About the Convening

We’ve made the case for equitable grantmaking for years. Now is the moment when we push forward, put our ideas into practice, and make progress.

GSP’s 2023 Biennial Convening: The Forward Moment will take place August 30 – September 1, 2023 in Orlando, Florida. Our programming centers on four key focus areas: Climate, LGBTQ+, Immigrant, and Criminal Justice. The convening provides an action-oriented space for funders and grassroots movement leaders to better understand the South, generate solutions together, and to move resources into the communities that need them most. We will also host our annual membership meeting and a Learning Tour of local partners working to build power in the greater Orlando area.


We Chose Florida for a Reason

Recent legislative attacks on immigrants and LGBTQ+ people and the rise of hate rhetoric across the state are heartbreaking, but not surprising. Our decision to convene in Florida this year is intentional. The primary purpose of GSP’s convenings is to connect funders to practitioners leading the structural change work that is making a real difference in directly impacted communities. We need funders to show up in this moment and to provide cover for the folks on the frontlines. Our communities are under attack and need support now.

Read our full statement here.

Graphic recording: Day 1 Breakout Sessions

Graphic recording (sometimes called graphic facilitation or visual note-taking) is the live capture of essential content during any conversation using hand-drawn words and imagery. Artists listen deeply, synthesize meaning, and draw, which helps people and groups see patterns, hold their own wisdom in high regard, and move collectively with clarity and purpose. Please enjoy these graphic recordings that were produced by A Visual Approach during our 2023 Convening.

On Day 1, our panelists reminded us that our relationships should not be transactional, they should be transformational. We believe philanthropy has the ability and responsibility to be transformative in our relationships with Southern movement organizers. We must grapple with the ways in which philanthropy often extracts from community and instead learn how to be in right relationship with folks moving the work on the ground.

Day 2 Breakout Sessions

Our speakers reminded us that it is crucial for philanthropy to be in deep accountability with community if we want to see the South win. We know that the South is revolutionary. We know that Southerners are powerful. We know that we have the collective creativity to move with purpose and build relationships that will level the playing field and uplift our people. The Forward Moment is about intentionally resourcing the folks who are doing the work on the ground so we can make the South livable for all people now.


During our closing plenary session, our speakers reminded us that we have a responsibility to push back against the myth that the South cannot be transformed for the better. “The idea that we have red and blue states is a myth. If we want to break the cycle of [teetering between democracy and fascism every 4 years], we need to say we want things to be different and move boldly with that vision.” We know that strategies that work elsewhere do not always work in the South because of our particular context. We also know that the South is the birthplace of the most transformational and empowering movements the nation has seen. We can build on that legacy by creating our own models for moving the work, but funders need to trust the creativity of movement leaders instead of holding them captive with restrictive funding practices rooted in distrust and the refusal to cede power.  

Cliff Albright

Executive Director/Cofounder - Black Voters Matter Fund

Cliff is Co-founder and Executive Director of Black Voters Matter Fund (and 501c3 BVM Capacity Building Institute) which builds community and organizational capacity related to Black voting power. BVMF was one of several organizations which mobilized Black voters to defeat Roy Moore in Alabama’s 2017 U.S. Senate race. He is also principal consultant at Strategic Cliff Notes. Cliff has contributed articles/op eds to The Washington Post, The NY Times, The Guardian and other publications. He hosts a weekly radio show in Atlanta, has served as an instructor of African-American Studies.

Teumbay Barnes

Program Coordinator - Southern Partners Fund

Teumbay Barnes brings 15+ years of experience in community organizing, policy, leadership development, journalism, and higher education to her role, Barnes has spent her career working to change the narrative and create safe and sacred spaces for those experiencing any form of injustice. As firmly entrenched in her hometown of Prattville, AL, where she still resides, as she is in the wider region, Barnes dedicates considerable time to helping others. Barnes holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Alabama State University and a Master’s in PostSecondary Education from Troy University, in addition to being a 2010 graduate of the PLAN (Progressive Advocacy Leadership Network) National Women’s Law Center. Barnes was also a 2011 (inaugural year) Fellow of the Greensboro Justice Fund at the Highlander Center, a graduate of the Leading by Example Leadership Program, and 2017 Emergent Leader of the Year and most recently an Inaugural Alabama Black Women’s Collaborative Fellowship recipient.

Ricky Bratz

Queer Mobilization Fund Director - Southern Vision Alliance

Ricky Bratz is a plant nerd, queer dog mom and survivor of Sicilian/SWANA/Eastern European roots. Her time as a member of Greensboro-based radical marching band Cakalak Thunder (2003-2008), serving as a board member of Fund for Democratic Communities (2007-2009) and as an intern with Student Action with Farmworkers (2006) are part of her formative politicization. She has initiated and/or been involved in projects such as: healing justice, community gardening/farming, food justice, labor organizing, homelessness, community centers, collective living, racial equity, consensus decision-making, and queer liberation.

Denzel Caldwell

Electoral Justice Researcher and Educator - Highlander Research and Education Center

Denzel Caldwell is a community organizer, economist, and popular educator that was born, raised and currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee. In addition to his upbringing in a servant-leader household, his work as an organizer and study of economics began when he read the unpublished words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the King Archives at the Atlanta University Center. He graduated magna cum laude from Morehouse College with his Bachelor of Arts in Economics. In 2019, he earned his Master of Arts in Economics at the University of Oklahoma.

He currently serves as the Electoral Justice Researcher and Educator at the Highlander Research and Education Center. His work has not only included developing curricula and facilitating workshops grounding hundreds of participants in Solidarity Economy, but also creating and leading popular education workshops grounded in communities governing themselves within and beyond electoral cycles. He is an organizational representative on the Planning Committee of Democracy Beyond Coalition and the Governance Council of Southern Movement Assembly. Beyond work, Denzel is a co-founder and organizer of the Black Nashville Assembly.

