Ingersoll Collective Action

We are Black, POC & Disabled Trans Staff & Former Staff at Ingersoll Gender Center.

UPDATE: On April 16th 2021, remaining Ingersoll staff were informed that two out of three directors (Executive Director Karter Booher and Operations Director Louis Mitchell) will be stepping down from their positions due to “personal reasons.”

While this is progress, our collective’s demands are for all three directors to be fired, for the board to be re-envisioned, and for a true accountability process to take place.

We will continue to push for positive changes at the organization in this transitional period.


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Our Demands

Sign and read our full petition and list of demands at Action Network.

Thus far, EVERY SINGLE former staff member at Ingersoll Gender Center has written a statement attesting to the culture of inequity at Ingersoll, while those still employed are constantly working to dismantle this culture that leadership is actively working to maintain. The current staff at Ingersoll has attempted to solve this issue with demands, with calls for accountability, and threats to walk off the job. We've also tried to call in leadership as well as the board to have conversations that were either unfruitful or full of non answers and excuses. To be frank, we do not believe in throwing community away. Attempts have been made for restorative and generative justice and discussions, however no restorative justice process can take place with out an acknowledgement of harm. No change can take place without first acknowledging and understanding the change that needs to take place. We have been navigating this process for 2 years without movement. This is the last step in an attempt to create an environment that empowers BIPOC staff rather than traumatizes them before pushing them out.

We acknowledge that rather than address these issues head on Ingersoll leadership has sought to blame the victims of their mistreatment, as well as use manipulation tactics to reframe the narrative to portray themselves as victims of non-directorial black staff, and the POC and white staff that have stood with them in solidarity. And they have doubled down in doing so despite current and past staff bearing witness to mistreatment of Black and POC staff as well as those who stood by them.

This goes beyond harm. This is intentional, calculated abuse, and anti-blackness.


Timeline of Events

DateCommunication/Action
6/1/21-Karter Booher and Louis Mitchell's last day at Ingersoll Gender Center. The investigation results have not been shared yet, and is still ongoing.
5/27/21-Ingersoll Collective Action learned that Dominique Stephens was appointed interim ED without input from staff. This is after weeks of no response from the Board to direct questions. See our response and call to action here.
4/16/21-On April 16th 2021, remaining Ingersoll staff were informed that two out of three directors (Executive Director Karter Booher and Operations Director Louis Mitchell) will be stepping down from their positions due to “personal reasons.” The investigation is still underway. See the email from the Board here.
4/5/21-The beginning of the two weeks of leave for all staff. The investigation led by Onik'a Gilliam-Cathcart (lawyer retained by Ingersoll Gender Center) was slated to progress during this time. Former staff and current staff are speaking to the investigator.
3/26/21-The Board met with non-director staff to announce all staff members receiving two-weeks PTO starting Friday, 4/3. The investigator hired by Ingersoll will be reaching out to staff during this time. Only questions about logistics were answered, no questions or clarity around the nature of the investigation or our disappointments were responded to. Monisha Harrell, a newly recruited board member, facilitated the discussion.
3/23/21-Ingersoll Collective Action responds to the Board's letter explaining where they are at in the process. We reiterate our demands and ask for transparency in our response. We ask for a response by Friday, March 26th. See our response here.
3/22/21-Board responds to our request for a transparent process. Lacks clarity or purpose. See the board's response here.
3/17/21-Ingersoll Collective Action responds to the public statement by Ingersoll's Board. See our response to the board here.
-The Board releases a public statement in response to the petition. See their response here.
3/15/21-Ingersoll Collective Action releases the Action Network petition.
6/18/20-The first memo created by former and current staff sent to the Board and the directors to address concerns of anti-Blackness in the wake of a wrongful disciplinary action and threats to fire a Black trans staff member.
March 2020-Concerns are shared with Karter about abusive communication from the Program Director after a staff member calls another staff member crying about a meeting that was had. Karter dismisses concerns, particularly the ones around conflict of interest between this staff member and their supervisor the program Director (despite knowing that an abusive friendship existed between these two previous to the Program Directors employment).
Dec 2019-Three BIPOC staff members meet unofficially with Marsha with concerns about Executive Director Karter Booher and their anti blackness, information hoarding, not answering questions or being evasive with questions BIPOC staff ask about their respective programs, randomly changing budgets for a Black Staff member in the middle of planning Ingersoll events with zero explanation, setting unclear expectations and then punishing staff for not meeting unspoken expectations (particularly BIPOC staff), lying, ableism, and failing leadership as a result. We shared that we feared that the issues we were experiencing would only get worse.
Nov 2019-Karter and the Board of Directors Hire Louis as a consultant to help address many of the issues staff had been raising over the past years.

How you can take action:

1. Sign our Action Network Petition.
2. Email the Board in support of our demands. Sample script here.
3. Share our demands, website, and petition on social media and your networks. Download our graphic here.
4. If you are connected to a platform or media outlet, consider elevating our demands.


Statements

Former staff harmed by Ingersoll have written statements detailing their experience. Many of these statements were initially shared in June, when staff urged change in the wake of a Black trans staff member's wrongful disciplinary action and threats to be fired. Since then, change has stalled. Many of these statements are new, as we resolve to interrupt this cycle of harm for good. As a collective, we do not take the experience of reiterating trauma lightly, and hope that these statements push meaningful change.

Mattie Mooney, former Healthcare Access Manager

Kalisto Nanen, former Community Engagement Coordinator

Alphonse Littlejohn, former Community Engagement Manager

Beatrix De La Busy Zoraida Yolande Miguelez, Lead Support Group Facilitator

Vern Harner, former Interim Program Manager & Current Support Group Volunteer

Ebo Barton, former Program Manager

Fox Hampton, former Trans Prisoner Resource and Advocacy Coordinator

Dolly Candy, former Healthcare Access Coordinator

Grayson Crane, former Economic Justice Coordinator

Former Staff Member


Our Supporters

In addition to over 1,000 signatories on our petition, we are grateful for the following organizations and folks who currently support us:

Alphabet Alliance of Color
City of Seattle LGBTQ Commission
Gender Justice League
Pride Foundation
QLaw
QTPOC Birthwerq Project
Queer the Land
raktahcu’ reewaki / Howie Echo-Hawk, recently resigned board member
Seattle Pride
Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network
UTOPIA
Various Medical and Mental Health Providers Associated with Ingersoll Gender Center's Consult Group


CURRENT AND FORMER STAFF CALL OUT ANTI-BLACKNESS AT INGERSOLL GENDER CENTER

South Seattle Emerald, by Mark Van Streefkerk

Ingersoll Gender Center is one of the oldest organizations by and for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming communities in the U.S. Founded in 1977, Ingersoll provides support groups, resources, help with navigating healthcare, employment, and other services, all under the vision of self-determination and collective liberation for transgender people. However, current and former staff members claim the nonprofit has fallen far short of this vision, alleging some Ingersoll board members have demonstrated “intentional, calculated abuse, and anti-Blackness.”


Statement to Press

We are writing to you as the Ingersoll Gender Center Staff Organizing Collective with the hopes that your publication would be interested in working with our collective on an article. Ingersoll Gender Center is one of Seattle’s oldest trans-led organizations, built on supporting the collective liberation of transgender and gender-diverse folks through direct support, referrals, and financial aid. However, as Ingersoll has expanded as an organization over the past several years, many Black trans staff members and BIPOC community members have cited its white-led leadership as a systemic issue and barrier to trans liberation for those most vulnerable in our communities.

On March 15th, two weeks ago, ten out of twelve non-director staff members released an Action Network petition detailing years of workplace abuse and disorganizing, particularly against Black trans workers. In under a week, our petition gathered signatures of support from over one thousand community members and a number of Ingersoll’s partner organizations, including the City of Seattle LGBTQ+ Commission, Pride Foundation, Seattle Pride, and more, have written statements of support refusing to partner with and/or fiscally sponsor Ingersoll until our collective’s demands have been met. The response of Ingersoll’s white-led and majority cisgender board has been one of inaction and lack of transparent communication, to the point that one of the few BIPOC on the board, raktahcu’ reewaki (AKA Howie EchoHawk), has resigned in solidarity with workers.

