This week we announced the inaugural members of the LGBTQ Community Leadership Pipeline. The Leadership Pipeline is a recruitment and enrichment initiative focused on increasing the number of LGBTQ people of color, transgender people, youth, and elders serving in board leadership positions at Philadelphia’s LGBTQ organizations. The Leadership Pipeline is free for all participants and works to remove any financial or social barriers holding anyone back from participating in LGBTQ leadership positions.

Over the course of six months, participants will engage with a curriculum that will help them develop strategies, skills, and resources to strengthen their ability to be an effective Board member. Some of the training topics include strategic leadership, finances and development, personal branding, and public relations. At the end of the pilot program, each successful participant will receive a stipend and will have the opportunity to serve on one of 12 organizational boards. All participating Boards will waive any financial expectations for serving on the Board for the first year.

Meet our new Leadership Pipeline participants!

Jarrett Thompson

Activist, leader and community member Bayard Rustin suggests the placement of rage in injustice be towards those who have directly harmed us; but to NEVER be destroyed by that which has caused pain. As a result, it is my pleasure to join the Community Leadership Pipeline as a liaison for tangible change. A change that can be seen, felt and identified throughout the community organizations, city of Philadelphia and within the homes of those who inhabit the LGBTQIA community of Philadelphia, PA; not limited too. It is my intention to be the change I expect to see. Therefore, in accepting this charge, I accept the responsibility to be better, do better and to listen harder.


Shelli Branscomb, LSW

I am a Trauma-Informed Social Worker with Temple University’s PHASeS (Philadelphia Healthy and Safe Schools) program, and undergoing training as a family and play therapist. My professional focus has been violence and trauma impacting women across the life cycle and gender spectrum. I am excited to be apart of the Community Leadership Pipeline because it is an intentional learning opportunity that will allow me to affect positive change in community-based organizations, while connecting with other LGBTQ people.


Dr. Monique Gary

Dr. Monique Gary is a breast surgical oncologist and the medical director of the Grand View Health/Penn Medicine Cancer Network Program in Sellersville, PA.  At this time, she is the only LGBT fellowship-trained African American breast cancer surgeon in the city.  A native of Philadelphia, Dr. Gary is excited to be back home and practicing in the area and looks forward to deepening her commitment to her LGBTQ+ community through participation in the Philadelphia LGBTQ Community Leadership Pipeline.


Kaleb Aronson

Kaleb is thrilled to be part of the Community Leadership Pipeline. They are most excited about all the learning that is to come from both peers and instructors and for the opportunity to be part of such important systemic change. Kaleb works at Project HOME doing Psychiatric Rehabilitation, sells typewritten paper goods on Etsy, loves to read, enjoys exploring Philadelphia (and beyond) with their wife and hopes to publish a book someday.


Brenda Zenoka

I currently work as a Medical Case Manager for those who are HIV positive, I have worked with this population for nearly 12 years. I have a bachelor’s degree in Economics and a Master’s degree in Non-Profit Public Administration. I am happily married and we are in the process of expanding our family via adoption.


Tyunique Nelson

Tyunique Nelson is a sister, mentor, educator, and self-proclaimed diva. She is passionate about advocating for the needs of LGBTQ youth in Pennsylvania. For their entire life, they have been devoted to providing youth with access to emancipatory education tools and a support system. Tyunique is a huge believer in people power and the ability in one single person’s voice to change the world.


Tekara Gainey

Tekara Gainey is a queer-identifying, Black, reproductive justice advocate, birth worker, and non-profit professional. Tekara integrates her passion for community building, health, economic, and education equity in her work in the nonprofit sector. When she’s not building bridges, Tekara offers compassionate, non-judgmental, accessible, support to birthing persons and their families as a full-spectrum doula, providing support across the spectrum of their reproductive needs. After returning home to Philadelphia from residing in California, Tekara is looking forward to joining the inaugural cohort of the Community Leadership Pipeline as a pathway to community and capacity building through joint decision making, authentic communication, and intersectional leadership.

Terry Young

Originally hailing from Louisiana, I have been in Philadelphia since 2016. During this time, I have found great satisfaction being an activist, organizer and educator in this city. I am excited about the LGBT Leadership Pipeline because it will provide me the opportunity to influence key decisions about programs designed to help queer Philadelphians in all areas of life and bring to fruition new ideas.


