TLDEF Appoints Nationally Recognized LGBTQ Activist Andy Marra as Executive Director

New York, NY – Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) Board of Directors today announced the appointment of Andrea “Andy” Hong Marra as its new executive director. Marra is a nationally revered social justice advocate with a strong track record of service to the LGBTQ movement. Marra succeeds Dolph Ward Goldenburg who has served as Interim Executive Director since February.

“Andy is a powerful force in our movement with a distinguished career in advancing LGBTQ equality. She brings a depth of experience and enthusiasm to this role that is sure to infuse a vibrant new energy into TLDEF’s crucial transgender advocacy work,” said Joseph A. Hall, co-chair, TLDEF Board of Directors.

“Andy joins us at a critical time when transgender people face ongoing and relentless attacks from the highest levels of our government. At this urgent moment in our history, Andy brings the solid leadership we need to counter the threats confronting us, sustain the achievements we’ve already made, and position TLDEF for substantial victories for transgender people in the years ahead,” said Alaina Kupec, co-chair, TLDEF Board of Directors.

Marra is a transgender Korean American woman who has spent the past 15 years working with LGBTQ and social justice organizations worldwide. Prior to her appointment she spent almost  five years managing external communications at the Arcus Foundation where she was a leading partner in launching the Global Trans Initiative, a historic multi-million dollar philanthropic commitment in support of transgender communities worldwide. She was also a leading member of Grantmakers United for Trans Communities, an initiative designed to increase the amount, and improve the quality, of funding supporting transgender and gender nonconforming organizations and issues. 

“While all of us at Arcus are incredibly sad to lose Andy as a foundation colleague, we couldn’t be happier or more hopeful for the kind of impact that she can have as TLDEF’s  executive director,” said Arcus’ co-executive director Jason McGill, who also leads the foundation’s Social Justice Program. “Andy’s leadership and many contributions to the LGBTQ movement are well-known, and we are delighted to see her return to the frontline with one of our grantee partners at such a critical time for the LGBTQ and wider social and racial justice movements.”

Before Arcus, Marra oversaw public relations at GLSEN, a national organization focused on LGBTQ issues in K-12 education; was co-director at Nodutdol for Korean Community Development; and served as a senior media strategist at GLAAD. Marra currently serves on the boards of Freedom for All Americans, an organization working to advance comprehensive nondiscrimination protections nationwide and Just Detention International, an organization dedicated to ending sexual violence in prisons.

“It’s a tremendous honor to join TLDEF, especially at a time when so much is at stake for transgender and gender nonconforming people,” said Andy Marra, incoming TLDEF executive director. “We live in a reality where our community faces increasing hostility and our very lives are being defined out of existence. On day one, I will take the helm at TLDEF fully resolved to ensure our community can live safely, freely, and with access to opportunity. We can’t do this work alone and I look forward to collaborating with our legal partners and movement allies to protect hard-fought gains and advance equality, especially for those who have faced the brunt of violence and discrimination. It’s particularly rewarding for me to share the news of my appointment during Transgender Awareness Week.”

TLDEF partnered with Kevin Chase Executive Search Group to conduct an exhaustive, nationwide search for a transformational new executive director. Over the course of five months, the firm reached out to upwards of 250 prospects and sources, ultimately vetting more than two dozen potential candidates with TLDEF’s search committee. After multiple rounds of interviews and presentations, the search committee narrowed the pool to a group of six final candidates from whom Marra was unanimously selected as Executive Director.

“We were committed to finding a truly unique combination of lived and professional experience – and to really centering trans and nonbinary perspectives and voices – for this critical leadership position,” said Kevin Chase, Managing Partner. “After an intensive search and a thorough assessment, Andy emerged as the perfect choice for TLDEF. Andy is widely respected throughout the broader LGBTQ movement and enjoys a strong reputation as a smart, strategic, bold and experienced leader. She will bring all of that credibility, along with the talent, experience, character, and determination  necessary to move the needle, to TLDEF and to trans advocacy in this country. It couldn’t come at more critical time. Watch for great things to happen at TLDEF under her leadership.”

>Over the last decade Marra has received numerous accolades. She was named one of the 100 Most Influential Asian Americans in 2017; chosen as one of The White House’s Next Generation of LGBT Leaders; and selected for The Advocate’s Forty Under 40 list. She also received an NCTE Julie Johnson Founder’s Award, a Colin Higgins Foundation Courage Award, a National LGBTQ Task Force Creating Change Award, a GLSEN Pathfinder Award, and a NQAPIA Community Catalyst Award. She additionally made the inaugural Trans 100 List.

Marra begins her position at TLDEF on December 3. To support her leadership, TLDEF has launched an online crowdfunding campaign where a small group of anonymous donors excited by Marra’s appointment have issued a matching challenge. Every dollar raised online will be matched up to a total amount of $13,000. In total, TLDEF aims to raise $26,000 before Marra’s first day.

