Meet the 2019 Victory Empowerment Fellows

LGBTQ Victory Institute is proud to announce the 2019 Victory Empowerment Fellows — our program designed for LGBTQ leaders of color and/or trans leaders. These 10 individuals are change-makers who have been identified to lead the LGBTQ community as elected officials or other public servants.

Since the Victory Empowerment Fellowship was launched in 2015, we’ve helped 41 LGBTQ leaders expand their skill sets and cultivate invaluable relationships. These individuals have taken the tools obtained through the program back to their communities, and they’re currently working to change the current landscape of LGBTQ inequality.

Phillipe Cunningham, ’15, Andrea Jenkins, ’16, Lisa Middleton, ’16, and Vernetta Alston, ’17, are all former Empowerment Fellows who are now city council members in Minneapolis, Palm Springs, and Durham, respectively. Whether it’s 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 2019 cohort will attend Victory Institute’s Candidate & Campaign Training in Minneapolis in August and the 2019 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, DC this November. They’ll also be assigned LGBTQ mentors who will guide them in their path to Victory.

Dan Arriola (Tracy, California)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Councilmember Arriola was elected to the City Council in 2018, and works as a Deputy District Attorney for San Joaquin County. At 29 years old, he is the youngest Councilmember in the history of our city, representing “A New Generation of Leadership” for the community.

Dan is proud to have grown up in Tracy and to have attended local schools. Despite having faced socioeconomic challenges growing up, he was able to overcome those obstacles and succeed in his academic and professional endeavors. After graduating from West High School, he continued his education and graduated as Political Science Valedictorian of UCLA in 2011 and as Student Body President of USC Law School in 2014.

Gary Briggs (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

A New Orleans native, Gary Briggs has attended private, Catholic, charter, and traditional public schools. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Political Science from Texas Christian University and served as a White House Intern in the Obama administration upon graduation. Afterwards, Gary joined Teach For America and returned to New Orleans to teach English Language Arts. He served as 5th and 6th grade Team Leader at Harriet Tubman Charter School for four years. In 2015, his experiences as a student and teacher in New Orleans’ schools were chronicled by The Times Picayune. Today, Gary serves as EdNavigator’s New Orleans’s Master Navigator and works to support families and students across the Greater New Orleans area.

Chloe Corcoran (Sacramento, California)

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Chloe Corcoran is a higher education professional specializing in development and alumni relations. The most fulfilling aspect of her work is engaging underrepresented communities, which she continues to do as the Assistant Director of Alumni Engagement at UC Davis. An activist and avid volunteer, Chloe has served as Vice President of the Board of the Out Alliance, the local LGBTQ Center in her hometown of Rochester, NY, an Advisory Committee Member of RocCity Coalition, a young professional group also in Rochester, NY, and Executive Board member of Emerging Leaders at her former employer and alma mater, the University of Rochester. Her advocacy work has included time as a talk radio show co-host, women’s magazine columnist, and various public speaking engagements on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community. In 2018, she was the first out trans woman to be named to the “Forty Under 40” list of top professionals in Rochester, NY and was also selected as a graduation speaker for the United Way’s Pride Leadership Development program. In addition to these endeavors, Chloe is a doctoral student studying higher education with a planned focus on equity and inclusion.

Toni Duran (San Diego, California)

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Toni Duran is a Field Representative in the office of the California State Senate President pro Tempore. For the last five and a half years Toni has represented San Diego’s Third Council District as a staff member in the State Assembly and Senate. She works on issues concerning women, veterans, the LGBTQ+ community, human trafficking, and arts and culture. Prior to her employment with the State, Toni was a grassroots organizer, and worked on several local and statewide candidate and issue-based campaigns. She has been awarded Woman of the Year (2015 & 2018), Outstanding Female Personality (2016), and the inaugural Gloria Johnson Feminist Leadership Award (2017) by local community organizations. Toni is currently a candidate to become the next District Three Councilmember.

Brenda Duverce (Washington, District of Columbia)

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Brenda Duverce is a currently a management consultant with Deloitte Consulting, where she supports government and nonprofit clients with their most pressing mission critical challenges. During her time at Deloitte, Ms. Duverce has served a one of the leaders in their LGBTQ business resource group where she leads local community engagement efforts and their internal mentorship development program. Prior to consulting, Ms. Duverce served as a legislative fellow on Capitol Hill, Fulbright Fellow in Botswana, and interned for the U.S. Department of Interior. Ms. Duverce expertise lies in design thinking, stakeholder engagement, strategic communications, and policy issues affecting marginalized communities.