Yawntreshia Coleman

Managing Director - Coleman & Company

Yawntreshia Coleman is a social entrepreneur, climate justice & clean energy organizer, and education advocate based in Birmingham, AL. Graduating from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting and a minor in Human Services Counseling, Coleman worked as a staff accountant, public policy coordinator, and resource development manager before focusing on a career in social entrepreneurship.
Coleman is the Disaster Recovery Organizer with Hometown Action/Hometown Organizing Project.

She serves as the Managing Director of Coleman and Company, a limited liability company, supporting businesses primarily in the not-for-profit, health & wellness, food & beverage, and healthcare industries. Discovering a natural knack for business, Coleman has started a few ventures under the LLC’s umbrella. She opened a plant shop in the Woodlawn Community in May 2023. In 2017, she started a black-owned business directory and reinvented the idea of business growth hubs in the Greater Birmingham area. Known as ‘The Fancy Picnic Lady’, she launched the pop-up picnic and scavenger hunt food tour business, Magic City Food Tours & Luxury Picnics in 2021. Coleman is a Certified Master Gardener currently raising capital to start a vertical farming company. Lastly, she is working on a business networking & resource development app, Lunch Meeting, and an education venture, R.I.B.S. x Camp Trep with the goal of expanding each venture into different cities and states.

The married mother of three is also a Board Trustee of the Birmingham Public Library, Board Treasurer of McCoy Adult Day Care Center and He Is Me Institute, and serves on the Birmingham Community Engagement Board for Rise Against Hunger. Additionally, Coleman prioritizes healing & self care in order to expertly balance family, business, and board service.

Corey Davis

Co-Founder and Creative Director - Maven Leadership Collective

Corey (he/they) creates conditions for amplifying social impact as a culture shift strategist and content producer. His focus on adult learning in the workplace extends across the nonprofit, private, and public sectors. As founder and creative director of Maven Leadership Collective, Corey mobilizes an ecosystem of support for queer and trans people of color and allies who are building more just communities. He serves on the board of Pioneer Winter Collective and is a panel member for Florida Foster Care Review. Corey obtained his bachelor’s in public relations from the University of Maryland at College Park and master’s in nonprofit management from The George Washington University.

Sendolo Diaminah

Co-Director - Carolina Federation

Sendolo Diaminah is the Co-Director of the Carolina Federation, where s/he works building governing power for working people and communities of color in North Carolina. S/he is a strategist with over 15 years of experience in community and electoral organizing, as well as experience winning and holding elected office. Before founding the Federation, Sendolo worked as training director at Black Organizing for Leadership & Dignity (BOLD), where s/he developed somatically-based leadership curriculum for organizers and executive directors.

Stephanie Guilloud

Movement Organizing Senior Strategist - Project South

Stephanie brings close to three decades of organizing experience and leadership in Southern movement and global justice work. From 2008-2022, Stephanie served as the Co-Director at Project South and recently has repositioned to a Senior Strategist in the Movement Organizing work of the organization. She works on regional organizing projects including the Southern Movement Assembly, a grassroots governance strategy that has initiated shared campaigns, rapid response to crises, and mutual aid organizing work across the region over the last ten years. She sits on the steering committee of the Southern Power Fund and is a board member of Taproot Earth.  Stephanie is a published writer, co-created the Organizers’ History site related to the 1999 actions to shut down the World Trade Organization, and edited Project South’s People’s Movement Assembly Organizing Handbook.

Valencia Gunder

Co Director - The Smile Trust

A Miami native, Valencia is the Founder/Co-Director of the Smile Trust Inc., Co-Founder of The Black Collective and National Organizing lead of the RBG New Deal at M4BL She is a part of the Steering Committee for Greater Miami, 100 Resilient Cities and has spoken around the country about her work around Climate Gentrification. After experiencing the tragedy of losing her goddaughter Jada Page to gun violence, Valencia worked through her grief and pulled her community together to fight against the status quo, receiving the Soros Justice Fellowship, Valencia created a Rapid Response Toolkit “LIFT” to help decrease Police and inter-community violence in Miami. Valencia works alongside over 80 Formerly incarcerated Black Women (Dignity Florida) to change legislation to assist with de-carcerating women in the State of Florida.

Robyn Hasan

Executive Director - Women on the Rise

Robyn Hasan started in June 2020 with Women on the Rise and rose quickly in the organization by becoming the Executive Director in January 2022. After serving 10 years in prison, she has been fighting to reform the criminal legal system through the campaign of Closing and Repurposing the Atlanta City Detention Center, which has gained national attention. While inside she created a newsletter to help uplift women in her situation, since coming home she continued the newsletter through Women on the Rise and Reverse the Cycle of Incarceration. She is an alumni of JustLeadershipUSA, Women Transcending Collective Leadership, Women Organizing for Justice & Opportunity, and Essie Group. She was featured in Time Magazine where she talked about being a disenfranchised voter. She is also a member of the Biden-Sanders Criminal Justice Reform Committee and sits on the board of Reverse the Cycle of Incarceration. She lives in Atlanta with her 4-legged friend Nova and fiancé Ronald.

Moné Holder

Senior Director of Advocacy & Programs - Florida Rising

Moné Holder is the Senior Director of Advocacy & Programs at Florida Rising. Moné has led the organization in the fight for voting rights on the local, state, and national levels and develops strategies to build Black political power in the state. Moné has over a decade of policy experience stemming from her work in the Florida House of Representatives Democratic office, and as a Florida House and Senate staffer.


