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


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, 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. We work to eliminate discrimination wherever it exists, while empowering ourselves to be self-sufficient and free to enjoy aging in a safe and supportive environment.

The Meaning Behind the Name



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

Forte has worked in trade book production for over twenty years. She is the Production Director of The New Press, a non-profit publishing house, and is a union steward with UAW Local 2110 technical, office, and professional workers union. She was a board member of Audre Lorde Project and of Kitchen Table Press. She was also one of the organizers of the Arms Akimbo Organizing Institute and “Black Nations/Queer Nations Conference.


Juan Battle, PhD; Co-Chair

Battle is a Professor of Sociology, Public Health & Urban Education and the Coordinator of the Africana Studies Certificate Program at the City University of New York (CUNY). Battle previously served as a Fulbright Chair in Austria, Affiliate Faculty in various nations throughout the Caribbean and President of the Association of Black Sociologists. Through these roles and his many publications, Battle has long been a prominent and influential voice surrounding issues of race, sexuality and social justice.


Antonio (Jay) Pastrana Jr., PhD; Secretary

Pastrana is an Associate Professor of Sociology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York (CUNY). His research and scholarship examines how race-based marginalization affects the lives of LGBT people of color. A Principal Investigator of the Social Justice Sexuality Project, one of the largest national research projects on LGBT people of color, Pastrana is committed to documenting the lived experiences of these understudied populations and to advancing the exploration of intersectional issues focused on race, class, gender, sexuality, and social justice.

Lynn Sexton; Board Treasurer

Lynn R. Sexton has worked for the Department of the Treasury, IRS Technical Advisory Unit for the past 19 years.  Lynn has and continues to work with taxpayers and their representatives from all ethnicities and socio-economic status.Prior to coming to the IRS, Lynn worked for the City of New York for approximately 13 years. Working with marginalized groups tremendously increased and enhanced Lynn’s experience concerning individuals and families faced with systemic oppression and learned helplessness.Lynn R. Sexton is also a native New Yorker and a third generation preacher, currently serving Sacred Fellowship Ministries, which she founded in June 2014. She joined Unity Fellowship of Christ Church (UFC), NYC in 1996, where she was ordained and matriculated from Deacon Candidate to Associate Pastor. She was also ordained at In the Life Ministries, Bronx, NY, where she served as Assistant Pastor. Lynn R. Sexton received both a Master’s and Doctor of Ministry Degree from New York Theological Seminary, NYC.


Dr. Sheldon Applewhite, PhD

Dr. Applewhite earned his PhD in Sociology from Howard University in 2006 and has been an Assistant Professor of Sociology in the Social Sciences & Human Services Department at BMCC since 2010. Specializing in urban and medical sociology, Dr. Applewhite worked as an Evaluator and Research Scientist at the New York City Department of Health & Mental Hygiene from 2005-2009 with the Healthy Start Brooklyn Program, a program addressing maternal health outcomes. His current work focuses on health disparities among racial / ethnic groups and the health issues of the LGBTQ community of color. His current research primarily focuses on HIV prevention strategies for same-sex couples. Dr. Applewhite serves as a Board Member with the Black Gay Research Group and as a contributor to AMNY.


Joy Silver

Joy Silver is the Chief Strategy Officer at Choices Women’s Medical Center in Queens, New York. She is an outspoken personality on issues of Diversity and Healthcare in Senior Living. Silver is the President/CEO and founding principal and visionary for RainbowVision Properties, Inc, the world’s first LGBT senior living community, which offers assisted living. Silver also created the non-profit Emerald City Foundation and served as two-term board member for both LAIN (Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network) of the American Society for Aging and the LGBT Historical Society. Additionally, she was a spokesperson for Equality California and Equality New Mexico and led the LGBT Healthcare Committee for Equality New Mexico. In 2009 she was named one of Go Magazine’s "Top Ten Lesbian Entrepreneurs of the Year."

Beverly Tillery

Tillery is the Executive Director of the NYC Anti-Violence Project. For the past twenty years, she has dedicated her career to fighting  for social and economic justice through community-based direct action organizing, labor organizing, human rights and political advocacy, and popular education. She coordinated the Immigrant Worker Rights Project at the New York Coalition of Occupational Safety and Health, worked as the Outreach Coordinator at Amnesty International developing a national field organizing program, and led a campaign at the Service Employees International Union to help healthcare workers form a union. She has designed and facilitated hundreds of trainings and workshops and served as the Board President of the National Organizers Alliance.

