WOMEN’S HISTORY MONTH
This year HMI celebrates Women’s History Month by recognizing former staff members for their achievements and contributions.
Click on images below for bio and accolades.
Darra Gordon served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) at HMI from 2003-2018, helping achieve national expansion for our organization. She has worked in the nonprofit field for over 20 years and has dedicated her career to organizations that advance social justice. Prior to joining HMI, Darra was Director of Events and Individual Giving at the Pearl Theatre Company, a classical repertory company, and before that she was at Literacy Inc., an organization dedicated to helping children become stronger readers.
Darra, a nonprofit executive who leads transformative business strategies and develops innovative solutions to move organizations forward, currently serves as Deputy President and Chief Operating Officer at GLAAD, the world’s largest LGBTQ media advocacy organization. She joined GLAAD as COO in 2018 and developed the organization during a time of rapid growth which saw GLAAD more than double its annual operating budget and fundraising goals. She created GLAAD’s current three year strategic plan and expanded GLAAD’s capacity and programs centered in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Darra’s work has won her accolades, including the BMW Woman of Xcellence award, the Stonewall Honors for LGBTQ leadership, and the outstanding alumni award at her alma mater, Lycoming College. She currently serves as the Treasurer of the Board of Directors at Black Trans Femmes in the Arts (BTFA).
Darra received her MS in Nonprofit Management from the Milano School of Policy, Management, and Environment at the New School University, and her BA in Philosophy and Psychology from Lycoming College in Pennsylvania.
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Malaya Mañacop, MSW (she/her/hers) served as an Education Specialist for HIV Youth Services at HMI from 2018-2019, during which time she also represented organization as an expert panelist in numerous discussion panels centered around HIV/AIDS. Prior to HMI, Malaya held various positions that focused on HIV/AIDS and transgender programs for organizations like GMHC and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
After HMI, Malaya worked at Callen-Lorde Community Health Center as Care Coordinator of their Adolescent Health program. She also served as a representative of the NYC HIV Planning Council, and a founding member of the Trans Justice Committee for GAPIMNY, an organization that empowers queer and trans Asian Pacific Islanders to create positive change. Malaya’s work over the years has aimed to center on the long legacies of trans and queer liberation.
Recognized as a social worker, researcher and cultural worker, Malaya also worked on a pilot research study with the San Francisco Department of Public Health to support trans women living with HIV. She also has worked with students on the GLSEN National Student Council.
Malaya has worked tirelessly throughout her career as a social worker and community organizer, centering her work around LGBTQIA+ individuals, people living with HIV, people of color, and people who come from immigrant families or immigrant backgrounds. She earned her B.S. in Business Administration – Management at San Diego State University and her Master of Social Work (MSW) from NYU.
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Ann Northrop worked at HMI from 1987-1992 as an HIV/AIDS Educator where she visited NYC-area schools to educate students, teachers, administrators and parents on on HIV, while also addressing homophobia. In a 2019 interview with the Washington Blade, she remarked on her experience at HMI, “Turns out it was much more fascinating to talk to 8th graders than Henry Kissinger.”
Immediately after college, Ann worked for the National Journal in DC, reporting on the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court. A year and a half later, she moved to New York to work on a program called Woman for WCBS-TV, later moving on to work for ABC Sports, Ladies’ Home Journal, ABC’s Good Morning America and CBS Morning News, where she was a producer for five years working with the show’s hosts including Diane Sawyer, Bill Kurtis, Forrest Sawyer, Maria Shriver, Phyllis George, Charlie Rose and Meredith Vieira.
After being a mainstream journalist for many years, Ann was looking for a change and learned about HMI from a friend, at which point she came on board to our organization. During that same time, she became a member of Act Up New York in 1988, where she began leading their weekly meetings, participating in hundreds of demonstrations and getting arrested repeatedly, once for lying in the middle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1989 Stop the Church action.
Ann was the only openly lesbian or gay individual in the New York delegation to the Democratic National Convention in 1992. She also served for four years as a board member of the Gay Games which were held in NYC in 1994. Ann helped create the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies—a gay think tank—for which she also served on the board of advisors. She was regularly featured on Dyke TV in a political commentary segment called Ann Northrop Mouths Off. In 1996, Ann became co-host of the tv news program, Gay USA, alongside fellow anchor Andy Humm where they presented news coverage of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues on a local, national and international level.
