OutPower

Victory Institute Leadership Team: Folks You Should Know!

The LGBTQ Victory Institute has an amazing team that puts together its Leadership programs. This team works somewhat behind-the-scenes, allowing glory to go to candidates and LGBTQ leaders, lifting them up, as part of Victory’s overall mission. Blogs from Victory are usually the same way, but I wanted to showcase this team and shine some light on each individual. This blog post will be a bit longer than the usual, but it is a worthy read if, as Victory Blog readers, you all do not know the people who do a lot of the great work that this organization is known for.

I asked each one the same group of questions. As Washington, DC is a political and transient city, I myself was curious where everyone on the team was from and what brought them to work in DC. I wanted to know about each team member’s personal lives as well, such as their pets, life partners, interests, and hobbies. I asked about their favorite thing about working for Victory, and about their goals. I wrapped up questions with an opportunity for them to mention something about themselves that they may not get to express via their work at Victory.

First is Ruben Gonzalez, Vice President of Leadership Initiatives.

Where are you from originally? What brought you to DC?

I was born in Phoenix, Arizona and moved to Washington DC in 2008 from New York City. I moved to Washington to work at the National Council of La Raza in Resource Development.

Are you married/partnered?

Married for almost seven years and have an adorable Wheaten Terrier named Sadie Rose.

What is your favorite thing about working at Victory? This can be a memory/event too!

The International LGBTQ Leaders Conference is always a highlight. Getting to convene so many incredible out leaders in one place and create thoughtful programming for them feels like a dream job. Also volunteering for the Fund and door knocking all day in the rain to support Danica Roem for VA Delegate and getting to celebrate her historic win at her victory party.

What are your future plans? What are your goals beyond Victory?

To double the size of the Victory Congressional Internship and Victory Congressional Fellowship programs! Beyond Victory, my goal is a to be a good dog dad and train Sadie Rose not to jump on everyone she meets.

What are things you enjoy doing in your free time? Any pets?

I enjoy traveling with my husband, dancing, good conversation, musicals.

Anything else about you as a person that others may not get to see in the work you do for Victory?

I am a terrible cook but a great party host excelling in bartending, seat assignments and building playlists.

Next is Sheila Isong, Director of Domestic Programs.

Where are you from originally? What brought you to DC?

I was born in Benin City, Nigeria and soon after my family moved to Lagos, Nigeria. My childhood fluctuated between Lagos and Maryland and I was raised in the greater DC metro area. So, the Maryland side of DC is home for me.

Are you married/partnered?

I got married recently on April 28, 2018! Exciting times!

What is your favorite thing about working at Victory? This can be a memory/event too!

I’m extremely proud of how we’ve increased and widened our applicant pool. Over the last 2+ yeas, we’ve greatly increased the number of POC, women and trans/GNC folks who’ve applied for our domestic programs. This means we’re being intentional about casting a wider net and making sure diversity is included when it comes to openly LGBTQ folks running for office.

What are your future plans? What are your goals beyond Victory?

I’m still trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, so that’s TBD 😊.

What are things you enjoy doing in your free time? Any pets?

I enjoy running, reading, hosting soirees, playing and watching sports and sharing space with amazing people. Best shows on television: Queen Sugar, Game of Thrones, Atlanta, and Insecure!

Next is Luis Abolafia-Anguita, Director of International Programs.

Where are you from originally? What brought you to DC?

I’m originally from Andalusia, in the south of Spain, and I also lived in Madrid for many years. I came to DC as an Atlas Corps fellow in 2012 and returned to DC in 2015.

What is your favorite thing about working at Victory? This can be a memory/event too!

The best thing about our work is to help this group of fearless leaders who are committed to helping their communities while keep fighting for equality.

What are your future plans? What are your goals beyond Victory?

Environmental justice and gender equality are issues very close to my heart. I’m an organizer in DC around those two topics. My goals are to bring all of those topics together, as they are very much connected.

What are things you enjoy doing in your free time? Any pets?

I’m a devote concert goer. Try to attend a gig at least once a month. I already bought my ticket to see Big Freedia in October!

Next is Reggie Greer, Director of Constituent Engagement.

Where are you from originally? What brought you to DC?

I’m proudly from Wichita Falls, TX, nicknamed the “City that Faith Built”. For my 10th birthday, my mom and dad took me to DC, and I fell in love with the city, the architecture, and our history. I also became obsessed with the presidency. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to live and attend college in DC. I got my wish when I got my acceptance letter to Georgetown University.

Are you married/partnered?

No, I’m hopelessly single. Although, Sheila says she wants to enter me into the same contest Sean was nominated for. Maybe there is hope! (Author note: The Washington Blade has an annual Most Eligible Singles list)

What is your favorite thing about working at Victory? This can be a memory/event too!