Terry Boggis

Terry Boggis is a nationally-recognized leader and activist whose work has focused on LGBTQ families. She currently works with the Funders for LGBTQ Issues’ President and Board of Directors to increase the organization's efficiency and effectiveness.

For 17 years, Terry was the Director of Family Programs at the LGBT Community Center in New York City, where she led programs to provide comprehensive family social support, education, and advocacy for LGBTQ parents, their children, and those considering parenthood. Earlier, she served as the Center’s Director of Communications for two years. Terry also directed the Ettelbrick Family Project at Stonewall Community Foundation, an 18-month Ford Foundation-funded project to advance and enhance understanding of LGBTQ families and their contribution to family evolution and sociology. Terry was a founding board member of Queers for Economic Justice, working as a board co-chair, and serving on the board for over 10 years.

Sandra Hines

Hines worked for twenty-six years with special needs children with the Department of Education and retired in 2011. She has been a member of GRIOT Circle for ten years, serving the Events Committee, Buddy-to-Buddy Program, Book Club, and Women’s Group. An active and vocal leader of our organization, Hines tells the story of how she became involved as a member of the elder LGBTQ community in the “Now is Our Time” video.

Sandra Hines lives on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She enjoys elevating her knowledge and organizational and leadership skills. As a board member, she strives to advocate for GRIOT members and works to help make GRIOT Circle a successful community-based organization advocating for LGBTQ elders of color.

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



Katherine Acey

Director of Strategic Collaborations



Aundaray Guess

Director of Programs/Site Manager for SAGE-GRIOT



Lisa Eddy

Program Coordinator



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



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

Fiscal Year 2017 Contributions


Jo Ann Acey

Katherine Acey

Jose Albino

Seana E. Anderson

Sheldon Applewhite

Cathlene Barthwell

Juan Battle

Theresa  L. Boggis

Jaqueline Bolling

Linda Burnham

Jean Campbell

Gherri Davis

Rosalyn Davis

Davine Del Valle

Lisa Eddy

Eugene Edgehill

Franciene Forte

Sara Gould

Christina Greer

Aundaray Guess

Henri Hardee

Michael Heflin

Mary Henriet

Sande Hines

Felicia Holley

Christy E. Johnson

Paula Johnson

Donald T. Kao

Jo Ann Kelley

Brenda Mattingly

Vernon May

Delores Melgio

Edward Nash

Derek Oliver

Cara Page

Antonio Pastrana

Jaqueline Perou

Gherri/Barbara Pilgrim

Ciremuse Productions

Donald Quigley

Nina R. Riley

Sylvia Ryan

M J Santiago

Laurella Sapp

Melton Sawyer

Joel Schoenecker

Lynn Sexton

Pamela Sneed

Idell Small

Linda Stein

Desciana Swinger

Ted Thompson

John Vazquez

Leonie Walker

Howard White

Foundations & Government Grants

Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF)

