Every Friday we spotlight a local LGBT nonprofit in Philadelphia. This week: the Leeway Foundation, which supports women and trans* artists and cultural producers working in communities at the intersection of art, culture, and social change.
Who are you? Denise Brown, executive director of the Leeway Foundation. Through grantmaking and other programs, Leeway promotes artistic expression that amplifies the voices of those on the margins, promotes sustainable and healthy communities, and works in the service of movements for economic and social justice. Leeway believes that art can bridge difference, center those who have been on the margins, and challenge and connect communities and individuals to live in peaceful coexistence.
When was Leeway founded? Leeway Foundation began in 1993 as an organization dedicated to supporting women artists in the Philadelphia area. In the late 1990s, Leeway’s leadership grew its commitment to art as a means of helping achieve social change. Over the past ten years, Leeway’s donor family, its Board of Directors, staff, and Advisory Council worked to transform the Foundation in several remarkable ways. They engaged people of color in positions of influence, and committed to a process of dismantling racism in organizational relationships, practices, policies, and programs. They moved decision-making power from a single-family member structure to a board comprised of people from the community, and committed to an active framework of personal and political transformation. They expanded Leeway’s mission to support both women and trans people who make art as a means for transforming individuals and communities.