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LEAD Fellowship Program

Leadership Development

First launched in 2017, the BlaqOut Leadership Academy (LEAD) Fellowship is a capacity-building program specifically designed to empower and cultivate the next generation of Black LGBTQ+ leaders. The immersive experience equips participants with essential leadership skills, fosters community engagement, and promotes social advocacy through a structured educational curriculum, individual development plans, executive coaching, facilitated mentoring, and peer learning.

The 12-month program offers a cohort-style learning environment and recruits and graduates up to five fellows. Recruits are drawn from BlaqOut’s current membership, outreach programs, and the broader community.

Through the LEAD Fellowship, BlaqOut aims to address the unique challenges faced by Black LGBTQ+ individuals while nurturing their potential to drive positive change. It is a transformative experience — for our fellows, BlaqOut, and the community we serve. 

If you or someone you know might be interested in providing direct support to underwrite the stipends for the Fellows, or other related program costs, please contact Tanya Carson, BlaqOut’s Director of Donor Impact, by email at

2024 LEAD Fellows Cohort

Fawn Lies


Fawn Lies was born and raised in Kansas City, where they honed their passion for advocating for the advancements of the rights of transgender people. Since 2016, they’ve worked with trans youth since and previously also directed a brand that created binders for transmasculine people. 

Currently, Fawn is actively involved in projects that create more space for queer people in the greater Kansas City metropolitan area and beyond. A professional creative by trade, Fawn helps queer-owned businesses develop branding and marketing assets to achieve their strategic organizational goals and objectives.

Fawn has been a member of BlaqOut’s Board of Directors since 2019 and will be stepping down to join the LEAD Fellowship Program.


Freddie Dolphus


Fredrick “Freddie” Dolphus  is a Black queer trans man and personal trainer/martial arts instructor. Since 2020, he has been an ACE certified personal trainer and has instructed boxing/ martial arts for over five years. An amateur fighter trained in both boxing and mixed martial arts, Freddie holds a blue belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu under Professor Claudio Mattos.
Freddie aims to share his passion for health and fitness with others, especially marginalized communities. He sees fitness as a tool to create a more authentic relationship with ourselves and our bodies.

Nasir Montalvo


Deeply committed to a praxis rooted in love, justice and radical change, Nasir Anthony Montalvo  uses a polymathic approach in their work to combat oppression.

Currently, Nasir serves as the Managing Editor for The Kansas City Defender. In addition to their work at The Defender, Nasir also pursues an archival project unearthing Black LGBTQ+ Kansas City history entitled {B/qKC}. The project recently received grant funding by both The University of Kansas and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Nasir graduated from Stevens Institute of Technology, where they had extensive history as a student organizer. They founded their university’s first safe space for marginalized community members, started a Black writers column in the campus newspaper, and led numerous protest efforts.

Nasir has been featured in The Advocate, GLAAD, Teen Vogue, Cosmopolitan, NPR, HelloGiggles, Flatland KC, and various other local and national outlets.

Nasir is queer, Boricua, and originally from Kissimmee, Florida.

Program Goals

The goals of the LEAD Fellowship Program are to:

Program Objectives

Participants in the LEAD Fellowship will achieve:

Programmatic Approach

The LEAD Fellowship embraces four fundamental aspects of community mobilization:

Programmatic Elements

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