San Francisco, February 25, 2015 – Today, the national queer, trans, and ally youth leadership organization Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) announced a shift in organizational structure with the appointment of two long-term organizational leaders, Ginna Brelsford and Geoffrey Winder, as Co-Executive Directors, and the departure of Deputy Director Laura Valdéz.
“As an innovative, next-generation youth empowerment organization committed to racial justice for queer and trans youth, we recognize that leadership in our movement should not and cannot come in just one form or one person,” said GSA Network Board Chair Andrew Uehling. “We are beyond thrilled to have Geoffrey and Ginna, two committed queer activists of color and staff members who have made GSA Network the organization it is today, bring their passion, creativity, and tremendous talent to trying out this new model of leadership for the organization and for the movement.”
This announcement is timed with Deputy Director Laura Valdéz’s decision, after four years of service, to transition out of the organization. Valdéz was critical to the organization’s development, strategic direction, and racial and social justice leadership over the past four years. “After several years of serving in this leadership role, I have decided that it is time for me to pursue other opportunities within the social justice movement,” said Valdéz. “It is important that space be created for new leadership to develop the organization during its next phase, and I am thrilled to see Geoffrey and Ginna step into that role.”
Geoffrey Winder has been involved with GSA Network since shortly after its founding in 1998, serving as one of the organization’s earliest youth leaders and Board members, and more recently as the staff member who developed and led GSA Network’s Racial and Economic Justice programs. Ginna Brelsford, who has served as GSA Network’s Finance and Administrative Director for almost four years, has overseen the organization’s growth in that time as it has more than doubled in size and budget.
“Over the past 16 years, I’ve seen GSA Network evolve from the Northern California organization that made it possible for me to be out in high school to a national, youth-driven powerhouse that, thanks in large part to Laura’s guidance, is a leader in LGBTQ intersectional organizing,” said Geoffrey Winder. "I’m excited to partner with Ginna to lead GSA Network through its next phase of work empowering LGBTQ youth to organize for societal transformation and for a shared vision for racial, gender, and educational justice.”
GSA Network decided to explore this new leadership model after eight months of organizational reflection and strategic thinking following the departure of the organization’s founding executive director.
“As Interim Executive Director, my goal at GSA Network was to guide the organization through the transition and provide an outside assessment of the organization and its staff to the board,” said outgoing Interim Executive Director Ben Wong, who was appointed in June 2014. “Based on that assessment and my own experience at GSA Network, I could not be more excited about the exploration of this new approach to leadership or more confident in the organization’s future under these two phenomenal leaders. The work of GSA Network is valuable and necessary and it is taking the right path to empower youth for even greater change.”
In its 16 years of history, GSA Network has trained over 15,000 youth leaders, grown the GSA Network of California to more than 900 clubs across the state, united 40 regional and statewide organizations supporting GSA clubs through its National Association, and built the capacity of the national GSA movement to focus on issues of educational, racial, and economic justice. Just last week, on February 20th, GSA Network held National GSA Day for Racial Justice
, an annual day of action for GSA clubs to mobilize for racial justice and celebrate the multiple identities held by LGBTQ youth.
Gay-Straight Alliance Network (GSA Network) is a next-generation LGBTQ racial and gender justice organization that empowers and trains queer, trans and allied youth leaders to advocate, organize, and mobilize an intersectional movement for safer schools and healthier communities. GSA Network operates the GSA Network of California, which connects over 900 clubs across the state, the National Association of GSA Networks, which unites 40 statewide networks of GSA clubs, and GSAs Unite, an online campaign and petition platform supporting youth organizers across the country. http://gsanetwork.org