As an activist and journalist herself, Ann, later in her career, provided training for activists on how to effectively deal with the news media. She has been invited to speak at countless events including the 25th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots, and she has been featured in several books including Making History by Eric Marcus, Wolf Girls at Vassar by Anne MacKay, and Queer in America by Michelangelo Signorile.
Ann also helped found the Lesbian and Gay Alumnae Association of Vassar College, and helped organize the Queer Liberation alternate Pride Marches in 2019, 2020, and 2021.
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Adaku Utah worked as a Training Specialist from 2015-2017 for HMI’s Advocacy and Capacity Building team. She co-led the development of thousands of teachers, city agency officials, social workers and organizers to cultivate safer and more inclusive spaces for LGBTQIA+ young people.
Adaku also served as lead consultant with the NYC Department of Health (DOH) and Mental Hygiene, coordinating the first of its kind community-based participatory processes across all five boroughs to identify the most pressing issues related to sexual and reproductive health and justice in New York City, for the sake of shifting practices and policies at DOH and cultivating transformative campaigns.
Later she moved on to teach fellow with BOLD (Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity) and the Generative Somatics teaching team, before joining National Network of Abortion Funds as their Movement Building Leadership Manager cultivating the leadership capacity of reproductive justice leaders.
Born and raised in Nigeria, Adaku was chronically ill as a child, suffering from severe bouts of pneumonia and malaria and had to be treated with herbal medicine to better outcomes over orthodox medicines. A descendent of Marxist organizers, herbalists, and farmers who dealt in herbal treatments and ancient care to strengthen their communities, she grew up in a household that had a lot of self-determined care. This led to her devotion to spreading practices that healed her and her forbearers. She’s deeply committed to fighting oppression by reconnecting the most marginalized members of her community with the ancient healing practices of their ancestors and helping them seize their intrinsic, intuitive power.
Adaku is an award-winning liberation educator, organizer, healer and performance ritual artist committed to cultivating movements within oppressed communities that are strategic, sustainable and mutually nourishing. Her work has centered in movements for radical social change, with a focus on gender, sexuality, race, youth and healing justice. She founded and is the Director of Harriet’s Apothecary, a healing village led by Black Cis Women, Queer and Trans people committed to living out Harriet Tubman’s legacy of liberation—centering healing, wellness, and safety as movement building strategies to deconstruct legacies of trauma and galvanize communities to shape generative transformation. She is also the founder of BeatBox Botanicals, a local sliding-scale, love-centered, and community-inspired, plant medicine and healing practice.
Adaku has taught, organized and created sacred healing spaces nationally and internationally as a Social Change Initiatives coordinator, rape crisis counselor, youth organizer, intuitive healer, gender-based violence advocate, dancer, liberation trainer, sex education teacher, herbalist, sexual violence organizing educator, and board member. She has worked with several groups and organizations including Black Lives Matter, Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER), Black Organizing for Leadership and Dignity, National Network for Abortion funds, Lincoln Center, Brooklyn Museum, Ella Baker Justice Center, Sadie Nash Leadership Project, Yale University, Chicago Foundation for Women, The Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health, Planned Parenthood, the Astraea Foundation, One Billion Rising, Black Women’s Blueprint, Black Youth 100, the Movement for Black Lives, Astraea Foundation, and the Audre Lorde Project.
Adaku is a certified herbalist, Rape Survivor Crisis Counselor, Re-Evaluation Counselor (RC), and Non-Violent Communications Counselor. She has studied and practiced with priestesses, shamans, astrologers, herbalists and wise women in Nigeria, Jamaica, Kenya, Haiti and the U.S. Adaku has been featured in various publications and media programs including Elle magazine and The Laura Flanders Show, and she has been recognized as a 2020 Laundromat Project Community Impact Honoree, a 2017 Essence Magazine Woke 100 Change Maker and is a recent recipient of the 2017 Gye Nyame Empowerment Project My Sister’s Keeper Award, the 2015 Blade of Grass Fellowship, the 2015 Laundromat Project Create Change Fellowship and the 2012 Sexuality Leadership Development Fellowship with the Africa Regional Sexuality Resource Centre in Lagos, Nigeria.
Adaku’s social justice work is coupled with her award-winning performance art. Described as “a compelling presence” by the New Yorker, her artistry is inspired by love, constructive rage, ritual, storytellers, acts of resistance, healing, nature, Nigeria and bridge building. She has performed at numerous venues nationally and internationally, including the Oprah Show, Jacob’s Pillow, Lincoln Center, The American Dance Festival, New York Live Arts, Harlem Stage, FuseBox Festival, APAP conference, Arsht Center, Brooklyn Museum, National Black Theatre and shared the stage with the likes of John Legend, Black Eyed Peas, Oprah, Ne-yo and Meshell Ndegeocello.
