We’re fired up! Why, you ask? Because Marco Antonio Quiroga has joined our team as the True Colors Fund’s first ever Director of Public Policy!
Marco’s abilities, experience, and insight will build upon our successes and further our commitment to giving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth experiencing homelessness a voice in government. In other words, Marco is taking our policy work to the next level!
With a qualified and dedicated Director of Public Policy, the True Colors Fund will be able to invest more energy and expertise into ensuring that LGBT youth experiencing homelessness have access to safe, inclusive, and affirming services. Furthermore, the Director will further our efforts to prevent young people from experiencing homelessness in the first place! We are confident that our mission, combined with Marco’s passion and expertise, is a recipe for success!
We’ve already gotten to know Marco first hand. We want you to meet him too! We asked Marco about his past work, his passion for ending LGBT youth homelessness, and spoke a bit about what he geeks out about.
So why the True Colors Fund? Why LGBT youth homelessness?
There are so many reasons why the True Colors Fund and the work it leads to end LGBT youth and young adult homelessness felt like the perfect place for me.
First and foremost, I am deeply connected to the issue. As a queer and undocumented person of color – having experienced family separation through deportation, poverty, unstable housing and homelessness, and having struggled with exploitation and criminalization in a shadow economy – I understand the challenges for people living in the intersections of marginalized identities. Personally, it is such a tremendous honor to support our community in such an impactful and meaningful way through the True Colors Fund. For my community, as the nation’s first queer and undocumented director of policy at a national LGBT organization, it is also incredibly powerful to have someone with lived-experience leading at the forefront of the movement and working alongside the impacted community to collaboratively determine the path forward on addressing the needs of that community. That also means there needs to be a shift so more of those directly impacted are being invested in and empowered within the movement to then expand new opportunities to those who are also directly impacted.
The True Colors Fund gets that. We all believe that everyone has the ability and responsibility to uplift and empower our neighbors living in the margins. We all believe the most resilient and visionary members of our community are those directly impacted. We all understand that these individuals are the best equipped to address the dysfunctional systems oppressing us all. Uplifting the voices, investing in the leadership, opening up spaces of power, and following the self-determination of those most impacted by the systems keeping us ALL from our collective liberation is ultimately the only path to real, transformational change.
The Youth Collaboration, Community Organizing, Public Engagement, and Public Policy programs, among others, inspired me to join a team that believes in building local community power, tacking the systemic problems, and centering those most impacted.
I couldn’t be happier to have the opportunity to work alongside such smart, passionate, and powerful people who have dedicated their lives to this cause, both at the True Colors Fund and the numerous partners doing the work on the ground around the country.
Why should people care about public policy? What does it have to do with LGBT youth homelessness?
Policy is something everyone should care about. Public Policy ensures that people most impacted by discriminatory and damaging laws, policies, and practices are able to work towards meaningful changes to the systems enforcing those laws to improve conditions for themselves, for their community, and for all people in our country.
At the True Colors Fund, Public Policy work is centered around the life experiences and leadership of LGBT youth and young adults. Through our work, we guarantee that LGBTQ youth and young adults experiencing homelessness have a voice in government. Our work ensures that vital services are properly funded and that protections are in place to meet LGBTQ homeless youth and young adult needs. Furthermore, alongside those impacted, we are able to challenge the status quo of oppressive systems that pipeline youth and young adults into homelessness. Together, we lift the ground for those most marginalized so everyone is treated with the full dignity and respect they deserve.
Tell us a bit about the work you did prior to joining the True Colors Fund.
For years, I’ve worked at the front lines of the movement to center and lift up the lives of undocumented individuals, particularly those that have been criminalized by society. As an undocumented individual, even prior to joining the formal economy, I’ve worked to expand collaborations between immigrant, LGBT, civil and human rights movements nationally. I’ve had the honor of collaboratively organizing campaigns to bring justice to communities at high-risk of incarceration, detention, and deportation – Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) in 2012, comprehensive immigration reform in 2013, executive orders on immigration to stop deportations in 2014, and the national end LGBTQ detention campaign in 2015, to name a few. Yet, I still recognize that so much more is left to be done.
Most recently, I served as the National Field Officer at Immigration Equality, leading the policy, advocacy, and movement-building efforts of a national organization whose mission was to end discrimination in U.S. immigration law and reduce the negative impact of that law on the lives of LGBT undocumented, asylum seeking, and currently and formerly detained individuals. I also have extensive experience organizing with United We Dream and its Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), as well as the American Federation of Teachers, the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, and a number of other grassroots and national advocacy organizations.
What do you geek out about?
I’m a huge movie buff! As a young person, the TV was my babysitter. My favorite hobby was going to the movie theater and staying there the whole day. Today, I’m the master of movie and television show trivia. My favorite actor is Robin Williams (What Dreams May Come is amazing!) and favorite actress is Jodie Foster (Contact will change your life). I love literally all genres, particularly sci-fi and fantasy. Of course, that includes the animated series and movie franchises of DC comics (Superman is awesome) and Marvel (X-Men for life). Pretty much, if you’re going to the movies, please let me tag along!
Wanna congratulate Marco on his new position, chat policy, or recommend a movie? Join us in welcoming Marco to the True Colors Fund team by tweeting along with us!