OutRight Now: July Newsletter

outright now rainbow flag

Dear friends,

As I enter my last month at OutRight, I wanted to take a moment and write to you, our friends and supporters of many years. As many of you know, I have been selected by the Biden Administration to serve in the role of Special Envoy for International LGBTQI+ Rights, the most senior position in US foreign policy dedicated to LGBTIQ rights. I'm thrilled to continue my work for LGBTIQ rights in this new capacity, but I am sad to be leaving OutRight.

Serving as OutRight’s executive director has been the honor of a lifetime. I can think of no organization that works with more integrity, more skillful staff, more motivated board members, more valued partners, or greater impact. After 11 years with OutRight, leaving is bittersweet, but I know that the organization could not be stronger.

Upon my departure, Deputy Director Maria Sjödin will take on the role of Acting Executive Director while the Board of Directors finalizes its vision for succession planning. Maria has been at OutRight for over 7 years. Under her leadership of the Development and Communications teams, we have radically grown and diversified our funding and exponentially increased OutRight’s visibility in the media. Prior to joining OutRight, Maria served as the Executive Director of Sweden’s largest LGBTIQ organization, RFSL, overseeing the launch of its international program and spearheading efforts which resulted in marriage equality legislation and a ban on the sterilization of trans people as a prerequisite for legal gender recognition in Sweden. With her experience and knowledge of OutRight, I can think of no better hands to leave the organization in.

Thank you for your ongoing support for LGBTIQ rights around the world and ongoing relationship with OutRight. I am happy to join the network of supporters and friends of OutRight, and I look forward to crossing paths again.


Jessica Stern

  • By August, OutRight will have distributed roughly USD 3.2 million in grants to 310 groups in 101 countries, reaching an estimated 145,000+ people as part of our COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund.

  • The Generation Equality Forum took place in Paris and virtually, convening 50,000 people and generating commitments up to $40 billion dedicated to accelerating gender equality by 2026. OutRight has been engaged in the process since inception to ensure visibility and inclusion of LGBTIQ rights. 

  • We issued a new briefing paper on Prides Around the World, documenting increasing attacks on the freedom of assembly of LGBTIQ people, as well as new Prides continuing to emerge around the world, serving as a testament to the continued importance of Prides in the LGBTIQ movement. 

  • Lots of updates coming from our UN team - stay tuned for the next UN New Yorker coming out next week!

Get to Know Us

Maria Sjödin

Maria Sjodin


Maria is OutRight’s Deputy Executive Director, responsible for OutRight’s Development and Communications teams. Under her leadership OutRight has diversified and grown its funding, tripled its visibility in the media, and overall become a stronger, more prominent organization.

Originally from Sweden, Maria moved to New York 7 years ago to join OutRight and now lives in Brooklyn with her fiancé Petrina. They identify as a non-binary lesbian and use they or she pronouns.

Maria is a big fan of Bruce Springsteen and can’t wait to see him perform in his home state New Jersey when big concerts can happen again.


OutRight in the Media

  • The AP interviewed Executive Jessica Stern about her hopes and worries in regards to LGBTIQ equality and published a feature about her as the incoming US Special Envoy for International LGBTIQ Rights. The article was published over 500 times around the world. 

  • The Daily Beast quoted OutRight’s Deputy Executive Director, Maria Sjödin, in an article about an attack on Tbilisi Pride.

  • Board Member Micheal Ighodaro authored a personal opinion piece for Openly about fleeing for safety, and supporting local LGBTIQ organizations so that one day LGBTIQ people don't have to flee. 

  • UN Program Officer Sahar Moazami wrote an opinion piece for Openly by Thomson Reuters about the growing anti-gender movement on the eve of the Generation Equality Forum held in Paris. 

  • Deputy Executive Director Maria Sjödin authored an opinion piece about the developments in Hungary for Euronews

Term of the Month


Earlier this month it was International Non-Binary People’s Day. Non-binary is a gender identity which does not correspond to what is typically defined as male or female. Non-binary people can choose to use pronouns such as they/them, or ze/zey, or local equivalents.


  • OutRight is an executive partner of Copenhagen World Pride 2021, and our Senior Advisor for Global Advocacy, Paul Jansen, will be moderating two panels during the Human Rights Conference. Many events will be streamed online. Information about the conference and tickets to it is available here

  • OutRight will host an OutTalks webinar about the latest round of grants from our COVID-19 Global LGBTIQ Emergency Fund on August 26. Register here


Get Involved

  • Have you bought some OutRight merch yet? We launched our online merch store last month, so as to be able to be connected at a time when many of us still have to be apart. Check out the 3 collections for you and your furry friends. International shipping is available!