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Maya Rupert is a federal policy director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Prior to joining NCLR, she was an associate with Sidley Austin LLP’s Los Angeles office but eagerly sought after the chance to work with NCLR when the position came her way in 2010.

“My work for the LGBT community came from my sister and wanting to do something that would be meaningful and impact a number of lives, hers included,” Rupert tells Hello Beautiful.

Four years later, Rupert is proud of the work she has been doing to reduce housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and sexual identity, closing the gap in health disparities and working toward equal opportunity access to basic human rights for LGBT people.

“The question that NCLR always asks is who’s being left out of the conversation, so this is an organization that’s specifically being active about being proactive for people who are a part of marginalized communities, and so many other issues that we talk about and think about,” she says. “We have to do a better job centralizing the voices of people who are often marginalized in society.”

GET INVOLVED: NCLR accepts donations but they also encourage interested parties to sign up to their mailing list to keep up with the innovative ways that they are working toward progress. Visit




Sharon Lettman-Hicks is known for her work in the advancement of LGBT rights. She’s straight, and the Executive Director and CEO of the National Black Justice Coalition, but don’t refer to her as an ally.

“I hate the word ‘ally,’ because I don’t consider myself an ally,” she once told Metro Weekly. “I consider myself a sister in a movement, because to me it is a family affair and black LGBT people are my brothers and sisters.”

Lettman-Hicks, who faced discrimination growing up overweight and the dark skin child of Hispanic immigrants, is driven by her experiences to help make the lives of other people better. Through her work, she creates initiatives to engage the Black church community on LGBT issues in an effort to reduce homophobia in families and to end Black on Black violence against LGBT people.

GET INVOLVED:  NBJC encourages interested parties to get involved by donating and/or joining the discussion on social media. Visit for more information, and keep up on social media at Facebook and Twitter.




Jackie Lacey has an extensive record for setting precedents. She’s a first-generation college graduate who became the first woman and African-American to be named district attorney of Los Angeles County. Throughout her career she has been a champion of justice for human beings and animals alike, winning national attention for her successful prosecution of the county’s first racially motivated hate crime and establishing The Animal Cruelty Prosecution, ensuring that animal cruelty and neglect cases are prosecuted effectively in the Los Angeles area.

Her most recent work is evident in another first-of-its-kind program for sex trafficking victims called Saving Innocence. Women arrested for prostitution in LA won’t be considered criminals, under the program. They will be viewed as victims, because many of them work for pimps, and enrolled in outreach and management services geared toward helping them become independent and stay off the streets. Minors who complete the program will have no record of arrest, giving them a chance to start over.

GET INVOLVED: Saving Innocence offers internship opportunities, volunteer positions and the option to join the rescue team. Join the movement by visiting




Gina Eleane Wood’s career includes twenty-plus years of public service. Her multifaceted track record includes work in the legislative and executive branches of Oregon State Government, the Department of Juvenile Justice in South Carolina, the Coordinating Council on Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and more.

Wood is currently the senior director of program development at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington, DC-based organization with a mission to promote bipartisanship while addressing important issues facing the United States like homeland security, the economy, housing, and immigration.

Her many titles and affiliations are diverse and keeping up with everything she has going on might not be easy. However, Wood is especially passionate about the empowering Black women. She serves on the Black Women’s Agenda, Inc’s (BWA) board of directors where she advocates for protecting and advocating for the rights of Black women and their families. BWA has a multitude of programs that employ education that focuses on STEM, economic empowerment and health for the advancement of Black women and girls.

GET INVOLVED: BWA has a number of luncheons and benefits for several causes. Reach out via their website,,  to see how you can become a benefactor.



Gael Sylvia Pullen is a public speaker and philanthropist with a strong entrepreneurial spirit. She began her career as the co-founder and president of Better Communications, Inc, an international education program focused on increasing minority representation in the world of science. Following that endeavor, she owned Charis Real Estate, which became the largest minority-owned real estate brokerage firm in Southern California at the time.

Pullen has gone on to own several other successful business, in various industries, and has made it her life’s goal to inspire people to be financially literate and economically empowered. She is committee co-chair of PR and Communications for Women Moving Millions, a community of people who have made pledges of one million dollars or more to organizations and initiatives that promote the advancement of women and girls, in the direction of economic growth as a way to promote healthy societies and global stabilization. The best way to keep up with this fierce woman is to visit, her website that publishes positive media for “world thinkers, doers and donors.”

GET INVOLVED: Women Moving Millions encourages philanthropists to join the community and make a pledge of a million or more. Visit for more information.



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25 Women To Know: Advocates For LGBT & Women’s Rights  was originally published on