This Work Has Been My Medicine

After 12 years at GSA Network, and 8 years as Co-Executive Director, I will be transitioning out of my role at the end of 2023.

I have seen this beautiful organization through many evolutions. During my tenure, we’ve updated our name to reflect the realities of how youth identify; we’ve given renaissance to the principles of shared and distributed leadership inherent in how BIPOC communities have long drawn strength; we’ve doubled our budget and doubled down on the integration of a racial and gender justice lens in all of our work inside and out; and we’ve weathered a hostile administration and a pandemic by refocusing our attention on how we can best and most holistically support the young people in our programs and the staff who carry out our vital mission.

I am incredibly proud of my time at GSA Network. I’m proud of the ways the organization has grown and matured. Now in its 25th year, GSA Network has staff and board members around the country, partners and participants in every time zone, and supporters like you from every walk of life. I am particularly proud that what was once a distant dream of mine to bridge the gap between programs for Native youth and programs for Trans and Queer youth came to life as the Two-Spirit Initiative. I was just in New Orleans last week, where GSA Network partnered with Alternate ROOTS to host a listening session on Afro-Indigeneity to ensure that the Initiative supports all Two-Spirit/Multi-Spirited/IndigeQueer young folks. The power of representative leadership is evident in our ability to create spaces where participants see possibility models and reflections of their own identities. I am humbled to have been a part of creating this powerful initiative and excited to see how it can grow beyond my wildest dreams.

Of course, I didn’t do all of this alone, and I would be remiss not to acknowledge and appreciate the incredible staff of GSA Network. Our growth hasn’t been without challenges, but what saw us through each challenge was the willingness of the people who work here to come together to create solutions. There’s never a perfect moment to say goodbye. With the turmoil that daily interjects itself into our lives, a departure can feel even more destabilizing.

It is because of my confidence in this staff, especially in my beloved co-director, Gia Loving, that I know GSA Network will continue to build on what I humbly leave behind. Gia’s vision, combined with the passion and drive of our staff, will ensure that GSA Network remains a beacon of hope, resilience, and joy for Trans, Queer, and Two-Spirit youth in this time of escalating attack.

As I say goodbye, for now, I know that while my work here is done, I am leaving a valuable foundation for Gia and the next co-director to build on and transform in powerful ways.

Thank you, GSA Network. It has been an honor.

Ginna Brelsford

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