Adaku has proudly served as a founding board member of Soul Fire Farm as a commitment to ending the racism and injustice in the food system and received a BSc in Biotechnology and Psychology from Pennsylvania State University.
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Frances Kunreuther served as Executive Director of HMI from 1991 to 1998. In response to the training HMI provides educators that focus on teacher and student prejudices and strategies to support gay and lesbian youth, she once said “Our biggest enemy is ignorance—a lot of teachers have never met a gay person and have no training on this population. Telling a gay youth ‘it’s a phase you’re going through’ reinforces the isolation that plagues gay students. I can’t emphasize how much one accepting voice can change a youngster’s life.”
Prior to HMI, Frances held the post of Director for the Victim Services Agency, a New York City agency created to help victims of crime get the services they require both in the criminal justice system and in rehabilitative therapy. Today, Frances is Co-Executive Director at the Building Movement Project, which started while she was a Senior Fellow at Harvard’s Hauser Center for Nonprofit Organizations.
Frances has co-authored two books, From the Ground Up: Grassroots Organizations Making Social Change and Working Across Generations: Defining the Future of Nonprofit Leadership, as well as several reports on generational change in leadership and has been featured in a various publications.
Over the years, Frances has worked with homeless youth and families, undocumented immigrants, crime victims, battered women, survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and substance users. In 1997, she was a recipient of an Annie E. Casey Foundation Children and Family Fellowship.
Frances is a Fellow at the Research Center for Leadership in Action at NYU, and she writes and presents frequently on issues related to nonprofits, leadership and social change.
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Lillian Rivera’s 18+ year tenure with HMI began in 2002 when she came on board as a Training Associate. She was responsible for building the capacity of youth-serving professionals in education and the non-profit sector to serve our LGBTQIA+ youth in a culturally fluent manner.
Lillian assumed additional responsibilities at HMI via a series of promotions leading up to oversight of our After-School department for which she successfully helped increase funding, enabling the department to double its number of staff members.
In 2012, she spearheaded the establishment of the Center for LGBTQ Youth Advocacy & Capacity Building, which she led until 2018, when she was appointed Executive Director of HMI: New Jersey.
At New Jersey, Lillian ensured the growth and quality of the organization—the largest LGBTQIA+ youth service provider in the state at the time—with a dedicated team providing services to young people from various cities and counties.
Prior to HMI, Lillian worked for the New York City Department of Education, Court Appointed Special Advocates of Hudson County, and Fossil. Today, she is Founder of Intersections Consulting: A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Company in Los Angeles where she and her family relocated after leaving HMI: New Jersey.
With two decades of non-profit leadership experience, Lillian has dedicated her life work to creating environments that celebrate our unique journeys. She has developed Diversity & Inclusion strategies for a variety of organizations including the New York City Department of Education, Con Edison and Fossil.
Lillian has appeared on numerous media outlets including MIC, AOL’s Bold, CNN en Español and NBC Latino, offering her expertise on issues impacting the lives of minority communities. She has had articles on her work with LGBTQ youth and her life as a Latina Lesbian Mom published on the Huffington Post, the Advocate and the Feminist Wire. Lillian is often sought to speak on panels to share her insight on issues of Diversity & Inclusion.
Lillian is a recipient of the Rockwood Fellowship on Race and Gender and National CDC/ASPH Institute for HIV Prevention Leadership Fellowship. She has a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Public Health from Rutgers University.
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Samantha Box worked at HMI as a Digital Photography Instructor from 2012 to 2017. While at HMI, she coordinated the Photography Internship, an intensive, thrice-yearly 15-week class that introduces 10 LGTBQIA+ young people to the techniques and concepts of photography as a visual arts practice, with a particular focus on the importance of community- and self-generated storytelling and documentary method.
Samantha has documented New York City’s community of LGBTQIA+ youth of color, the social issues affecting these young adults, and the structures of family, intimacy and validation that bind and protect them. The resulting body of work, INVISIBLE, is a continuing multi-chapter exploration into the lives of this young community. INVISIBLE has been widely recognized, including by EN FOCO’s New Works program in 2009, and with a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in 2010. It was also shown, most prominently, as part of the ICP Museum’s Perpetual Revolution (2017) exhibition.
