Waguespack To Be Only Transgender Leader Of A National Homelessness and Housing Justice Organization
Today, True Colors United’s Board of Directors announced Dylan Waguespack as the organization’s next Chief Executive Officer. Waguespack, who has been serving as Chief Policy Officer at True Colors United, will immediately assume the role.
“Over the past three years, we have witnessed Dylan Waguespack’s strategic, empathetic, and inspiring leadership as he helped advance True Colors United’s mission to implement innovative solutions to youth homelessness,” said Cyndi Lauper, Lisa Barbaris, and Gregory Lewis, Co-Founders of True Colors United. “We could not be more excited for him becoming Chief Executive Officer and demonstrating those same qualities as True Colors United navigates the challenging times the world finds itself in. Our collective work to center equity and the needs of LGBTQ+ and BIPOC youth are more crucial than ever. We are grateful and confident that Dylan will further build upon the collaborative advancements True Colors United has made over the past 15 years to ensure that every young person has a safe, stable place to call home and are able to be their true selves.”
Waguespack, who identifies as transgender and nonbinary and uses he/him and they/them pronouns, grew up in Louisiana and brings his lived experience of homelessness as a young person to the position. He will become the only transgender leader of a national homelessness and housing justice organization.
“I’m thrilled to have been chosen as the new CEO at True Colors United and continue my work with this brilliant team as we enter our exciting new chapter. Young people are powerful and change the world every day. I’m excited to continue to deepen our investment in youth action, because only through the leadership of people with lived experience of homelessness will we achieve housing justice together,” Waguespack said. “I look forward to adding to the strong foundation that’s been laid over the past fifteen years by our outgoing CEO and co-founder Gregory Lewis. As a trans person from the deep south with lived experience of homelessness, I know what it’s like to navigate systems that are built to work against you. In my new role, I will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with young people in breaking down systemic barriers, fighting for liberation, and building a future where all of us have the freedom of self-expression and self-determination.”
Waguespack’s selection caps a national search process facilitated by Koya Partners, an executive search firm. A broad candidate pool was narrowed in stages by a diverse search committee.
Waguespack joined True Colors United in 2019, where he developed, directed, and implemented the organization’s federal, state, and local administrative and legislative public policy agenda. He also served as the organization’s primary spokesperson and is a trusted thought leader within the housing justice and LGBTQ equality movements. In 2021, Waguespack led the on-the-ground media and advocacy response to anti-trans bills introduced in the Louisiana Legislature, and his work ultimately helped defeat each bill.
At True Colors United, Waguespack achieved a number of other notable wins, including co-designing and co-chairing a national campaign that secured a record-breaking 66,000+ public comments in opposition to the Trump Administration’s proposed rule in 2020 that would have gutted protections for transgender and gender-nonconforming people experiencing homelessness. The proposal was ultimately defeated. In 2020, he also co-founded House of Tulip, a Community Land Trust, in New Orleans to create permanent housing solutions for transgender and gender-nonconforming people experiencing homelessness in response to the economic devastation of the COVID-19 pandemic. As the primary fundraiser, he secured more than $1.5 million in foundation, major donor, and grassroots funding in less than 18 months.
Prior to joining True Colors United, Waguespack was a political communications and advocacy consultant working in Baton Rouge, LA and Washington, DC. As part of his work, he coordinated the lobbying strategy on the first ever transgender-specific legislation to pass the U.S. House of Representatives in 2019.
“In the near-decade I’ve known Dylan, he has shown up every day and put his considerable talents to use in building a better world for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC young people, one where every young person, no matter where they come from or who they are, can be their authentic selves. Dylan is hardworking, politically talented, and—perhaps most importantly—driven by a fierce sense of duty to ensure that today’s young people have better and more equitable opportunities than the generations before them,” said Congressman Troy Carter (LA-2). “I’m proud to be his mentor and friend, and I can’t wait to see the impact he makes as the incoming CEO at True Colors United and as the national leader of the movement to end LGBTQ+ youth homelessness.”
Waguespack also served as Executive Director of Louisiana Progress, a progessive movement-building partnership where he began his career. While there, he drafted or successfully lobbied for bills to expand opportunities for children, youth, and families impacted by homelessness, including protection from eviction for survivors of domestic abuse, expanded eligibility for child care assistance for families experiencing homelessness, and in-state tuition and campus housing for current and former homeless and foster youth in postsecondary education.
At the beginning of this year, Gregory Lewis, who served as True Colors United’s Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer since co-founding the organization, announced he would step down after 15 years upon the appointment of his successor.
Waguespack is a proud New Orleanian, a 10th generation Louisianan, and a graduate of Ben Franklin High School. He currently lives in Chicago with his husband Ira.