The Vaid Group’s team of Senior Advisors brings significant experience in philanthropic initiatives and grant-making, program design, organizational development, campaign management, law and policy analysis, research, fund and resource development, intersectional approaches to issues, and leadership to advance equity.
We have run global and national foundations, civil and human rights organizations, organizing campaigns, litigated. We have raised tens of millions of dollars, created grantmaking strategies, designed public policy advocacy campaigns, and advanced a wide range of issues.
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- Urvashi Vaid, Founder and Managing Director
- Maryam Fikri, Research and Organizing Assistant
- Ashindi Maxton, Senior Advisor
- Carla Sutherland, Senior Advisor
- Kate Clinton, Director of Donor Advised Fun
- Emerson Wajdowicz Studios, Design Consultants
Urvashi Vaid, is founder and President of The Vaid Group LLC. Vaid is an attorney, organizer, and nonprofit and foundation executive, with a record of effective leadership in academic, advocacy, philanthropic, legal and grassroots organizations.
Vaid was Senior Fellow at Columbia Law School's Center for Gender & Sexuality Law, and at the City University of New York Graduate Center, where she led policy and research projects. From 2005-2010, she was Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation, working closely with its founder to create a strategic global foundation. From 2001-2005, Vaid was Deputy Director of the Ford Foundation's Governance and Civil Society Unit, and served on the management team of the Peace and Social Justice Program. In several roles at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (now the National LGBTQ Task Force), including as its communications director, executive director, and think tank director, Vaid led successful national advocacy campaigns, expanded state-level policy work, institutionalized a focus on racial and economic issues, and cofounded the Creating Change conference. As staff attorney at the National Prison Project of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), she initiated the group’s work on HIV/AIDS in prisons. Vaid is the author of three books: Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and the Assumptions of LGBT Politics (2012); Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Lesbian and Gay Liberation (1996); and Creating Change: Public Policy, Sexuality and Civil Rights, which she co-edited, with historians John D’Emilio and William Turner. She has published many articles and essays some available at urvashivaid.net. She is founder and Board member of LPAC, the lesbian SuperPAC; co-founder and steering committee member of the LGBTQ Poverty Collaborative; Board member of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund; and served for 10 years on the Board of the Gill Foundation, a leading funder of LGBT rights in the US. Vaid is a graduate of Northeastern University School of Law and Vassar College.
Dr. Carla Sutherland
Dr. Carla Sutherland is Senior Advisor at The Vaid Group working on LGBTQ Poverty, education policy, gender and international human rights. Sutherland is former Head of Programs at the Other Foundation, an African Trust that advances the rights and wellbeing of LGBT people in Southern Africa. Sutherland helped establish the Other Foundation and also helped to found UHAI the East African Sexual and Human Rights Initiative, an indigenous activist funding network based in Nairobi. Sutherland was an Associate Research Scholar at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University School of Law (New York), exploring how tradition, culture and religion have been used as a barrier to advance sexual rights within global and regional human rights mechanisms. Dr. Sutherland was director of the Arcus Foundation's international program on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity. Before joining Arcus, Dr. Sutherland led the Ford Foundation’s Education and Sexuality program in Eastern Africa. She holds a PhD in Social Policy from the London School of Economics.
Alisha Williams is the Director of the LGBTQ Poverty Initiative. A graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo Law School in 2009, Williams has spent her career in public service law. Prior to joining the Vaid Group, she was a Senior Staff Attorney at the Urban Justice Center’s Peter Cicchino Youth Project. There, she worked with homeless youth, a group comprising a disproportionate number of people of color and members of the LGBTQ community, and advocated on matters relating to immigration and access to federal benefits. Williams served as the former Director of the Prisoner Justice Project at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a leading grassroots transgender legal advocacy and organizing group based in NY. She is a member of the 5BoroDefenders District Attorney Accountability working group, and has worked as an advocate with many grassroots groups and clients.
Maryam Fikri is the Research Assistant/Organizer at The Vaid Group LLC. Fikri majored in biology and philosophy at the University of Maryland. Her studies laid a solid foundation for passionately pursuing and understanding intersectionality, global feminism, and systemic and institutionalized oppression. Every day she seeks to dismantle unconscious biases that affect daily social behaviors and interactions, even if it’s just gentle prodding or questioning in a friendly conversation.
Ashindi Maxton is Senior Advisor at The Vaid Group working on research and engagement of donors of color. Maxton is an independent strategist and donor advisor with extensive work in democracy reform, racial justice, and education. She has developed funding strategy informing more than $100 million in investments from some of the largest foundations and individual donors in the United States including the Democracy Alliance, the Ford Foundation, The Women Donors Network, and the Sandler Family Foundation. In addition to her work in philanthropy, Maxton has served as the National Policy Director of the NAACP and the National Director of Political Partnerships for SEIU, the largest labor union in the United States. Prior to this work, Maxton had an early focus in education which included time as a bilingual fourth and fifth grade teacher in a Title 1 school, a fellow to the United States Senate Subcommittee on Education, the National Policy Director of Teach For America, and the principal of an elementary arts charter school in Washington DC. Maxton has been named to the “NAACP Power 40” list of most influential African-Americans under forty. She has also been listed three times to Washington Magazine’s “Young and the Guest List” of "forty and under geniuses, visionaries, crusaders and innovators shaping Washington's future". She was also a Fulbright Scholar to the Dominican Republic where she published the first national study on race consciousness in Dominican children. She serves on the c3 board of the Texas Organizing Project and recently completed three years as Board Chair of Free Speech TV during a time that the network audience grew from 30 million to 50 million viewers. Ms. Maxton has an International Baccalaureate degree from the United World College of the American West in New Mexico. She graduated Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Vassar College with a degree in Africana Studies and later received a Masters in Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Kate Clinton is Director of Donor Advised Fun at The Vaid Group LLC. Clinton is an experienced political humorist and family entertainer, a multi-talented and multi-platformed author, actress, stand-up comic, MC, activist, fundraising auctioneer and social mediatrix. With a career spanning thirty-five years, Clinton has used her humor to raise tens of millions of dollars for nonprofit and charitable organizations, including the Democracy Alliance, the Gill Foundation, the ACLU, the LGBTQ Task Force, the Women Donor's Network, among others. She is an expert event MC, auctioneer, and who brings engagement to events and fundraising activities. http://kateclinton.com/
Emerson Wajdowicz Studios
Led by a deeply rooted creative philosophy that demands uncompromising standards, outstanding creative choices, and a level of personal involvement unique to the industry, Emerson, Wajdowicz Studios (EWS) has become a leading practitioner of socially responsible, issue-driven visual design. EWS’ passion for bold, intelligent presentation ensures that every message is communicated not just concisely and effectively, but appropriately. The final products, with their emphasis on sophisticated typography, technological innovation, and powerful photographic imagery, have won hundreds of international communication and design awards. Drawing on the distinctive background, talent and experience of its creative team―led by Jurek Wajdowicz and Lisa LaRochelle―EWS combines a remarkable clarity of vision and attention to detail with a focused, disciplined approach to every phase of the design process. EWS is well known for its vast international experience working on projects related to social injustice, human rights, poverty, the rights of minorities, gender equality, protection of the environment, United Nations’ programs, worldwide health care, photojournalism, and other relevant social, political, and cultural issues. EWS works closely with the leading experts in international human development. The combination of social responsibility, passionate personal conviction and what the design magazine Print calls a “reliance on obsessively high standards” makes Emerson, Wajdowicz Studios the outstanding choice for issue-driven design in North America, Africa, Asia and Europe.