A longtime advocate for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender equality, Gregory Lewis is nationally recognized for his vision and leadership. In 2008, he worked with Cyndi Lauper and her co-founders to launch the True Colors Fund and has served as its executive director ever since. Under Gregory’s leadership, the True Colors Fund has grown into the leading national organization addressing the issue of gay and transgender youth homelessness, as well as an influential resource in encouraging straight people to “give a damn” about equality for all. Gregory built the organization from the ground up, creating the infrastructure and development streams critical to its success. He also conceptualized and developed the True Colors Fund’s two signature initiatives: the Forty to None Project and the Give a Damn Campaign.
Prior to joining the True Colors Fund, Gregory served as the Managing Director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation. Under his leadership, the organization achieved significant growth and defined programmatic direction in its efforts to erase hate. He started his career working for equality at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization in the country. He spent 7 years in HRC’s development department, the last 4 years serving as the Associate Director of Development Operations and Special Projects, overseeing the operations of a more than $30 million fundraising and membership department, as well as focusing on the creation of new revenue streams.
For more than a decade, Jama Shelton has worked in the field of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning youth homelessness. After receiving an MSW in 2004, Jama began an 8 year stint at the Ali Forney Center, an organization that provides housing and supportive services for gay and transgender youth experiencing homelessness. Having worked in various roles – first as a direct service provider, then developing and directing the expansion of AFC’s housing program, and finally as a researcher, program evaluation and trainer – Jama brings a comprehensive understanding of the issues facing both homeless gay and transgender youth and also the service providers with whom they work. As a trainer, Jama has led numerous workshops and has provided technical assistance to service providers throughout the United States and Canada. Jama received her doctorate in Social Welfare from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her award-winning dissertation examines the unique needs and experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming youth experiencing homelessness. She is also a professor at both the Hunter and NYU Schools of Social Work.
For more than a decade, Joe Moran has worked in the digital space as a nonprofit techie and creative producer. Prior to joining the True Colors Fund, Joe served as Director of Communications and Technology at Quality Services for the Autism Community (QSAC), where he spent eight years building the communications and technology department. Joe also lead digital strategy for Marriage Equality New York, OutAstoria, and the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce NY. His work has been featured in The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Ars Technica, and Network World.
In addition to his experience in the nonprofit sector, Joe has worked in the entertainment industry as an actor, producer, and writer. He was a founding member of Stone Soup Theatre Arts, a theatre company that creates collaborative work based on contemporary social issues. He also co-founded MorGold Productions, a New York-based digital media production company.
Ellen comes to the True Colors team from the American Red Cross where she served as a Major Gift Officer. While at the Red Cross, Ellen was responsible for developing several successful international, national and local donor relationships. She previously worked at Central Arizona Supply, a ten-store chain where she directed all advertising and publicity as the firm’s Marketing and Public Relations Manager. In this role she was responsible for promoting all aspects of the business to customers, employees, vendors and the public.
Ellen originally developed a love of the nonprofit sector working for the Women’s National Democratic Club as well as the National Partnership for Women and Families. Those experiences gave her an appreciation of how nonprofits can be change agents. Her first foray into fundraising included working on various gubernatorial and US Congressional races in her home state of Kentucky.
Ellen holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication from Arizona State University and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Louisville.
Twiggy comes to the True Colors team from FACES NY, Inc. where he served as a Recruitment Specialist, Senior Community Health Specialist, and more recently a Program Development Specialist and Community Organizer. With over 8 years of experience in the field of general and specialized health education and direct services, he has extensive knowledge of the needs of the LGBTQ youth population and how to foster relationships with organizations that offer effective quality services. A stakeholder in the young LGBTQ community, Twiggy has collaborated with artists, filmmakers, academics and policymakers to increase visibility of both creative and sociopolitical agendas. His recent work in HIV/STD and substance use prevention, education, and intervention has led to the creation of a community level intervention, The WIZ, specifically for the house/ball community.
In addition to his work in the community health sector, Twiggy has worked as a model, runway trainer, and special events planner and coordinator. He and his work have been featured in major media publications like Paper Mag, NY Mag, The Huffington Post, The METRO Weekly, and The Advocate among others. He was also a featured subject in Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ and HBO’s documentary feature film, The OUT List. Twiggy is currently co-writing a documentary feature film, alongside film collaborator and director Sara Jordeno titled Gesture, that paints an intimate portrait of the ins and outs of NYCs kiki ballroom scene.
Nicolas Seip joins the True Colors Fund after recently graduating from Susquehanna University with a B.A. in English. As an undergrad, Nicolas was awarded the Carl H. Hitchner Fellowship for Sexual and Gender Minorities and Social Justice for the 2011-2012 academic year. As Hitchner Fellow, Nicolas developed and oversaw a campaign that used social media, round-table discussion, and musical performance to explore the ways in which racial, sexual, and gender identity are normalized on college campuses. Nicolas also served on Susquehanna’s Bias Response and Education Team as a student representative to provide counsel to student witnesses and targets of acts of bias, as well as recommend solutions for such acts.
In addition to his work in the social justice field, Nicolas worked as a student assistant at Susquehanna’s Office of Event Management and student taught Language Arts at Selinsgrove Area Middle School in Selinsgrove, PA.
Emily joins the True Colors Fund in the final year of her Master’s program at Hunter College’s Silberman School of Social Work. She is currently studying Community Organizing, Planning and Development, and is interested in addressing the systemic issues that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth face nationwide. Prior to delving into social work macro practice, Emily served as the Center Coordinator for the Vera Institute of Justice’s Center on Victimization and Safety, a program providing technical assistance to domestic violence survivors with disabilities. Emily is an active member of the Sexuality and Gender Alliance at Silberman (SAGA).
In addition to her work with the Forty to None Project and Hunter College, Emily works as a barista serving coffee and smiles to downtown New Yorkers.
Before joining the True Colors Fund, Cassie worked at SAYA! South Asian Youth Action in Queens, where she helped create a curriculum for Sexual Reproductive Health targeted for young South Asian women. As a second year Masters of Social Work candidate, Cassie’s concentration of Community Organizing focuses on collaboration across social services for a more macro lens, which she plans to make a part of her practice and work at True Colors Fund. Cassie plans to develop a practice that supports organizations serving LGBTQ youth while at True Colors. Prior to pursuing her masters, Cassie was living in a small village in Lesotho, sub-Saharan Africa, as a Peace Corps Volunteer where she fell in love with traveling and learned that carrying water on your head is not as simple as it looks.
She and her partner reside in Sunnyside where they both enjoy thrift store shopping and bubble tea.
Christa is currently a community organizing MSW student at The Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College. Her focus is on policy work and she is very interested in how policy can be used to advance social justice and promote social reform. After school she hopes to continue working on policy related issues and research within the LGBTQ community. Prior to school Christa was in the Peace Corps where she spent two years perfecting her chopstick skills in China.