Danyelle Holmes

Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition, Poor People's Campaign, Repairers of the Breach

Danyelle Holmes is a national social justice organizer with Repairers of the Breach and the Poor People’s Campaign. She is a director of the Mississippi Prison Reform Coalition and serves on the steering committee of the Mississippi Rapid Response Coalition. A native of Greenwood, MS, Danyelle is a graduate of Greenwood High School and attended Tougaloo College. Danyelle’s work as a revolutionary is deeply rooted in her convictions. She works across diverse political lines to fight for the poor and people of low wealth in the United States. Danyelle feels very deeply that God has called and ordained her to be a voice to uplift those disproportionately impacted by society’s systemic ills. Danyelle has been on the front lines of many political battles in the state of Mississippi, including leading the water distribution team to ensure that Jackson residents have access to clean drinking water, fights to stop the takeover of Jackson’s water and sewer infrastructure, to fully fund public education, and to remove the Confederate state flag. Danyelle is dedicated to prison reform, living wages, immigration and labor rights, and so much more. Her vision is that Mississippi will, one day soon, rise and move forward together collectively.

Veronica R. Johnson

Executive Director - Alabama Justice Initiative

Veronica R. Johnson is an adjunct professor at Alabama A&M University. A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Veronica R. Johnson serves as the Deputy Director of the Alabama Justice Initiative. Educated in Birmingham City Schools, Veronica holds Bachelor’s of Art in Political Science from Alabama A&M University, a Master’s in Criminal Justice from the University of Alabama and a Juris Doctorate from the Birmingham School of Law. Veronica has over 15 years of experience in the area of juvenile justice. She is a social justice activist, Emerge Alabama alum, and a former candidate for the Alabama House of Representatives. Additionally, Veronica is the founder of Cupcakes and Convos (a mentoring program for at-risk teen girls), a member of the Advisory Board for MAD? Make A Difference, and a frequent motivational speaker. During her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her children, watching her son play soccer and her daughter prepare for ballet. Veronica and her children, Austin and Autumn, live in Northern Jefferson County and are members of Light House Church Ministry.

Chi-Ante Jones

Kolibri Foundation

Chi-Ante Singletary is a proud scholar of color and queer black feminist. She attended Spelman College for her undergraduate degree, where her love and respect for black women blossomed into a career focused on creating and supporting black liberation spaces globally. Chi-Ante has worked as a southern organizer and donor strategist for many organizations including Solidaire Network, Youth Engagement Fund, Girls Inc., and Neighborhood Funders Group. Through her work, Chi-Ante has supported communities of color across the South to have access to resources and develop strategies focused on building political power, making long-term systems change, and building transformative relationships between donors and grassroots organizers. Chi-Ante is the Chief Reparations Officer for Cypress Fund and the Grove by Cypress Action Fund.

Michael Jung

Program Officer, Four Freedoms Fund - NEO Philanthropy

Michael brings a background in policy reform and advocacy. Michael started his non-profit career with the Direct Action and Research Training (DART) network as a graduate of their organizers’ institute, where he gained tools to create systemic change through community organizing. Following a stint in base building and training community leaders in Southeast Florida, Michael moved to the Tampa Bay to work with Faith and Action for Strength Together (FAST) to organize faith communities around issues impacting low-income and marginalized populations in Pinellas County. Prior to joining NEO, Michael worked on building coalitions and as a campaign consultant with several non-profits in the Pacific Northwest in order to pass legislation and budgets. Over the years Michael has worked on various issue campaigns such as increasing access to healthcare, affordable housing, public transportation, and improving public education. Michael holds a BA in comparative religious studies from San Jose State University and an MPA with a specialization in international policy and management from the NYU Wagner School of Public Service.

Dom Kelly

Founder, President & CEO of New Disabled South

Dom Kelly is the Founder, President & CEO of New Disabled South. Until November 2022, he served as both the Georgia Fundraising Director and the Senior Advisor for Disability for Stacey Abrams’ campaign for governor of Georgia. Previously, he was Senior Fundraising Manager and a Strategic Advisor for Disability at Fair Fight Action, the voting rights organization founded by Stacey Abrams, where he also created and led the organization’s Disability Council composed of prominent disability advocates and policy experts from across the country.

Dom is one of a set of triplets born with Cerebral Palsy and has been a disability advocate since he was four years old. Starting when he was a young teenager, Dom and his brothers played around the world with their rock band, touring and collaborating with artists like Indigo Girls, Joan Baez, Toad the Wet Sprocket, The Bangles and more and releasing 6 records over 15+ years. He is now retired from music, but with a decade of additional experience in digital and editorial strategy, he has devoted his life to disability justice, progressive policy and advocacy.

Felipe Sousa Lazaballet

Executive Director - Hope CommUnity Center

Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet (he/they) is the Executive Director of Hope Community Center, in Apopka, FL. Felipe collaborates with community advocates, supporters, leaders, and organizations throughout Central Florida to drive Hope’s support, empowerment, and advocacy for immigrants and others who are tenacious and courageous in the face of all systems of oppression.

Chevalier Lovett

Chief Operating Officer - Florida Rising

Chevalier Lovett proudly serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Florida Rising. Born and raised on the historic West Side of Winter Park, FL – Chevalier has spent more than 10+ years in executive leadership positions within the nonprofit sector which includes positions with the YMCA, City Year and AmeriCorps in local and national roles. A first generation college graduate, he has done primary studies at the University of Hartford and Rollins College among other notable institutions and programs. Chevalier is very active in the community and serves on several notable local, state and national boards & committees. In recognition of his service to the community, he was named 2020’s Most Influential by Winter Park Magazine. He believes his existence is to be a voice and to fight alongside & with marginalized communities. Particularly those that come from low-income BIPOC communities, the LGBTQ+ space, youth & education, young leaders and for those that are committed to the Peace Movement.

Rukia Lumumba (she/her)

People's Advocacy Institute

Rukia currently co-chairs the People’s Assembly process in Jackson, Mississippi which works to (1) increase community access to city government and (2) to institutionalize People’s Assemblies as community governing models that enable a deep democratic participation of people in their own governance. She was selected as one of the brightest and most promising women of color by New York University Wagner School of Public Service and she is a 2011 Youth for Justice Leadership Fellow for the National Juvenile Justice Network.

Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood

Executive Director - Asian American Advocacy Fund

Aisha Yaqoob Mahmood is the Executive Director of the Asian American Advocacy Fund. Aisha is native to the South and has worked in the progressive community in Georgia for the last seven years. She graduated with a Masters of Public Administration from the University of Georgia with a focus on local government and public policy. Aisha developed a strong passion for immigrant rights and civic engagement as she founded the Georgia Muslim Voter Project and worked as the Policy Director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice – Atlanta. These experiences have strengthened her desire to fight for justice for all marginalized people, including Muslims, immigrants, and refugees.

MacKenzie Marcellin

Climate Justice Director - Florida Rising

Rachel Mayes

Executive Director - Southern Echo

As a native of Florence, Mississippi, her values are deeply rooted in family and community. Rachel has been instrumental in bringing community leaders together to address issues involving: land zoning, civic engagement, human services, organizational development and school bond issues.

As the leader of Southern Echo, Inc. a community-based grassroots nonprofit organization, Rachel is responsible for recruiting, working with and training cadres of new leaders across the State of Mississippi in effective community organizing work. The strategic goal is empower and enable local communities to take ownership in building the necessary infrastructure to develop potential leaders who can hold the political, economic, educational and environmental establishment accountable to the needs of those who are disfranchised within the State of Mississippi.

Rachel has more than 25 years of public, private and government experience in management, financial services and organizational development. She has an undergraduate in Finance and an MBA.

Desmond Meade

Executive Director - Florida Rights Restoration Coalition

Desmond Meade is a formerly homeless returning citizen who overcame many obstacles to eventually become the President of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition, a graduate of Florida International University College of Law, a Ford Global Fellow, and a McArthur Foundation “Genius” Fellow. Recognized by Time Magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2019, Desmond presently leads efforts to empower and civically re-engage local communities across the state, and to reshape local, state, and national criminal justice policies. His work has resulted in being named Floridian and Central Floridian of the Year 2019. As President and Executive Director of FRRC, which is recognized for its work on voting and criminal justice reform issues, Desmond led the FRRC to a historic victory in 2018 with the successful passage of Amendment 4, a grassroots citizen’s initiative which restored voting rights to over 1.4 million Floridians with past felony convictions. Amendment 4 represented the single largest expansion of voting rights in the United States in half a century and brought an end to 150 years of a Jim Crow-era law in Florida.

Evan Milligan

Executive Director - Alabama Forward

Evan Milligan is a Montgomery native who spent years advocating for racial equity and economic justice as a community organizer and Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) justice fellow before attending New York University School of Law. After law school, he returned to EJI and worked for several years as a law fellow and program manager, focusing primarily on re-entry services and efforts to memorialize Black victims of racial violence. He then spent a year in Houston, Texas, serving as a policy advisor for Commissioner Rodney Ellis of the Harris County Commission, where he led a research and advocacy initiative focusing on community-based violence interruption. Now serving as executive director of Alabama Forward, Milligan hopes to solidify this civic engagement table as a source of technical support, funding, and coordination for progressive advocates working throughout the state of Alabama. Evan and his wife Jennifer have two children, Ruby (3 years) and Elijah (4 months).

Marq Mitchell

Lead Steward - Chainless Change

Marq Mitchell, Founder of Chainless Chainless, is based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He is a returning citizen, abolitionist, visionary and community leader.

In addition to his work with Chainless Change, Marq also serves on a variety of local, statewide and
national advocacy-based initiatives related to ending mass incarceration and other injustices. He is a Voqal Fellow, recipient of the 2021 Roddenberry Fellowship, Radical Partners Neighborhood Hero, The Sentencing Project’s Race and Justice Award recipient, Broward Young Democrats 2020 “Trailblazer of the Year” and a member of New Leaders Council (Broward). In fall of 2022, Marq received the prestigious Echoing Green Fellowship and New Profit: Unlocked Futures awards. He served on the Florida Behavioral Health Block Grant Planning Council and Miami-Dade Driver’s License Suspension Taskforce. He is also a
member of the Fines and Fees Justice Center Advisory Board and Emergent Fund’s Nomination Network. Prior to founding Chainless Change, he spent years volunteering for local organizations, working to reduce recidivism by providing advocacy and support for at-risk youth and other underserved populations

Marq studied Business Administration, but believes his most valuable lessons came from his personal experiences with being a black man in America and overcoming the barriers.

Maurice Mitchell

National Director - Working Families Party

Maurice Mitchell is a nationally-recognized social movement strategist and organizer for racial, social, and economic justice. Born and raised in New York to Caribbean working-class parents, Maurice began organizing as a teenager. He served as a student leader for the Long Island Student Coalition for Peace and Justice and at Howard University, after a classmate was killed by police officers, Maurice led organizing efforts against police brutality and for divestment from private prisons. Maurice went on to work as an organizer for the Long Island Progressive Coalition, downstate organizing director for Citizen Action of NY, and Director of the NY State Civic Engagement Table. After Mike Brown was killed by police in Missouri, Maurice relocated to Ferguson to support work on the ground. Seeing the need for an anchor organization to provide strategic support and guidance to Movement for Black Lives activists, Maurice co-founded and managed Blackbird. In 2015, he was a key organizer of the Movement for Black Lives convention in Cleveland. In 2018, Maurice took the helm of Working Families Party as National Director where he is applying his passion and experience to grow WFP into an authentic multi-racial populist party.

Thena Robinson Mock

VP of Programs - Public Welfare Foundation

Thena is a racial justice lawyer with over a decade of experience advancing community-led efforts for education and youth justice. Previously, she served as Program Officer at Communities for Just Schools Fund, a national donor collaborative, where she managed a grants portfolio of grassroots community organizations leading local and national efforts for education justice and an end to the criminalization of Black and Brown youth in schools and communities. Prior to her work with Communities for Just Schools Fund, Thena served as Director of the Advancement Project’s Opportunity to Learn Program, supporting local and state-based organizing campaigns to end the school-to- prison pipeline. Thena also served as Executive Director of Rethink, a New Orleans-based youth organizing and leadership organization.

