About

Founded and led by Trans and gender nonconforming people and our allies, we create safe and transformative spaces where members of our community can heal—physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—from the trauma arising from generations of transphobia, racism, sexism, poverty, ableism and violence, and nurture them into tomorrow’s leaders. We currently primarily focus on supporting and nurturing the leadership of Transgender women of color living in the U.S. South.

Staff

Miss Major
Founder & Executive Director, all pronouns

Miss Major is a veteran of the historic “Stonewall Rebellion” and a survivor of Attica State Prison, a former sex worker, an elder, and a community leader and human rights activist. She is simply “Mama” to many in her community. Her personal story and activism for Transgender civil rights intersects LGBT struggles for justice and equality from the 1960’s to today. At the center of her activism is her fierce advocacy for her girls, Trans women of color who have survived police brutality and incarceration in men’s jails and prisons.

Miss Major is formerly the long-time executive director of the San Francisco-based Transgender Gender-Variant Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), which advocates for Trans women of color in and outside of prison. She is the recipient of countless awards, proclamations, certificates, and public accolades for more than 50 years of a legendary and pioneering career in social justice and activism. Most notably, she is also the subject of a new award-winning documentary feature film currently showing around the country and in foreign film markets – “MAJOR!”

Tracie Jada O’Brien
Deputy Director, she/her

Since surviving the mean streets of San Francisco’s Tenderloin District in the 1970s as a young transgender street kid, Tracie Jada O’Brien has persevered and worked tirelessly to become an outstanding role model and a staunch advocate for San Diego’s transgender community. Professionally she has provided decades of life-saving work to the LGBT community as Coordinator of Project S.T.A.R. (Supporting Transgender Access to Resources), as an addictions treatment counselor at Stepping Stone of San Diego — and most recently — as the Transgender Care Coordinator for Family Health Centers of San Diego, Inc.

Always one step ahead of the movement, she participated in the first consultation forum for trans* individuals with the CDC in 2005. She helped create the first HIV prevention brochure targeting trans* women of color – and even posed as the cover model. She founded San Diego’s Transgender Day of Empowerment that is now in its fourteenth year and the Tracie Jada O’Brien Student Scholarship Program that gave out nine $500 scholarships to deserving trans* and gender-nonconforming youth this past year.

She has been a speaker for and active with the Transgender Leadership Summit, The California Office of AIDS Transgender HIV Equality and Party Conferences, Transgender Center of Excellence (San Francisco), and the Center of Excellence for Transgender HIV Prevention and many more!

As president of the board of House of GG, it is NOT lost on her that new generations of trans people will have a healthier, happier, and exciting lives that far supersedes anything she could have imagined!

Beck Witt
Facilities Manager

Beck moved to Little Rock in 2017 to help Miss Major build her dream project here in the South. He is a trans man who spent almost ten years working with TGI Justice Project in San Francisco. In California, he worked for multiple organizations committed to social change and racial justice including the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice’s Homeless Release Project and the No-Violence Alliance; LYRIC’s LGBT youth organization; Catalyst’s Anne Braden Anti-Racism Training Program, and the San Francisco Needle Exchange. More recently Beck worked as a carpenter and is excited to help with the physical construction and maintenance of the House of GG’s facilities.

Toshio Meronek
Assistant to Miss Major, they/them/he/his

Toshio has worked under the leadership of trans/gender nonconforming and formerly incarcerated leaders in the Bay Area since 2009. Before joining House of GG, he spent several years at TGI Justice Project, Legal Services for Prisoners with Children, and The Abolitionist (the newspaper of Critical Resistance Oakland). Toshio went full-time as Major’s assistant in 2015. Since then, he’s supported her on journeys to activist and artist convenings around the world, where people gather to learn from her six decades of working for justice for her community.

Toshio’s writing on queer politics features in The Advocate, them., and Truthout, in addition to the anthologies Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex (2015), Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility (2017), and The Long Term: Resisting Life Sentences Working Toward Freedom (2018). His collaborative book with Major, focusing on her lifetime(s) of activism and staying in the struggle, comes out spring 2021.

