Meet Women LEADing Equality Through HRC Volunteerism

by HRC Staff

HRC’s Women LEAD is an initiative to strengthen and expand the roles of women volunteers in the HRC and LGBTQ community.

Post submitted by former Editorial Producer, Print and Digital Media Rokia Hassanein

In 2014, Tessa Cabrera decided to volunteer with HRC at the first-ever Pride in her community south of San Diego. Soon after, she became a full-fledged HRC steering committee member and a participant in HRC’s Women LEAD program.

“HRC Women LEAD has elevated my visibility in the community as a vocal advocate for LGBTQ equality who also happens to practice immigration law,” Cabrera told HRC. “I’ll always be grateful to HRC and the path it has led me on. I look forward to many more years working in a career I love and volunteering for an organization whose mission drives me.”

Launched in September 2018 before the midterm elections, HRC’s Women LEAD is an initiative to strengthen and expand the roles of women volunteers in the HRC and LGBTQ community. Women LEAD undertakes the mission of elevating the impact of women as HRC leaders, supporters and advocates.

“If the pink wave of 2018 taught us anything, it is that the time is now for women to be bold and step into leadership in every branch of our society, including the political process. There may be naysayers or those who think women are not qualified or worthy enough for leadership within the political process, but we cannot let those people deter us,” Christina Adeleke, an HRC Women LEAD advocate, told HRC.

For Cabrera, her passion for immigration law and work inspires her to use her volunteerism with HRC to raise awareness and help LGBTQ immigrants.

“My work with HRC over the past five years has been primarily dedicated to helping the LGBTQ immigrant community and homeless or at-risk youth in San Diego,” she said. “My career and my volunteer work are inextricably linked. Since the initiative’s launch I have been asked to represent several LGBTQ individuals seeking refuge from persecution in their home countries.”

Adeleke knows that women must have a space in LGBTQ advocacy, and that inspires her to continue volunteering with HRC.

“History has shown us that women have been at the forefront of every major social justice movement and that alone says a lot. From Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks fighting for civil rights to Katherine Johnson’s mathematical expertise and its pivotal role in our country’s space program, women’s contributions are far-reaching and can be felt in every sector of society,” Adeleke said. “Women are not only ready to lead, but have already been leading the way.”

Leading the way is why Deb Taft, chair of the HRC Foundation Board and the CEO of a global executive search firm, feels “called forward” by both her work with HRC and her job.

“Serving as one of the top female volunteer leaders of HRC is energizing. As we change the lives of LGBTQ people, companies, schools and governments, I get to see the direct impact of that work,” Taft told HRC. “As a leader I am committed to being bold in this life, to fostering smart innovation that creates lasting impact.”

“The stakes are higher than ever and Women LEAD is a concentrated effort to engage and activate equality-minded women to take up this fight with renewed energy and force,” said HRC Vice President of Development and Membership Cathy Nelson. “As we stand in a moment in history when women are unifying their voices and platforms, we aim to share that practice and thoughtfully engage more women in HRC's critical work to advance LGBTQ equality.”

This Women’s History Month and every month, we celebrate HRC’s Women LEAD initiative and all the women leaders volunteering with HRC to achieve full equality. Become an HRC volunteer today at

Women LEAD

From L to R, Deb Taft, Christina Adeleke and Tessa Cabrera.