It has been repeatedly exhibited, most notably in 2010 at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY; in 2011 as part of the Open Society Foundation’s “Moving Walls #18” exhibition; and in 2013 as part of The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art’s “Queers In Exile” exhibition. Images from INVISIBLE are part of the permanent collections of the Open Society Foundation, EN FOCO, the Museum of Fine Art Houston, Light Work and The Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art.
A Jamaican-born, Bronx-based photographer, Samantha pivoted from documentary work, focusing on the creation of a studio-based photography practice. In this evolving body of work, she uses photographs, sound, and installation to articulate her own diasporic experience, creating a syncretic space within her home, one where the Caribbean/colonial past and the urban present, the diasporic and the rooted, and multiple iterations of self — as a subject, rather than as a colonized object — can exist simultaneously, and so, be questioned, broken down, and reclaimed. Thus, in this chaos of these slippery intersections, there is a chance to weigh, and to understand, her own complicated and messy personal, ancestral and historical narratives.
This work has been exhibited at the Houston Center of Photography (2019), and the Andrew Freedman House (2020), and was the focus of her residency at the Center of Photography at Woodstock in August 2021.
Samantha received an MFA in Advanced Photographic Studies from the International Center of Photography/Bard College (2019) and a certificate in Photojournalism and Documentary Studies from the International Center of Photography (2006). In 2021, she completed the Bronx Museum of the Arts’ AIM Fellowship program, and became a member of Tiger Strikes Asteroid New York.
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Lazara Gonzalez worked at HMI from 2014 – 2017. She joined the HMI family as the Assistant Director of Health & Wellness collaboratively overseeing Kiki Lounge, HIV & STI prevention services, CAP programming, Saturday Night Lights, and other youth-affirming wellness services that respect the rights and choices of all HMI members to receive services with dignity. She transitioned to the Director of Youth Engagement with the vision of broadening how youth received comprehensive wellness services in a way that was responsive to their needs immediately upon entering our doors, making their health a priority.
A fierce queer, Latinx human, lover, and mother, Lazara was born and raised in northern New Jersey and is passionate about working on social and community justice issues that impact marginalized communities—acknowledging health as a right. Lazara has over 20 years of professional experience in public health program development and implementation with a focus on advocacy, community mobilization, creating sustainable partnerships, and seeing organizations grow predominantly among communities of color, LGBTQIA+ identified communities, and youth throughout the nation.
She currently works with a public health firm based out of California where she is leading the implementation of multiple dynamic and diverse projects, including CA Office of AIDS and STD Control Branch strategic plan for the next five years supporting a shift towards a more people-centered approach to services. Similarly, she is working on the development of a more equitable, comprehensive workforce development initiative in San Francisco that builds a highly skilled cross-trained workforce that reflects the populations served, has low turnover rates, and is valued and supported.
Lazara is proud of the work that she does and the impact it has had and will continue to make on the communities she has the privilege to work with. She has been highlighted in various publications and has received recognition for her work and commitment to the community, including being selected as a LGBTQ Scholar of Color and a Minority of Color Leadership fellow as notated below. Lazara received an M.P.H. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and a B.S. of William Paterson University of New Jersey.
LGBTQ Scholar of Color Fellow, selected by The Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies @ the City University of New York (2015)
Lead The Way Fellow (selected), Center For Research And Policy In The Public Interest at the New York Women’s Foundation, NYC (August 2015)
UCLA Minority Training Program in Cancer Control Research (MTPCCR), Graduate, Los Angeles, CA (May 2010)
Aruna Krishnakumar served as Senior Supervising Counselor at HMI from 2011 to 2016, working as a mental health clinician and supervisor. After HMI, she joined Callen-Lorde as Director of Adolescent Health, overseeing the Health Outreach to Teens (HOTT) Program which provides comprehensive health services to LGBTQ youth ages 13-24. Today, Aruna is now the Health Center Director for Callen-Lorde Brooklyn— the leading health clinic dedicated to LGBTQ+ communities in New York City.
Aruna has worked at numerous LGBTQ youth organizations and domestic violence agencies in North America. She is a licensed social worker, who received her training at Columbia University School of Social Work. She also is an adjunct lecturer at several social work and health advocacy graduate programs.
Aruna has been working with LGBTQ communities for over a decade and her areas of interest include the intersection of race, poverty and homelessness, and HIV/AIDS with LGBTQ youth.
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