SOJOURNER TRUTH LEADERSHIP CIRCLE

Dedicated to equipping leaders of faith to live out self-care as a mandate for prophetic ministry.

Launched in 2013, The Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle is a fellowship program whose mission is to make the ordinary care of the bodies, minds and spirits of Black women a priority in their own lives — and within the social justice spaces where black women leaders disproportionately serve.

All of our work is steeped in the lived experience and intellectual expression of women of color.

  • The Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle equips Black women leaders, seeking to advance movements for justice within Black and Brown communities. Through a methodology that incorporates a spiritually grounded practice, fellows cultivate a greater sense of personal and communal wholeness and wellness.
    What we do:
  • The Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle exists to disrupt the narrative that has reduced self-care – especially for Black, female, poor, and queer bodies – as narcissism and indulgence. Our vision is a new story that declares self and other-loving with the potential to change individuals, communities, and the world.
    Our Vision:
  • The Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle (STLC) is rooted in Audre Lorde's ground-breaking idea that caring for ourselves is a revolutionary act, and organized around the guiding mantra that "self-care is a mandate for prophetic leadership." The STLC converts these core values into a practical program for Black women leaders of faith and moral courage to use in their own lives and with the vulnerable communities they serve.
    What we mean by self-care for prophetic leadership:

Meet the 2017 Cohort

Elle Hearns is a highly noted public speaker, facilitator, trainer and writer. She’s well known for her work in mobilizing communities, rapid response, and campaign development. As an organizer, Elle spearheaded notable grass root campaigns such as Trans Liberation Tuesday, More Than Marriage, and digital campaigns such as Raise the Debate. Elle is currently the Executive Director of the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and was organizing coordinator for the #BlackLivesMatter network where she served as a strategic partner since its organizational inception. Elle previously served as the Central Region Coordinator for GetEQUAL and as the former creative director for the Trans Women of Color Collective. Elle’s writings have been featured in TruthOut, Huffington Post, and Ebony. Her work has been chronicled by several publications including Time, CNN, MTV, The New York Times, Alternet, Democracy Now, The Daily Dot, Fusion, Essence Magazine, and The Washington Post. Elle hails from Columbus, OH and currently lives in the Washington D.C.

Toni-Michelle Williams is a community organizer and advocate for black trans justice and liberation, serving as the Leadership Development and Programs Coordinator for SNaP Co- The Solutions Not Punishment Coalition based in Atlanta, Ga. She successfully launched the Trans Leadership Connection Internship Program (TLC) in the summer of 2015 and released “The Most Dangerous Thing Out Here is the Police,” a report highlighting the police abuse and profiling of trans people in Atlanta. Williams has worked as a HIV/STD Prevention Specialist and is a member of the National Black Justice Coalition’s 2015 Inaugural Cohort of 100 Black LGBTQ/SGL Emerging Leaders to Watch, and a 2016 Youth Exchange participant for the Open Society and Soros Justice Foundation annual conference.

Dee Dee Chamblee is a seasoned grassroots organizer and spiritual leader for the Trans community. Based in Atlanta, GA. “Ms. Dee Dee,” as she is lovingly referred to her many admirers is the founding director of LaGender Inc., an organization created to empower, provide resources for, and end the invisibility of Trans Women of Color. During her tenure she has been a vital resource for service providers on how to treat trans-people and understand their unique issues when it comes to HIV/AIDS, Mental Health, homelessness, wrongful incarceration, and spiritual counseling. Ms. Dee Dee created the first Transgender ministry at Tabernacle Baptist Church where she is an active member. Ms. Dee Dee is the recipient of numerous awards and accolades including President Obama’s Champion of Courage Award, in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the AIDS epidemic, and the Transgender Law Center’s Vanguard Award presented in 2016 at their 14th Annual SPARK! Celebration.

Micky Bradford is a magical Black transfemme and army brat, born in Germany and raised in North Carolina, Kentucky, and Georgia. She is the Regional Organizer for the Transgender Law Center collaboration with Southerners on New Ground (SONG). Before her work at TLC Micky worked for four years in Atlanta on HIV/AIDS prevention and consulting, LGBTQ youth homelessness, and organizing Queer and Trans artists of color. Politicized while student organizing at Georgia State University in 2012, she was recruited as a youth leader to Spark Reproductive Justice NOW. In 2013, she became one of the founding members and workshop trainers of the Atlanta Coalition for LGBTQ Youth. In 2014, her training was tested as the world was immersed in direct action for Black Lives, repeatedly. In 2015, She co-founded the “Southern Fried Queer Pride” festival, organized action at Atlanta Pride and TransLiberation Tuesday and was named one of 17 Black Trans Activists Fighting for Liberation .” Her (s)hero-ancestors are Marsha P. Johnson and Grace Jones. She is more determined than ever to get her people their “10s” across the board on the runway to liberation. Her interests are mainly in Southern history of Trans and gender non-conforming people of color, their spiritual practices, and building an army of voguing drag performer-organizers.

