and community members while working at The American Friends Service Committee's GLBTQ Youth Program and the Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian, and Gay Survivors of Abuse (WA) in Seattle, WA; the Leeway Foundation in Philadelphia; SPARK Reproductive Justice Now in Atlanta, GA and the Sylvia Rivera Law Project in New York. While always on a life learning curve, Foster often finds himself daydreaming scheming about creative collaborations rooted in liberatory visions. And making really, really hilarious memes.

V Varun Chaudhry is a critical ethnographer with research investments in transgender studies, queer of color critique, and Black feminist theory. They are currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University and a Senior Fellow with the Center for Applied Transgender Studies. V’s academic research has been published or is forthcoming in GLQ, Transgender Studies Quarterly, Signs, differences, Feminist Anthropology, and Feminist Theory. V is also the author of several reports and guides on LGBTQ and trans inclusion, including Transforming Inclusion: An Organizational Guide (published by the Leeway Foundation in 2018), Out in Research: A Guide to LGBTQ Market Research (published by Suzy, Inc. in 2021), Funding Trans Resilience (published by the Gender Justice Fund in Philadelphia in 2022), and a forthcoming ten-year retrospective from the Trans Justice Funding Project. V has also served as a racial and gender justice consultant for a number of nonprofit organizations, including Transponder Eugene, Girls Rock Philly, and Bread and Roses Community Fund. V is currently working on their manuscript, Transcraft: Pedagogies of World-Building, which ethnographically maps the counterintuitive and strategic ways that trans and gender-nonconforming people of color and their allies world-build in, through, and against nonprofit and funding agencies in Philadelphia and the United States more broadly. V is the recipient of a Career Enhancement Fellowship from the Institute for Citizens and Scholars.

Find More By
Related Organizations 
Event type