Our website contains former staff testimonies that range from blatant anti-Blackness, retaliation and intimidation from director-level staff against junior staff for speaking out, sexual harassing comments, and attempts to steal & co-opt the work of Black staff members from the Executive Leadership Team consisting of Karter Booher (Executive Director), Louis Mitchell (Operations Director), and Jonathan (Lee) Williams (Program Director). It is worth noting that every single former staff member has written a testimony attesting to the culture of inequities that exist at Ingersoll, while the majority of the current staff are actively organizing to expose and change this culture that leadership is working to maintain. However, the number of current staff continues to dwindle. During a global pandemic, many have still chosen to speak out and resign from their positions at Ingersoll rather than stay on board at this organization that has disappointed and harmed too many.

Our public organizing has not come about in a vacuum. More and more, BIPOC workers are recognizing their collective power and rising up from under the stronghold of white leadership at non-profits across the region. Workers from the Northwest Network, Seattle Counseling Services, YouthCare, Solid Ground, and other organizations with stated values of community service have been launching campaigns to expose the shortcomings of the nonprofit industrial complex and white leadership. We know that COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequities at organizations across the board, and BIPOC workers are tired of being told we can’t do anything to change our working conditions when actually, we can and we will.

We thank you for your time in reading this and hope to hear back with your interest in collaborating on an article or a referral to other journalists who might be interested.

In solidarity,
Ingersoll Staff Collective Action


Contact Us

We invite and encourage media to reach out to us in an effort to further the platforms of our demands. If you would like to reach us, please email:

[email protected]


Email Template

NOTE: Adding your personal connection or an individualized note to this template will make it stronger. Consider also changing the subject to make it stand out in their inboxes.

TO: [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]

BCC: [email protected]

SUBJECT: I stand with the Black, POC & Disabled Trans Staff & Former Staff at Ingersoll Gender Center.

BODY:

Dear Ingersoll Gender Center Board and Directors,

I am writing to you as a community member.

Now is the time for accomplices & BIPOC organizers and community members specifically to actualize our collective power to protect and stand in solidarity with our community and hold inequitable institutions and the individuals that run them accountable, for the ways that they perpetuate trauma, and abuse on BIPOC workers.

In order to move forward, harm must be addressed. I support the demand for accountability and the following:

1. immediate resignation or firing of the Directors (Karter Booher, Jonathan (Lee) Williams, and Louis Mitchell),
2. a complete re-envisioning of the Board to reflect community, and
3. a solid accountability process to address recent harms and prevent future ones.

I look forward to Ingersoll Gender Center addressing these demands.

Sincerely,
[insert name]


Statements of Support

Howie Echo-Hawk, former board member

In a letter to the board:

I am disappointed in the collective response to concerns and accusations from the staff of an organization that says it is committed to Black liberation, antiracism, and advocacy of trans lives.

As a member of this community, and more specifically as an Indigenous person who holds responsibility to challenge and work to undue institutional racism that continues to harm our community, I cannot continue to remain complicit by remaining a member of this board. The active tools of the oppressor are evident in the ongoing response that has been put forward as of now.

I am resigning my board membership as I strongly believe that currently Ingersoll does not represent the values that I hold, or itself says it holds.

Pride Foundation

to Ingersoll:

"We are writing to notify you, that after being contacted by current and former Ingersoll staff, Pride Foundation is in unwavering solidarity with the demands outlined in their letter. As a longtime partner, we are disheartened to hear of the experiences of all staff at Ingersoll, but especially that of the transgender and gender diverse Black and POC staff members. We know that our world can intentionally be cruel to our QTBIPOC community who are often navigating structural racism, anti-Blackness, transphobia and all the different ways our community member’s identities intersect. Our desire is that organizations like Ingersoll be places where QTBIPOC community members are able to find care, affirmation and empowerment."

Seattle LGBTQ Commission

After hearing and reading many statements from current and former staff, we as a Commission have chosen unanimously to stand with these members of our community and make sure people are held accountable for the harm that is being caused. This harm is a familiar pattern in nonprofits, where Black LGBTQIA+ people are tokenized and pitted against each other by white directors and boards, then silenced and harassed when they advocate for real structural change. We cannot stand idly by as a trans-centered community organization continues to oppress Black, POC, femmes, and disabled members of the trans community. Therefore, the Commission has decided to sign these advocates’ call to action and stand with the list of demands in that letter.

QLaw

QLaw Foundation stands with BIPOC, Disabled Trans and Gender Diverse Non-Director Staff, and other employees of Ingersoll Gender Center who have experienced harm caused by Ingersoll’s management. We are a group of attorneys who have supported trans and nonbinary people with free legal help at Ingersoll’s support group on the first Wednesday of every month since 2015.

Trans Women of Color Solidarity Network

Show solidarity for BIPOC non Director staff and former staff at Ingersoll Gender Center. They have spent over a year trying to address the toxic leadership at Ingersoll to no avail. We know that even our own communities can exploit privilege & power dynamics to cause harm especially within non profits. Let’s do our part in demanding accountability and resolution #ingersollaccountability

See full statement here. (Redirects to Instagram.)

Queer the Land

We stand with those traumatized by the leadership of @ingersollgendercenter This sign on letter is in support of, and solidarity with BIPOC, Disabled Trans and Gender Diverse Non Director Staff at Ingersoll Gender Center; for speaking out against a culture of anti-blackness, ableism, trans misogyny, pervasive paternalism, intimidation, as well as retaliation for exercising their rights to file formal complaints.

See full statement on Instagram here. (Redirects to Instagram.)

Gender Justice League

GJL trusts, believes, and supports Black trans people. Show your solidarity, too, for BIPOC non director staff and former staff at Ingersoll Gender Center by signing and sharing this petition, which comes as the culmination of over a year of their attempts to address toxic leadership at Ingersoll. Even our own communities can exploit privilege and power dynamics to cause harm, especially within nonprofits. Let's do our part in demanding accountability and resolution.

See their post on Instagram here. (Redirects to Instagram.)


March 27, 2021

Hello & Thank You For Your Continued Support!

We recently learned that Dominique Stephens, a cis lesbian woman was named Interim Executive Director of Ingersoll Gender Center (this was NOT disclosed to us by the board, but from an undisclosed 3rd party). The decision to hire this particular person was a surprise to us as we had urged transparency, staff, and, and community involvement in this process as well as the process of finding a permanent Executive Director and continue to receive neither.

Many of us (current and former staff) organized around police violence last summer and engaged informally with the mayors office seeking answers. In the only meeting we attended Dominique (who works for the Mayors Office), defended the racist, actions of police and the Jenny Durkan in deploying violent police actions agains peaceful protestors. Many of these protestors were Trans & Gender Diverse. Dominique also tried to restrict access to Black and Brown queer and trans organizers to keep them out of the meeting space with the Mayor, and shutting the door in the faces of organizers (including a few of our staff members), and holding the door shut. This is not indicative of a leader who cares, understands, supports our community or staff.

We are concerned that this is indicative of a continuing issue at Ingersoll where decisions as to who is hired as staff, or as a board member is determined based on personal friendships of Ingersoll leadership. The good of the org, trans and gender diverse community, and staff has taken a back seat to the friendships held by Ingersoll’s board and leadership. It is this very dynamic that has led us to the inequities currently present at Ingersoll.

Furthermore we feel it inappropriate that despite our urging the mostly cis board to change it’s own composition to reflect the trans community, that instead they have retained mostly cis board seats as well as appointed a cis Interim Executive Director, one that is not particularly liked or trusted within the BIPOC trans community. We question the equitability of a cis person in a leadership position in a Trans by and for organization and the motivations of a cis person who would even ACCEPT such a position knowing that by default they are taking up space that should be reserved for the trans community.

This process has not been conducive to ANY of the stated values or mission of Ingersoll Gender Center, nor is it a show of good faith to us or YOU, the community who is hoping for Ingersoll Gender Center to do the right thing, for once in this process.

It is clear to us that there is an extreme level of detachment and isolation that the board has from the trans community, specifically the BIPOC trans community (as can be expected as most of them are white and/or cis. And do not frequent community events or gatherings to build with the communities they serve outside of their professional capacities.

