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Spotlight: Liberty Hill

Spotlight: Liberty Hill

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For more than 30 years, Liberty Hill has been organizing community leaders and equip them with the skills and relationships they need to build power and advance social justice throughout Los Angeles. With the group now focusing much of its energy on identifying leaders in LGBTQ communities of color, Sr. Program Officer Vincent Jones (pictured) talks to The Advocate about the challenges facing the non-profit, and the group's May gala, honoring Tim Gill of the Gill Foundation.

The Advocate: What is the top priority for Liberty Hill?
Vincent Jones: Over the last few decades, equality has expanded, but not equally across all communities. Despite the progress, we have not reached full equality. Many LGBTQ people, especially people of color, continue to face barriers. Through our grants and training programs, Liberty Hill is strengthening leaders and organizations in communities of color. We aim to change hearts and minds, win concrete change and advance equality for all. We also bring people together to forge a common agenda and seek to do just that with organizers that are advancing LGBTQ Justice and economic justice.

How do you decide where to focus your resources?

Liberty Hill's grants have always been guided by a "braintrust." They are college professors, staff organizers at nonprofits, donor-activists, government employees with community-organization backgrounds-- in short, a diverse think-tank bringing deep experience and expertise about social-justice organizing, Los Angeles, specific issues and specific perspectives. These 15 or 20 "investment advisors" are our Community Funding Board). They commit long hours and megawatts of mental energy over an intensive six-week period to review and make recommendations on which proposals Liberty Hill should invest in. They aren't paid, but they participate anyhow, because they support Liberty Hill's community-led grant making process which is nearly unique in the nation.

Beyond donating, if someone were to want to get involved with Liberty Hill, where do you need the most help?
We are always on the lookout for skilled volunteers to support our communications and fundraising work. And we almost always need extra hands, especially at our upcoming gala May 11th. This year we'll be honoring Tim Gill of the Gill Foundation which has done such important work for the LGBT community.

Where would you like to see Liberty Hill in five years?

Five years from now I'd like to believe that we will have won marriage equality legally and that Liberty Hill will have helped L.A. make great strides not only in changing hearts and minds but in winning concrete change that will make equality a reality for all Angelenos. But does that mean our work will be done? I don't think so! As L.A.'s public foundation, we'll continue to invest in community leaders at the frontlines of change and be forging alliances between LGBT communities and other progressive communities to help build a united movement for social justice.

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