Raquel Willis is a Black queer transgender activist, writer and media maven dedicated to inspiring and elevating marginalized individuals, particularly transgender women of color. She is the Communications Associate for the Transgender Law Center, the largest organization in the US advocating on behalf of transgender and gender nonconforming people. She is part of Echoing Ida, a national Black women’s writing collective, and Channel Black, a media organizing and training arm of the Movement for Black Lives. In 2017, she was a speaker at the National Women’s Match in Washington, DC. Raquel is also the host of Black Girl Dangerous Media’s BGD Podcast, discussing pop culture and current events from an intersectional lens.

Valerie Spencer has worked in Behavioral Health focusing on the health disparities of Transgender persons and others within LGBT communities for over two decades. She co-stared in the 2004 V-Day production of, “The Vagina Monologues”, featuring an all Trans-Women cast and the accompanying documentary, “Beautiful Daughters”, which aired on LOGO and Showtime networks. She attends Agape Spiritual Center where she continues to study Science of Mind and other spiritual approaches. Valerie has received numerous awards including the California Legislative LGBT caucus resolution recognizing her as a leader LGBT social justice. She is the Founder/Director of Holistic Empowerment Institute, which addresses empowerment on a holistic basis for LGBT communities. Valerie earned a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Antioch University and completed her Masters in Social Work from California State University Long Beach.

Aria Sa’id is the Program Director at the St. James Infirmary, a peer based occupational health and safety clinic. Located in the Bay Area, Aria works with a dedicated team to provide free, compassionate and nonjudgmental healthcare and social services for sex workers (current or former) of all genders and sexual orientations while preventing occupational illnesses and injuries through a comprehensive continuum of services. Before coming to St. James Infirmary, Aria worked at the Center for Excellence for Transgender Health at UCSF Department of Medicine. Aria is a sought after speaker, and author. She reads throughout the Bay Area and is the author of the blog, Trans Sex in the City.

Rev. Monica Cross is a Transgender Scholar-Activist, serving as an Associate Minister at Tapestry Ministries in Berkeley, Ca. Monica received a Masters in Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in 2012 and a Masters in Religious Leader for Social Change from Starr King School of Ministry in 2014. Monica is a Board Member of The Community Collaborative Planning Council of Alameda and Contra-Costa County for policy and allocation of funding in the San Francisco Bay Area around HIV/AIDS, and the Founder of Global Prayer Network. She is the authored of Reflections of a Prophet Without Honor and a Blog entitled: The Transgender Scholar. A native of Southern California, Monica currently lives in Richmond, California.

Auburn Staff

Lisa Anderson is Vice President, Embodied Justice Leadership at Auburn Seminary and founding director of the Sojourner Truth Leadership Circle, which aligns the creation of vibrant and sustainable models of activist leadership with an emphasis on self and community care as a defining and galvanizing mandate for social justice in the 21st century. In addition, Anderson works with Auburn’s program team on issues of intersectional organizing, bridging the divide between theology and activism, and on deepening the spiritually grounding of leaders in a multifaith movement for justice.

Before coming to Auburn, Anderson designed seminars on national and international affairs at the Church Center of the United Nations for the Women’s Division of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church. There she helped lay leaders connect their professions of Christian faith to concrete and spiritually grounded activism for social change and transformation. Anderson was also a leader and facilitator at Marble Collegiate Church, working specifically on behalf of the Women’s Ministry, Young Adult Ministry and the Senior Fellowship. Anderson has worked on issues of food justice and as an advocate for poor women and children through the United Way-sponsored Dutchess Outreach in Upstate New York where she supervised a volunteer staff of over one hundred.

Anderson is a graduate of Vassar College where she majored in religion and philosophy. A trained theologian, Anderson holds a Master of Divinity and Master of Philosophy degree from Union Theological Seminary. Anderson has taught courses in black, womanist, feminist and LGBTQ theologies, Christian ethics and liturgy. She is a contributor to the recent book, “Women, Spirituality and Transformative Leadership” (Skylight Press, 2010) and blogs regularly on issues of embodiment, wellness and prophetic leadership for The Huffington Post.

Courtney Weber Hoover schedules and supports the various trainings and programs provided by the Program Team at Auburn. She holds a B.A. degree in Theater Arts from Portland State University. Courtney joined Auburn after nearly a decade in higher education administration. A Wiccan Priestess, she is committed to faith and action in the public sphere, particularly issues of LGBTQ rights, environmental sustainability, and #blacklivesmatter. Courtney is the author of “Brigid: History, Mystery, and Magick of the Celtic Goddess” and “Tarot for One: The Art of Reading For Yourself” ( both through Weiser Books). She is a religion blogger for the Huffington Post and the author of numerous articles on Wicca and Paganism.

