Spring 2024 Fellowship

Meet the Fellows: Spring 2024 

Equality Florida, Florida's largest LGBTQ advocacy organization, hired its cohort of fellows for the Spring 2024 Fellowship Program! From across the state, our diverse cohort includes people from various backgrounds, ages, sexualities, gender identities, and ethnicities. At Equality Florida, our mission is to cultivate our fellows to become leaders in the community.

We are in the midst of another tough fight in Tallahassee for LGBTQ rights in the 2024 Legislative Session. This semester, our fellows are engaging in meaningful conversations with our volunteers to recruit them to Tallahassee for our Pride at the Capitol program and to Spring Pride events to collect pledges for equality. Our fellows will also be sharing our messaging to our members on updates of this legislative session and how our supporters can resist the attacks against our community.

And for the first time we are welcoming our first Health Equity fellows! LGBTQ people are facing unique healthcare challenges, and in order to address these concerns, we must lay out a foundation for ensuring that healthcare facilities take ownership of the care and needs of LGBTQ Floridians. The Equality Florida Health Policy Project fellowship is supporting these efforts by completing a statewide analysis of Florida healthcare systems aligned with the Human Rights Campaign's Healthcare Equality Index. The goals of this project are to gain a deeper understanding of what efforts, initiatives, policies, and training currently exist in Florida’s healthcare/hospital facilities and build stronger relationships with the leadership of hospital systems who are interested in expanding their support and care for the LGBTQ community.



Jade Smith (She/Her/Ella) - Miami, FL

Jade Smith is serving as a Communications Fellow at Equality Florida for a second semester. As a proud native of South Florida, she is deeply committed to advocating for her community. Jade is a Florida International University Alumni and is currently getting her Masters in Marketing. Her unwavering dedication lies in utilizing her communication skills to shed light on the injustices faced by LGBTQ+, Black, and women identifying people. Throughout her years at FIU she has continuously advocated for underrepresented groups on Capitol Hill with many Congressman and LGBTQ+ supporting organizations.

Field and Advocacy

Carys M. Mullins (She/They), Senior Field and Advocacy Fellow - Tampa, FL

Carys Mullins is a social media manager, independent film director, blogger, and activist residing in the Tampa Bay Area. She is passionate about LGBTQ+ mental health equality, musicals, and learning new languages. They are very excited to support Equality Florida as a Senior Field and Advocacy Fellow!


Samira Burnside (She/Her) - Brandon, FL

Samira Burnside (she/her) is a 17 year old senior from Brandon, Florida. She has spoken at protests for trans rights all the way in Washington D.C, and helped organize them, but she finds her most important work is done at home, in Florida. When she's not working to secure trans rights through organizing, she enjoys writing for her journalistic publication, The Queer Notion. The Queer Notion was founded to give queer and trans people who were often overlooked by the media a voice of their own. She is so excited to be part of Equality Florida's Fellowship Program as a Senior Fellow.


Liano “L.J.” Valenzuela (He/Him) - Jacksonville, FL

As a proud, queer high school student in Jacksonville, L.J. first started advocating by joining Equality Florida's Youth Leadership Council as well as local LGBTQ+ groups in his area. Since then, he has also spoken in conferences including the All Together Now Conference, the Association for Middle Level Education Conference, and a statewide back-to-school mental health webinar earlier this year. It is from these experiences and his personal journey that L.J. has committed to professionally supporting his community throughout his life, planning to incorporate activism into his chosen career through an interdisciplinary approach. In his free time, L.J. is an avid theatre kid and enjoys building LEGO sets!

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Tupelo H (She/Her) - Gainesville, FL

Tupelo is a social and environmental justice activist interested in climate psychology. She is passionate about liberation for LGBTQ+ and other marginalized people in our state and beyond. Tupelo is grateful for this opportunity to work with such an amazing group to help fight hateful legislation and build community.

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Kevin Duarte (He/Him) - Orlando, FL

>Kevin Duarte is a native floridian born here in orlando and is a graduate from the University of Florida with a Bachelors in political science. His interest in politics comes from his desire to help others in their situations. His experiences with local elected officials, the legislative process, the campaign process and now independent organizations shows that making meaningful change can be achieved in multiple ways, but knows that these systems together with people coming together can help achieve change faster.

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Catherine VIllalonga (They/Them) - Miami, FL

Catherine is a Cuban-American Queer non-binary artist, cultural worker, and community member based in Tequesta land, now called Miami, FL. They are graduating from New World School of the Arts with a major in Art and Technology, and are beholden to liberation struggles in Miami and across the global south–focusing on cultural interventions via art and design. They hope to continue pursuing movement work after graduating–emphasizing the need to restore a right relationship with the land–with queer and trans folk at the center. For the past six years they’ve worked actively alongside and within several South Florida Organizations, and recently helped co-found Caribe Pouvwa, a Miami-based Caribbean solidarity collective.

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Colin Jefferis (He/Him) - Sarasota, FL

Colin Jefferis is a third year environmental studies student at New College of Florida. He enjoys going on hikes, advocating for students on his campus, and acting in plays.

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Parker Keaton (He/Him) - Tallahassee, FL

Parker Keaton is a junior at Florida State University. He is studying Editing, Writing, & Media as an undergraduate student. This is his first semester as a fellow, and he is excited to work with Equality Florida to defend queer rights in Florida.

Health Equity


Meghana Clere (She/Her) - Portland, ME

Meghana grew up in Portland, ME and attended the University of Vermont to earn a B.S in Radiation Science. She is now in my first year at Tufts School of Medicine in the MD/MPH program with an interest in rural medicine. As a queer South-Asian American, she was initially called to advocacy work due to the lack of diverse representation in the medical field. She lives in Boston with her partner and her new kitten, Paloma! When they have free time you can often find them traveling, rock climbing, or cooking!

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Katrina Wang (She/Her) - New Jersey

Katarina is a third-year medical student at University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry. Since 2022, she has been working with the National LGBT Cancer Network to research and advocate for LGBTQIA+ health equity. Her hobbies include making kombucha, gardening, and watching reality TV with friends. She's so excited to be an Equality Florida Health Equity Fellow!


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