Transgender Leadership Initiative announces 2024-2025 cohort 

AIDS United’s Transgender Leadership Initiative (TLI) is announcing the newest cohort for the 2024-2025 cycle. The 10 announced members will begin taking part in an 8-month leadership development program, consisting of funding and training sessions aimed at emerging trans people of color (TPOC) professionals wanting to implement or improve a local service-learning project. The chosen individuals come from across the United States and territories, representing the diversity and richness of the trans experience, and all of whom are working to end the epidemic within their community.  

This announcement comes at a time when deep disparities continue to exist between trans/TPOC and their non-trans counterparts. This cohort will lead the charge against disparities and ensure trans peoples of all stripes are no longer stigmatized regardless of their HIV status.  

The 2024 TLI cohort includes: 

Doja Ade, Brooklyn Community Pride Center, New York 

Daron Perez, Trans Men Empowerment, Texas 

Khloe Rios-Wyatt, Alianza Trans Latinx, California 

Emily Aguilar, Calor, Illinois 

Eboni Sims, The Ladies Room SC, South Carolina 

Keon Anderson, Itsoktobeyouuu, Arkansas 

Jocelyn Bula, New Pride Agenda, New York  

Jennifer Orellano, Trans Goofy Games, Puerto Rico 

Angel Nelson, The Bros in Convo, Florida 

Mila Hellfyre Hernandez, Arianna’s Center, Puerto Rico 


We asked this new cohort three questions. Read their responses below: 

  1. What does it mean to you to be a leader in the trans people of color community? 
  1. What is your hope for trans people of color in your area?  
  1. What are you most excited for in the TLI cohort?  


Doja Ade 

Being a leader in the TPOC community means finding ways to improve conditions in our community against all odds. It is about finding solutions no matter what. 

My hope for TPOC in my area is for them to have full control over their lives. I also hope they can thrive in the ways they desire while staying as healthy as possible. 

I’m most excited to learn new ways to fight HIV/AIDS. I am also eager to share health safety information I learn with local community members. 


Daron Perez 

Being a leader in the trans people of color (TPOC) community means advocating for their rights and visibility, providing support and mentorship, and creating safe spaces. It involves educating others about TPOC issues, fighting discrimination, and fostering a sense of unity. 

My hope for trans people of color in my area is that they can live in a community where they feel safe, valued, and respected. 

I am most excited about the opportunity to connect with like-minded folks in the TLI cohort, who are equally passionate about advocating for trans rights and social justice.  


Khloe Rios-Wyatt 

For me it means that I have the privilege and the honor to help my own community to move forward while at the same time help foster leadership for other Trans BIPOC individuals. It also means that I have an amazing opportunity to fulfill my vision of helping elevate the quality of life for Trans people and hopefully inspire others to also advocate for themselves and others. 

My hope is that all Trans BIPOC people in my area have access to inclusive and affirming healthcare, stable and affordable housing and ample opportunities for employment and personal advancement. I am excited to be a voice for the Trans Latinx community in the TLI cohort, to meet other amazing leaders doing brilliant work and to learn from each one of them.  


Emily Aguilar 

Being a leader in the TPOC community means honoring the legacy of resilience and strength passed down through generations. It means continuing the fight for liberation that our ancestors began and amplifying the beauty and diversity that our community has to offer 

My hope for TPOC in my area is to foster unity within the trans community and make Chicago a melting pot where we can celebrate and uplift one another. I envision black, brown, and undocumented trans people, as well as old school queens and the new generation of trans individuals. I’m most excited to gain new tools and skills while being in community with other fierce trans individuals.  I look forward to applying everything I learn to benefit the greater trans community in Chicago.  


Eboni Sims 

For me, being a leader in the Trans POC community means, We now have a platform and are no longer voiceless! It means we can now advocate for our rights, making sure we’re seen and heard. Being a leader gives me an opportunity to share 56 years of life experience to help someone to not have to face the challenges that I’ve faced. 

Trans people seem to be targeted in South Carolina, not only by the community, but the government as well. My hope for TPOC in my area is that we will eventually not be the sacrifice! I’m most excited for the sisterhood and the pool of knowledge that will be shared. I look forward to gathering valuable information that I can bring back to my community to help us grow. 