Fellowship Consultants

Andrea Jenkins is an Award winning poet and writer. Most recently was awarded a Bush Fellowship and a Fellowship in the Cultural Community Leadership Institute at Intermedia Arts and sponsored by the Bush Foundation and named a fellow in the Many Voices Fellowship at the Playwrights Center. Last year she won the Verve Grant for Spoken Artist at Intermedia Arts and the Naked Stages Grant for Emerging Performance Artist at Pillsbury House Theatre. She is a Givens Foundation Fellow working Amiri Baraka and J. Otis Powell! She has won the Loft Mentor Series in 2002 and the Napa Valley Writers Conference scholarship in 2003.

Andrea earned her Masters of Science, Community Economic Development –Southern New Hampshire University, Manchester, New Hampshire, a Certificate, University of St. Thomas, Community Leadership Institute, and Bachelors of Science, Human Services / Interpersonal Communications – Metropolitan State University and has a MFA in Creative Writing from Hamline University.

She has performed with The Outward Spiral Theatre, Mama Mosaic and 20% Theatre. Andrea is the author three chapbooks of poems and her first full-length book of poetry called “The “T” is NOT Silent: New and Selected Poems”. She currently is co-curator of the Queer Voices Reading Series at Intermedia Arts. She has been published in several anthologies including, “Gender Outlaws Two: The Next Generation”, “When We Become Weavers: Queer Female Poets on the Midwestern Experience” edited by, Kate Lynn Hibbard and “The Naked I: Wide Open” and “The Naked I: Inside Out”, edited by 20% Theater and most recently in “Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Civil Rights: A Public Policy Agenda for Uniting a Divided America” edited by Dr. Wallace Swan. She was also a contributor to the widely acclaimed anthology “Blues Vision” MNHS Press, 2015, edited by Alexs Pate, Dr. Pamela Flecther and J. Otis Powell!, as well as the 2016 anthology “A Good Time For the Truth” edited Sun Yung Shin, MNHS Press.

Andrea works as Oral Historian for the Transgender Oral History Project, for the Tretter Collection at the University of Minnesota.

Renée L. Hill is an independent scholar, teacher, spiritual and community leader. Her scholarship focuses on world religions, feminist theory, African American history and LGBTQI studies. Renée has a B.A. in Political Science, and an M.Div. and Ph.D. from Union Theological Seminary in New York. She has taught in both community settings and in academic institutions including the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA, Drew University Theological School (N.J.) and the New School University. She is currently beginning a three-year term as a Columbia University Community Scholar where she is pursuing a project entitled, “The Spiritual Landscapes of Harlem.”

Renée has worked in several non-profit and social change organizations including Lambda Legal, the Center for Anti-Violence Education and the Temple of Understanding (a multi-faith education NGO)

Renée is a serious multiple spiritual “belong-er” and practitioner at home in Orisa/Lucumi, Jewish and Buddhist traditions. She was ordained an Episcopal priest and served churches in New York City and in Los Angeles.

As someone committed to the healthy embodiment of personal and spiritual power, Renée is an anti-violence activist and trainer who has taught self-defense, self-empowerment and trauma recovery to people of all ages. In this work, Renee strives to be holistic and comprehensive in her approach, addressing body, mind and spirit. In addition to self-defense training, she has trained in Tae Kwon Do, Hap Ki Do, Tai Chi and Qiqong.

Carla Gaskins-Nathan is a self-care consultant and the owner of Zelah LLC, which includes her private massage practice, Rooted Bodywork. She believes that “through caring for ourselves we are able to fully engage with our life, work and communities.” Using her years of experience working with non-profits and paring it with her skills as a practitioner Carla facilitates workshops and speaks to the mandate of self-care to a variety of audiences. Her work is focused on the LGBTQ communities of color, yet it is open to all that see the importance of holistic wellness.

Before devoting her work to massage and holistic health Carla acquired an extensive background in community organizing, education, program development, program implementation and facilitation with organizations including the American Red Cross, Minneapolis YWCA, and University of Minnesota. Areas of focus were LGBTQ communities, youth, health education, and sexual violence prevention and awareness education.

Carla brings her experience in non-profit organizing and healing together to help clients explore how to both be woke and stay whole. Carla approaches wellness work through an integrative lens, meeting clients where they are to embark on a wellness journey. She believes that true healing addresses mind, body and spirit. She works with clients to activate their “inner healer” so each person can sustainably walk in their truth.

Certified in Prenatal Massage, trained in Western and Eastern modalities including Shiatsu and Abhyanga. Carla is a professional facilitator, trained in Mindful Facilitation, Unlearning Racism and as a Circle Keeper. She also works with the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine providing academic support and career counseling and as a teaching assistant.

Carla serves on the New York State Society of Medical Massage Therapists Board and is a certified member of Associated Massage and Bodywork Professionals. A graduate of Queensborough Community College, The City University of New York with an Associates of Applied Science in Massage Therapy.