Adelina Nicholls

Co-Founder & Executive Director - Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights

Adelina Nicholls is a sociologist and one of the co-founders of the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights (GLAHR). She advocates and protests for the protection and extension of rights for immigrants in America, with particular focus on those from Latin American countries.

Sharon Njie

Refugee Congress Delegate LA - Refugee Congress

Miss Sharon Njie is the Communication and Strategic Partners Director at the Louisiana Organization for Refugee and Immigrants (LORI), Refugee Congress Delegate for Louisiana. She is also a Doctoral Candidate in Public Policy and Urban Affairs with an International Development concentration at the Nelson Mandela College of Government and Social Sciences program at Southern University at A & M College, as well as an Instructor at the School of Business at Southern University and A&M College Baton Rouge Louisiana. Her Interest is in Artificial Intelligence, Social Science, Immigration, and Policy related Issues.

Ola Osaze

Ola Osifo Osaze (any pronoun) is a formerly undocumented trans masculine queer of Edo and Yoruba descent who was born in Nigeria and is now based in NYC. A co-founder and former director of the Black LGBTQ+ Migrant Project, Ola now serves as the Advisor for the Black Migrant Power Fund and is the Cultivation Strategist at the Trans Justice Funding Project. Ola has amassed decades of organizing, movement building, organizational development, and resource mobilization experience within, and on behalf of, LGBTQ+ BIPOC and migrant communities. As a resource organizer, Ola is most invested in co-creating and sustaining movement-led funding initiatives which utilize a Black liberatory lens. Among other things, Ola is also a writer, perpetual traveler, foodie, afrobeat enthusiast and dog parent.

Gilda Pedraza

Founder & Executive Director - Latino Community Fund (LCF Georgia)

Gigi Pedraza is the founder and Executive Director of the Latino Community Fund in Georgia (LCFgeorgia.org ), a grant-making public charity dedicated advance knowledge, increase civic engagement, catalyze investment and promote collaborative work in the Latinx/Hispanic community. Through her work, LCF Georgia is one of the leading voices for Latinos and immigrants in the region and has been recognized with 2 Emmys for their work in public information and human interest campaigns in addition to receiving many awards for their leadership and collaboration role. LCF Georgia has invested over 3.5 million dollars in civic participation, capacity build- ing and COVID-19 relief since 2018 through programatic grants and direct community assistance and is the only organization focused on building capacity and infrastructure in the Latinx community in Georgia. Mrs. Pedraza has an active role in the community having co-led various statewide committees and efforts like the Georgia Latino Complete Count Committee. She is part of the Steering Committee at Grantmakers for Southern Progress, an advisory board member of Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) and Caminar Latino, is the past chair of the board of the Feminist Women’s Health Center and is also the recipient of numerous awards, including a Woman of Inspiration by the Atlanta Dream, the 2018 NFL His- panic Leadership Award, is a consistent presence in the Atlanta 500 Most Powerful Leaders and was selected to the Hall of Fame for the Latino community’s most influential leaders in the state. Pedraza has earned an Executive Certificate in Non-Profit Leadership from the Fuqua College of Business at Duke University, a Masters in International Tourism Planning from the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain, Executive Business Certificates from the Peruvian University of Sciences in Corporate Training and Strategic Marketing and has a BA from the Hotel Management School – College of Tourism in Lima, Peru. She lives right outside City of Atlanta with her family.

Erica Perry

Executive Director - Southern Movement Committee/Black Nashville Assembly

Erica Perry is an organizer and movement lawyer from Nashville, Tennessee, committed to fighting for power with Black people and working-class communities in the US South. Erica has worked with organizers and advocates throughout Tennessee and nationwide to create alternatives to police and jails, fight for local budgets that invest in the community, and organize to build power. Erica moved back home in 2019 and founded the Black Nashville Assembly and Southern Movement, Committed with other Nashvillians committed to participatory democracy, abolition of the prison industrial complex, and economic democracy. After graduating from East Literature Magnet High School, Erica attended the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, where she studied political science and public administration and worked in community centers. She graduated from the University of Memphis School of Law in 2016 and is licensed to practice law in Tennessee.

Tessa Petit

Executive Director - FLIC (Florida Immigrant Coalition)

Born and raised in Haiti, Tessa has always had a passion for helping others. She moved to the United States in 2001 and worked in social services with the Haitian community and with families experiencing homelessness. While overseeing various shelters, Tessa observed that direct services address symptoms of inequality and that equity and justice will only be realized through structural transformation. She brought her passion for social justice to FLIC in 2016, where she helped to expand direct services in conjunction with issue-advocacy, capacity building and consciousness raising. Tessa has a Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Leadership from Barry University, and served our coalition as Director of Finance and Operations prior to becoming FLIC’s co-Executive Director in 2021. As she co-leads FLIC, Tessa aspires to foster collaboration among Black Immigrants, and to further expand FLIC’s civic engagement in a continuum.

Nailah Summers-Polite

Co-Executive Director - Dream Defenders

Nailah is a Co-Executive Director for the Dream Defenders. She attended the University of Florida, where she majored in African American Studies with a minor in Philosophy. She lives in her native Miami with her pit bull and two cats.

Sarai Portillo

Organizing Director - Florida Rising

Sarai Portillo is the Organizing Director for Florida Rising. Sarai is an experienced Executive Director with a demonstrated history of working in the civic & social justice organization non-profit industry.

Marco Antonio Quiroga

Founder & Executive Director - Contigo Fund

Marco is the Founder and Executive Director for the Contigo Fund, which launched in response to the horrific massacre that occurred on Latin Night at Pulse nightclub in Orlando targeting LGBTQ+ people of color. Contigo is the first and only LGBTQ+ Latinx fund in the United States and largest grantmaking organization in the US South explicitly supporting LGBTQ+ communities of color. Its efforts focuses on medium- to long-term solutions, seeks to strengthen and network existing agencies and to identify and support grassroots efforts that focus on healing, educating, and empowering Pulse-affected and historically marginalized communities, particularly LGBTQ+ Black and Latinx individuals, immigrants, and people of color, ultimately advancing the intersection of LGBTQ+ equity and racial justice causes in Orlando and across Central Florida.

