Ms. Foundation for Women Announces Raquel Willis as New Director of Communications
Former Executive Editor of Out Magazine to Bring Activist Voice to Nation’s Oldest Women’s Foundation
NEW YORK (June 25, 2020) – Today, the Ms. Foundation for Women announced Raquel Willis as the new Director of Communications. In this role, Willis will plan and execute the Ms. Foundation’s communications strategy and position the organization with diverse audiences in alignment with its mission, vision, and strategic goals.
“Raquel is a revolutionary voice who is moving us all forward and I am proud to welcome her to the Ms. Foundation team,” said Ruth McFarlane, VP of Advancement of the Ms. Foundation for Women. “A lifelong activist, Raquel has used her platform to lift up women, especially Black transgender women, and others on the margins of social justice movements. We are incredibly fortunate to have her vision for the future shaping our communications strategy as we continue to fight for gender equity and racial justice.”
Most recently, Willis served as the Executive Editor of Out Magazine, the leading LGBTQIA publication in the country where she published the Trans Obituaries Project to highlight the epidemic of violence against trans women of color. Her writing has also been featured in Essence, Bitch magazine, VICE, Buzzfeed, Autostraddle, ForHarriet, HuffPost, PRIDE, and Quartz.
Willis holds a B.A. in magazine journalism and a minor in gender studies from the University of Georgia. A former national organizer for Transgender Law Center (TLC), she began her activism in Atlanta, working on behalf of the Solutions Not Punishments Collaborative to end police profiling of transgender women of color and mass incarceration and with others on a campaign to implement a pre-arrest diversion program. She also successfully led the Atlanta Trans Liberation Tuesday mobilization effort in conjunction with the larger Black Lives Matter network.
Since 1973, the Ms. Foundation has invested over $65 million to build grassroots movements fighting for gender equity for women, particularly women of color around the country. The Ms. Foundation recently launched a new strategic plan that is committed to investing in and strengthening the capacity of women-of-color-led movements and grassroots organizations that intentionally and inclusively centers women and girls of color. The Ms. Foundation is determined to center the voices of women of color both within its leadership team and bolster women of color on the frontlines through grantmaking, capacity building, policy and advocacy, leadership development, strategic communications, and political organizing.
Raquel Willis – Director of Communications
A self-described Georgia Peach in the Big Apple, Raquel Willis is a Black transgender activist, writer, and media strategist. Her previous work includes being the executive editor of Out magazine and a former national organizer for Transgender Law Center (TLC). She’s also a part of Echoing Ida, a national Black women and nonbinary writers’ collective.
In 2018, she was named an Open Society Foundations Soros Equality Fellow. Through that fellowship, she founded Black Trans Circles, a project of TLC, focused on developing the leadership of Black trans women in the South and Midwest by creating healing justice spaces to work through oppression-based trauma and incubating community organizing efforts to address anti-trans murder and violence. That year, she was also named a Jack Jones Literary Arts Sylvia Rivera Fellow. In her time at Out Magazine, she published the Trans Obituaries Project to highlight the epidemic of violence against trans women of color.
Raquel harnesses the power of communications, storytelling, and digital organizing as elements of radical change. She believes that we should all break down restrictive notions of gender. “Our fight is for the women and girls who struggle to be seen as smart and capable leaders, for the men and boys who struggle to express their emotions and be tender, and everyone else who lives straddle all of those struggles and more.”
About the Ms. Foundation for Women
The Ms. Foundation for Women transforms our democracy by building women’s collective power. Guided by a gender and racial justice lens, we resource grassroots movements that center women and girls of color, advance feminism in philanthropy, and advocate for policies that improve women’s lives across the country. Since 1973, we’ve opened up worlds of possibility for women and girls. But to finally achieve justice for all, we need you in our fight. Learn more and get involved at ForWomen.org.