Nat Smith
Finance Director, they/them

Currently residing in upstate NY after 15 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, Nat has been involved in nonprofit finance since 2007. A founding member of Transgender, Gender-variant and Intersex Justice Project (TGIJP), Nat has worked with TGIJP and other orgs, likeLEgal Services for Prisoners with Children (LSPC), Critical Resistance, Black Lives Matter, POWER (People Organized to Win Employment Rights) and Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) over a two decade time period as an organizer, bookkeeper or financial advisor. 

 Nat brings a wealth of knowledge to the table and a demonstrated committment to BIPOC and transgender justice. They also volunteer with Youth Seen, a BIPOC, queer and transgender youth camp based out of Colorado, where Nat runs nature and wildlife programming for the campers. Nat is co-editor, along with Eric Stanley, of Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex, now in its second edition.    

Board

Kendra Johnson
President, she/her

Kendra R. Johnson joined Equality North Carolina in May 2018. 

She is a native of Little Rock, Arkansas, where she previously worked to advance fairness and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people right  as the State Director for the Human Rights Campaign. In her work to promote equity, Kendra has  focused on building a better, more equitable South that is strengthened by diversity, safe schools, inclusive institutions and welcoming communities. 

Kendra has been a lifelong volunteer and activist, including founding the first lesbian/bi-sexual support group at Spelman College in the 90s and volunteering communications services for Brazil’s first historically black college. She recently joined the ranks of Forever SONG after serving as the Southerners on New Ground (SONG) board chair for 6 years and on the board for 11 years. Kendra currently serves on the board of the Griffin-Gracy Educational Retreat and Historical Center, the brainchild of trans revolutionary, Miss Major Griffin Gracy.

Thom Jeffress
Treasurer, he/him

Born in Pittsburgh, Thom Jeffress, is a certifiable tea junkie, diversity-enthusiast, canine-hobbyist and jack-of-all-trades. No, really – he was once responsible for making the coin slot on ceramic piggy banks and moonlights as a “mobile minister!”  He moved to California in 1988 at the age of 23 where he met the man he would raise three children with. Fast forward 30 years and they have 6 grandchildren and counting.  Known as “Keeper of the Spare Parts,” Thom is Miss Major’s stand-by organ donor, “she gets first dibs on all my parts.”  Topics dear to his heart include social justice, especially for children and animals, gardening and potatoes – any style. You can find him cuddled up with his Mastiff, Repo, under a warm fuzzy blanket, donating his time to A Child’s Dream and House of GG’s, or simply being downright fabulous.

Guy Vandenberg
Secretary, he/him

Since 1985 Guy has worked as an activist, clinician and director of programs providing services for injection drug users, sex workers, incarcerated persons and homeless people living with HIV. He has also has worked as a consultant for HIV care in prisons and jails across the USA, and spent ten years providing training and technical assistance with the rollout of antiretroviral treatment in Eastern and Southern Africa, focusing primarily on the diagnosis and treatment of infants and children. Currently Guy works at UCSF’s HIV Clinic at San Francisco General Hospital, Ward 86, where he provides care coordination, triage & urgent care, conducts a monthly Reproductive Health Clinic for individuals and couples affected by HIV, and facilitates the clinic’s Opiate Prescribing & Pain Management Committee.

Emerita

Sharyn Grayson
she/her

After working together in the ‘90s at the Tenderloin AIDS Resource Center, Sharyn Grayson moved to Little Rock in August of 2017 to help Miss Major get her dream project off the ground and House of GG was born. Sharyn was responsible for establishing the organization’s 510C3 status and served as the CEO from 2017-2019. Sharyn brought with her a wealth of experience after decades of doing work in transgender and HIV impacted communities and with various nonprofit businesses.  

Thank yous

Our work has been supported by so many wonderful people behind. Here are just a few of the many folks who’ve helped us behind the scenes.