Ms. Duverce received a Bachelor of Arts from Howard University and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. She currently resides in the Washington, DC area with her wife and dog.

Stephanie Medina (Bensenville, Illinois)

Pronouns: They/Them

Stephanie Medina is a voting rights advocate who has focused her professional career on empowering voters to take action in their communities through electoral advocacy and voter informed-education practices. Stephanie first became a passionate campaigner in Illinois where she was a field organizer for JB Pritzker’s successful primary election in rural central Illinois. Soon after, she campaigned as a regional field director for the Arizona Democratic Party, where she helped elect the first openly bisexual US Senator, Kyrsten Sinema. Stephanie is currently the Field Director for Jolie Justus for Kansas City Mayor, who if elected would be the first openly gay mayor in the Heartland. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Human Development & Family Studies, with a certificate in Latinx Mental Health Resilience from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Paul Monge (San Francisco, California)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Growing up in a low-income immigrant household in the San Francisco Bay Area and witnessing the sacrifices of his hardworking single mother, Paul Monge developed a deep personal commitment to social justice. As an undergraduate at UC Santa Barbara, he led organizing efforts around worker, immigrant, and LGBTQ rights, and served as president of the university’s student body. Paul has worked to address educational inequities within San Francisco public schools as a policy associate with Coleman Advocates for Children and Youth. Between 2016-2018, he served on the University of California Board of Regents, representing the needs of more than 270,000 students throughout California. Currently, Paul is the Director of Policy and External Affairs at Compass Family Services, a services agency that supports homeless families in achieving housing stability and economic self-sufficiency. He holds a Masters in Public Policy from Harvard University and a J.D. from the UC Berkeley School of Law.

Mariah Moore (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Mariah Moore is a native and resident of New Orleans, LA. Ms. Moore is actively involved in local politics and advocacy for the transgender community. In 2015, after overcoming some personal hardships of her own which ignited her passion to become more involved in making a difference in her community, Mariah started speaking out and showing up. Mariah has and currently works with organizations such as the Transgender Law Center, Operation Restoration, and SONG, where she attends convenings and spreads awareness about the disparities that face transwomen of color in the south. Mariah was one of the founding members of the first Black Trans Circle which was held March 2018 in New Orleans, LA. Currently Mariah voluntarily sits on the board of directors for the LGBTQ Center in New Orleans, as well as the LGBTQ Task force which was created under the direction of Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Mariah will also be featured in Robin Hammond’s “Where Love Is Illegal”, a series produced by National Geographic.

Preston Parish (Missoula, Montana)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Preston Parish is a policy analyst who has focused his career on advancing a progressive policy agenda. He has worked in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors on local, state, and national issues ranging from LGBTQ workforce equality and environmental justice to public health and education. Originally from Michigan, Preston now serves as a State-Tribal Policy Analyst in Montana, where he analyzes the impacts of State budget and tax decisions on tribal communities and advocates for greater State investments where needed.

Preston is an enrolled member of the Bay Mills Indian Community and grew up on his tribe’s reservation. He holds a Master of Public Policy degree from the University of Michigan’s Ford School of Public Policy and a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Michigan.

Shawn Turk (Centennial, Colorado)

Pronouns: He/Him/His

Shawn Turk is a land acquisition and regulatory professional for the wireless telecommunications industry in Denver, Colorado. His professional experience includes: regulatory compliance; environmental health & safety training; and urban planning. Shawn previously worked with at-risk teens and disabled adults in assisted living and group home settings in New York and Colorado as a treatment counselor. Shawn holds a Master of Science in Energy Law from Oklahoma City University, a Master of Science in Environmental Policy and Management from the University of Denver, and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of California-Davis. He’s currently pursuing a doctorate in Public Policy from Walden University. Shawn currently volunteers as the District 6 Representative on the Colorado State Board of Health, and serves as Vice Chair of the Cancer, Cardiovascular, & Pulmonary Disease Grant Program. Shawn is the past president for the Gender Identity Center of Colorado.


Fellows & Interns, Programs