AVP’s 40 Change Makers

To commemorate the last four decades, we have called on our founders, community members, clients, visionaries, and supporters to be in conversation with us. Throughout the year, we are releasing 40 profiles of individuals who have engaged our services, worked alongside us, and have strived for a just world.

Kathy Flores

Community Partner

Kathy Flores has always been one to take initiative. “Diverse & Resilient basically gave me this program and said, ‘Here, if you can build it, build it.’”

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Clarence Patton

Former Executive Director

Clarence Patton worked with AVP from 1996 to 2008. From his work as Development Director to his time as Executive Director, Clarence worked to advance the real life change AVP was a part of. “I was there for 12 years. When I became Executive Director, the staff teased me.”

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Andrea Ritchie

Community Partner

One of the first things Andrea Ritchie remembers saying was, “It’s not fair.” 

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justin adkins

Former Board Member

After his arrest during Occupy Wall Street in 2011, justin adkins found AVP to help with his lawsuit against the City in an effort to combat transphobia. Teaming up with AVP gave justin a chance to take on unjust practices within the criminal legal system. 

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Judy and Dennis Shepard

AVP Activists

Judy and Dennis Shepard have dedicated their lives to the work of ending hatred-based violence, by turning their own grief into action. The work to end violence is a long road.

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Jasmine Bowden

AVP Activist

Jasmine’s enthusiasm and passion for educating and organizing marginalized people is infectious. To hear her talk about her work, you can’t help but want to get involved.

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Helen Rosenthal

Elected Official

Council Member Helen Rosenthal served District 6 on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for eight years. During that time she served on a variety of committees devoted to gender equity and partnered with organizations to support women and people of all genders.

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David Wertheimer

Former ED

David Wertheimer was the first Executive Director of AVP. Steering AVP during the AIDS crisis and beyond, David took inspiration from his trade union organizer parents.

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Richard Haymes

Former ED

Richard Haymes, one of AVP’s previous Executive Directors, didn’t always consider himself an activist. His work at AVP spanned a variety of programs and initiatives including working with LGBTQ+ survivors and victims of 9/11.

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Imara Jones

Former Board Member

“I think because violence is one of the biggest challenges that our community faces, and violence in all its forms, I think that the work is so critical. I know that was a driver for me. It’s the focus on violence, and the pressing need to address violence in all its forms for our community.” 

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Ovita Williams

Former Board Chair

Ovita Williams is the Executive Director of the Action Lab for Social Justice at Columbia University and has been working with the next generation of social workers for 17 years. As an Afro-Caribbean woman whose parents immigrated to the US in the 1960s, being surrounded by people who want to shake things up and change systems is a part of Ovita’s everyday inspiration.

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Matt Johnson

Former Board Chair

Matt doesn’t consider himself an “activist,” so much as he considers all the things he does as work that needs to be done. Matt has worked in a variety of spaces– from promoting trans inclusivity on kink LiveJournal boards, to HIV research, to working as a hotline trainer at AVP.

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Teal Inzunza

Former Staff

Teal Inzunza knew AVP was the right place for her after receiving the call to create AVP’s Economic Empowerment Program (EEP). She’d been looking for a job that would allow her to work at the intersection of trauma and economic justice while also holding an anti-oppressive lens on LGBTQ, people of color, immigrants, and HIV-affected individuals at the forefront of the work.

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Karen Satin

AVP Volunteer

“You never stop learning,” Karen said. “Even though I consider my school days behind me, I like to learn something new every day.”

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Kim Fountain

Former AVP Staff

As the current Chief Operating Officer of the renowned Center on Halsted in Chicago, Kim Fountain knows that her community and advocacy work there stems from her start as an AVP staffer doing everything from legislative visits, Pride events, bullhorning protests alongside people like Tish James and Sylvia Rivera, to coordinating numerous hotline and other trainings.

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Victoria Cruz

Former AVP Staff

Victoria Cruz started out the way many at AVP do — as a client. She decided to get involved because her experience working with AVP’s kind and nonjudgemental coordinators left her feeling transformed.

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Diane Dolan-Soto

Former AVP Staff

When there were no formalized LGTBQ+ domestic or intimate partner violence (IPV) services in New York City or the State, as Domestic Violence (DV) Program Coordinator, and later as the Director of Client Services at AVP, Diane Dolan-Soto, LCSW, provided representation for the LGTBQ+ community and collaboratively worked to make formal and lasting changes.

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Shay Huffman

AVP Activist

Shay Huffman is many things, but foremost, she is a profound storyteller. Her abilities led her to the incredible advocacy work she’s done with AVP, from fundraising to policy work, to event planning.

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Melania Brown

Community Partner

Emerging activist and writer, Melania Brown, has been pivotal in the fight to end solitary confinement. Brown’s life was changed forever when her sister, Layleen Extravaganza Cubilette-Polanco, a 27-year-old Afro-Latinx trans woman, died in a Rikers Island solitary confinement cell after suffering an epileptic seizure. Since then, with the help of AVP, she has mobilized to demand #JusticeforLayleen, speaking out against the suffering endured by tens of thousands of people in the U.S. who are placed in solitary confinement – a practice classified as torture by the United Nations.

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Bea Hanson

Former AVP Staff

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity. Bea Hanson has been an advocate for victims of violence for over three decades. She served as AVP’s HIV-Related Violence Program […]

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Sharon Stapel

Former AVP Executive Director

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity. Sharon Stapel served AVP for seven years as its Executive Director, steering the organization through the recession of 2008 and growing […]

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Arthur Goodman

AVP Founder

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity. A former member of the first neighborhood-based gay and lesbian group in New York City, the Chelsea Gay Association, Arthur Goodman […]

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Stevin Bonifacio

Former AVP Client

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity. In 2019, Stevin Bonifacio, a New York City Anti-Violence Project’s client, reached a settlement with the City of New York Department […]

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LaLa Zannell

Former AVP Staff

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity. LaLa Zannell is a Black trans woman with over a decade of experience as a community organizer and advocate for trans […]

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Tom Duane

Former Board Member

Tom Duane was the first openly gay and openly HIV+ member of the New York Senate and has been integral to legislative reform in the state to better protect LGBTQ+ and HIV-affected people. A former AVP board member and hate violence survivor, Tom’s legacy includes sponsorship of same-sex marriage legislation and the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA) in New York State, as well as the passage of the Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act.

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Chanel Lopez

Former AVP Staff

When Chanel Lopez was approached by AVP’s Client Services department, she immediately became interested in the opportunity to work as a counselor with LGBTQ survivors of hate, intimate partner, and […]

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Andy Austin and Michael Sonberg

AVP Founders

This interview has been shortened and condensed for clarity. In 1978, Andy Austin moved to New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood and found community in the Chelsea Gay Association (CGA), a […]

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Cecilia Gentili

Community Partner

For a decade, Cecilia Gentili has been an ongoing collaborator and community partner with AVP. Working at the intersections of sex work, transgender women’s rights, and incarceration issues, Cecilia Gentili has helped shape critical forums with AVP.

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Thomas von Foerster

AVP Founder

In 1978, Thomas Von Foerster moved to New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood as a 37-year-old gay man in search of others like him. He soon found community in the Chelsea Gay Assocation (CGA), a social group for gay men. His involvement in the association quickly grew, and he became treasurer as well as the editor of the monthly newsletter with over 1000 members.

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