24-year-old Nijeeah Richardson set to take over leadership of the LGBTQ nonprofit We Are Family


Executive Director Melissa Moore will move on from her role in January

When Melissa Moore took a full time position at We Are Family in 2010, the organization had $3,000 in the bank after spending years fighting against a 2007 S.C. constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

“I saw the only other LGBT youth organization in the state fold around that time,” Moore told the City Paper. “I can’t say for sure that it was the marriage fight that put the final nail in the coffin, but I know that it was so poorly resourced, as any LGBT youth work in the South is.”

Eight-and-a-half years later, WAF has partnered with the city and other nonprofits to open a daytime resource center that also doubles as the organization’s headquarters. With four established support programs and a training arm that helps educate organizations and employees about sexual orientation and gender identity, Moore, 40, felt it was time to pass the baton.

”I’m old,” Moore said. “I kind of feel like WAF needs to be run by people who are closer in age.”

In January, WAF was finally sustainable enough to add Nijeeah Richardson to its roster. The 24-year-old Charleston native currently serves as the organization’s social worker and director of support programs — such as QTPOC, a group for transgender people of color and Queer Space, a group for young adults.

Richardson will take over as executive director in January 2019.

“I know that Melissa always wanted to transition of We Are Family as executive director and pass the torch to younger generation of activists and community leaders, and I’m just honored that I’m the person,” Richardson said.

WAF will focus on building out its support groups, the largest of which, Safe Space, sees about 30 LGBTQ youth ages 12-17 every Tuesday. Richardson says that LGBTQ homeless will also remain a top priority.

The All of US resource center on Meeting Street opened in June. It was originally meant to service homeless LGBTQ youth, but the city, which fronts most of the Meeting Street facility’s costs, stressed that the center needed to service the city’s entire homeless population.

“A long term goal of ours has been to create this program that concerns homeless youth, especially homeless LGBT youth, so that’s something that we will hopefully look forward to, trying to carve out more space in our program for that,” Richardson said.

The organization has one other full-time staffer, Demi Hickman, who manages the on-site thrift store.

Moore is still weighing other offers, but hopes to remain in the nonprofit or higher education sectors.

Support the Charleston City Paper

We’ve been covering Charleston since 1997 and plan to be here with the latest and Best of Charleston for many years to come. In a time where local journalism is struggling, the City Paper is investing in the future of Charleston as a place where diverse, engaging views can flourish. We can't do it without our readers. If you'd like to support local, independent journalism:

UP NEXT FROM

FEATURE

Alumnus John Reynolds designs, produces CofC’s holiday light show for fourth year in a row

Skyler Baldwin

The Bright Side  “Nobody appreciates lighting,” said John Reynolds, an Emmy Award-winning lighting producer. “They see it on TV, and it’s ‘whatever.’ But, Christmas lights, man, people get excited. You only have three lights up and people start taking pictures.” Put up a whole lot more lights and a person would be forgiven for forgetting […]

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Paper Bullets is the untold true story of queer artists’ campaign to combat Nazi occupiers

Aux Armes Artists Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore took up formidable weapons when the Nazis occupied their small, strategically valuable island home of Jersey off the coast of France: paper and pen.  The romantic and artistic partners used their talents as writers to distribute demoralizing letters to German soldiers during occupation in World War II. […]

City Picks: What we’re seeing, streaming and doing this week

Santa “Sleigh” Ride: Climb aboard a specially decorated carriage driven by the big guy himself for a festive 20-minute ride through downtown Charleston, complete with cocoa, cookies and caroling. Bring a camera for a photo with Santa, Mrs. Claus and the elves, and nestle up in a blanket brought from home and holiday-themed mask for […]

Telehealth expands treatment options in rural areas

Up Close from Afar Sometime in 2016, Charleston doctor Constance Guille was looking at the effect of the national opioid epidemic on the people she knew best — pregnant women — and wondering how to help them. As a reproductive psychiatrist with the Medical University of South Carolina, she knew the stats were dire. “From […]