It appears as if Ingersoll Gender Centers Board is not interested in dismantling the system of inequity it has created and fostered, but perhaps frantically, desperately, and inadvertently recreating it by creating a cushion of comfort for themselves by exploiting their friendships with Black Women ( to run interference on accountability measures.) Black folks are not props, shields, or work horses made to do the work of fixing problems of inequity caused by white leaders; nor are they a bandaid that mitigates the need for white and non black POV to do the hard work of addressing and acknowledging the ways in which they are engaging in anti blackness and a lack of awareness of continued harm.

We are truly heartbroken that this decision was made without the staff or community input (as we believe that such input would vastly skew away from Dominique Stephens as Interim Executive Director of Ingersoll Gender Center). The lack of communication and transparency continues even on the heels of the resignations of Karter Booher and Louis Mitchell and the refusal of Lee Jonathan Williams to resign as Program Director.

We ask your support by encouraging you once again to share your feelings with the board regarding this decision and the continued lack of communication with staff and support group facilitators. We also ask that you BCC [email protected]

We have provided emails below:

[email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected]

In Solidarity,

INGERSOLL COLLECTIVE ACTION


Dear Ingersoll Staff,

We are writing to inform you that Executive Director Karter Booher and Operations Director Louis Mitchell, for personal reasons, have decided to step away from their current positions and have each submitted their resignations with Ingersoll Gender Center.

Their last effective dates with the organization will be Tuesday, June 1st. During this interim time, they will be assisting the Board with administrative transition support and backend knowledge sharing. Both staff members will be on paid time off until Tuesday, May 3rd.

When staff return to work on Monday, April 19th, Ingersoll will set up an interim alternative reporting and support structure to guide you in your work.

If you have any immediate needs or questions, please contact Board Co-Chair, Marsha Botzer at [email protected]

Thank you,
Ingersoll Gender Center Board of Directors

Marsha Botzer
Brandon Chun
Monisha Harrell
Jessica Jones
Kristopher Shultz


My name is Kalisto Nanen, my pronouns are he, ze and they.

I am a former staff member of Ingersoll Gender Center.

In 2019 I was working at another non-profit when I found out that Ingersoll was hiring their first Community Engagement Coordinator to work under their Community Engagement Manager who had been hired a year earlier as Ingersoll’s staff expanded from a volunteer lead organization in the basement of Gay City and before that the little pergola above the Starbuck’s on Capitol Hill, so many locations before that. But I digress. I left a part-time museum position after I was hired on as the Community Engagement Coordinator ready to serve and support my community of transgender peers, friends and those I had yet to know. After a year at Ingersoll, my contract came up for renewal, needless to say if you read the stories in our action network petition, you will learn that it was not. You see, I am autistic, my manager did everything in their power to support me from creating checklists, to having weekly; sometimes bi-weekly meetings and I had a consultant brought in to help.

The consultant that I wanted to help me, was local, but Directors felt it was more beneficial to bring someone in from out of state and at the end of my writing meticulous notes on how I could be supported in my work; there was just not a way to continue to work there with the things in place.

After my contract ended I filed for unemployment on which I still am today, I went back to school in mortuary sciences and now operate as a Death Guide, Funeral Service Intern and Disability Justice Consultant. I can attribute the trauma that I have received in my work to who I am today, but I am here to speak that this is not right. I don’t feel comfortable seeing other people brought in to work in roles that former staff worked in, only to be put on a proverbial merry go round of racism, sexism and internalized anti-blackness.


QLaw Foundation Statement on Legal Services Provided At Ingersoll Support Groups

QLaw Foundation stands with BIPOC, Disabled Trans and Gender Diverse Non-Director Staff, and other employees of Ingersoll Gender Center who have experienced harm caused by Ingersoll’s management. We are a group of attorneys who have supported trans and nonbinary people with free legal help at Ingersoll’s support group on the first Wednesday of every month since 2015.

Since the start of the pandemic, QLaw Foundation has provided our Ingersoll-centered legal support on our own zoom platform. During that time, we have seen the need for legal help increase exponentially, especially around core human needs like housing, health care, and employment. So that trans community members can continue to receive our specialized support, we will continue to make our zoom link available to Ingersoll’s support groups on first Wednesdays, but will also make the link available to any trans support space that requests it for its members. Additionally, those who cannot access us through Ingersoll or other spaces are welcome at our LGBTQ+ Legal Clinic (linked below/in our bio).

We ask Ingersoll’s leadership to take every step possible to remedy the harm staff have experienced so far, and to undergo the systemic changes necessary to prevent such harm from occurring in the future. But, we do so from a place of introspection, acknowledging QLaw Foundation’s own history of being a white-centered, cis-centered, and lawyer-centered organization.

With love and justice,
Denise Diskin
QLaw Foundation Executive Director

Ingersoll Clinic Volunteer Attorneys:
Adrien Leavitt
Ari Robbins
Anya Morgan
Lisa Nowlin

For more information on the solidarity efforts of Ingersoll staff: https://ingersollcollectiveaction.carrd.co/

To make an appointment at our LGBTQ+ Legal Clinic:
https://www.qlawfoundation.org/lgbtq-legal-clinic.html

A statement from the Seattle LGBTQ Commission

Dear Members of the Ingersoll Board:

It has been gut-wrenching and heartbreaking to learn there are advocates in our LGBTQIA+ community that have been harmed by constant abuse while working at Ingersoll Gender Center.

After hearing and reading many statements from current and former staff, we as a Commission have chosen unanimously to stand with these members of our community and make sure people are held accountable for the harm that is being caused. This harm is a familiar pattern in nonprofits, where Black LGBTQIA+ people are tokenized and pitted against each other by white directors and boards, then silenced and harassed when they advocate for real structural change. We cannot stand idly by as a trans-centered community organization continues to oppress Black, POC, femmes, and disabled members of the trans community. Therefore, the Commission has decided to sign these advocates’ call to action and stand with the list of demands in that letter.

Ingersoll’s recent statement about these demands spends more time describing the history of the organization than apologizing for the suffering it has caused. It does not promise any real change or describe any useful details about the supposed investigation. This suggests that the Board sees this issue primarily as a public relations problem, and raises questions about the Board’s willingness and ability to treat it with the seriousness and urgency it deserves.

We request a meeting with the Ingersoll Board of Directors within the next two weeks so that the Board can provide the Commission and the public answers to the following questions:

1. When was the Board first made aware of these claims and/or related issues? When were individual Board members first made aware? What actions were taken in response, and when? And what actions were a result of your own reflections, and what internal work fell on junior staff to bring up or follow through on?

2. What steps have been taken to protect current employees from on-going abuse and from retaliation for speaking out?
---a. Have the accused individuals been removed from positions of authority? If not, when will they be removed?
---b. Have the accused individuals been recused from any involvement in formulating or executing the organization’s response to this letter? If not, when will they be recused?

3. What actions are being taken to dismantle Ingersoll's internal culture of anti-Blackness, white supremacy, and ableism? What is the timeline for those actions? How is the Board addressing the history of harm against Black, POC, and disabled community members? And what actions were a result of your own reflections, and what internal work fell on junior staff to bring up or follow through on?
---a. Who has been brought in to perform an independent investigation? What is the timeline for that investigation? Who will the investigators talk to, and about what topics? Will former and contract staff be asked to give statements about their experiences?
---b. When can we expect a public acknowledgment and apology? When can we expect a public town hall-style meeting discussing Ingersoll’s next steps with the community?
---c. What is the Board’s plan and timeline for incorporating community input and decision-making into all Ingersoll programs and disciplinary actions?
---d. What is the Board’s plan to diversify the Board and make it more representative of the communities Ingersoll serves?
---e. What is the timeline for getting outside HR and editing the employee handbook, and finding outside investigators to look into grievances?
---f. Who will be developing and providing racial and disability justice training for staff and the Board, and how much will they be paid? When can we expect this training to start?

The Commission has begun investigating the funding Ingersoll gets from the City of Seattle and will discuss potential next steps with the Seattle Office of Civil Rights.

