Elle Hearns – Founder and Executive Director

Elle Hearns is an artist, community organizer, speaker, and writer from Columbus, Ohio. She is the Executive Director and Founder of The Marsha P. Johnson Institute and was a co-founding member and former strategic partner of the BLACK Lives Matter Network.  In her role as  interim Organizing Director, she successfully led campaigns such as, “Raise The Debate” and the #SayHerName National Day of Action.  She is credited for organizing the first ever National Day of Action for BLACK Trans Women in 2015 in response to the consecutive murders of BLACK trans women. Prior to founding The Marsha P. Johnson Institute and the BLACK Lives Matter Network, Elle worked for GetEQUAL where she led many campaigns including,  More Than Marriage and Year Without Tamir.
Elle has delivered keynotes and talks at The Movement for BLACK Lives inaugural convening, Harvard University, Columbia University, the Schomburg Center for Research in BLACK Culture, The Public Theatre, and the The National Lawyers Guild.  She has been honored by the Women’s Information Network and BLACK Women’s Blueprint. In 2017, she was named to Essence’s Woke 100 and as one of the most influential African Americans by The Root 100.  Elle’s writing has been published by The CUNY Law Review and Ebony. Her work has also been featured in TIMECNN, MTV, The New York Times, Democracy Now, and more.

Kei Williams – National Organizer

Kei Francis Williams is a queer transmasculine identified organizer, artist, and historian. A founding member and former organizer with BLACK Lives Matter Global Network, the aims of Kei‘s work is to transform the global culture from the individual into a systemic analysis of structural racism. As lead-organizer on campaigns such as No New Jails NYC, Safety Beyond Policing, and Swipe It Forward, Kei uses their platform to bring in the lived experience of those who are BLACK, transgender, queer, and gnc. Currently, Kei is the National Organizer with the Marsha P. Johnson Institute and organizer with Peoples Climate Movement – NY.

Phoebe VanCleefe – COVID-Relief Program Coordinator

Phoebe VanCleefe is a subject matter expert on Black Queer living disparities and youth collaboration. She is also a singer/songwriter, actor, and community focused counselor. Her healing focused mental health framework centers on personal goals, progresses, and holistic wellness. She is currently the COVID-Relief Program Coordinator for MPJI.

Damien Brinson – COVID Recovery Program Assistant

Damien Brinson is a multi-hyphenated artist, activist, and healer from Fort Lauderdale, FL. His passion for community and liberation-centered politics can be seen throughout his work. With his grassroots program, Sage Legacy Project, he has provided self-defense tools to combat the many gaps in safety for Black trans women. He currently serves his community as the COVID Recovery Program Assistant for the Marsha P. Johnson Institute.


J Mase III

J Mase III is a BLACK/trans/queer poet & educator that has worked in the US, UK, and Canada on LGBTQIA+ rights and racial justice in spaces such as K-12 schools, universities, faith communities and restricted care facilities. He is founder of awQward, the first trans and queer people of color talent agency. His work has been featured on MSNBC, Essence Live, Everyday Feminism, BLACK Girl Dangerous, NPR, Blavity, the New York Times, Buzzfeed, the Root, the Huffington Post, TEDx and more.

© Copyright 2019 Marsha P. Johnson Institute. All rights reserved. The Marsha P. Johnson Institute is a fiscally sponsored project of Social Good Fund, a California nonprofit corporation and registered 501(c)(3) organization, Tax ID (EIN) 46-1323531.


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