Meet the 2018 Victory Empowerment Fellows

The LGBTQ Victory Institute is proud to announce the 2018 Victory Empowerment Fellows. These 9 individuals are change-makers who are destined to lead the LGBTQ community as public officials and political operatives.

Since the Victory Empowerment Fellowship was launched in 2015, we’ve assisted 32 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, and 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 2018 cohort will attend Victory’s Candidate & Campaign Training in Chicago, IL and the 2018 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, DC. They’ll also be assigned 1-2 mentors who will guide them in their path to Victory.

Christina Adeleke

 Christina Adeleke is NCAAN’s Communications and Development Coordinator. Before coming to NCAAN, Christina was the Coalition Organizer at Equality NC, an organization dedicated to securing equal rights and justice for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) North Carolinians. While with ENC, Christina created and maintained partnerships with broad-based coalitions and grassroots activities and assisted in lobbying efforts with the North Carolina General Assembly.

Christina has also worked at the Freedom Center for Social Justice, an organization providing essential support and advocacy for transgender people, elders, people of color, youth, sexual minorities and communities of faith, and at the Children of Inmates, an organization focused on assuring that children with incarcerated parents have opportunities to be cared for and supported in their development by responsible adults, helping professionals, and others in their communities. Christina currently serves on the Board of Governors for the Human Rights Campaign.

Christina received her J.D., with the highest pro bono honors, and is a member of the Florida Bar. Christina graduated cum laude from Lee University in Cleveland, Tennessee with her B.A. in Public Relations and minor in Religion. Christina’s passions include music, politics, and traveling. She is native of Miami, Florida, and currently resides in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Pilar Alatorre

Pilar Alatorre is a community advocate whose professional career has been dedicated to providing services for the LGBTQ community, undocumented immigrants, low income tenants and individuals experiencing homelessness. She has advocacy experience with several non-profits around Orange County, including: the National Women’s Political Caucus of Orange County, the Orange County Young Democrats, the National Low-Income Housing Coalition in Washington D.C., and the LGBTQ Center Long Beach (as the Community Resource and Volunteer Coordinator).

She holds a B.A. in Political Science and Anthropology from the University of California, Irvine. Her Undergraduate Honors thesis focused on political participation among different racial groups in the city of Los Angeles.

Cliff Alburger

Cliff Alburger is the LGBT Chaplain Resident at Hebrew Senior Life. He provides pastoral care for LGBT seniors, family members, and staff. He leads an LGBT film series for patients, facilitates gender diversity trainings for administrators and direct-care staff, and creates diversity and inclusion materials for multi-campus and social media use.

Cliff earned a Master of Divinity from Harvard, where he studied religion and politics. He was an organizer for Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, an intern for Tammy Baldwin, an advisor to local candidates, and on the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Advisory Committee. He has also worked in education and is pursuing teacher certification in High School Political Science.

James Chang

James Chang is a Berkeley resident, a commissioner on the Berkeley Rent Board, a Legislative Aide at the City of Berkeley, Vice President of Finance of East Bay Young Democrats and Vice President of the East Bay Stonewall Democratic Club.. Recently, James worked at Yelp and served as Chair of OUTBurst, an LGBTQ employee resource group. In 2013. James graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a dual bachelor’s degree in political economy and Chinese. In college, James was an active member of the Cal Queer and Asian group and served as Vice President of External Affairs for the Berkeley Student Cooperative.

James also previously served as the former Student Trustee for Ventura County Community Colleges which represents Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura College. During his tenure as Trustee, James was openly queer/gay and pushed the administration in all three community college campuses to mandate anti-bullying and anti-harassment policies during orientation.

Matt Hughes

Matt Hughes has been involved in public service, Democratic politics and progressive causes for nearly a decade. Matt was raised in Hillsborough, attended Orange County Public Schools and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a Carolina Covenant Scholar. He was recently appointed to the Hillsborough Board of Commissioners in March 2018 and will graduate from UNC’s School of Government with an MPA in May 2018.

Matt has served at every level of the North Carolina Democratic Party and previously served as a county chair, which at the time of his election in November 2011 made him the youngest county chair in the state’s history. He is now proud to serve as the NCDP’s Second Vice Chair. Matt understands the value of a grassroots organization that works together and applied these skills and values when he ran unsuccessfully for Orange County Commissioner in 2016 as an Equality NC and Victory Fund endorsed candidate. When taking a break from politics, Matt enjoys cheering on the Carolina Tar Heels. He has a black Labrador named Charlotte and they live in Hillsborough, Matt’s hometown.

