Please join us in welcoming our latest BKF Fellow and Mentor pair: Darren Arquero and Kate Kendell! Darren has been selected for our Strategic Communications for LGBTQ Rights Fellowship with Kate Kendell, Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) serving as BKF Mentor. He will be working on communications strategies for key NCLR legal campaigns, including their challenge of the Transgender Military Ban and the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which seeks to fight legally sanctioned anti-LGBTQ discrimination under the guise of religious freedom, and their Born Perfect campaign which is leading the effort to pass state-by-state legislation outlawing the use of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors. Please see their profile below or on our website to learn more.
Darren is thrilled by this opportunity to be mentored by one of his heroes: Kate Kendell. In Darren’s own words: “The reason why I’m so excited to work with Kate is really to have the opportunity to just listen with an open heart and mind, in learning all I can from her 20+ years of experience being at the helm of NCLR, as well as her deep knowledge on LGBTQ movement building in the United States and beyond. I remember the first time I saw Kate speak was at San Francisco Pride in 2016 (although I knew of her and her work since 2008). What struck me was her confidence and her grace… and the unapologetic tone she took in the fight for ensuring LGBTQ equality. As someone who struggles with finding confidence in their own voice, she set an example for me that I will strive to live by over the next year.”
We join Darren in his admiration for Kate and the caliber of her leadership and look forward to seeing all that this pair of extraordinary leaders will accomplish together. We also extend our gratitude to Kate for her tireless efforts to defend our civil rights and very much appreciate her enthusiasm for the opportunity to work with BKF and Darren. In her own words, “I am honored NCLR is hosting a Butler Koshland Fellow and am thrilled that Fellow is Darren Arquero. Darren’s application is impressive and seemed like a perfect fit for NCLR, but what really sealed the deal was meeting him. He is incredibly accomplished and humble, with a clear joy for life and the work of social justice. I am certain to learn as much from him as he will learn from me and have no doubt he will enrich my work and the life of NCLR.”
We are grateful the support we’ve received in launching this fellowship, especially from Cathy Cha at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund; Lauren Gray and Ruth McFarlane, National Center for Lesbian Rights; and all of the many applicants who so generously shared their stories with us.
Kate Kendell is the Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. An inspiring leader who brings a remarkable level of energy and expertise to the fight for social justice, Kate is a nationally recognized spokesperson for LGBTQ rights and has an active voice in major media, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Advocate, NPR, CNN, and many others. Given the unrelenting attack against civil rights being waged by the current political administration, Kate and her team at NCLR have been identifying their strategic communications program. As part of this effort, Kate selected Darren Arquero as her Fellow. Darren is an emerging leader who is dedicated to the fight for LGBTQ rights and has a special interest in finding ways to bring faith communities into this movement. Like Kate, Darren is grounded in an intersectional approach to movement-building and shares her vision of “no rest until justice is won—for all.” Darren brings to NCLR a broad range of communications experience, having worked with the Arcus Foundation, the GLBT Historical Society, Race Forward and most recently, UC Berkeley’s Haas Center for a Fair and Inclusive Society. To participate in this fellowship, he will be taking leave from his PhD program in Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley where he has been working on an ethnography of Gay Catholic Filipinos. With Kate and her team, Darren will now be working on communications strategies for key NCLR legal campaigns, including their challenge of the Transgender Military Ban and the Masterpiece Cakeshop case, which seeks to fight legally sanctioned anti-LGBTQ discrimination under the guise of religious freedom, and their Born Perfect campaign which is leading the effort to pass state-by-state legislation outlawing the use of so-called “conversion therapy” on minors. Additionally, Darren will be launching a new project at NCLR to elevate the voices and stories of lesbians and queer women (both historical and contemporary) by showcasing stories that demonstrate the significant contributions they have made, and are making, to the cultural, political, and intellectual life in the United States.