Activist-in-Residence Fellowship

The Center seeks to contribute to the social justice movement by investing in the next generation of Black, Indigenous, and other leaders of color who are committed to transforming social and economic conditions, and to advancing equity and opportunity for the LGBTQ+ community in New York.

The fellowship program provides support to individuals who are established or emerging activists with bold, cutting-edge ideas for advancing LGBTQ+ rights in New York State.

In its 3rd year, the program seeks to specifically and intentionally support BIPOC LGBTQ+ Youth through our ROAR to Rise Program. Our ROAR to Rise Program draws from a pool of current and past ROAR interns to work with Center staff to develop their individual proposals to apply for the fellowship. Those interested in applying for future fellowship cycles must first participate in ROAR.

Fellowship Benefits

Activists-in-Residence receive a range of benefits for their fellowship work:

•$15,000 stipend
•Basic technical supplies
•Networking opportunities
•Connections to The Center's partners across a range of sectors and industries
•Professional development opportunities
•Monthly check-ins with RiseOut team

2024 Fellows

Alexa Nanako Heslin


Activist-in-Residence Finalist

Alexa is a Japanese-American senior at Brooklyn Technical High School majoring in industrial design. She has a strong passion for martial arts. As a second-degree black belt who has lived in the dojo since age 6 and has taught legions of students, Alexa is finding new ways to connect with the LGBTQ community through her passion. As a 2024 Activist-in-Residence Fellow, Alexa will establish free self-defense workshops for Black and Indigenous, trans, and queer New Yorkers as an avenue for support and empowerment. These workshops will be hosted regularly in communities where LGBTQ+ members are highly impacted by incidences of violence, and they will equip participants with effective verbal and physical techniques to feel autonomy and security in their daily lives.

Samantha Xie


Activist-in-Residence Finalist

Samantha Xie is currently a junior at Beacon High School. As an incredibly determined critical thinker, her strong dedication to the LGBTQ community is seen in her experiences hosting a youth art exhibition that centered on the relationship between abuse of power. She also has a passion for human rights due to her lived experience as a resident of East Harlem. As a 2024 Activist-in-Residence Fellow, Samantha will establish a housing project with the mission of creating housing security in East Harlem by connecting legal offices, organizing tenants to provide legal services, and advocating for tangible housing solutions.

Rita Ali

All Pronouns

Activist-in-Residence Semi-Finalist

Rita Ali is a senior at Urban Assembly for Green Careers in the Bronx. She is a consistent leader in the Center Youth space, from being a ROAR Youth Advisor to now being a Peer Coach, an internship centering youth substance use prevention within the center youth community. Rita’s fellowship project proposal was to establish a volunteer-based program focused on alleviating hunger in food deserts and food swamps across the city. This program would aim to alleviate hunger by working with a food pantry to hold community pantries and giveaways of other essentials in the South Bronx.

2022 Fellows

Marwa Eltahir


Jodi Nicole


Get to know Jodi & Marwa

In conversation with Trevon Mayers, Senior Director of Advocacy and Community Engagement, our 2022 RiseOut Fellows, Jodi and Marwa, discuss their work, the impact the program has had on them, and their vision for our community.

Inaugural Fellows

Joshua Allen


Joshua Allen (they/them) is a nonbinary artist & activist from Brooklyn, NY. In 2016, they founded the Black Excellence Collective, an organizing hub for and by Black LGBTQI+ young people, and served as a co-organizer and co-host of the 2020 Brooklyn Liberation March. Joshua’s work focused on a youth mentorship program for Black TGNC and queer youth that launched on Monday, August 23. Mentees received a $1,500 stipend for their participation for 6 weeks (through September 29).

Dominic Bradley


Dominic Bradley (they/them) is a Brooklyn-based nonbinary artist and educator reared in the crunk-era “Dirty South.” Dominic works in multiple disciplines including visual art, writing, and performance. Dominic’s project focused on the support of BIPOC LGBTQ New Yorkers through innovative mental health supports, including a demo video on developing a personal wellness plan; an adult coloring book featuring images of BIPOC LGBTQ New Yorkers alongside personalized mental health affirmations; and a panel with community members uncovering transgenerational beliefs, practices, rituals, etc. that have sustained mental health in the face of oppression.