Arcus Foundation

Hilda Rush Fund


Fiscal Year 2016 Contributions

* Denotes GRIOT members
+ Denotes GRIOT board member or staff


Katherine T. Acey+
Rodney Adams*
Jose Albino+
Carol Alpert
Sheldon Applewhite, PhD+
Juan Battle+
Carlos Beato
Stephanie Blackwood
Terry Boggis
Carol Buell & Olivia Hicks
Kristopher Burrell
Leslie Cagan
Thomas P. Callahan
Jeffrey Campagna
Jean Angel Campbell*
Ellen Carton
Kevin Cathcart and Mayo Schreiber
Christopher Cormier
Clare Coss
Catherine Cumberbatch
Daisy de Jesus
Robert J. De Sena
Jon Del Giorno
Lisette Sosa-Dickson
Loretta S. DiLorenzo
The Honorable David Dinkins
Lisa Eddy+
Eugene Edghill*
Alyce Emory
Rev Antionetta Etienne*
Faith Leaders of African Descent
Marjorie Fine*
Kim Ford & Avril Davis
Fran Forte+
Monica Forte
Mark Fowler
Mary Fridley
Elyce Friedfeld
Willie Gause*
Rohan Grant
Sara Gould
Aundaray Guess+
Sarah Gunther and Amy Krosch
Chad Gurley
Ellen Gurzinsky
Marianne Haggerty
Catherine K. Hammer
Henry Hardee
Marjorie Hill, Ph.D.
Sande Hines*+
Leon Hosang and Milton C Ellis
Victoria A. Hunter
Nikki Marron and Bridgit Evans
Janyce Jackson-Jones+
Lidell Jackson*
Carine Jocelyn
Tyrone John
Christy Johnson
Paula Johnson*
Thomas Jordan
Carmen Kelly
Rev. Magora Kennedy
Seth Krakauer
Tania Kravath
Thomas Krever
Nikki Marron & Bridgit Evans
Roy Martin in honor of Jay Pastrana
Susan C. Massad
Deb McKeever*
Nancy McManus
Nancy Meyer
Deborah Middleton
Jeffrey Mosley
Chad Namita
Carmen Neely
Cara Page
Antonio(Jay)Pastrana, Jr. PhD+
Donald Quigley*
Tata Rogers
Sylvia Ryan*
Joanne Sandler
Laurella Sapp*
Karen Sauvigne
Estelle Savas
Mayo Schreiber
Lynn Sexton
Sigmund Shipp
Charles W. Shorter
Dr. Sharon Siegel
Joy Silver+
Donna Smith and Michael Smith
Kimberleigh Smith
Dean Spade
Sharon Stapel
Beverly Tillery+
Deb Trishala
Barbara Turk
Judith Turkel
Nancy Vazquez
Linda Villarosa
Léonie Walker
Lynn Weaver
Evelyn Whitaker*
Steve Williams
Allen Luther Wright
Foundations & Government Grants
  • AIDS Healthcare Foundation
  • Arcus Foundation
  • New York City Council Communities of Color Non-Profit Stabilization Fund / New York Urban League
  • New York Women’s Foundation
  • New York Community Trust
  • Stonewall Community Foundation
  • Henry van Ameringen Foundation
  • SAGE
  • Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams
  • City Councilmember Laurie Cumbo
  • City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito
  • City Councilmember Carlos Menchaca
Fiscal Year 2015 Contributions


Katherine T. Acey
Cleopatra Acquaye Reynolds
Mary Anne Adams
Michael Adams
Rodney L. Adams
Tasha Amezcua
Juan J. Battle & Michael D. Bennett
Jacqueline Bolling
Orville Braithwaite
Evelyn Brown
Salena Budinger
Rudolph Cain
Barbara Carpenter
Renae Carpenter
Kevin Cathcart & Mayo Schreiber
Roxanne Chang
Brenda Clark
Ben Cushman
Ray Daniels
Gherri (Thelma) Davis
Anne Delaney
Daisy De Jesus
Erin Drinkwater
Tucker Farley
Kim Ford
Franciene Forte
Monica Forte
Katherine Franke
Monroe France
Willie Gause
Gina George
Christina Giier
Carol Glassman
Jewelle Gomez
Cristina Greer
Aundaray Guess
Henry Hardee
Marjorie Hill
Sandra Hines
Pamela Hooks
Leon W. Hosang
Rev. Janyce L. Jackson Jones
Christy Johnson
Paula Johnson
Leon Kalas
Paul Kaminski
James Keenan
Jo Ann Kelly
Laurence J. Kelly
Myra Kooy
Joseph A. Kopitz
Jim Lieberthal
Odell Lomax
Muriel Lovell
Roy Martin
Noemi E. Masliah
Nancy E. McManus
Ileana Mendez
Edward Nash
Cara Page
Don Quigley
Kurt Ramig
Sylvia Ryan
Laurella L. Sapp
Joel Schoenecker
Rev. Dr. Lynn R. Sexton
Stacey Sheffey
Sharon Siegel
Joy Silver& Atma Wiseman
Donna Smith
Jonathan Starch & David France
Jimmy Stubbs
Kate Ullman
Ralph Venturino
Eric J.Ward
Tom Watson & Jay Laudato
Margueritte Wilkins
Mark Zustovich

Foundations & Government Grants

  • The New York Women’s Foundation
  • The New York Community Trust
  • Stonewall Community Foundation
  • Henry van Ameringen Foundation
  • New York City Council Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund/New York Urban League
  • City Council Member Laurie Cumbo
  • City Council Member Carlos Menchaca
  • City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito
Fiscal Year 2014 Contributions