Monica Riley

Executive Director - The Alabama Alliance

Monica, a proud native of Monroeville, AL, is a community and electoral organizer that believes in the power of advocacy work. She first discovered her voice and passion as a freshman on the campus of Troy University, where she served in leadership roles in several campus organizations. Teaching people how to advocate for themselves and for their communities has always and continues to be one of her top priorities. Monica was the statewide Grassroots Manager for the American Cancer Society, Cancer Action Network. ACS CAN is the nation’s leading cancer advocacy organization. In this role she planned and executed ACS CAN advocacy campaigns and recruited, trained, and developed volunteers for the State of Alabama. Monica also serves as the State Democratic Executive Committee Representative for House District 89. The SDEC is the governing body of the Alabama Democratic Party. In the SDEC she sits on the Executive Board and is a member of the minority caucus and the youth caucus. She is the Chair of PikeDems and the Board Secretary for Hiztorical Visions Productions.

Daniela Rodriguez

Executive Director - Migrant Equity Southeast

Daniela Rodriguez is an undocumented activist and community organizer born and raised in Chiapas, Mexico. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director of Migrant Equity Southeast, a Latina and immigrant-led 501(c)(3) organization based in South Georgia. MESE advocates for immigrant rights and works directly with the migrant and refugee communities of South Georgia to bring them equitable access to resources available to citizens: health resources, educational resources, political resources as well as financial aid, and food assistance.

Sheena Rolle

Senior Director of Strategy - Florida Rising

Sheena Rolle is a child of God and a child of the movement.

As the daughter of a pastor and a union president, her faith has always merged with the idea of a just world. She is a co-founder of Organize Florida and serves as the Senior Director of Strategy at Florida Rising. She has been connecting with people on a state, local, national and international level for nearly 20 years as a community organizer, speaker, strategist, and minister.
As a local and global leader and learner, she has studied and traveled throughout Europe, Africa, South America, The Caribbean and North America. Dedicated to more deeply studying God’s word and its connection to today’s world, Minister Rolle is creating new and exciting ways to serve at the intersection of Faith, Healing and Justice. She is a licensed minister with The American Baptist Church. Sheena holds bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and English from Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University and an MDiv. from Princeton Theological Seminary.

Domenico Ruggerio (they/he)

Executive Director - We Are Family

Domenico Ruggerio is the Executive Director of We Are Family, a South Carolina nonprofit serving with and for LGBTQ+ youth. Raised in the Philippines and on Long Island, Domenico Ruggerio is a transformative leader and social justice educator. Prior to joining We Are Family, they served as the director of education, advocacy, and systems transformation at Teach For America South Carolina. Previously, they held administrative positions in higher education that supported and empowered students of color and LGBTQ+ students and communities. Domenico also directed the ALANA (African American/Black, Latinx, Asian/Asian American and Native American) Cultural Center and LGBTQ Center at Vassar College, was an academic advisor at Bard College, and was the assistant director of the Multicultural Resource Center at Oberlin College in Ohio. Domenico is one of the co-founders and facilitators of the Transformative Teaching Collective, a predominantly female, LGBTQ+, and BIPOC-owned cooperative that provides social justice education and consultation to non-profit organizations, university faculty and student groups, government organizations, k-12 teachers, volunteer groups, and faith-based organizations. They are also formally certified in social justice mediation from the Social Justice Mediation Institute, UMass Amherst, and has skills in multipartial mediation, facilitation, and conflict resolution.

Joe Tolbert Jr.

Waymakers Collective

Joe Tolbert Jr. is a minister, cultural organizer, and the Executive Director of The Waymakers Collective, a community-controlled arts and culture fund that seeks to advance an Appalachian Futurism that is rooted in equitable justice, creative cooperation, and sustainable stewardship. As an intern at the Highlander Research and Education Center, he learned the power of using art and culture as tools for organizing, and he believes that arts and culture are vital tools for building equitable futures. He agrees with Robin D.G. Kelley when he said, “Without new visions we don’t know what to build, only what to knock down,” and it is the artists and cultural workers that can point us to the creative solutions to our most pressing issues.

Neil Volz

Deputy Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC)

Neil Volz has more than 25 years of experience working as a public servant and community advocate. He is currently the Deputy Director of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition (FRRC).

While at FRRC, Volz helped lead the successful effort to pass Amendment 4, which ended the lifetime ban on voting for people with past convictions in the state of Florida. Passage of Amendment 4 restored voting eligibility for 1.4 million people in the state and represented the largest expansion of US democracy in a generation. Volz and FRRC’s work was recently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by the same organization that nominated Dr. Martin Luther King for the prize in 1964.

Volz’s previous work includes being the Chief of Staff for a Member of Congress and the Staff Director for a full Congressional Committee. While in Washington, Volz helped negotiate and secure passage for the Help America Vote Act, which has improved voting accessibility and accuracy for millions of people. He is a former guest lecturer at the U.S. Naval Academy and was named a “Top Hired Gun” in The Hill Newspaper’s annual list of top lobbyists, named to Roll Call Newspaper’s List of “50 Most Powerful Capitol Hill Staffers” numerous times, and recently named to Politico Magazine’s list of 40 most influential people in politics and race.


Britney Whaley

Southeast Regional Director - Working Families Party

Britney Whaley is the senior political strategist at the Working Families Party’s (WPF) Georgia chapter.

Due to Tropical Storm Idalia, our 2023 Biennial Convening has transitioned to being 100% virtual from Wednesday, August 30 – Friday, September 1. 

Our Whova platform has been updated to reflect our revised schedule and includes zoom links and access codes for each session. Please join us to hear from funders and practitioners leading groundbreaking social justice work in the South.  