Dismantling white supremacy and other systems of oppression is no easy task. To dismantle the anti-Blackness built into the staffing and culture of nonprofits, nonprofits cannot simply employ Black staff. They must implement meaningful structural changes such as those demanded by these current and former Ingersoll staff. The Seattle LGBTQ Commission encourages our community to learn more cultural competence and above all else, cultural humility, and stand in solidarity and accountability with current and former Ingersoll staff in their fight against harmful and traumatizing conditions and the theft and erasure of their contributions.

Signed,
The Seattle LGBTQ Commission
http://www.seattle.gov/lgbtq


As a contracted employee of Ingersoll I have only been employed for about 6 months, Previously I volunteered for over 2 years as a facilitator of the weekly peer support group, by and for the trans and gender diverse community. In 2019 I received recognition for outstanding service to Ingersoll Gender Center and the community. The weekly peer support group has organized for over 47 years to create space and safety for our partners, our friends, our family, and equally as important some often times overlooked ourselves. For some folks it can be the brightest point of their week, a time where they can feel absolutely comfortable, validated, and safe. When I found this group I cried after almost every group because of how lucky I felt to finally have connection and validation.

I could speak on my own experiences with issues and difficulties related to my employment, some of which have left me feeling hopeless, dumbfounded, and useless in my role. Instead I would prefer to use the time and space to speak on what the recent effects and consequences have been to the community that I love and support.

The processes put in place before me, by management have not been followed through on. Leaving volunteer facilitators to stand in as shields and punching bags while community actively tries to engage again and again about issues that hurt them and hurt other community members.

I have spent countless hours listening, supporting, uplifting, and creating space for community not because it looks good on a resume or to one day collect a paycheck, but because the reason I'm still is here to have the opportunity to event write this is precisely as a result of the love, support, and uplifting of MY voice that i have received from community. I won't abandon my community or assist in their silencing because I would be invalidating my own point and it would involve telling myself that it's okay to be treated like this.

I share this because my community has been hurting, I have been hurting, and collectively community has been raising their voices louder and in greater numbers. As we [community members] all hear one another and begin to understand how much of an understatement it is that this is not an isolated incident, the desire and need for transparency in this 'by and for' org is absolutely imperative and vital to it's continued function and delivery of support. In my opinion.

The giants on which shoulders I stand share experiences that are remarkably similar. Staff members former and present have shared experiences that are remarkably similar. I have seen petitions and staff standing up to injustice within this org about the same types of injustices, racism, retribution, and harassment over and over. and each time things seem brushed aside and very briefly if at all addressed. The idea of transparency has never felt so foreign, corrupt, and desired from the community I hear from week in and week out.

Community has continued to ask, and plead, and finally demand that management address specific issues related to internal and external community. The lack of support or follow-through on addresing things compounds into resentment and distrust, and in a community that often feels like we can only trust and rely on one another it becomes absolutely toxic and dysfunctional. Volunteer Community Facilitators have become the shields and punching bags. People have asked why we continue to show up, or why we don't stage a 'walk-out', it's because we are here for the community and we were told that people who are employed and receiving paychecks to handle executive issues would be there to support us when we needed.

We've run on a quarter of the facilitators that we currently have, we've hit the ground running during a global pandemic and expanded our team to offer more support. We've been at our wits end and we've been out spoons more often than we thought possible, but we have continued to show up, for free, for community. I don't think I've ever seen the facilitator base and attendee base as in pain as they have been recently, I've certainly never heard of people wanting to boycott support group that has the sole purpose of being there for community.

I was regularly harassed and abused at the hands of, primarily, the Program Director. The Operations Director is complicit in this by continually having "no findings" and regular victim blaming. The Executive Director just sat by while it all happened. I would take DETAILED notes of all conversations, only to be told the next day that they never said what they said, or did what they did, and that it was "miscommunication." They loved that word more than transgender, I swear. Anytime I asked for accountability, I was told I was in the wrong.

I made a complaint saying that based on actions, language, behavior, I feared I would be written up for unfounded things that actually never happened, or didn't happen the way he claimed it did. THEN this was followed by being called a motherfucker by the Program Director, to which I literally had my jaw on my desk when I told him that the meeting was done because i was not going to be treated that way. He even referred to me as a motherfucker to another staff member!! Some weak/fake ass "interviews" were done, they decided it never happened, and then I got a PIP that if laid side by side to my original complaint, MATCHED UP ALMOST PERFECTLY. Tell me how there were no findings for me but everything in that plan was somehow found true? Tell me how it was written that "disrespectful language had been used on both sides"???? WHAT?! When I mentioned that this was exactly the type of violence other institutions perpetuate towards black trans folks, both the Operations Director and Program Director ACKNOWLEDGED THAT.

I was then told if I didn't agree to sign I would be fired. I signed two documents under duress, but looking back I should have let them fire me.

Every time I asked for help I was turned away. I was told I was either "slowing down work" or outright "refusing to do my job" SO many times, just by asking questions or making SUGGESTIONS. I could get cussed at for literally just making a suggestion. I was constantly painted as this manipulative person trying to rally direct service staff against the directors, when in FACT I went a LONG time without saying anything because I didn't want it to affect my colleagues relationships. I eventually had to disclose things to the coordinator I supervised because the Program Director was withholding information or constantly trying to block the work TRYING to be done.

Unsurprisingly, they could NOT wrap their head around the fact that other staff had their OWN negative experiences with these SAME STAFF MEMBERS, so it was easier to blame me, always.

During the riots, folks were encouraged to participate if they wanted to. My 2nd write up listed that I was refusing to do my job because I ASKED if the Program Director could start (not lead, literally press start on Zoom) support group on the off hand chance I got arrested. Just for asking, I got written up. This happened to no one else, quite a few actually did participate that day and I did not!

If the Program Director dropped out of something MINUTES before it happened, I was left to carry the weight. He apparantly "feared for his safety" so he couldn't get on a the same ZOOM call as me, LMAO.

I was told my job was to do whatever he told me to, and this was following the start of the PANDEMIC where the ONLY person asked to regularly go to the office was ME - TO MAKE FUCKING MAILING LABELS. It took a month+ to get things to come to me directly, and that was only after I called some other people we were partnering with - only to find out that all the info I was given was wrong. My health and safety was never a concern, but the Directors always find a way to take a day off.

My first write up interestingly followed immediately after I filed a complaint on behalf of all BIPOC staff, about the ED, Karter Booher. How unsurprising that the HR person on the board found "no findings" of any of the issues brought forth, and then acted SHOCKED to find out the abuse continued and only got worse with time.

By the time I left Ingersoll in July 2020, I was developing drinking problems (I really don't care to drink) because I felt like I had to COPE DAILY in order to withstand the forthcoming abuse. And it always came. I decided I'd rather be out of a toxic place then DEAD, so I left. My hope was that whoever filled my spot would NOT get the harassment and silence like I often received, my hope was that with a new person, the work that the community DESPERATELY NEEDS would be done without further inhibiting. Nope.

Im thankful for the community I got to serve and meet along the way, but I couldn't show up authentically so I had to leave, for my safety and well being. I risked being unemployed, without health insurance, without stable housing or food security DURING A PANDEMIC to save my own life.

Let me not forget that the rest of staff was deeply involved in the hiring of all staff EXCEPT the Program Director and Operations Director. Wonder why.

That's fucked up, and so is the leadership at Ingersoll Gender Center. I hope Ingersoll can one day actually be about what they say they about. But im not holding my breath. I'm thankful that since escaping, I can ACTUALLY do work for my community without my life and sanity being jeopardized, while feeling SUPPORTED AND VALUED, and not just for the work I do for others.

God, I'm so thankful that I'm no longer the one that is asked to do meaningless petty work, like print something for them, or be the one to have to deescalate ALL issues in the office, or be the one expected to do the heavy lifting.

I love black trans folk, Ingersoll Gender Center does not. 🖤 Thank you for supporting me when I was at my lowest, Mattie Mooney, so happy you and Elle also made your escape.

P.S. You can be black and still be anti-black at the same time - some folks apparantly haven't gotten the message.

