LGBTQ Victory Institute is proud to announce the 2020 Victory Empowerment Fellows — our program designed for LGBTQ leaders of color and/or trans leaders. These 8 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 have helped 59 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 are currently working to change the current landscape of LGBTQ inequality.
They join a distinguished group of alumni such as Minneapolis City Councilmembers Andrea Jenkins ’16 and Phillipe Cunningham ’15, 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 2020 cohort will attend Victory Institute’s Candidate & Campaign Virtual Training in July and the 2020 International LGBTQ Leaders Conference in Washington, DC this December. They will also be assigned LGBTQ mentors who will guide them in their path to Victory.
Meet the 2020 Fellows
Este Amane (Phoenix, Arizona)
Este Amane is a queer Black nonbinary leader from Phoenix AZ. Growing up in conservative Arizona, Este had little reason to believe that people from a background like their own could become public leaders that fight on the behalf of marginalized communities and make everyone feel like they belong. Este has advocated for trans inclusivity in the workplace, stood up for youth workers’ rights, and volunteered as a community organizer for local campaigns that champion climate action and reproductive justice. Este has worked for an international nonprofit facilitating access to education, interned for the Arizona Democratic Party and for a progressive lobbying firm at the state legislature, and is a Member of Organizing Corps 2020. Este currently works among a minority-cisgender staff for a program empowering next-generation nonprofit leaders. In 2019, Este earned a B.S. degree in Public Service and Policy specializing in Sustainability, and is now completing their MPA.
Quentin Bell (Selma, Alabama)
Quentin Bell is the Executive Director of The Knights & Orchids Society Inc. (TKO Society). He is a native of Selma, AL, received his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Alabama State University (an HBCU), and then went to attend Allen Entrepreneurial Institute in Lithonia, GA. Quentin is a graduate of the 2019 Stanford LGBTQ Executive Leadership Program and identifies as a Transman. He uses his leadership platform within TKO to promote visibility and representation for black trans people fighting at the intersections of race and gender. He has coordinated TGNC cultural competency training for The University of Alabama, Alabama Coalition Against Rape, Alabama Department of Public Health, & No More Martyrs Minority Mental Health Summit training over 500 therapists, counselors, and health professionals. He has served on grant making panels for the Transgender Justice Funding Project (TJFP) and Borealis Philanthropy featured TKO at the 2017 Funders for LGBT Issues Conference.
Shenika “Nik” Harris (Ft. Lauderdale, Florida)
Shenika “Nik” Harris, she/her, is a queer gender non-conforming attorney, advisor, activist, and speaker. She graduated from Florida A&M University and Florida State University. She is licensed to practice law in Florida and Washington DC. Nik is Chair of the Human Rights Campaign South Florida Steering Committee and serves on the National Board of Governors. She serves on the board for IGNITE Women’s Services, is Vice-President of the Broward County and statewide LGBTQ Democratic Caucus, and is a BIG in the Big Brothers Big Sisters Pride Program. In 2014 she helped found “Thou Art Woman”, a signature open mic event celebrating LGBTQ women and their allies. In 2019 she was appointed as the LGBTQ Consumer Advocate to Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner, Nikki Fried. This is the first position of its kind to a member of the Florida Cabinet. She is an award-winning Toastmaster and the 2019 recipient of Ruth’s List: Women Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award.
Justice Horn (Kansas City, Missouri)
Justice Horn is the University of Missouri Kansas City’s first openly gay multicultural student president and before his time at UMKC, he made history as the first openly gay multicultural college wrestler. As president, Justice changed campus policy to recognize Pride Month and Transgender Day of Remembrance, created a presence for the university at the Kansas City and St. Louis Pride, expanded food resources for LGBTQ+ students, and help raise over $6000,000O for the community. Justice successfully lobbied against two anti-transgender bills, is currently working on several NDO’s, and worked with community leaders to get conversion therapy banned in Kansas City. Justice has given speeches at eleven prides, six universities, and currently works for the LGBTQ+ for Biden team to help address inequities facing the LGBTQ+ community. Justice has committed himself to serving others because he is fighting for everyone to have a seat at the table.
Jasmin Lewis (Riviera Beach, Florida)
Jasmin is passionate about progressive policy change and is committed to building inclusive networks were women and minorities are present at the table. She believes that this can be accomplished through the development of authentic relationships with those in varying intersectionalities. Jasmin is compelled to continue her work to protect the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in our society – our youth. Her passion for education and serving underprivileged youth in the community truly fuels her work. It is her goal to bridge communities together in solidarity to provide a blanket of protection for our future generations. Jasmin is committed to her role in various organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign where she serves as the Community Engagement Co-Chair for the South Florida Steering Committee. Jasmin also serves on the 2020 Executive Board for New Leaders Council-Palm Beach as one of the Recruitment chairs. She is a member of the Rusty Gordon LGBTA Democratic Caucus.
Eleanor Moreno (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Eleanor Moreno is dedicated to the engagement and empowerment of all communities, particularly those underrepresented. In 2019, she was selected for the highly competitive New American Leaders Fellowship, a candidate & campaign training program geared towards first and second-generation immigrants. Eleanor believes in the power of stories and lifting up of voices.
Janani Ramachandran (Oakland, California)
Janani Ramachandran is a lawyer, artist, and activist with a lifelong passion to end domestic violence, build inclusive political systems, and bring compassion into legal institutions. Janani currently serves as a Commissioner at the Oakland Public Ethics Commission, as Board Secretary for Family Violence Appellate Project, and as Board Director at Men Creating Peace. A Bay Area native, she received her J.D. from Berkeley Law, and B.A. with Honors from Stanford University. Prior to law school, Janani worked as a home-visiting case manager for low-income immigrant mothers who were survivors of domestic violence. She later founded a domestic violence advocacy program across five community health clinics, where she led trainings for medical staff, supervised advocates, and launched public education campaigns. As a law student, Janani worked for several legal aid agencies on the intersections of domestic violence and related social justices causes, and externed for Judge Tara Flanangan.
Shanell Williams (San Francisco, California)
Shanell Williams is President of the Board of Trustees at City College of San Francisco, Director of Community Engagement and Partnership for the UCSF California Preterm Birth Initiative, a member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and serves on the Our Children, Our Home (Prop C) Oversight Committee. Over the past 20 years, Shanell has served thousands of San Franciscans as an informed, passionate, and dedicated public advocate, nonprofit leader, and community organizer. From mentoring youth trapped in cycles of incarceration—to saving City College from a near loss of accreditation and closure for the past eight years— Shanell has worked tirelessly to improve all San Franciscan’s quality of life. She has worked for numerous nonprofit agencies and labor organizations dedicated to serving low-resourced communities such as the Young Women’s Freedom Center, Youth Leadership Institute, UNITE HERE Local 2, Jobs with Justice San Francisco, and Urban Services.