Wednesday, August 30

9:00 am - 10:00 am
Yoga + Meditation (Optional)
Mindfulness Meditation & Breathwork Our breath is ever-present and is a powerful tool to relieve stress and anxiety. Pranayama, or breath control, is a fundamental aspect of Yoga that can have a profound impact on our mental and emotional well-being. Our breath directly affects our prana, our life force energy and you can shift your mood simply by bringing awareness to the breath. These techniques can be practiced individually or as part of a larger Yoga practice. During this session we will discuss mindful practices that can easily be incorporated into a daily routine, practice different breathing techniques that can help regulate the nervous system, and sit together in a mindfulness meditation practice.
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Opening Plenary + Southern Philanthropy
Title: Philanthropic Organizing in the South Description: GSP is committed to organizing philanthropy in a way that moves resources in alignment with the needs and vision of Southern movement organizations. This means interrupting practices within philanthropy that cause disfunction among movement organizations, and committing to accompanying movement organizations in their work toward building political power with communities of color, immigrants, queer and trans folks, and other marginalize groups in Southern communities. In this session, we will talk about what this looks like in practice, and how GSP's network can help us stay grounded in what's really important.
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Disenfranchisement and Criminalization: Tools for Voter Suppression
In the last two years, more than 130 bills have been introduced across the nation that would increase the involvement of law enforcement in the voting process. Legislation passed across the South has confused, disenfranchised, and criminalized communities exercising their right to vote. Join us to explore the ways activists and organizations can work together to ensure a fair and accessible voting process and how you can invest in building a stronger movement to protect democracy leading into the 2024 election cycle.  
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Centering Black, Brown, and Disabled Communities: Building Community Resilience Against Climate & Environmental Warfare
Explore the long history of environmental and climate-based warfare against communities of color and its impacts on their health, wealth, and resiliency. Together, we will investigate the many issues around resource access, storms and disaster response, and the scaffolding effect of climate and environmental toxins in communities with deep connections to land and place.
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Safety & Security: Building a Collective Strategy for Supporting Undocumented Organizers and Community Groups
In the face of a sunsetting DACA policy and newly introduced asylum bans, we must ask: who is keeping immigrant communities safe? The answer is: each other. Work with community organizers and their allies to develop tools for supporting undocumented organizers, including security around public information sharing. Dive deep into the intersections of immigration and criminalization and learn how community safety measures help to prevent perpetual harm. 
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Meeting the Moment of anti-LGBTQ+ Legislation: Progressive Organizing and Advocacy Strategies
We envision a South where every LGBTQ+ person can thrive, with full lived and legal equality. Unfortunately, there is a surge of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, oftentimes targeting the most vulnerable members of the queer and trans community. This session explores some of the most pressing issues, needs, and long-term organizing and advocacy strategies to push back on anti-LGBTQ+ attacks. How are you meeting the moment of what’s needed by LGBTQ+ folks right now?
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
State-Based Strategy and Networking Session
Join your peers to learn more about investments being made in the 13 Southern states GSP supports.

Thursday, August 31

9:00 am - 10:00 am
Yoga + Meditation
A gentle morning Yoga flow and Meditation that will explore the benefits of practicing Yoga in the morning and discuss easy ways to create an attainable morning practice that can help set the tone for the day. We will incorporate some self-reflection in the meditation and cultivating Ahimsa (non-violence and compassion) for ourselves and others.
10:30 am - 12:15 pm
Day Two Plenary + Southern Power Fund
This session highlights SPF's impact and their robust, deeply underfunded network of organizations and coalitions throughout the US South working to build community, organize everyday people, defend democracy, and honor the humanity and dignity of people of color, immigrants, queer and trans folks throughout the region.
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Building a Collective Vision: Abolition and Reformation
In recent years, we’ve seen immigrant communities in border states infiltrated and separated by ICE, but they were not the exception. Immigrants in other parts of the US have also faced detainment and have been forced from detention center to detention center, with no regard for them or their families. What does the detainment process look like and how can we disrupt it? Learn how we can all participate in protecting immigrant communities regardless of where we live in the US. Explore existing legislative wins and current opportunities at the federal, state, and local levels to advocate for immigrant communities within and beyond border states across the South. 
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm
Investing in the Infrastructure of Climate Justice: The Long-Term Strategy
The persistent rhetoric of our current political climate seems to fall on the extreme sides of a spectrum, with climate change denial on one end and the fear that we are doomed and beyond saving on the other. This binary thinking offers no surety for the long-term investment in climate justice work. How can the philanthropic ecosystem support climate justice across silos to center communities who are most impacted for the long-haul? Learn from funders and practitioners invested in the work to ensure community has access to the resources and resiliency needed for generations to come.
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Funding and Organizing for Immigrant Justice Beyond the Border States
In recent years, we’ve seen immigrant communities in border states infiltrated and separated by ICE, but they were not the exception. Immigrants in other parts of the US have also faced detainment and have been forced from detention center to detention center, with no regard for them or their families. What does the detainment process look like and how can we disrupt it? Learn how we can all participate in protecting immigrant communities regardless of where we live in the US. Explore existing legislative wins and current opportunities at the federal, state, and local levels to advocate for immigrant communities within and beyond border states across the South.  
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
The Inherent Queerness of Southern Movement Work
Queer and trans leaders are on the front lines of every facet of social justice work in the South, especially queer leaders of color: from reproductive justice to power building, to legal advocacy. They are building power and solidarity to resist siloing efforts. Join us to discuss how we define social justice work that includes, celebrates, and places the needs of queer and trans leaders at the forefront.
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
For the People: Redefining Democracy for Black, Brown, Indigenous and Immigrant Communities
As we move into an election year, prioritizing and amplifying the voices of Black and Brown Southerners in political processes is more crucial than ever. But in the United States, Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities are facing countless systemic obstacles and inequities to exercising their rights to vote, turning the democratic process to one of disenfranchisement, especially along race, class, education, and language barriers. How are Black and Brown communities using their voices to re-define U.S. democracy ahead of 2024? How can we shift into a true democracy that is representative of all its people? Together, through community power building and focused funding strategies, the Democracy we create for ourselves can become the Democracy of its people.  

