The Vaid Group’s team brings significant experience in philanthropy and strategy, program and initiative design, project management and evaluation, individual donor strategies, research & policy analysis, organizational development, 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, Founder and CEO
  • Johanna Sanders, Director of Policy and Organizing
  • Sloan Leo, Director of Social Innovation
  • Jaime M. Grant, Research Director of The Vaid Group's LGBTQ Women’s Research Initiative
  • Carla Sutherland, Senior Advisor, Impact Evaluation, Program Strategy and Design
  • Dawn Laguens, Strategic Advisor

Affiliated Advisors

  • Kate Clinton, Director of Donor Advised Fun
  • Emerson Wajdowicz Studios, Design Consultants
  • Hali Lee, Co-Director, Donors of Color Network
  • Ashindi Maxton, Co-Director, Donors of Color Network
Urvashi Vaid

Urvashi Vaid

Urvashi Vaid is an experienced leader and strategies and is President of The Vaid Group LLC, a mission driven, woman of color led, consulting and social innovation firm advising nonprofits, foundations, businesses and individuals working for racial, gender and economic equity and justice. Vaid also runs the practice's accelerator/incubator, which is called Justice Work, and which 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. She 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); a co-edited anthology titled Creating Change: Public Policy, Sexuality and Civil Rights (2000); and of many reports, articles and research projects. She is Board alumnus of the Gill Foundation, LPAC, Roadwork Center for Culture in Disputed Territory. She is a Board member of the National Board of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the Provincetown Commons, and the American Museum of LGBTQ History & Culture. Vaid is co-founder of the Donors of Color Network, the National LGBTQ/HIV Criminal Justice Working Group, the National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network, LPAC, the Task Force Creating Change Conference, the Equality Federation, the National Religious Leadership Roundtable, and a number of other organizations and networks. Vaid is a graduate of Vassar College and Northeastern University School of Law.

Johanna Sanders

Johanna Sanders is the Director of Policy and Organizing at The Vaid Group. 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 spent her time dedicated 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 currently co-coordinates the National LGBTQ Anti-Poverty Action Network and serves on the Board of Directors for Congregation Beit Simchat Torah.

Sloan Leo

Sloan Leo is Director of Social Innovation at The Vaid Group. In this role, Leo will lead in the development of a social design and innovation practice at the firm. They will also work to produce new knowledge and incubate projects that advance community-centered design in the work of social movements. Leo is also Designer in Residence at the School of Visual Arts during the Spring - Summer 2020 semesters. Prior to joining the Vaid Group, Leo served as Chief of Staff at the Trust for Public Land where they led the development of TPL’s five year strategic pivot from a conservation orientation to a community building orientation. Leo serves as the Director of Board Relations, managing the boards in the US, Europe and China for the Environmental Defense Fund, and was an early part of the team at Dream Corps, founded by Van Jones.   Leo is also a board member of the Association of Design Professionals New York (AIGA NY) and the former Board Governance Chair for The Ms. Foundation. 

Jaime M. Grant

Dr. Jaime M. Grant is the Research Director of The Vaid Group's LGBTQ Women’s Research Initiative. Grant, author of Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, and co-editor of Friendship As Social Justice Activism, 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.

Dawn Laguens

Dawn Laguens, previously the Executive Vice President and Chief Brand Officer of Planned Parenthood, is Expert-in-Residence at IDEO, one of the world's foremost human-centered design and innovation firms, and Strategic Advisor at Redshift Leadership and The Vaid Group. 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 message, organizing and policy leader 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.

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.

Kate Clinton

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.

Ashindi Maxton

Ashindi Maxton is Co-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.

Hali Lee

Hali Lee is Co-Director of the Donors of Color Network and a Strategic Partner to the Vaid Group. Lee is the founder of the Asian Women Giving Circle, the nation’s first and largest group philanthropic vehicle for Asian American women. She has worked in many capacities, often combining her love of learning, the arts and social change. Lee is the former executive director of a domestic violence service provider, the Korean American Family Service Center, and has been a development director at progressive independent schools, including the Blue School. She has served on several boards, including the New York Women’s Foundation and the Korean American Family Service Center. Currently, Hali is on the Board of Amplifier, which is a large successful network of giving circles inspired by Jewish values and changemakers making a difference around the world. Lee is a frequently in demand as a speaker to share her expertise about giving circles and group philanthropy, and has been honored for her exemplary leadership and activism in communities by the New York Women’s Foundation, Asian American Arts Alliance, and the New York Chinese Cultural Center. She graduated from Princeton University with a B.A., studied Buddhism at Mahidol University in Bangkok, and received an MSW from New York University.

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.