CHICAGO — Brave Space Alliance has doubled its staff by hiring Zahara Bassett as Director of Development and External Relations, and Brittney Thomas as Director of Programs. The two new hires bring further vibrancy, skills, and capacity to the South Side LGBTQ Center, which last month announced a new permanent office in Hyde Park, at 1515 E. 52nd Place.
Brave Space Alliance, which impacts an estimated 2000 trans people in Chicago each year through programs, services, and events, has experienced significant growth since becoming a grantee of Gilead Pharmaceuticals in November of 2019. The organization's programmatic offerings have grown since its founding in 2017, and now include; traditional support groups; mutual aid groups focused on the reduction of HIV infection rates in Black and Brown trans communities, career services, government service alignment, and community connection at drop-in and pop-up location across the South Side; employment justice programming, and a soon-to-be-launched mental health program.
Zahara Bassett comes to Brave Space Alliance with over eight years of experience in the public health sector. Zahara spent three of those years as a Medical Adherent Research Specialist with Howard Brown Health. For years Bassett has supported and provided comprehensive resources to the TGNC communities of color on the West and South side of Chicago; in 2016 she started Meals for Christmas; an event dedicated to feeding those who were homeless on Christmas Day. She is also a recent graduate of Illinois Media School, and a member of many Boards and Planning Committees throughout the Chicagoland area, including Heroes of Change. Bassett will be leading the organization's forthcoming capital campaign to fund the renovation and expansion of Brave Space Alliance's new office.
Brittney Thomas is a black non-binary person whose activism centers around restorative justice and trauma informed care for black and brown marginalized groups within under-served communities in Chicago. Born and raised in Chicago in the west side neighborhood of North Lawndale, Thomas decided early on that they wanted to make a difference in all communities like North Lawndale and their community members specifically working to increase access and sustainability. Thomas graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Community Psychology and a minor in Community Services Studies from DePaul University in 2013. Since then Thomas has dedicated their life to serving as a youth advocate and organizer for black and brown youth as a facilitator, mentor and career & life coach with a focus on LGBTQIA+ identifying youth. They will be leading the expansion of Brave Space Alliance's programs and community outreach, including the launching of new programs later this year.
Brave Space Alliance is the first Black-led, trans-led LGBTQ Center located on the South Side of Chicago, dedicated to creating and providing affirming, culturally competent, for-us by-us resources, programming, and services for LGBTQ individuals on the South and West sides of the city. We strive to empower, embolden, and educate each other through mutual aid, knowledge-sharing, and the creation of community-sourced resources as we build toward the liberation of all oppressed peoples.
—From a press release