LGBTQ+ Victory Institute is proud to announce the ten 2023 Victory Empowerment Fellows.
The Victory Empowerment Fellowship is a six-month fellowship for LGBTQ+ leaders of color and/or transgender leaders who seek to expand their campaign skills and policy-making power and to join a strong cohort of movement leaders from across the country. Since the Victory Empowerment Fellowship was launched in 2015, we have helped 87 LGBTQ+ leaders expand their skill sets and cultivate invaluable relationships. These individuals will take the tools obtained through the program back to their communities to change the current landscape of LGBTQ+ inequality.
They join a distinguished group of alumni such as Minneapolis City Councilmember Andrea Jenkins ’16, Palm Springs City Councilmember Lisa Middleton ’16, and North Carolina State Representative Vernetta Alston ’17. Whether it is running for office, working in local and city government, developing civil society organizations, or leading in the private sector – the alumni of the Victory Empowerment Fellowship are leading the fight for LGBTQ+ equality.
As participants in the Victory Empowerment Fellowship, the 2023 cohort will attend Victory Institute’s Orlando Candidate & Campaign Training in July and the 2023 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, DC this December. They will also participate in virtual programming and be assigned LGBTQ+ mentors who will guide them in their path to Victory.
Meet the 2023 Class
Lena Chipman (she/her)
Lena Chipman is an industry-recognized technologist and leader with a passion for breaking down barriers for marginalized communities, establishing equitable and inclusive solutions to complex social problems, and enabling everyone to live their best, authentic lives. A Memphian for most of her life, and openly polysexual since her teenage years, Lena had always challenged gender norms before openly beginning to transition in 2022. She brings her deep knowledge of psychology and her talent for solving the most complicated problems for the largest businesses to her work as a vocal advocate for the LGBTQ+ community. In her work with the Shelby County Government, OUTMemphis, and Memphis Trans Love, she’s raised awareness of, and planned solutions for, issues of economic and healthcare equity that affect marginalized groups. As a mother and a believer in intersectional feminism, Lena is a fierce fighter for the rights of all, especially the most vulnerable.
K.T. Coleman (she/ella)
Washington, District of Columbia
K.T. Coleman was raised in Ohio by blue-collar, working-class parents who instilled a strong value in education, community resourcing, and social awareness. While obtaining her undergraduate degree, K.T.’s love of organizing and advocacy sparked a desire to think more intently about the world and its problems— to act and engage. As a diplomatic, solution-based leader, K.T. leaned into the power of people and chose to pursue a master’s degree to develop the industry tools necessary to create effective policy to improve the quality of life of the working poor. Through her work in non-profit development, political advocacy (i.e., gun violence prevention, women’s rights, racial equity), and public affairs— K.T. has developed a well-rounded skillset and a robust network of professionals that serve in her current role as the Senior Manager of Government Relations at CHCI, where she manages relationships between members of Congress and other officials in Washington, D.C.
Joelle Espeut (she/her)
Joelle Bayaa-Uzuri Espeut (she/her/hers) is a writer, creative, and social advocate who has worked in community advocacy the last five years. She currently works with The Normal Anomaly Initiative, Inc. Serving as Director of Programming, she oversees the advocacy/ leadership programs, including Transgender Ally Collective (a leadership program uplifting and empowering Black Trans Women), and Project Liberate (a year-long intensive leadership development program for Black Queer businesses). Deeply committed to activism, Joelle also serves on the Board of The Houston LGBTQ Political Caucus (the first Black Trans Woman nominated to the Board). Joelle has worked with AIDS United, GLAAD, Gilead/Compass Initiative, Transgender Law Center, and Emory University, and appeared in Houston Chronicle, Outsmart Magazine and Fox26 Houston’s “Isaiah Factor Uncensored”. She was awarded The Mahogany Project, Inc.’s Rising Star Phoenix Award in 2020, as well as the ‘Carrying The Torch’ Award.
Frank Julca (He/Él)
Brooklyn, New York
Frank Julca is a Peruvian-born public servant and queer activist based in New York City with a background in HIV/AIDS research, direct services and advocacy. He is a former fellow for NMAC’s Gay Men of Color Fellowship in Biomedical HIV Prevention and previously served as part of the Community Engagement team at the Latino Commission on AIDS, where he advocated for health equity for underserved communities. Frank currently works as Community Liaison for NYC Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, where he oversees LGBTQIA+ affairs, Criminal Justice, Public Safety, and Civil & Human Rights. In this role, he has led and collaborated on initiatives to improve access to LGBTQ+ affirming healthcare, address the City’s response to the MPV outbreak, and fight against recent attacks on our TGNCNB community members and drag performers. Frank is a proud graduate of the CUNY system and is pursuing his Master in Public Health with an emphasis in health policy at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health.