I encourage you to look into the stories of other black staff as well, including the ones fired and let go on some BS!


My name is Mattie Mooney and I am a former employee of Ingersoll Gender Center. While I absolutely champion the revolutionary work that my colleagues & former coworkers do at Ingersoll Gender Center, myself and other former and current staff have long been concerned with the rampant Antiblackness rooted in the lack of self awareness and lack of commitment to active anti racism of the Board and Executive Director. We have also raised concerns regarding, trans misogyny, and sexual harassing statements, racially biased statements and behavior, name calling, yelling, intimidation and retaliation to name a few. But our concerns fell on ears that we’re not willing to listen and act on the issues we raised. Many of our concerns were shared with Marsha Botzer in 2019 as myself and 3 other staff member sat pouring our hearts out to her in a meeting at Capitol Cider. We told her that we feared it would only get worse, AND it did. We thought that leadership on the board had our backs but we quickly learned that there was more of a concern with protecting the image of the organization and Karter the Executive Director.

When I was hired 4 years ago this month, at Ingersoll gender center, one of the things shared with me was that Ingersoll was wanting to shed it’s history of harm to BIPOC trans communities and that started with hiring and supporting a more diverse staff who could inform the work. One of the questions that they asked me was “How would I deal with white shenanigans and racism on the job” I shared that I had never been given the expectation of safety at a work place to do so and that I had always been expected to silently endure any type of oppression I faced in the work place but if Ingersoll was giving me the space and safety I would absolutely challenge these systems and behaviors at work and in my community. Here I am 4 years later having been punished for the exact thing that was encouraged in my job interview all those years ago.

I am here asking for community support not in villanizing or making character judgements about those involved but in utilizing our collective power as a community that is often tasked with taking care of itself to hold not just people but an institution accountable for allowing harmful and abusive behaviors to persist. For punishing the very same community that they encourage to fight against oppression. For blaming and shaming victims of this dynamic and for not acknowledging the privilege and abuse of power of those involved.

When we take action as a community to not only support one another but to also protect one another we tell those experiencing the same thing that we got you and you aren’t alone. We make it easier for those experiencing harm at the institutions that they trusted that its ok to share your experience, and we make it harder for those. institutions to continue to subject people to abuse and trauma in the work place. What we are asking of you, is solidarity. It’s something we often talk about in community organizing and panels, and meetings but something that many of us fall short of when it means the most. Let’s change that starting today.

We’re asking that YOU demand, transparency regarding the investigation process (who is investigating, what are they investigating, will they be talking to current AND former staff about their experiences, will they be investigating the claims made in the demand letter like we hope? We’re asking that YOU demand an acknowledgement of harm.

The Ingersoll Gender Center Current and Former Staff Collective Action,

We demand that partner collectives, organizations, funders, and individuals refuse to work with or partner with Ingersoll Gender Center UNLESS and UNTIL they publicly acknowledge and address the harm perpetrated against Black Trans former staff as well as publicly & privately make a mends for the harm that they've caused.

This looks like:

Acknowledging that we shared with the board in a meeting what was going on and they did NOTHING to act on our concerns. As well as a public apology for failing to act.Being transparent about the intent and goals of this investigation. And whether both current and past staff will have an opportunity to share their experiences and evidence collected of how they were being treatedAsking for the resignations of the Executive Director, the Program Director and the Operations Director specifically for sexually harassing statements towards a black trans woman, for a history and pattern of anti blackness and treating Black staff differently than white and POC staff and rewarding complicit white and poc staff with promotions while intimidating other poc staff by sharing that promotion is contingent on being complicit in harm, for retaliation for filing grievances, and for stating that Black staff is being treated differently. For blatant ableism.
Make note that these complaints, and issues AREN’T arising from one or two staff members, these complaints and issues have come from 98% of current and all former staff members. These aren’t issues that are new to Ingersoll, these are issues that we’ve raised for at least 2 years without resolution.

At the end of the day we all got into this work to do right by our communities, to protect our communities, to honor and support our communities. We are pleading with you to do what is right, and stand by us.


Over the past ~5 years, I've been involved with Ingersoll Gender Center in a couple of capacities - mostly as a volunteer peer support group facilitator, but also as interim program coordinator for 3 months in 2018. I've watched this organization hire its first paid staff and grow into an organization with multiple programs. I've also watched a pattern and cycle of mistreatment of Black employees (specifically those who are not binary men).

The trans community cannot be separated from Black activism and communities. We cannot ask individuals to leave parts of themselves at the door in order to maintain the status quo and serve white agendas and needs.

At the very least, they have been held back from performing their job duties; at the worst, they have been gaslit, sexually harassed, thrown under the bus, and tokenized before being discarded as employees. While the support group, which is what I have been involved with in all my capacities at Ingersoll, is largely separate from the other programs and organizations now, we are still an arm of this larger org and can't be easily untangled from the abuses happening in the Ingersoll offices.

Many of us have tried to address this cycle of mistreatment quietly and "in-house" -- Ingersoll does provide support to many in the trans community here, and none of us want those resources that have been able to be accessed through grants and infrastructure to dissolve...but because this has been an ongoing and escalating pattern, it is now necessary to attempt to address things in a different way. Writing letters and having conversations with staff hasn't resulted in any change. Paying employees a living wage that cannot be easily accessed elsewhere, while you continue to enact harm and abuse on them, is just not acceptable. An opaque "accountability process" that does not result in any substantive changes is not acceptable.

I 100% believe and want to amplify the experiences and demands of former staff who are coming forward...as well as those who are silent. As they are saying, This has not been a one-off experience, but a consistent pattern. As a community, we can do better and we deserve better. We need to protect and believe individuals over organizations.


To the Board of Directors and the Executive Director of Ingersoll Gender Center,

I worked at Ingersoll Gender Center as the Healthcare Access Coordinator from May 2019 to December 2019. I am writing this letter as a white trans woman who is indebted to the work and labor of Black trans women such as Marsha P. Johnson who have come before me, and Black trans friends and activists such as Mattie Mooney, Fox Hampton, Ellison Jennings, and Alphonse Littlejohn. I am grateful for the opportunity to support my Black former coworkers, who, despite dealing with systemic oppression and racism in and out of the workplace, have amazed me with their tenacity, work ethic, care, and thoughtfulness day in and day out. I am hopeful that sharing my experiences and understanding of dynamics during my time at Ingersoll, will help to shed light on and encourage the Board of Directors to deal with these issues of anti-blackness and organizational racism accordingly. I believe in the mission and project of Ingersoll Gender Center. Through the organization I have been helped out of homelessness, have been provided a job, and have found community. But If the roots are poisoned— the tree will eventually wither and fall. I am grateful, but see a deep need for change from within.

Shortly after I was hired at Ingersoll, my colleague, Fox Hampton, was fired because of a speech he gave at a prison that was deemed too inflammatory, by the warden, Karter, and the Ingersoll Board of Directors. I learned that there had been minimal guidelines or vetting of Fox’s speech by his direct supervisor or by Karter. This illustrates a problem that is consistent of upper management at Ingersoll: a basic lack of communication or clear guidelines for staff. This lack of clear communication leads to a cycle of staff not knowing what is expected of them, and then being punished or even terminated after having made a “mistake.” These “mistakes,” however, become inevitable if the guidelines were never communicated. When we were informed at the staff meeting of Fox’s termination, we were encouraged to ask upper management any questions or concerns that we may have. However, most of the questions I heard were responded to with a non-answer, or with something along the lines of “we cannot disclose that information at this time due to [insert answer here].” I also witnessed an extreme defensiveness on the part of Karter and the former Economic Justice Manager Leo Segovia when asked any questions about the situation. Although there was a claim of transparency and openness to questions, it didn’t felt like a reality. I observed my Black coworkers make comments or ask questions that were seemingly unheard or ignored by Karter. In fact, I often witnessed a Black coworker share a concern that was immediately dismissed by Karter; and when a white or non-black POC person expressed the same concern, it would be taken more seriously. These interactions would happen during our weekly check-ins, during smaller group meetings with Karter, and also during weekly program manager meetings, as I later was told. The incident with Fox Hampton, a termination i believe was made too swiftly and without the support of Black management or the third party organization that provided the position, could have been avoided if there had been better communication and standards set out by Fox’s supervisors. His firing felt like a solution to a problem that wasn’t his.

