Member Highlight: Christopher Cuevas
This Member Highlight is part of a series profiling new members of the Philanthropy Southeast Board of Trustees elected at this year’s Annual Meeting.
Christopher Cuevas possesses a deeply-held belief in the power of philanthropy – a belief they say played a big part in accepting a nomination to serve on the Philanthropy Southeast Board of Trustees.
“I believe that, together, Southern funders can move mountains, fuel change, and transform our communities and nation for the better,” they said. “I believe that Philanthropy Southeast can offer support to Southern funders in transforming our homes for the better, and it is an honor to be of service to this body of work.”
Christopher, one of four new Trustees approved by Philanthropy Southeast members at last month’s Annual Meeting, has been in their role at the Laughing Gull Foundation for just over a year – they manage a $2 million dollar grant portfolio to support LGBTQ+ organizations working at the intersections of racial, gender, and economic justice throughout the U.S. South.
Beyond this work in the sector, Christopher will also bring a rich mix of professional and life experiences into Board meetings. A child of undocumented immigrants and a queer person of color, Christopher previously founded and led QLatinx, a racial, social, and gender justice movement created in the wake of 2016’s Pulse Nightclub massacre. They’ve also spent time as an organizer working on issues impacting LGBTQ+ communities, immigrants, and communities living with HIV.
“Being a person that has been deeply entrenched in movement work for most of my life, and having supported communities navigating tragedy and loss, I feel confident that I can support our member leaders further their work toward equity, center communities that have been disenfranchised and disenchanted due to structural inequity, and work toward repairing the harm born by our sector and the various systems that our sector upholds,” they said.
Christopher believes philanthropy bears some responsibility for perpetuating unfair systems – but at the same time, they see evidence of change in the past two years that provides reason for optimism.
“In the past two years we have seen philanthropy move at a pace that was previously unseen,” they said. “The sector has removed barriers to its resources, began to question its own power and influence, and moved money toward causes that work to not provide Band-Aid solutions for society's ills, but rather work to address the systemic issues that are at the source of these ills. I'm hopeful that we can continue at this pace and even accelerate, for the benefit of our grantees, the communities they serve, and the global society as a whole.”
Now on the Board, Christopher says this new role provides another opportunity to help fellow Philanthropy Southeast members on their equity journeys.
“I hope that during my first year of Board service I can support our member leaders as they commit themselves to equity and justice through their funding practices and operations – sharing lessons I've gathered in my work as a scholar, activists, and culture worker,” they said. “I want to be a resource to our member leaders as they embark on this incredible journey toward justice.”