Sunjay Kumar (He/They)
Sunjay Kumar is a queer activist and technologist who builds software to improve the lives of incarcerated people and builds power to end mass incarceration. As a leader with community organizations like Invisible 2 Invincible and Asian Americans Advancing Justice Chicago, they have canvassed, run workshops, trained leaders, and won campaigns. These include the fight to end cash bail in Illinois and get progressive candidates like State Representative Hoan Huynh, Alderwomen Angela Clay and Leni Manaa-Hoppenworth, and Mayor Brandon Johnson elected.
Jo Miller (They/Them)
Woodbury, New Jersey
Councilmember Jo Miller, an out Transfemine leader, grew up in South Jersey and recently became the first known gender nonconforming person to serve in elected office in SJ. A year ago, Jo decided to forgo the rest of law school to fight back against the wave of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and regulations in the political field. As Deputy Executive Director of the Camden County Democratic Committee, Jo maintains the county party’s political operations and has pushed internal changes to permit nonbinary people to seek committee seats and laid the groundwork for CCDC’s first LGBTQ+ Caucus. Jo also fosters the growth of other young queer professionals as the Recruitment Chair of the South Jersey Young Democrats. Additionally, Jo has experience crafting state legislation from their previous position as the Legislative Aide to Assemblyman Paul Moriarty, NJ LD-4. Jo believes everyone deserves a happy and healthy home, and they will use their legislative and campaign experience toward that end.
Jose Morales (He/They)
Los Angeles, California
José Morales is the Donor Relations Manager and assists the Associate Director of Donor Relations and Development Director with Equality California and Silver State Equality’s Individual Giving program and general fundraising initiatives. Prior to Equality California, José worked for Lambda Legal as a program coordinator based in Chicago and led community outreach and education programs, and assisted their development department with major events and donor relations across the Midwest. He also has an extensive background working in the field of immigrant justice, serving as a paralegal for the National Immigrant Justice Center’s youth division, which provided legal services to immigrant children held in detention facilities during the Trump administration. José received his bachelors of arts from the University of California, Berkeley in rhetoric and legal studies as a Regent’s and Chancellor’s scholar. He then pursued a graduate fellowship at Yale University, where he underwent intensive doctoral-level research and training in political science, and later attended a masters program in the social sciences at the University of Chicago. In addition to his passion for social justice and scholarship, José enjoys international travel, physical fitness, supporting local artists, and writing poetry.
Osmara Santana (She/Ella)
Osmara Santana is a queer DACAmented mexicana from the Rio Grande Valley, Texas and has been a community organizer and strategist for more than ten years. Most recently she served as the Deputy Director for Texas Rising, a project of the Texas Freedom Network, where she co-directed statewide civic engagement efforts by building power through young people in a multi-issue, intersectional, social justice framework. She is a graduate of the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a focus in political economy. She previously served in higher education governmental relations, legislative constituent relations, and political campaign organizing. Currently she works as a Human Resources professional for the Texas Freedom Network. Osmara is committed to the empowerment of young Texans, mujeres, and queer folks to ensure their voices are not only just heard at the ballot box but also that they are filling the seats to represent their communities.
Kyle Warren-Love (He/Him)
Prospect Hill, North Carolina
Kyle Warren-Love is a proud transgender man living in rural North Carolina. Kyle has always had a love for animals which led him to pursue a career in Veterinary Medicine, where he worked for ten years. His successful work collaborating with coworkers to develop new protocols for the Diagnostic Imaging Department sparked his passion to forge a new path in political organizing. His years in Veterinary Medicine gave him insight into the importance of patience, kindness, and teamwork, as well as his abilities to strengthen community voices, identify and encourage opportunities for action, and develop sustainable processes for change. He has made changes in his own community through multiple avenues including as a Regional Chair of the LGBTQ+ Democrats of North Carolina, Protect Caswell Event Organizer, Down Home North Carolina Medicaid Leadership Team member, and Durham for All Budget Campaign Events Team member. Kyle is resolute in his endeavors.
Orlando White (He/Him)
Orlando White has spent the last 8 years as the Global Head of Community Development for LinkedIn. In this role, he led community programs across LinkedIn’s largest real estate markets, working collaboratively to establish the company as a valued asset in every community where they operate. His work exists at the intersection of real estate, public policy, and community outreach, and supported LinkedIn’s ability to meet and invest in local communities. Orlando is also a certified mindfulness teacher dedicated to the joy and liberation of all people. With nearly ten years of experience as a mindfulness practitioner and facilitator, Orlando stands rooted in mindfulness and radical authenticity as the pathways to our collective healing and wellbeing. Originally from the Washington, DC Area, Orlando holds a B.A. in Political Science and Community Development from Howard University and is a current Board Member for MENTOR California and JobTrain.