15 Minutes with…Development Committee Members Gina White, Shawn Demmons and Jane Nevins
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
GW: I am a retired software engineer. In addition to the Transgender Law Center (TLC) Development Committee, I serve on the board of Double Union, a feminist hacker/maker space for women in San Francisco.
SD: As a program manager at SF AIDS Foundation, I run the health and community-oriented Black Brothers Esteem program for African American gay, bi, transgender and gender variant men and women.
JN: I work in marketing and I don’t have the opportunity in my professional life to work on social justice or be involved in advocacy. Volunteering with TLC allows me to work on something I feel really passionate about.
What drew you to being a champion for transgender rights?
GW: I’m transgender. Compared to a lot of transgender people, I am in a fortunate position. It’s really clear to me how much better the world needs to be. I wanted an opportunity to help.
JN: I am drawn to TLC because it works to change policy, laws and attitudes to support transgender people from all walks of life.
How did you get involved with Transgender Law Center?
SD: I helped put on events for the first International Transgender Day of Visibility and reached out to TLC. At the time, I wasn’t involved in the transgender movement, but I had experienced challenges as a gender non-conforming person. By the time I went through my medical transition, TLC had done so much work to improve healthcare access that I benefited from their work and policy efforts.
Tell us about the Development Committee.
JN: The Transgender Law Center Development Committee is focused on building relationships and raising philanthropic support. We have two major fundraisers each year. SPARK! is TLC’s anniversary celebration and gala. We also have Give OUT Day, coming up May 21st. The committee also works with individual donors to secure support and seeks sponsorships from law firms and corporations.
What is your proudest Development Committee accomplishment? What challenges have you faced?
GW: I was happy to steward the SPARK! awardee nomination and selection process last year and am glad to do it again this year. I also enjoy finding people to introduce to TLC.
SD: For the past couple years, I led recruitment and organizing of volunteers for Folsom Street Fair of which TLC has been a beneficiary – helping secure over $10,000 from those efforts in 2013 and 2014. Thanks, Folsom! It was challenging to manage volunteers’ schedules and time but we worked with them to make it a successful event. We’ve had challenges with diversity but TLC has gotten better at connecting with communities of color. I’m excited for the new TLC partnership with SONG in Atlanta, GA and the greater South, which is part of our shift toward building and strengthening relationships in communities of color. I’m also proud to have helped TLC place 1st nationally during Give OUT Day in 2013.
JN: I helped organize the silent auction at SPARK! last fall. The auction raised over $8,000, but silent auctions are a lot of work. It involved soliciting donations and managing volunteers. Managing donations required a lot of follow up and organization. Even though it was difficult at times, the experience was rewarding and a lot of fun, too!
What is your experience working with TLC and its staff?
GW: TLC Director of Advancement, Nathan Harris, is fantastic. He balances keeping an eye on how the overall process is going and gently reminding us when we might forget the smaller details that are also critical.
SD: Nathan and the other TLC staff are there to support us. I give kudos to the committee, too. It has grown under Nathan’s leadership and capacity building. I’ve been working with Nathan for three years. He is super organized, smart and forward thinking. He knows the latest fundraising innovations and research and helps us develop our skills like public speaking and presentation development.
JN: TLC offers volunteers and the community a meaningful way to get involved and give back. I’ve had a really positive experience with the staff and other volunteers including Nathan who I work with the most. I have volunteered with many organizations and TLC is definitely the most rewarding and fun.
Nathan likes to say, if you want something done, ask a busy person. You do a lot in the community. How do you find the time or energy to keep going?
GW: Over and over when I think I’m doing something to help somebody else, it turns out to benefit me. That’s true with my time and my investment making TLC stronger. I feel like I’ve made some really good friendships through it and I’ve learned a lot, both internal and external things. I’ve learned a lot about myself as well as what’s going on in the bigger world.
Give OUT Day is coming up. When you ask other people to give to TLC, what will you say? What is your number one reason to give?
SD: I often talk about my own life and experience. I talk about what their dollars can do: help protect kids in school so they are safe; provide access to health care; and prevent discrimination of transgender people in healthcare and the workplace. Our community is dealing with a lot—high rates of suicide, incarceration, violence—so it’s important to talk about why and how the donations can create better lives.
Why do you think TLC has been so successful with Give OUT Day? The first year they placed 1st nationally and last year 3rd nationally – the only organization to place in the top three nationally for two consecutive years.
GW: Asking for donations is difficult. On average, transgender people have less money, especially transgender women, so to ask them for money is a big deal. What’s nice about Give OUT Day is we can ask people to give $10, which is a little more doable and can have a huge impact when we unite as a community. We’ve also received a lot of support from across the LGBT community, including many allies who do not identify as transgender or gender nonconforming.
JN: I think Give OUT Day is successful because of the strength of the community of people from many backgrounds who believe in and support TLC’s work. TLC does a great job of nurturing and building its community, and that shows when everyone comes together for an event like Give OUT Day.