Leaders from across the LGBTQ and broader social justice movement share an outpouring of support for Andy’s appointment below:

I am excited to see Andy Marra become Executive Director at TLDEF at this critical moment for the LGBTQ movement. Having first met Andy when she was a dynamic GLSEN student organizer, I am so proud to have witnessed the difference she has made over time. Andy’s deep knowledge of, and engagement with, many different sectors of the LGBTQ community and her track record of impact as an advocate position her for tremendous success as part of an emerging generation of new organizational leaders. I look forward to having her as a colleague.” Eliza Byard, Executive Director, GLSEN

“Andy is the right person at the right time to lead TLDEF – and our LGBTQ movement will be stronger for her leadership. Andy’s impact on the movement and on the broader work for social justice has already been significant. She has committed herself to those most marginalized, and brings with her an acute understanding of the interconnectedness between people, issues and movements. As a writer, activist, and strategist, she has amassed a broad set of experiences in communications, funding, board service, non-profit leadership and shaping messages that move people. Now, more than ever, with so many threats against the well-being of transgender people, Andy and TLDEF are welcome contributors and leaders in our community’s work for freedom, justice and equity.”
Rea Carey, Executive Director, National LGBTQ Task Force
“I am extremely pleased to see Andy Marra named TLDEF’s Executive Director. As a partner in the LGBT movement, I am excited to see organizations bring on the best talent and harness their transformative energy for positive change. TLDEF has undoubtedly done just that. I am eager to continue working with Andy and TLDEF during this critical time.” Brad Clark, President & CEO, Gill Foundation
“Andy Marra’s appointment as TLDEF’s executive director brings a powerful force for good to the advancement of transgender rights. She has dedicated her career to uplifting trans people, young people, and communities of color.. Her strong leadership will inevitably further the goals and mission of TLDEF and the wider LGBTQ movement. I enthusiastically welcome her to this new role and look forward to working collaboratively with her in our effort to secure full nondiscrimination protections for LGBTQ people nationwide.” 
Masen Davis, CEO, Freedom for All Americans
“Andy Marra is an LGBT community treasure and a fierce advocate for equality and justice. Since first meeting her as a high school student nearly 20 years ago, I’ve seen her succeed and persevere no matter what. Her combination of smarts, warmth, communications abilities, and tenacity is exactly what our movement generally and TLDEF specifically need at this critical moment in time.”
Matt Foreman, Senior Program Director, Gay and Lesbian Rights, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund 
“Congratulations to Andy Marra and TLDEF. I am thrilled to see Andy, a trailblazing community advocate and trans woman of color, take on this vital role leading one of three national transgender-specific organizations in the U.S. TLC is excited to fight alongside TLDEF under Andy’s leadership in this moment of intense attack and fierce resistance for transgender people of color.”
Kris Hayashi, Executive Director, Transgender Law Center
“I am elated to see Andy Marra take the helm at TLDEF. She has been a trusted movement partner for more than a decade. As NCTE’s former board chair she worked tirelessly to advance the goals of our organization and went on to be awarded our NCTE Julie Johnson Founder’s Award. Andy is an incredible leader with a gift for working in a spirit of collegiality. As transgender Americans continue to face an onslaught of attacks from the highest levels of our government, I look forward to working side by side with her and TLDEF to fight anti-transgender discrimination and improve the lives of all those we collectively serve.” 
Mara Keisling, Executive Director, National Center for Transgender Equality 
“Kudos on hiring Andy Marra as TLDEF’s executive director! As a past colleague at the Arcus Foundation, I observed firsthand her dedication to building the power of trans and gender nonconforming people, never losing sight of the intersections in our communities. Andy’s partnership with launching the Global Trans Initiative, a historic multi-million dollar philanthropic commitment in support of trans communities, remains a professional highlight. I am certain Andy will continue to use her skills and experiences to bolster the goals of TLDEF and move us even closer to equity and justice for all.Roz Lee, Vice President Strategy and Programs, Ms. Foundation For Women
“I applaud the naming of Andy Marra as TLDEF’s executive director. She’s a fierce activist who has used her voice as an out transgender Korean American to advance rights for countless members of our LGBTQ Asian American communities. She’s not only a past NQAPIA Community Catalyst Award winner, but has also been a trusted partner in many of our most vital initiatives. I can attest that Andy has the strength, tenacity and smarts to expand TLDEF’s mission and improve the lives of transgender people.” Glenn Magpantay, Executive Director, National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA)
“Andy Marra is an inspired choice for the next executive director of TLDEF. During these challenging times we need leaders that recognize and understand the central role that race plays in all of our fights for full equality, dignity and liberation. I remember Andy during our time together at GLAAD as a smart, passionate and dedicated advocate, always willing to learn and grow. I have no doubt that Andy’s experience and leadership working at the intersection of gender identity, race and politics will serve her and TLDEF well — congrats to all involved in the excellent decision.” Rashad Robinson, President, Color Of Change

Founded in 2003, Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to end discrimination and achieve equality for transgender people, particularly those in our most vulnerable communities. Our strategies include pathbreaking trans rights cases and “friend of the court” briefs regarding the key issues of employment, health care, education and public accommodations. Our Name Change Project provides pro bono legal name change services to community members through partnerships with some of nation’s premier law firms and corporate law departments.

BY MELANIE NATHAN, mostly a mom!
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If we fail to embrace intersectionality we may as well pile the pieces of the puzzle on top of each other instead of attaching them to each other for the sake of completing the puzzle! 

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