DEBANUJ DASGUPTA: Immigration Policy Analyst / New Voices Fellow

Debanuj DasGupta is a queer identified, immigrant from India. In 1993 he founded the first HIV/AIDS prevention program for gay men and men-who-have-sex-with-men in Calcutta, India. Since then, Debanuj has been working on issues related lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights, environmental rights, sexual and domestic violence, and immigrant rights. He is on the founding board of Queer Immigrant Rights Project (QuIR), and has been organizing LGBT immigrants in New York City. He has presented on issues related to LGBT immigrants at several activist and academic conferences. He is currently the co-coordinator for the National People of Color Organizing Institute of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, where he organizes with a nation-wide collective of LGBT people of color activists to organize a two-day anti-oppression training institute for LGBT people of color activists from across the country. Debanuj holds a B.A. in Sociology from Calcutta, University and has completed his graduate course work in Urban Planning from the University of Akron, in Ohio.

JOSEPH N. DEFILIPPIS: Executive Director

Prior to working as the Executive Director of Queers for Economic Justice, Joseph was the Director of SAGE/Queens, a program which serves, and advocates for, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender senior citizens throughout Queens. Previously, Joseph served as Grants Manager for the New York Foundation, where he was on staff for six years. He is on staff at Fordham Graduate School of Social Services, where he teaches courses on Social Welfare Policy and on Social Justice. In addition, Joseph has served on the Steering Committee of the NYS LGBT Health & Human Services Network, a network of LGBT organizations from across the state working together to increase funding and resources for the health and social service needs of LGBT people in NYS, and was on the steering committee of the Welfare Reform Network, a network of organizations addressing the impact of welfare reform laws upon poor New Yorkers. He received his Masters degree in Community Organizing at the Hunter College School of Social Work.

SHANNON KEARNS: Hunter College School of Social Work Intern

Shannon Kearns is a fabulous high femme who comes to QEJ as a second-year community organizing intern from Hunter College School of Social Work. Her first-year field placement was at Cathedral Community Cares where she worked on the Feed the Solution Campaign, a groundbreaking faith led initiative committed to ending domestic hunger by shifting away from the current focus of emergency food distribution and towards a path to nutritional and economic self-sufficiency. In addition to her anti-hunger work, she also brought the issue of LGBTQ youth homelessness to the attention of the Episcopal Diocese of New York community. This work fueled her passion for working with LGBTQ youth. In addition to her internship at QEJ, she currently works to implement Christine Quinn’s initiative on the Christopher Street Pier and in the West Village. As an outreach worker for The Door, Shannon works directly with LGBTQ young people in community building efforts and as a liaison between the young people and other stakeholders in the West Village.

DOYIN OLA: Welfare Organizer

Doyin is a genderqueer African immigrant who has worked alongside other activists/organizers from queer and immigrant communities in fighting to ensure people’s right to self-determination. In college Doyin was part of an African student group that fought to include Afro-focused events as part of campus-wide social activities; draw attention to political conditions in African countries and their connections to political contexts and struggles here and in Europe; and held professors/educators responsible for curriculum. Doyin was also part of Sisters in Action for Power, an organization that builds the leadership and organizing skills of low-income women & girls of color. Doyin also worked as an organizer with the AFL-CIO organizing institute, and worked on different campaigns aimed at building worker-power at various ‘shops’, and holding management accountable. Prior to coming to Queers for Economic Justice, Doyin was a Community Organizer at Make the Road by Walking (MRBW), a community-based organization in Bushwick Brooklyn, where Doyin served as the liaison to Bushwick Community High School (BCHS) – a community partner of MRBW.

JAY TOOLE: Shelter Organizer

Jay Toole is a 56 year-old lesbian who battled addiction for 37 years, during which time she was homeless for 25 years, and often lived in the NYC shelters. In 1999, she became clean and sober and has remained so ever since. That same year, 1999, at age 50, she completed her GED. She also received an award from the organization Women in Need for completing their HIV/AIDS prevention program. That same year, she also began volunteering for the Coalition for the Homeless as a Shelter Monitor, which she continues to do. Since 2001 she has worked part-time at the LGBT Community Center. In 2002, she became a founding member of Queers for Economic Justice, where she continues to serve on the Board of Directors. In 2003, she graduated from the Resource Group, as an alcohol and substance abuse counselor, where she received an award and prize for leadership in education. In 2004, she earned a certificate of completion from the Recovery Coalition. In 2004, she was hired as the Shelter Organizer for Queers for Economic Justice.