Arcus Appoints New Social Justice Leaders

March 20, 2013
NEW YORK, NY (March 20, 2013)– The Arcus Foundation announced today the appointment of three new leaders for its program to enable lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals and families to live their lives with dignity and respect wherever they are in the world.

Arcus’ Social Justice Program comprises three integrated portfolios: Global Religion, International Human Rights and U.S. Social Justice. Dr. Jay Michaelson, Vice President, Social Justice Programs; Rev. Dr. Cheryl Dudley, Director, Global Religion; and Desiree Flores, Director, U.S. Social Justice Program will take up their posts at the Foundation’s New York office in April.

Michaelson, the founder and executive director of Nehirim, a national Jewish LGBT organization, and the Religious Liberty Fellow at Political Research Associates, will oversee the development, management and implementation of Arcus’ LGBT grantmaking program.

Michaelson is the author of four books and many articles on religion, sexuality, and law; his recent book “God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality” was a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Previously, Michaelson was Founder, Vice President and General Counsel of Wasabi Systems, Inc. a venture-funded software company, and Editor-in-Chief of Zeek Magazine, a journal of Jewish thought and culture.

He holds a J.D. from Yale Law School, a Ph.D. in Jewish Thought from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a B.A. from Columbia, and has held teaching positions at Boston University Law School and Yale University.

Dudley, in her role as Director, Global Religion, will lead efforts to strengthen the capacity of religious advocates to assume leadership roles in the global pursuit of LGBT equality. For the past seven years she has worked as the Senior Advisor to the President and CEO of Church World Service (CWS). Prior to CWS, she was the Associate Executive Director of American Baptist Home Mission Societies and the former Executive Director of Peoria Friendship House of Christian Service, a community-based ecumenical anti-poverty organization.Dudley received a B.A. from Pomona College, a Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry in Executive Leadership from McCormick Theological Seminary.

Flores will guide the U.S. Social Justice program’s work to increase cultural acceptance of LGBT people as full and equal members of families and communities by empowering young people and communities of color to be effective advocates of LGBT equality and by increasing economic and social protections for transgender people and LGBT youth of color.

She has more than a decade of grantmaking and program development experience in social justice, reproductive and sexual health and in supporting marginalized leadership at the local, state and national levels. She most recently worked as an independent consultant to non-profit organizations and foundations. Previously, she was the director of board affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and spent 10 years at the Ms. Foundation for Women leading programs on reproductive justice, HIV/AIDS and school-based sexuality education. She holds a B.A. from UCLA and an M.P.A. from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

“Success in our social justice mission requires both the right strategy and the right talent,” said Kevin Jennings, Arcus’ Executive Director. “With the recent refinement of our social justice strategy and the addition of these distinguished leaders to the great talent we already have on-board, the social justice team is now fully-staffed and positioned to engage with an expanding range of partners and address a fast-evolving set of challenges facing the global movement for LGBT equality.”

The appointment of Michaelson, Dudley and Flores, completes the team tasked with implementing Arcus’ social justice strategy, which has been refined over the past year to address the evolving challenges facing LGBT people in the United States and worldwide.

The new team members join recently appointed Adrian Coman, Director of International Human Rights, Elisa Gerontianos, Director, Policy, Roz Lee, Senior Program Officer, Racial and Gender Justice, and Erica Lim, Program Associate.