Keon Anderson 

Being a leader in the TPOC community means being heard and as present as possible. Being a transmasculine leader I want to show other transmasculine leaders that we are here and build more leaders to fight so we have equity and equality. 

My hope for TPOC in my area is to become more visible and to learn more on advocacy and policies around our community so all voices can be heard here in Arkansas in leadership roles here with people who look like us and know there is strength in numbers.  

I’m most excited to learn more leadership skills to bring to my organization back in Arkansas and start implementing more things for resources and programs for new TPOC leadership here.  


Jocelyn Bula 

Being a leader in the trans people of color community means championing resilience, empathy, and empowerment. It’s about amplifying diverse voices, advocating for needs, and fostering belonging. This involves challenging injustices, recognizing intersecting identities, and standing as a beacon of hope against discrimination and erasure. 

My hope for trans people of color in my area is for increased visibility, improved access to tailored resources, and the eradication of systemic discrimination and violence. Ultimately, I hope they thrive in environments where they’re celebrated for their resilience and contributions. 

In the TLI cohort, I’m thrilled to connect with fellow leaders passionate about trans advocacy. I anticipate gaining new perspectives, collaborating on positive change, and honing my skills through workshops and mentorship. I’m eager for the potential impact and growth this opportunity brings. 


Jennifer Orellano 

A colorful leader is not only someone who excels in their field, but also has unique qualities and characteristics that set them apart and has a vibrant vision that guides their actions.  Creative and can think outside the box. Is willing to challenge norms and come up with bold, innovative ideas. Is empathetic and understands the needs and concerns of his team and demonstrates genuine concern for their well-being. Is resilient and agile and is willing to face challenges and adapt quickly to new circumstances. 

My hope with my Trans community of color in my area is to put an end to the Transfemicide that we have suffered in the last 4 years and that we do not continue to feel murdered. Since transgender women of color are some of the most vulnerable members of society. Since the life expectancy of trans women is 35 to 37 years, mainly due to the violence, discrimination and rejection that we experience due to our gender identity and expression. 

I am very excited about this opportunity because as a Trans woman of color, sex worker and health professional, I can enrich my knowledge to be able to minimize many of the needs that we as a trans community of color face. Also being able to help my trans sisters to be able to channel their problems and help them overcome them.   


Angel Nelson 

Being a leader in the TPOC community means opening doors for those coming behind me to enter spaces with the privilege of equity and equality. So that regardless of our origins or accolades others will understand we are not monolithic. In addition to knowing our experiences and all our voices are unique, valuable, and our experiences valid. 

Being a leader in the TPOC community means opening doors for those coming behind me to enter into spaces with the privilege of equity and equality. So that regardless of our origins or accolades others will understand we are not monolithic. In addition to knowing our experiences and all our voices are unique, valuable, and our experiences valid.  

I’m most excited for furthering my skillset capacity in a way that can be utilized to create or expand programming for TPOC’s in an easily accessible manner within my community. To grow and develop into a leader that is not only capable but culpable in how I utilize my available resources to create the greatest number of positive outcomes within the scope of my limited capacity. In a way that will hopefully reverberate and amplify collaboration in a way to uplift the voices of those doing this advocacy work.  


Mila Hellfyre Hernandez

Being a leader in the TPOC community means embodying the essence of familia, supporting each and every member. It means honoring the lessons my abuelas, mothers, and tias taught me, creating spaces and a brighter future for our family. This leadership is a tribute to their wisdom, love, and strength, and a promise to continue their legacy of care and unity. 

My hope for TPOC in my area is to see them shine as representatives of our beautiful island, showcasing their resilience. I dream of them achieving trans liberation, intertwined with Puerto Rico’s journey towards freedom from colonial rule. My hope is for our experiences and cultural differences inspire a global understanding of our community 

I’m most excited for the TLI cohort to grow alongside my fellow trans members, expanding our networks and watching their projects flourish. This journey promises collective growth and the blossoming of ideas that change the future for our community 


TLI was founded in 2017 as a leadership development program supporting transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming leaders of color who are emerging leaders in their communities. TLI aims to facilitate and improve the professional development and community services/programs of trans leaders.