Jo-Ann Acey
Katherine Acey
Michael Adams
Rodney Adams
Carol Alpert
Susan Bailey
Irma Bajar
Juan Battle
Barbara Becker
Terry Boggis
Evelyn Brown
Carol Buell
Leslie Cagan
Jean Angel Campbell
Neil Castro
Kevin Cathcart & Mayo Schreiber
Fay Ping Chiang
Jennifer Costley & Judith Turkel
Eugene Edghill
Ethan Eldon
Tucker Farley
Shirley Fields
Doretha Foggie
Kim Ford
Fran Forte
Monica Forte
Katherine Franke & Janlori Goldman
Leslie Gable Brett
Willie Gause
Suzanne Goldberg
Marianne Haggerty
Henry Hardee
Jennifer Hatch
Marjorie Hill, Ph.D.
Robin Hines
Leon Hosang
Christy Johnson
Rev. Janyce L. Jackson Jones
Bishop Zachary Jones
Don Kao & Nicholas Chesla
Mary Lou Kelley
Laurence Kelly
To Kit Lai
Jarrett Lucas
Nicole Marron
Noemi Masilah
Clarice Matthews
Marilyn Mishaan
Cara Page
Don Quigley
Beth E. Richie & Cathy J. Cohen
Cindy Rizzo
Eve Rosahn
Laurella Sapp
Beverly Segers
Geraldine Shavers
Joy Silver
Stella Skipper
Naomi Sobel
Jessica Stern
Desciana Swinger
Joy Tomchin
Barbara Turk
Bruce W. Veneble
Robert Waldron
Charmaine Welch
Andrea Weldon
Eugenia Wimberly
Sterling Wood
Luna Yasui

Foundations & Government Grants

  • MAC AIDS Foundation
  • New York Community Trust
  • New York Women Foundation
  • Henry van Ameringen Foundation
  • City Council Member Laurie Cumbo
  • City Council Member Carlos Menchaca
  • City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito
  • Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams Office
Fiscal Year 2013 Contributions


Barbara Abrams
Jo-Ann Acey
Katherine Acey
Rodney Adams
Elaine Archer
Susan Bailey
Joseph Ballard
Tony Betaudier
Jackie Bolling
Marie Bowman
Willie Mae Brown
Leslie Cagan
Thomas Callahan
Heather Callendar
Jean Campbell
Carmen Castro
Neil Castro
Kevin Cathcart
Mayo Schreiber
Noris Chavaria
Cheryl Clark
Margaret Clarke
Marion Cokeley
Nikki Colon

Gherri Davis
Kenneth Diamondstone
Eugene Edghill
Shirley Fields
Fran Forte
Monica Forte
Barbara Garris
Willie Gause
John Hansen
Henry Hardee
Ron Hickey
Joyce Hicks
MarjorieHill, Ph.D.
Leon Hosang
Rev. Janyce L. Jackson Jones
Dorothea Johnson
Paulette Johnson
Marilyn Kiang
Bernadette King
Joseph Kopitz
Olivia Laidlow
Mary LittleJohn
Odell Lomax
Karen Lumley
Peter Lundenberg
Denise Marbury

Cookie Martinez
Beth Ann Mc Ginley
Cheryl McCourtie
Lindsay Mejer
Gregory Melich
Marion Murdaugh
Lynn O’Neil
Don Quigley
Patricia Ralph
Deborah Russell
Laurella Sapp
Ava Schelesinger
Geraldine Shavers
Tene Shavers
Joy Silver
Vinayak Singh
Jimmy Stubbs
Simone Sydnor
Joy Tomchin
Barbara Turk
Eric Ward
Charmaine Welch
Anthony Whitfield
Rachel Williams

Foundations & Government Grants

  • Astraea Lesbian Foundation For Justice
  • Brooklyn Arts Council
  • Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s Office
  • City Council Member Letitia James
  • City Council Member Rosie Mendez
  • DOH/AIDS Institute
  • Henry van Ameringen Foundation
  • Kitchen Table Giving Circle (Astraea Foundation)
  • MAC Aids Foundation
  • New York Community Trust
  • New York Foundation

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