Serving Queer and Trans People of Color

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By: Miami New Times Writer

Diversity and a sense of belonging are two sides of the same coin, contributing to society in valuable and long-lasting ways. And for the founders of Maven Leadership Collective, they’re even more than that—they’re part of the foundation to building resilient, healthy communities.

In just a few short years, Maven Leadership Collective has had a marked impact on Miami’s LGBTQ community, specifically seeking to serve queer and trans people of color (QTPOC). As a professional development institution, Maven is dedicated to supporting QTPOC community leaders by providing network expansion, capacity building, and collective wellness.

Ultimately, the organization’s goal is not only to exist as a welcoming, safe space for QTPOC advocates, but also to facilitate a wealth of opportunities for individuals to access exactly what “they need to make meaningful shifts in the communities they live, work, and play in.”

A Miami-Born Organization with Deep Roots in the LGBTQ Community

For Miami locals Corey Davis and Daniel Anzueto, creating Maven Leadership Collective was a dream inspired by their work with the region’s LGBTQ community. For more than a decade, the two friends had held positions on various executive communities and boards for South Florida events and organizations—but at that point, they realized that something (or rather, someone) was missing.

As Davis and Anzueto worked up through the ranks of community leadership, they noticed that the number of people of color surrounding them steadily decreased. It became apparent that even in a community as diverse and open as South Florida, there weren’t enough leadership opportunities within reach for queer and trans people of color.

As they tell the story, the turning point happened at their office, just off 12th and Ocean: “[We] wanted to make a change and bring more QTPOC into the rooms where decisions were being made and provide them with the skills to make these decisions with confidence.” It was at that moment that the idea for Maven was born.

Nurturing Positive Social Impact Through Diverse Programs and Events

When Maven founders Davis and Anzueto asked themselves how they could support QTPOC, a distinct purpose and focus for the organization emerged:

Maven Leadership Collective consistently invests in social impact leaders who are queer and trans people of color and allies to build resilient communities that thrive even in the face of crisis, transition, and tragedy.

With that goal in mind, they sought to establish a wide series of programming, services, and events to do exactly that. Rather than zeroing in solely on the professional side of existing as an ideas lab in Miami, Maven Leadership Collective is aimed at facilitating a full-body, full-mind approach to health and happiness—thus empowering QTPOC leaders to propel their own efforts forward with confidence.

Among their offerings are consulting programs that help establish diversity and belonging in organizational cultures, with participants including Bank of America, Penny Lane Family Centers (California), OutBoulder (Colorado), and many others. Additionally, Capacity-Building Workshops from Maven are designed to tap directly into the community, pinpointing talent and trends and illustrating how operational skills development can be utilized to break down barriers standing in the way of greater civic engagement. Other Maven programs include:

  • The Maven Leadership Cohort, a six-month collaborative learning experience crafted for queer and trans social entrepreneurs of color and their allies. Intended to help individuals build new skills, expand their professional networks, and enhance their overall wellness, the cohort helps those who are at a turning point in their professional or social impact efforts.
  • Maven Rising is an annual event that assembles social impact leaders and explores the ways in which inclusion and equity can be harnessed to strengthen communities everywhere. Hosted by the collective every October, this inclusive event gathers about 200 leaders from the region for an all-encompassing experience.

In addition to the long-term programs above, Maven Leadership Collection also promotes self-care and wellness through their Maven Resilience Initiative (MRI):

Community leadership begins with modeling self-care and wellness for the people we serve and our teams. We like to say, "please apply your own oxygen mask before assisting others." The Maven Resilience Initiative (MRI) is a vital resource for queer and trans people of color who are reclaiming resilience through self-care, peer support, and collective wellness activities that model solutions to mitigate social determinants of health, which contribute to trauma recovery and growing health disparities in our community.

Among the offerings of the MRI are Maven Vibes and Maven Moves, celebrations of physical and emotional wellness for all. As you take a closer look at the astounding diversity of programs, events, and efforts supported by Maven Leadership Collective, it’s easy to see that this South Florida organization is blazing a one-of-a-kind trail.

Powering a Ripple Effect that Contributes to the Evolution of Miami and the World

While Maven has undoubtedly touched lives all over the country, Miami has always been their home base. According to the Maven team:

Miami has been the vibrant backdrop to the growth and evolution of Maven over the past three years. The different neighborhoods, people, and culture in Miami have allowed for a community that is always growing and changing… [We] have found this growth and change to be a rich and dynamic environment for educators, activists, and leaders looking for the perfect opportunity to expand their own skillset to meet the changing needs of the communities they serve. As we have grown, so has our reach.

Within three years of their founding, Maven has welcomed more than 30 community leaders to their Leadership Cohort. In turn, those leaders have impacted more than 85,000 individuals “in the areas of affordable housing, education, HIV/AIDS stigma reduction, and access to care, technology, access to the arts, climate change, mental health, and others.” For the founders of Maven and Miami’s LGBTQ alike, this incredible progress is a hopeful indication of the continued growth to come.

For locals and tourists visiting Miami looking to experience Maven’s work, there are many alumni that have completed the program that stand out. One in particular is Kunya Rowley, the Artistic Director of Hued Songs, a performance series that celebrates and explores black history through the lens of black music and artists. This is one of many works of Maven alumni that creates a connection to the visitors wanting to experience the Maven Leadership Collective.

For anyone interested in learning more about the Maven Leadership Collective, including how you can support their community efforts, visit https://www.mavenleadership.org/.

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