Damon Reaves

Damon Reaves is the Berton and Sallie Korman Associate Curator of Education for Community Engagement and Access at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, where he promotes inclusion and accessibility. He has a background in visual arts, theater, and education. He’s most looking forward to meeting the other participants in the Community Leadership Pipeline and learning from their experiences and expertise.


Wilfredo Hernandez

Wilfredo Hernandez is a queer theatre/visual artist, producer and cultural worker interested in exploring concepts of myth, performance and identity in his work while building community and equity in and through the arts. He currently serves as Consulting & Community Director with CultureWorks Greater Philadelphia, is Director of the LGBTQ New Americans Oral History Project with the Brooklyn Community Pride Center, and serves on the Education Committee of the national Oral History Association. He is beyond excited and proud to join the first cohort of the Community Leadership Pipeline in shared learning, growth and service to Philadelphia’s LGBTQ communities.


Jay Alston

Jay Alston (he/him/his) is a queer, gender non-conforming man of color, community health advocate, and non-profit event planner who is passionate about applying innovative technology solutions for social good. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware with a degree in Marketing and Sexuality & Gender Studies. Jay is thrilled to join the first class of Leadership Pipeline participants in centering the most marginalized members of Philadelphia’s LGBTQ community in the services that our local organizations provide.


Kai Thigpen

Kai Thigpen is a Licensed Social Worker who works as a therapist. Their interests include mental health, systemic issues, poetry, and spending time with pets. They are excited to learn more about the functioning of nonprofits and to develop a greater capacity to impact policy and procedures, especially as these affect marginalized clients/participants and staff.



Morgan Mahdavi

Morgan Mahdavi (she/her/hers or they/them/theirs) is a queer Persian-Norwegian-American troublemaker who believes in liberation in our lifetime. She works in social justice education, sexual violence prevention work, and youth leadership development. Morgan is excited to be a part of the LGBTQ Community Leadership Pipeline to build structures in organizations to ensure accountability to the communities they serve, and in particular to the most systematically oppressed and marginalized folks.


Phillip Sylvester

I am currently a third-year law student at Drexel, clerking part-time at a wonderful family law firm. My legal passions are family law and legal advocacy for indigent LGBTQ populations. I am excited to be a part of this initiative because it will provide an invaluable opportunity to use my passion for legal advocacy to help my community.


Tierra Rich

Tierra Rich is a Washington DC native, who has lived in the Philadelphia area for 5 1/2 years. She has been a part of many communities including the educational, arts and LGBTQ. She looks forward to serving and being a pivotal leader for all LGBTQ individuals, especially those of color.


Brandon Thompson

Brandon is an experienced events manager with a demonstrated event curating history working in the non-profit, collegiate, catering, and property management industries. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Relations from Temple University and is skilled in project management, content creation, and marketing. He is excited to be a part of the Community Leadership Pipeline to be greater support for the LGBT community and diversify the leadership within Philadelphia.

Shara Howard

Shara Dae Howard is an editor and reporter at KYW Newsradio. She joined the staff following a three-year stint at CBS-3. Shara is an unabashed Temple Owl with an affinity for LGBTQ advocacy, community affairs and finance. She spent more than 20 years in wealth management before making the transition into journalism. Shara is an Attic Youth Center Alumne and served on the Attic Board of directors for 4 years and hopes to serve the LGBTQ community with even greater purpose going forward.​

Mars Bielski

My name is Mars and I use they/them/their pronouns. I have a B.A. in anthropology from Kutztown University and I am very passionate about history, gender studies, and linguistics as it applies to the anthropology field. I am very excited to learn new information through this program so that I can better help the LGBTQ community.

Bri Golphin

A native of Philadelphia, Bri identifies as unapologetically black, queer, and nonbinary or #AfroEnby as they like to call themselves. Bri, a social justice warrior and organizer at heart, originally got their start advocating for equity and education for QTPOCS in alternative lifestyle communities. From there, they participated in active roles for various marches, orgs, and causes. They are very excited to be apart of the program as it is their wish to implement the change they seek.

Katrina A Robinson

Katrina A Robinson has been an activist for Transgender Awareness and Rights for over 14 years and is currently a Community Outreach Specialist at Action Wellness. She received an Associate’s degree in Human Services from Borough of Manhattan Community College. It is her professional goal to develop a comprehensive Transgender program and being a part of this group will allow this dream to happen.