I saw my own manager, Mattie Mooney, being tokenized by the organization, but not be given any true autonomy—instead they were scapegoated by Karter and required to answer to concerns, frustrations, and critiqes of the policies which they did not create made by community members and other organizations. I observed a system of Karter creating policies in a vacuum, with little consideration for the thoughts of Black management and coordinators—these same Black managers and coordinators were then required to carry out these policies. In some instances, plans would be finalized and implemented despite Black staff advising that the plans be adjusted. When those policies were critiqued, Karter would defer the critiques to Black managers—not taking responsibility, but placing the onus on the “figureheads” falsely advertised to be Black management. I would also like to point out that the then-Community Engagement Manager, Alphonse Littlejohn, was constantly in the position of liaison between Black community members and Black-run community organizations and Karter. He was expected to defend policies he was not in charge of, defend the actions of the Executive Director, even when he disagreed with those actions. He was put in this position to make the organization seem Black lead—but Al never had the wheel. Al has continued to be scapegoated and slowly pushed out of the organization which started with Al filing a formal grievance against the Executive Director, Karter, last year.

Finally, during my tenure at Ingersoll I formed a great personal friendship with Ellison Jennings. I have seen her do more work that truly helps her community than I can say of most- work that felt way above her pay grade, and work that made more trans people feel helped, understood, loved, and appreciated than I can count or imagine. The way I was treated at Ingersoll was extremely different than Ellison was treated. Ellison was consistently put into work situations I feel were inappropriate for a coordinator—namely having too much on her plate, having to deal with community members face-to-face without any real support from her then-manager, and having to hold herself up to a higher standard placed on her alone. In fact, there was a specific incident in which we both had “excessive tardiness” or “break taking” and she was written up—I was not. Same infraction, different results. Break time disputes are a small example of rules being unclear, ineffectively communicated, or straight-up different depending who you are in the company; but they are an example of a widespread problem with upper management at Ingersoll placating an idea of openness but using this “openness” as a loophole to punish folks after the fact.

Ultimately, I decided to end my time at Ingersoll after months of deteriorating mental health due to structural work place stress and burn out. Due to the system in place, my workload seemed to become more about making sure I hit the numbers. With an increasing workload and, in time, learning more about how the organization was running, I found it difficult to continue. I make these observations in the hopes that they will contribute to serious and needed change in an organization that is extremely close to my heart. I am available and willing to talk more about anything I have stated in this open letter, or answer any more questions if needed. I am in full support of the staff who are now working to advocate for themselves and for future employees at Ingersoll. They need to be listened to.

In community,
Dolly Candy


To Whom it May Concern,

I started at Ingersoll in April 2019 and was fired July 2019. I was hired as the Trans Prisoner Resource and Advocacy Coordinator, the first of my position.

Ingersoll was unprepared to support me in my position. I spent a portion of each of my weekly check ins with my manager clarifying how much time I should be spending on each project as there was minimal structure around the Trans Prisoner Coalition. I was also expected to give a speech in Monroe prison with no direction or guidance. There was also no support around what it would be like for me, a Black queer trans masculine person, going into a prison and around armed guards.

Instead of practicing transformative justice and figuring out a way for me to keep my position, even if in a reduced capacity, Ingersoll restored to the norm of white supremacist punitive measures and fired me, which included taking my bus pass day of stranding me on Capital Hill. Through all of this, information directly pertaining to my life and ability to continue to do prisoner support was kept from me and I am still in the dark to this day about my status with the Department of Corrections and how to go about finding out and have restored to using an alias to protect my incarcerated peers.

I later found out that the Executive Director spoke to the board about my employment which I find to be infuriating as I was never given a chance to advocate for myself or to explain what caused my misstep in words.

To add salt to the wound I was fired in a Cupcake Royale and had to have a friend and current employee of Ingersoll return my things, that friend was later punished for returning my things. Ingersoll has a history, from conception it seems, of neglect and harm to Black trans people all while claiming to center us and other trans people of color in grants. I ask what has Ingersoll Gender Center done for Black lives?


July 7, 2020

Dear Ingersoll Staff and Directors,

I’m writing this letter from a place of love and compassion in support of the collective demands being made by current Ingersoll staff. As someone who still has many relationships at Ingersoll, I want this letter to be an opening for continued dialogue, should folks want to reach out.

In my time at Ingersoll I observed systemic issues around anti-blackness, sexism, and racial bias that manifested in schisms between Karter and others, and at times in our own working relationship. While I had ongoing conversations with Karter that they engaged in to illuminate how their behavior and decision making was impacting others, I anticipated more direct and immediate action from them and the Ingersoll Board to address similar concerns from other staff members. Specifically through: intervention, training, and additional independent mediation opportunities.

The fact that this retreat is happening so far into 2020 when it was scheduled for 2019 speaks to the ways that these concerns have been prioritized (or not). In my conversation with Louis, Lee, and Karter, it was stated that due to COVID-19 and on boarding of new staff, the retreat had to be postponed. Anti- racist practices and reflection on racial dynamics in a workplace should never have to be re-prioritized, especially based on the values stated by Ingersoll. As an employer who actively recruits within communities of color, it is at best tokenizing and at worst traumatizing to ignore staff feedback around oppressive work dynamics and to deflect responsibility to act and engage in difficult conversations to come to meaningful resolutions that challenge one’s conditioning as a person living in a white supremacist culture. I don’t believe that this behavior is coming from a malicious place, however those who experience it daily know that racism can manifest itself in different ways that are nevertheless harmful. I also believe that everyone has the capacity to learn, change, and grow— even as an institution, Ingersoll has exemplified this learning and shifting through its expansion into what it is now.

There were and still are a number of concerns around the leadership, and the opaqueness around decision making and personnel policies. The current staff worked hard to create solutions to the problems they see in their demand letter. By implementing these changes into practice and acknowledging leadership’s role in creating an onerous work environment for black and brown staff, there will be opportunities to repair the necessary relationships needed between leadership and staff to create greater working conditions for everyone. I hope that this retreat can be a starting point for that change and that Ingersoll can be a luminary in providing a workplace for emerging Black Trans leadership to develop and truly thrive.

Best,
[redacted]


June 25, 2020

To Whom It May Concern,

My name is Ebo Barton and I am the former Program Manager at Ingersoll and was employed there from January 2019 - May 2019. In my resignation, I said that I was leaving due to my struggling mental health and to pursue my artistic endeavors. However, much of the struggle I was dealing with had to do with the lack of accountability and lack of support from my supervisor as well as the organization regarding my working relationship with Kyle (the lead support group facilitator). It seems that there was a known issue with Kyle and some of the way he navigates life and being part of the organization. Being a stealth white man in the world, this always rubbed me the wrong way, but because my livelihood depended on this job, I moved through this. Kyle very much thought he was my supervisor and expressed that he was frustrated with my lack of communication with him several times. I was told he was not my supervisor. I think that putting me in the middle without giving knowledge with Kyle was concerning. This all came to a head when Kyle was facilitating and I being in the room observed how a participant made a racist remark about Black men. Because of the fragile relationship between myself and Kyle, I did not intervene and observed as a Black person in the group became uncomfortable as I myself became uncomfortable. When I brought it to the attention of Karter, it suddenly transformed into the underlying issue (still unnamed or acknowledged) between Kyle and Karter.

