About Us

GRIOT Circle is an advocacy and service organization committed to the dignity,
well-being, and quality of life of LGBTQ people of color as we age


GRIOT Circle is a community-based, multigenerational organization serving LGBTQ elders of color.  Our mission is to respond to and eliminate all forms of oppression, including: ageism, racism, sexism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, poverty, xenophobia, and their intersections. We achieve this by providing health, wellness, advocacy, and leadership activities to remove isolation and fear, build community, as well as honor racial and ethnic traditions.


All LGBTQ elders of color experiencing a just and abundant quality of life.

Core Values 

COMMUNITY: an essential part of life that contributes to the building of friendship, companionship, family, support, and the celebration of our lives and survival; as well as creates avenues for collaboration with agencies and partners focused on using resources in a complementary manner.

RESPECT: each person's humanity, history, traditions, experiences, and privacy is valued and encouraged.

SAFETY:   recognizing that there is no one “safe” space for all, GRIOT works to foster a physically and emotionally safe environment in all aspects of our programming.

JUSTICE: intrinsic to GRIOT's programming and advocacy with and on behalf of all of our constituencies.

EMPOWERMENT: GRIOT supports our members in living a better life through creating life-long opportunities for learning, growing, and sharing their individual life experiences.

INTEGRITY: GRIOT is committed to responsible, honest, transparent, ethical and accountable management.

EXCELLENCE: GRIOT strives to establish a culture of accountability, growth, and excellence among staff, volunteers, and board members.




GRIOT (Gay Reunion In Our Time) Circle was founded as an informal gathering of elders and was officially recognized as a nonprofit 501(c)(3) in 1996. GRIOT Circle remains the only organization exclusively dedicated to serving the needs of elder LGBTQ people of color.

Most of our members reside in New York’s metropolitan area, though GRIOT has members throughout the country. Nearly all our members are from modest-to-low income households; more than 50% are retired; and about 90% identify as black, African American or Caribbean American.

We provide emotional support and quality programming that affirm the lives of this often invisible and marginalized population. GRIOT is committed to honoring and preserving our histories and traditions while reuniting those parts of our selves that have been fragmented by racism and homophobia. We maintain a space, free of discrimination based on age, gender, race, sexuality, spirituality, and ethnic origin. Everyone is welcome.


Our Founder

Reging Shavers, Founder and Former Executive Director of Griot Circle

In 1995, Regina co-founded GRIOT Circle to combat the lack of community that she had observed amongst LGBT Elders, particularly those of color. Since then, GRIOT Circle has become "an intergenerational and culturally diverse community-based social service organization responsive to the realities of older lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, two-spirit and transgender people (LGBTST) of all colors.” In 2000, Regina assumed the role of Executive Director of GRIOT.

Regina Shavers had a long history of community involvement and activism. As co-chair of District Council 37, she advocated for workers’ rights and served on the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Lesbian and Gay Rights Advisory Board. She played an active role in the Campaign for Inclusive Family Policy, the citywide coalition that obtained domestic partner benefits for New York City employees, and also helped to found Pride At Work, a constituency group of the AFL-CIO that focuses on the rights and unionization of LGBT workers.
The former Assistant Director of the NYC Department of Health’s HIV Training Institute, Regina created and implemented curricula for HIV prevention and treatment, including education tailored for older populations. Regina continued with her HIV/AIDS facilitation as a member of the New York Association on HIV Over Fifty (NYAHOF).

Meet the Board

Franciene Forte; Co-Chair

Juan Battle, PhD; Co-Chair

Antonio (Jay) Pastrana Jr., PhD; Secretary

Lynn Sexton, D.Min; Board Treasurer

Dr. Sheldon Applewhite, PhD

Joy Silver

Beverly Tillery

Veronica Momjian-Kapnick, Ph.D

Danielle Flinders

Sandra Hines

Harry Liu

Eileen Rodriguez

Terry Boggis

Mark Fowler

Our Staff

Recognizing that far too many members of our community have been systematically overlooked, underserved, and have endured discrimination and violence based on their age, race, sexual orientation, and/or gender expression; while empowering ourselves to be self-sufficient and free to enjoy aging in a safe and supportive environment, GRIOT Circle’s mission is to provide programs and services to assist our members in removing the isolation and fear around aging in the LGBTQ and larger communities, as well as  eliminating discrimination wherever it exists.


José Albino

Executive Director


Click to read bio


Aleksandr Chandra

Volunteer Coordinator


Click to read bio


Katherine Acey

Director of Strategic Collaborations


Click to read bio


Aundaray Guess

Director of Programs/Site Manager for SAGE-GRIOT


Click to read bio


Lisa Eddy

Program Coordinator


Click to read bio

Volunteers and Committees

Group Facilitators
Gherri Davis (Book Club)
Don Quigley (Wood Carving) `
Robert Waldron (Men Over 50 HIV Group)

Office Volunteers
Ros Davis
Felicia Holley

Project Volunteers
Liz Bardwell Boyd
Gherri Davis
Sandi Green
Chancer Lloyd
Jon Vasquez

Buddy-2-Buddy Member Coordinating Committee
Sande Hines
Idell Small
Chancer Lloyd

Events  Member Committee
Sande Hines
Ros Davis
Felicia Holley
Chancer Lloyd


Annual Report 2016

"Our testimony has and will continue to be: when we see a need, we work to
address it. We will continue to show love and compassion to each other and
empower those who want to grow."

Franciene Forte   & Juan Battle, Ph.D.
Board Co-Chair        Board Co-Chair

Click here to read GRIOT Circle's 2016 annual report


We would like to thank our donors for their strong support of LGBTQ elders.

Contact Us
25 Flatbush Avenue, 5th Floor Brooklyn, NY 11217
Phone: (718) 246-2775    Email: Cathlene@griotcircle.org