The Vaid Group is a social innovation and consulting firm that supports leaders to advance equity, justice and inclusion, and reduce structural inequality. We advise, build organizational capacity, coach, and give strategic support to nonprofits, donors, movements and businesses.
Our goal is to build the social sector's capacity to advance equity and justice. Integral to this work is Justice Work at The Vaid Group, an affiliated think tank and action lab that incubates and supports social justice projects. Justice Work is a 501c3 fiscally sponsored project of the National Center for Civic Innovation (NCCI).
The Vaid Group’s team brings significant experience in social movement and nonprofit strategy, philanthropic and donor giving strategies, program and initiative design, project management and evaluation, donor strategies, research, landscape analysis & policy analysis, intersectional and community based approaches, network and coalition building & management, and leadership to advance racial, gender and social equity.
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Vaid Group Team
- Urvashi Vaid, President
- Johanna Sanders, Director of Policy and Organizing
- Sloan Leo, Director of Social Innovation
Justice Work Team and Other Affiliated Advisors
- Dr. Jaime Grant, Research Director, Justice Work (LGBTQ+ Women*s Community Survey)
- Dr. Alyasah Sewell, Senior Research and Data Analyst, Justice Work (LGBTQ+ Women*s Community Survey)
- Dr. Carla Sutherland, Senior Advisor, Justice Work (Project Management, Research, Impact, Evaluation)
- Rickke Mananzala, Senior Advisor, Justice Work (Social Justice Philanthropy)
- Ashindi Maxton, Executive Director, Donors of Color Network
- Dawn Laguens, Senior Advisor
- Kate Clinton, Director of Donor Advised Fun
- Emerson Wajdowicz Studios, Design Consultants
Urvashi Vaid is President of The Vaid Group, and Executive Director of Justice Work, a think tank and action lab that is a fiscally sponsored project of the National Center for Civic Innovation (NCCI). Vaid has held leadership roles in philanthropic, advocacy, community, and academic organizations, including as: Executive Director of the Arcus Foundation; Deputy Director of the Governance and Civil Society Unit at the Ford Foundation; Senior Fellow at the Center for Gender & Sexuality Law at Columbia Law School; Senior Fellow at the CUNY Graduate Center Social Justice Sexuality Project; Executive Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force; and Staff Attorney at the National Prison Project, ACLU.
Vaid is author of Irresistible Revolution: Confronting Race, Class and The Assumptions of LGBT Politics (2012); Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay and Lesbian Liberation (1996); co-editor of an anthology titled Creating Change: Public Policy, Sexuality and Civil Rights (2000); and author of many reports, articles and research projects.
She is Board alumnus of the Gill Foundation, LPAC, Roadwork Center for Culture in Disputed Territory, and the National Board of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. She serves on the Boards of Provincetown Commons, and the American Museum of LGBTQ History & Culture. Vaid is a co-founder of the Donors of Color Network, National LGBTQ/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group, National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network, LPAC, Task Force Creating Change Conference, Equality Federation, National Religious Leadership Roundtable, and a number of other organizations and networks. She is a graduate of Vassar College and Northeastern University School of Law.
Johanna Sanders is the Director of Policy and Organizing at The Vaid Group and at Justice Work. Raised in a family and community of German Jewish refugees, Sanders grew up deeply political and steeped in her family’s immigrant experience. Since coming out, she has dedicated her energies to advancing the rights and stories of LGBTQ people, specifically focusing on criminal justice policy reform and economic justice issues.
Sanders holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Binghamton University where she focused her research on the social implications of questioning one’s sexual identity. She continued her research and organizing abroad, primarily in South Africa and Australia, and then back home, in New York. Sanders holds a Juris Doctorate from Fordham Law School where she worked in the Immigrant Rights Clinic, traveled to Dilley, Texas with the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project to assist with legal representation at the border, worked with the International Planned Parenthood Federation on a project for the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations, worked for Brooklyn Legal Services in their LGBT/HIV Advocacy Unit, and at Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund. She was a Stein Scholar for the Public Interest.
Sanders previously co-facilitated the National LGBT/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group and worked on the research initiative that led to the Donors of Color Network. Sanders currently serves on the study team for The National LGBTQ+ Women*s Community Survey, co-coordinates the National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network and serves on the Board of Directors for Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.
Sloan Leo is the Director of Social Innovation at The Vaid Group. In this role, they lead the consulting and coaching practice for the firm. They specialize in designing systems and tools to support organizational community building. Leo was the Chief of Staff at The Trust for Public Land (TPL). They played an integral role in leading the advancement of TPL’s strategic plan which repositioned the 47-year-old conservation organization as a community-building institution.
Previously, Leo was the Director of Board Relations, managing the boards in the US, Europe and China for the Environmental Defense Fund, after being an early design strategist at Van Jones’ Dream Corps. Sloan Leo is adjunct professor at the School of Visual Arts Design for Social Innovation Program & NYU Wagner School. They are a former board member of the Association of Design Professionals New York (AIGA NY) and the former Board Governance Chair for The Ms. Foundation.
Dr. Jaime M. Grant
Dr. Jaime M. Grant is Research Director of Justice Work's The National LGBTQ+ Women*s Community Survey. Grant is co-author of Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, and co-editor of Friendship As Social Justice Activism.