The people – from my coworkers to the elected officials we serve. The Victory network is full of dynamic, thoughtful personalities. I enjoy learning from and engaging with all of the people Victory has brought into my life.

What are your future plans? What are your goals beyond Victory?

Run for office and proudly serve the people of Texas!

What are things you enjoy doing in your free time? Any pets?

I love listening to music and daydreaming. I like reading, too. I also love watching old episodes of “Kitchen Nightmares” with Gordon Ramsay.

Anything else about you as a person that others may not get to see in the work you do for Victory?

I attend a queer-affirming church (St. Thomas’ Parish), and it’s been amazing to watch my professional work and now my work as a Vestry member at St. Thomas’ Parish come together. For me, “Spreading Christ’s love” and “Building a Pipeline of LGBTQ Leaders” now have the same goal: Making the world a better place!

Next is CV Viverito, International Programs Manager.

Caryn Viverito

Where are you from originally? What brought you to DC?

I’m originally from South Brunswick, NJ.  After living in Málaga, Spain for several years, I secured a job in Washington DC and I’ve happily settled into the city since.

What is your favorite thing about working at Victory? This can be a memory/event too!

Through Victory Institute’s international work, I am able to meet inspiring LGBTQ leaders from all over the world who are making real changes in their communities.  Having worked at Victory for almost three years, it’s been amazing to see their progress.

What are your future plans? What are your goals beyond Victory?

I hope to continue working within the international development space and learning and growing more over time.

What are things you enjoy doing in your free time? Any pets?

In my free time I am usually bouldering.  Bouldering is a form of rock climbing that is performed on walls of up to 20 feet, without the use of ropes or harnesses.  It’s all about strength, movement and problem-solving skills – so it’s both a mental and physical workout.

I also volunteer in my free time to conduct research projects for a small local nonprofit, which keeps me fresh on a wide variety of social justice issues.

Anything else about you as a person that others may not get to see in the work you do for Victory?

I am an artist – if I find myself with free time outside of working, traveling and bouldering, I am likely to be either drawing or painting.  My mediums are pencil and acrylic paint.

Next is Bryant Sanders, Corporate and Foundation Gifts Manager.

Where are you from originally? What brought you to DC?

I moved around a lot because my parents work in Higher Education, living in Alabama and Pennsylvania the majority of my life. After attending Wells College, a small liberal arts school in Aurora, NY I found myself working for Senator Gillibrand, based out of her Rochester, NY office. That first job led me to DC in 2014 where I continued working for the Senator until I left to pursue a career in non-profit development. It’s a place I didn’t expect to end up despite my major in Public Affairs, but I absolutely love it here and have met some of the best people that I’ll know for years to come.

Are you married/partnered?

Nope, but I’m sure the right guy will come along when I least expect it.

What is your favorite thing about working at Victory? This can be a memory/event too!

Victory is a place that allows me to have a voice and work with different partners that are invested in the work we’re doing. Our annual International LGBTQ Leaders Conference is my favorite event because it’s the one time of the year I get to meet all our community in one place.

What are your future plans? What are your goals beyond Victory?

I’ll eventually go back to grad school to pursue an MBA and hopefully work in the private/public sector to help companies invest in nonprofits focusing on LGBTQ equality/equity, child nutrition, and workforce development. These are issue areas have shaped my career and I would love to bring them all together in my ideal world.

What are things you enjoy doing in your free time? Any pets?

I stay pretty active with Ultimate Frisbee, Kickball, Swing Dancing, Violin, and exploring the city I live in.

Last but not least is Mario Enriquez, Domestic Programs Manager.

Where are you from originally? What brought you to DC?

I was born in San Jose, CA and raised in the Stockton, CA region. I first came to DC in 2010 right after graduating from college. I was hired to work on a youth leadership program for the UnidosUS (formerly the National Council of La Raza).

What is your favorite thing about working at Victory? This can be a memory/event too!

I love engaging with students and I couldn’t be more excited to bring on twelve amazing interns this summer. For me, it’s about paying it forward and Victory gives me the ability to provide opportunities to young leaders that could pave the way for their future careers. I joke but I’m also serious, I get to train the folks that will one day give me a job.

What are your future plans? What are your goals beyond Victory?

I hope to head back home and get involved with my community, particular working with young men of color and college access programming.

What are things you enjoy doing in your free time? Any pets?

I enjoy spending time with friends and finding good happy hour spots. No pets, I really want a dog though.

Anything else about you as a person that others may not get to see in the work you do for Victory?

I love traveling and not many folks would know that I do motivational speaking at several colleges and universities.

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