Friday, September 1

9:00 am - 10:00 am
Yoga + Meditation (Optional)
Chakra healing is a concept rooted in ancient Indian spiritual traditions, particularly within the context of Yoga and Ayurveda. Our Chakra system are our energy centers that run along our spine. There are several energy centers within the body but the Chakras refer to our main 7 energy wheels. When open and unblocked, these energy channels allow our prana to flow effortlessly through the body. These energy centers are believed to play a role in physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being and are associated with specific colors, emotions, and physical functions. I will provide an introduction to each chakra and do a general meditation targeting all 7. I will then go through an exercise specifically focused on connecting to and unblocking the Heart Chakra - our center for feeling love, compassion, and kindness.
10:30 am - 12:00 pm
Closing Plenary + The Forward Moment
We’ve made the case for equitable grantmaking for years. Now is the moment when we push forward, put our ideas into practice, and make progress. How can we learn from our peers, our own errors, and movement to move towards structural change in the South? Together, we’ll work to build a resilient, philanthropic ecosystem in service of those who are the experts in their own thriving: community.
12:00 pm - 12:30 pm
Call to Action

The Forward Moment officially kicks off at noon on Wednesday, August 30 at our Opening Plenary. We’ll wrap up around 1:000pm on Friday, September 1. Our Registration & Help Desk will be open on Tuesday, August 29 from 5-7pm and Wednesday, August 30 from 10:30am-12pm. Please pick up your name badge and welcome materials before heading into the conference.

Registration has closed.

Florida’s current political climate poses many challenges, especially for folks who are marginalized. We are grateful to each of you for making the decision to stand on the side of justice and learn from frontline organizers in Orlando about work happening on the ground across the South.  

Grantmakers for Southern Progress is committed to supporting the safety and wellbeing of our attendees for our 2023 Biennial Convening. We have several security measures in place to help us maneuver through issues that may arise while we are in Orlando, including a dedicated security team who will be on-site throughout the duration of our event. Registered attendees can view our detailed list of security measures via Whova. 

The easiest way to stay connected at The Forward Moment is by downloading the Whova app. Through Whova, you will be able to customize your daily agenda, receive real-time updates around programming, and connect with your peers while in Orlando.

Get Whova Now

GSP is monitoring the weather for tropical storms and inclement weather. In the event of severe storms or natural disasters that make travel dangerous or impossible, GSP will transition our in-person programming to virtual. We will notify all attendees 2 days prior to the convening with all the necessary information for attending our programming via zoom.  

Thank You to Our Sponsors

We are grateful to our sponsors for supporting The Forward Moment. These contributions help cover the costs of hosting a 3-day convening, including ensuring that vendors are equitably paid and sustaining GSP’s practice of gathering funders and practitioners in community in an effort to advance structural change in the South. You make our work possible. Thank you!

Download the full Sponsorship Packet here.


Foundation for a Just Society
W. K. Kellogg Foundation
Democracy Fund
Heising Simons Foundation
Kolibri Foundation
Casey Family Programs
KM Strategies Group and The Etolia Fund
Philanthropic Initiative for Racial Equity
Hill Snowdon Foundation
The Four Freedoms Fund
Tides Advocacy

COVID and Community Care

GSP recognizes that we are in a new era as the COVID-19 pandemic transitions to endemic and safety guidelines begin to shift. As an organization working to build a just and livable South, we know that we must prioritize community care in all that we do. We ask participants to do their part in helping us ensure the accessibility of this event for as many of our community members as possible, especially for folks who are immunocompromised.  

Our recommended safety guidance may increase according to COVID prevalence at the time of the Biennial Convening. GSP reserves the right to change these guidelines and will notify attendees in advance of the Convening.  

We ask that participants adhere to the following guidelines:  

  • Personal care: If attendees feel unwell or are unable to comply with our health and safety precautions, we ask that they please refrain from attending the Convening. This includes having symptoms related to COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to attending. Please notify the GSP team at info@g4sp.org if you are feeling unwell before or during the Convening, or if you test positive during the Convening or up to ten days after the Convening. 
  • Pre-Event Screening: All attendees will be asked to upload proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test to CrowdPass platform. Tests must be taken within 48 hours prior to the Convening. 
  • On-Site Testing: Conduct a self-administered rapid test on site each day, starting with your arrival day. GSP will provide tests for all attendees. Continue to rapid test at least once, and as needed over the next ten days after you leave the Convening.  
  • Masking: Wear a N95, KN95, or KN94 mask covering your nose and mouth whenever indoors (including hotel common spaces like halls, elevators, and stairwells), unless actively eating or drinking. GSP will provide suitable masks for all attendees. If someone asks you to wear a mask, please do so.  
  • Social Distancing and Prevention: Refrain from physical contact without consent, including hugs and handshakes. Whenever the weather permits, we encourage attendees to spend time in well-ventilated, spacious areas or outdoors. We will provide ample breaks during our time indoors and have access to outdoor space for informal time together. Please wash your hands and use hand sanitizer frequently. 

While GSP cannot guarantee that participants will not be exposed to or contract COVID-19 or its variants, we will do our part in making the Convening as safe as possible. Thank you in advance for doing your part to make this event more accessible. We look forward to sharing space with you.  


If you have questions related to the convening or would like to sponsor The Forward Moment, reach out to our Operations Manager, Eboni Brown at ebrown@g4sp.org

About GSP

Founded in 2010, Grantmakers for Southern Progress (GSP) is a network of funders who are committed to fostering thriving communities in the Southern United States, by advancing structural and cultural change that result in equitable outcomes. GSP’s overall goal is to help achieve significant and sustained progress in the economic, social, and political outcomes of those who are least well off economically, politically, and socially in the South.