Kyle also proceeded to use this incident as a “learning opportunity” in the facilitator meeting and when I tried to share my knowledge (as a Black person) by saying, “that remarks like this are why Black people are disproportionately killed by police and other people which is similar to why trans people are killed” (which is a fact); Kyle was quick to dismiss my comment because it was “insensitive and dangerous for suicidal people in the room” which completely erases the experiences of the Black people (which included myself) in the room. The argument between Kyle and Karter became about their issue with each other and Kyle stepped down. Within this, I was harmed, it was not acknowledged and because of the larger argument between Karter and Kyle, I was in a position to support Karter because of harmful things that Kyle said to them in the argument. I had no idea how to ask for acknowledgement in this incident as I didn’t have any allies. There were many other microaggressions and easily overlooked things like when we moved offices, I felt responsible for a lot of physical labor, like assembling furniture, moving furniture around the new office and cleaning up both the old office as well as the new one while also still trying to do my job. This felt misaligned but as someone who was new to just growing org, but felt inappropriate as the only POC person on staff. It was very clear that I did not feel like I had an ally in the organization and slowly my mental health suffered more and more. I began to avoid work tasks and not be available for my newly hired co-workers. I felt scared to speak up because I would not be supported, confused and ignored. It became clear to me that the pattern of organizations hiring Black folks with social capital in their target communities to gain credibility was all that I was there to do. I resigned as soon as I could.

I am writing this letter in support of the Black-identified staff at Ingersoll. I had no intention on revisiting this, until I was told that other harmful behaviors were impacting Black staff.

Sincerely,
Ebo Barton


Jun 30, 2020

Dear Ingersoll Board and Staff,

I am writing in support of current staff efforts to address racism and inequity within Ingersoll. I write this as Ingersoll’s former Economic Justice Coordinator/Manager, Resource Guide Coordinator, and consultant working to provide support to incarcerated community members. I worked at Ingersoll from March 2018 to October 2019, and continued my role as a consultant until March 2020. I also write this as someone who has worked on, experienced, and deeply believes in Ingersoll’s mission, work, and transformative possibilities.

While working at Ingersoll, I witnessed the organization hire a significant number of black people in leadership and entry level roles. This was exciting and encouraging to see staff represent the diversity of our communities. Reflecting on my time working at Ingersoll, (specifically when I was a full-time employee), my black co-workers had less access to support, tenser work place relationships, and were often asked to do additional work labor and emotional labor around racism at Ingersoll and within the community.

In regard to the above statement, I observed the following during my time at Ingersoll:

- Indirect and/or not addressing organizational and community racism
I was encouraged by the direct conversation and interview questions in the hiring process about racism in the trans community. However, I did not see that conversation continue deliberately on an organizational level. After working at Ingersoll for 6 to 9 months, I brought up concerns around what the organization was doing to address racism, whiteness, and white supremacy to my supervisor, Karter Booher. I was told that we would address this in the upcoming year (2020), and that we did not have a specific plan in place.

In 2020, I transitioned out of my full time work at Ingersoll, I’m not sure how this conversation or plan continued. What I did see was more hiring and expanding of programs, without a lot of conversation with staff about the bigger picture. The main mechanism to communicate with staff, the weekly staff meeting, was agenda driven and used for updates, general announcements, and not as a time for process or vision checking. Because of my internal role shift in the organization, I felt that I was missing some information. However, it made me uneasy to see the organization expand, bring on new staff (particularly black staff), and add new contracts and grants, when we hadn’t had clear conversations about how we were supporting existing staff, addressing racism and what the overall vision around expanding our programming was.

- Program Manager/Community Engagement Position
Shortly after starting my role, our Program Manager, Ebo Barton, resigned. I wasn’t clear on why they resigned, and understand that personal/legal boundaries make sharing information complicated or off limits. However, it did seem that the Ebo’s front facing position exposed them to significant external (community) racism and internal (organizational) racism. From observation, this role ended up picking up a lot of extra work duties, worked a significant number of abnormal hours, and did most of the event and support group emotional labor. They were one of the front facing people of color at Ingersoll during at time when the organization was visibly pivoting and working on its history of racism.

I observed this continue for Alphonse, and this role bore the brunt of the emotional labor in addressing racism. From the outside, it seemed like this was a part of why the organization had turn over in this position. It concerned me, and I remember voicing that concern. Specifically, it concerned me that we did not re-structure or pause to consider why this position hadn’t worked before hiring another black trans person. It seemed like the same struggles continued
for Alphonse Littlejohn, who was hired for this role.

- Work assignments without clear support or outcome
There were times when work, and work outcomes were expected of staff that were unclear or beyond the scope of our ability. One specific example was around creating work plans—this task required a significant amount of time documenting program tasks, objectives, goals and visioning the future of our programs for the next year. This task was assigned at a time when coordinators were transitioning to managers and being asked to take on more leadership for the first time. The work plan was introduced to me as an important map for the first year of our work as managers and an accountability tool for our work in community.

I struggled with completing this task, and pushed through it to the best of my ability. I observed that my black co-workers were also struggling to complete their work plans. This task was presented as a draft for us to complete and review with our supervisor, Karter Booher.
However, given the dynamics of racism and work place trauma, it makes sense to me that my black co-workers were not as willing to take a risk in drafting a complete work plan for the upcoming year with limited feedback. It seemed like our supervisor, Karter Booher, was unable to see or hear that support was needed to complete this task.

- Tense work place relationships and office culture
During my time working at Ingersoll, I noticed that generally the culture of the office was increasingly tense between Karter and black Program Managers. It seemed like there were expectations from Karter that were not being met, and were not being communicated directly to black co-workers. As a result, it then seemed like black staff were unable to get the support they needed. I did not feel this way in my relationship with Karter in time as the Economic Justice Manager.

I am happy to elaborate more if need be. I know from what I experienced while working at Ingersoll, that the work the organization does is important and authentic. And I also know from my work and time at Ingersoll that racism exists there and manifests in work place relationships and in the support offered to black employees.

Thank you,
Grayson Crane


TO: Marsha Botzer Ingersoll Board Co-Chair
Jodi O’Brien, Ingersoll Board Co-Chair
Karter Booher, Ingersoll Executive Director
FROM: Jeremiah J. Allen, Director of Programs
Katie Carter, CEO
DATE: March 18, 2021
SUBJECT: Ingersoll Staff and Former Staff Demand Letter

We are writing to notify you, that after being contacted by current and former Ingersoll staff, Pride Foundation is in unwavering solidarity with the demands outlined in their letter. As a longtime partner, we are disheartened to hear of the experiences of all staff at Ingersoll, but especially that of the transgender and gender diverse Black and POC staff members. We know that our world can intentionally be cruel to our QTBIPOC community who are often navigating structural racism, anti-Blackness, transphobia and all the different ways our community member’s identities intersect. Our desire is that organizations like Ingersoll be places where QTBIPOC community members are able to find care, affirmation and empowerment.

For transparency, this is not the first time Pride Foundation has been contacted about the treatment of staff and a call for accountability. Early last year several staff wrote a letter asking organizations to sign on. Regrettably, at the time we did not feel Pride Foundation had established relationships with organizations that positioned us to request accountability, especially because Pride Foundation also has a history of not being fully accountable to all of our communities, especially QTBIPOC community members. In recent years we have intentionally worked to embed anti-Blackness principles in all of our work internally and externally, and while we have a lot more learning and growing to do, we don’t believe that should stop us from supporting BIPOC staff at Ingersoll, in fact it compels us.

Part of our intention to get clear about our values and the relationships we want to build with our community partners is outlined in our updated grant agreement. Ingersoll’s signed 2020 grant agreement is attached. We specifically wanted to point out two of the mutual agreements that we believe the environment at Ingersoll, as outlined by current and past staff, fails to uphold:

-Be proactive in our commitments and learnings to become anti-racist and anti-oppressive organizations.

-Acknowledge and apologize when there is harm, regardless of intent.

Current and former staff at Ingersoll have made the following request of the community:
** We demand that partner collectives, organizations, and individuals refuse to work with or partner with Ingersoll Gender Center UNLESS and UNTIL they publicly acknowledge and address the harm perpetrated against Black Trans former staff as well as publicly & privately
make amends for the harm that they've caused.

Because of our commitment to become anti-racist and anti-oppressive and in-line with the request by current and former Ingersoll staff, Pride Foundation will not participate in any coalitions led by Ingersoll. Until Ingersoll has meaningfully acknowledged and addressed the harm that has been thoroughly described by current and former staff, Ingersoll will not be invited to apply for future funding as this is a form of partnership.