Grant is an equity expert, researcher and trainer who has been active in LGBTQ, women’s and racial justice movements since the early 90s. Accordingly, she has served in a number of key leadership roles, including as Director of the Union Institute Center for Women, Cohort Director for the Ford Foundation’s Leadership for a Changing World Program, Policy Institute Director at the National LGBTQ Task Force, and Founding Executive Director of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership.
Grant’s sexual self-determination and community-building workshop, Desire Mapping, has been produced on college campuses and at LGBTQ and feminist leadership conferences around the world. Her podcast based on the workshop, Just Sex: Mapping Your Desire, captures everyday sex and desire stories told by Desire Mappers from Beijing to Cape Town, from Lebanon to South Korea, from Dallas to Denver to DC.
Grant’s academic research has appeared in The Harvard LGBTQ Policy Journal; Transgender Studies Quarterly; The Reader’s Companion to US Women’s History; SIGNS, the Journal of Culture and Society; and in the National Women’s Studies Association Journal. Her autobiographical theorizing/writing has appeared in popular anthologies including Leslea Newman’s The Femme Mystique and Rachel Epstein’s collection on queer parenting, Who’s Your Daddy? More recently, her articles on race, gender and sexuality have appeared in The Body: The HIV/AIDS Resource, The Body is Not an Apology, The Praxis Center, Medium, Everyday Feminism, and The Huffington Post. A femme and a feminist, and a sober, solo Mom of two, Dr. Grant lives in Washington, DC.
Dr. Alyasah Ali Sewell
Dr. Alyasah Ali Sewell is Senior Research and Data Analyst for Justice Work's The National LGBTQ+ Women*s Community Survey. Sewell is Associate Professor of Sociology at Emory University and Founder and Director of The Race and Policing Project. A widely-published medical sociologist, they assess the political economy of race, neighborhoods, and health. Their research has garnered support and recognition from the National Institutes of Health, the Ford Foundation, the National Science Foundation, and the Baden-Württemberg Foundation, among others. In 2016. Planned Parenthood designated them “The Future: Innovator and Visionary Who Will Transform Black Communities.” They received postdoctoral training from the Population Studies Center at the University of Pennsylvania, their Ph.D. and M.A. from Indiana University, and their B.A. summa cum laude from the University of Florida. For more information, please see: www.alyasahalisewell.com.
Rickke Mananzala is a Senior Advisor at Justice Work where they lead the Transgender Acceptance Index (TAI) project, and a Strategic Advisor for Social Justice Philanthropy to the VAID Group. Mananzala has been active in grassroots organizing, advocacy, and social justice philanthropy for over two decades. He currently works as an independent consultant advising foundations and individual donors on social justice grantmaking strategy, capacity-building, and program design.
Rickke’s roots in community and youth organizing for racial and gender justice and LGBTQ rights guide his work in philanthropy to move resources where and how they are needed most. He most recently served as Vice President of Programs at Borealis Philanthropy, a philanthropic intermediary that brings funders together to support leaders, organizations and movements in their efforts to build power in communities most impacted by injustice.
Rickke previously served as the Executive Director of FIERCE, a grassroots organization for LGBTQ youth of color in New York City that spearheaded campaigns to challenge youth criminalization. He was also a New Voices Fellow at the Sylvia Rivera Law Project where he worked to integrate legal services, litigation, and policy advocacy in service of organizing and movement-building by and for low-income transgender people in New York City. Rickke was a founding board member of the Right to the City Alliance and served on the board of the Third Wave Foundation (now Third Wave Fund) where he helped develop grant-making strategies to support feminist youth organizing work across the U.S. He currently serves as the board chair of Funders for LGBTQ Issues and is a trustee of the New York Foundation.
Rickke received his B.A. in political science from Columbia University and Master of Public Administration from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs with a focus on urban policy.
Dr. Carla Sutherland
Dr. Carla Sutherland is Senior Advisor at Justice Work for Project Management, Research, Evaluation and Program Strategy. 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.
Ashindi Maxton is Executive Director of the Donors of Color Network and a Strategic Advisor and Partner to The Vaid Group. Maxton is an experienced 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 Emergent Fund, Solidaire, 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. 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.
Dawn Laguens is Strategic Advisor at The Vaid Group and Redshift Leadership. Laguens is an Expert-in-Residence at IDEO, one of the world's foremost human-centered design and innovation firms, and was formerly the Executive Vice President at Planned Parenthood. In these roles she is partnering to imagine and build the socially responsible and responsive organizations, corporations and technology needed for a healthier and happier future for both people and the planet.
As Planned Parenthood’s Executive Vice President, Laguens worked to defend access to care for millions of patients and advance reproductive rights and freedoms for all. She spearheaded innovative efforts to keep a century-old brand relevant for the next generation, and to change the way our culture views sex, health and equality. Laguens is a CLIO award-winning writer and director, and Executive Producer of Across the Line, a groundbreaking virtual reality experience that debuted at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.
She is the mother of triplets, a sportswoman, a native of New Orleans, a resident of Austin, and a fan of the printed word.
Kate Clinton is Director of Donor Advised Fun at The Vaid Group. Clinton is an experienced political humorist and 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. Clinton holds a Masters in English from Colgate University and a BA from Lemoyne College.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.