Rebecca Kling

Rebecca Kling is a communications strategist, community organizer, storyteller and educator who works to elevate the voices of transgender people and their allies. She believes that sharing accessible and relatable stories from the transgender community is a form of activism, and that understanding combats bigotry. Rebecca is currently the Community Storytelling Advocate at the National Center for Transgender Equality. By working with a diverse range of spokespeople, she brings the wide range of transgender people’s lives and experiences into the policy, advocacy and public education work of the transgender movement.

Prior to moving to Washington, D.C., Rebecca was a lifelong Chicagoan. She studied Performance Studies and Computer Science at Northwestern University and worked as a touring educator and performance artist until joining the NCTE team in 2016. Rebecca was named as part of the inaugural Trans 100 list in 2013 and served as Co-Director for The Trans 100 in 2015.

Jennifer Molde

Jennifer Molde is an out and proud transgender woman. She studied computer science at Augusta University in Augusta, Georgia. Near the end of her time there, she discovered a passion for political science, especially where government can promote equity and help those in need. Jennifer began her transition in her early thirties and in the past decade has become a strong and outspoken woman who believes in fighting for the LGBTQ community and all marginalized people. Some of her greatest moments of enjoyment are when she has a microphone in her hand, is facilitating her local transgender support group, organizing local transgender events or standing in front of a group educating them about transgender people and issues.

Jennifer feels very lucky to have worked at Adams County for the past five years, where she has seen the inner-workings of government and how it helps the citizens of Adams County. She loves her job supporting the staff in Human Services and their work to provide benefits for those in need. Jennifer has learned a lot about working with a wide variety of people and personalities and managing complex projects as an Information Technology professional. Coming out at work was very frightening but she’s been overjoyed to find opportunities to promote diversity and inclusion, especially regarding LGBTQ employees. Getting more involved in politics in the past year has been especially exciting. Jennifer has had the opportunity to discuss transgender issues with Congressman Jared Polis, lobbied at the state capitol for LGBTQ issues with One Colorado and gotten to speak with multiple local and state politicians. The additional political involvement has encouraged her to run for public office herself in the coming years.

Diego Sepulveda

Diego Sepulveda is a fearless and relentless advocate for justice. Through his lifelong work, Diego has advocated for LGBTQ justice, immigrant rights, worker justice, environmental justice and college affordability and accessibility. Diego has been featured on ABC World News with Diane Sawyer, National Public Radio, KCET, Honor 41, Equality California’s #Health4All efforts and by the California Museum through their We Are All Californian exhibit in Sacramento, CA. In 2014, the City of Huntington Park awarded Diego as Community Leader of the Year. Most recently, Diego was presented a Scroll by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and named a “40 under 40” leader by the Empowerment Congress, founded by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.

Diego currently directs the Dream Resource Center at the UCLA Labor Center. He holds a bachelor’s degree from UCLA and is currently an MBA Candidate at the Graduate School of Nonprofit Management in Bel Air, CA.

Jason Tengco

Jason Tengco serves as the Executive Director of the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), the largest national organization to represent the 4 million Filipino Americans throughout the United States. He is proud to be NaFFAA’s first openly gay Executive Director since its founding in 1997. Over the past decade, Jason has worked for a presidential campaign, the White House, Obama Administration, Congress, and numerous non-profit and campus organizations.

In 2016, Jason served as the National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Outreach Director for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign. Jason led AAPI voter engagement and Get Out The Vote efforts, helping Secretary Clinton to receive 79% of the AAPI vote, the highest of any presidential candidate in recorded history.

From 2012 to 2016, Jason worked for the White House Initiative on AAPIs, where he was appointed as Deputy Director in 2015. During his tenure, Jason organized the first-ever White House Celebration of Filipino American History Month, managed the first-ever White House Summit on AAPIs, and led the Initiative’s national AAPI community engagement. From 2011 to 2012, Jason was an Asian Pacific American Institute for Congressional Studies (APAICS) Fellow in the office of former Congressman Mike Honda. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Jason graduated from UCLA with Honors with a B.A. in Political Science. He currently lives in Arlington, Virginia with his partner, Allen.

Fellows & Interns, Programs