We want you to know that a lot of thought, care, and intention has gone into this decision to directly take a stance and support current and former staff this way. We truly believe that requesting accountability, transparency, and a restorative process is rooted in grace and care, and the deep belief that individuals and organizations have the capacity to do better. We believe that can happen by addressing the demands outlined by current and former staff that have been harmed by Ingersoll Gender Center.

Please know that Pride Foundation deeply cares about the wellbeing of our whole community, including all that are involved with Ingersoll. We are open to engaging in thoughtful conversations about how we came to this decision, but only as it pertains to our grant agreement and organizational values.

In Solidarity,

Jeremiah J. Allen
Director of Programs

Katie Carter
CEO


From: <[email protected]>
Date: Mon, Mar 22, 2021 at 10:52 AM
Subject: Message from Ingersoll Board

Hello Ingersoll Gender Center Staff:
Thank you for raising these concerns. To continue our efforts in being responsive to the many requests of you and community, the Ingersoll Board has asked Onik’a Gilliam-Cathcart of Helsell Fetterman, to conduct an independent review and investigation into the various claims brought to the Board’s attention, including those recently posted through a petition on The Action Network.

Because of the number of claims and complexity, this independent investigation may take several weeks. We will do our best to keep you apprised of timelines and outcomes. In this regard, please know that Onik’a Gilliam-Cathcart will be reaching out to you directly to schedule a time to talk - should you wish to do so. We encourage all of you to please share your perspectives and what you know so we all have a full and best understanding of what has been occurring at Ingersoll. Also, Ingersoll affirms that there will be no retaliation for meeting with or talking to the independent investigator. After we have received their report and recommendations, we will report back on a more comprehensive list of planned actions to address your concerns.

As a Board, we apologize that this formal investigation did not occur sooner. We had understood significant actions were being taken with work in progress to address most issues from 2020.

In addition, the Ingersoll Board wishes to affirm that ChrisTiana Obey-Sumner with Epiphanies of Equity will be available to and regularly meeting with staff to help us build our internal anti-racist workplace culture and communications and providing anti-racism training. ChrisTiana is a thoughtful and experienced consultant focusing on diversity, inclusion, and matters of social justice.

If you have any questions, please reach out to the Board Chairs.
Thank you again for your time and raising your concerns.

The Board of Ingersoll Gender Center
Marsha Botzer
Jodi O’Brien


Ingersoll Board of Directors:

We continue to be let down and underwhelmed by the responses that we receive from the board. These continue to illustrate why it is difficult to trust the word of the board or the board's ability to understand our frustration. They also illustrate the general lack of respect that is held for staff whether past, present, or contract, when we have been the folks on the ground helping to carry forward the work of supporting our community at Ingersoll Gender Center. We are also saddened that the same apology you offered as a board in your response regarding the lack of inaction has STILL not been offered to Ellison, Mattie, Alphonse, or any other the other staff members the most harmed by your inaction, including some of the contract staff that you willfully left out of this communication.

Why were the contracted staff left out of your response we received yesterday?

With the overwhelming number of statements we have shared from current and past staff, we are wondering why the response is an investigation first, rather than the board recognizing the harm that has been clearly demonstrated, & holding current leadership accountable.

While we welcome an investigation, it does not make sense to subject current staff to the same environment that has allowed these harms to go unchecked and unaddressed. It is not in the best interest of staff to have Karter Booher, Jonathan Lee Williams, or Louis Mitchell actively in positions to continue to harm staff.

This message and previous messages also have not addressed possible consequences when the board’s investigation is complete. What does accountability look like to the board of Ingersoll Gender Center? Will former & contract staff members ALSO be included in this investigation?

We have also been made aware that one of the few trans and non-white people on the board has resigned due to the inaction of the board regarding these issues and their desire to not be complicit in the perpetuation of this harm. It is not lost on us the impact of a group of primarily white, cis people refusing to believe us about the harms that have occurred over the last two years. It is also not lost on us the level of institutional protection and (by the mostly white cis Board) consistently offered to Karter Booher who has perhaps done the most harm in creating and allowing these toxic dynamics to persist throughout their employment as Executive Director.

It would be helpful for the board to address all of the questions that we have outlined in this letter as well as the last letter we sent. We continue to implore the board to take these issues seriously and show us the ways in which you will live up to the values Ingersoll purports to have. Unfortunately, we have not seen it, former staff have not seen it, and our community has not seen it, if the comments on the board's statement via social media and the over 1000 signatures to our demand letter are any indication.

We are deeply heartbroken that an organization that we so fervently believed in has let not only us, but community down in this way.

We expect a response from the board by Friday 3/26/21 at 3:00pm.

Sincerely,
Ingersoll Current & Former Staff Collective Action


Hello,

In response to Karter’s email and the statement from the Board today, we, current and former staff, have some immediate questions about this statement and actions that are being taken:

Last year, staff put a great amount of labor into an internal call-in and the Board took absolutely no action and in fact admitted to not really having a process to hold Karter accountable. We would like to know what the Board is doing differently at this point? We would also like to know why it took this going public to act on the complaints and grievances of staff?

Will the Board and this investigator be speaking with all current and former staff and collecting testimony regarding ALL complaints and grievances listed in our public demand letter as well as any internal complaints not listed? Or is this investigation specifically regarding the formal complaint of one recently exited staff member?

Can you all define or clarify the goal and purpose of this "professional investigation"?

Will this be a highly transparent investigative process? Because we have reason to not have good faith in your ability to respond appropriately or act without moving to protect the org as opposed to those harmed. What will be different here?

Will the Board be offering an apology regarding the disregard of these claims previously? We absolutely demand an apology for the lack of action on your part as the Board.

Is ChrisTiana ObeySumner a part of this process? One week ago, staff spent a significant amount of time speaking with them and we have not received follow up from leadership on that conversation.

What is being done to ensure further harms will not be caused while this professional investigation takes place?

Considering your statement regarding Ingersoll’s “commitment” to Black Liberation (which we have seen to be absolutely false & in real time at that) can the Board explain what it is doing to be actively anti racist in situations like these? How has the Board shown up for Black staff who shared complaints of harm? How has the Board acted to take their complaints seriously in the past 2 years? How has the Board shown that it doesn’t tolerate anti Blackness, and that it is committed to trusting and believing Black Trans folks many of which are the MOST marginalized within the Trans community? How has the Board accepted responsibility for anti Blackness at the organization? Has the Board offered an apology to Black staff members harmed? What actions has the board taken with its own staff to prove its stance of being invested in the liberation of trans people “especially” Black folks. What in particular makes or has made the Board “especially” invested? How does pushing out Black trans femme and Black non binary staff in the middle of a pandemic show Ingersoll’s commitment to Black trans liberation? How does punishing Black staff for speaking out against mistreatment as well as punishing those who have experienced and witnessed the same or similar mistreatment, and those who stand in solidarity with BIPOC staff at Ingersoll show this illusive commitment?

We expect a trauma informed response to these questions that indicates thoughtful reflection, honesty, commitment to accountability and antiracism by noon on Monday 22nd, 2021.

Our demands and list of harms for reference: tinyurl.com/IngersollAccountability

Sincerely,
Ingersoll Collective Staff Action


Ingersoll Gender Center Board of Directors Statement, March 17 2021

The Ingersoll Gender Center Board of Directors is aware of the accusations of misconduct that have been made regarding the organization. We take these issues very seriously and have authorized a complete professional investigation into all matters. The investment the community has made in Ingersoll and the liberation of all trans people, especially and including Black trans people, is central to our work—and we remain committed to holding ourselves and the organization accountable to the highest standards of service.

Ingersoll, founded in 1977, is a community-based support organization for the transgender community. We have grown from our very humble beginnings as a local peer support group to now including services for health care and policy advocacy. We value the over four decades of work that has been put in by our volunteers, staff, and donors. We are committed to honoring their legacy by ensuring we live up to our vision of “a world that nurtures healthy communities free from violence, centers self-determination for all people, and celebrates all gender identities and expressions”.

We thank the community for its 44 years of investment in Ingersoll Gender Center. We stand on the shoulders of giants in this work and are committed to accountability at every level of the organization.


In addition, see Ingersoll Gender Center fail to respond to any of the community's questions in the comments of their Instagram post here.