ABOUT US

Building Allies aims to work with those who are willing to learn how to identify necessary behavioral and emotional shifts to turn their privilege into change.

who are we?

Building Allies is an organization founded as a response to the continuous sensationalization of trans identities, bodies, and experiences. We work to educate and empower cisgender, or non-trans individuals, to become active allies for the trans and gender nonconforming communities. Our continued vision has been to serve and support through education, community outreach, and advocacy.
This vision has since grown to expand the breadth and depth of our workshops toward helping people become more aware of their own privilege, and learn how to turn it into change.
We believe everyone has the ability to support and need to be supported. We believe mistakes can help us grow. We believe it is not the mistake that matters but the ways in which we respond and repair, both as individuals and collectively. We take our work seriously and practice our values within the organization as well as with participants and clients.
Our goal is to focus on participants personal experiences, so that they may have the ability and confidence to do the work within themselves necessary to truly support trans and gender non-conforming people. Our workshops and lectures encourage participants to challenge their own assumptions, privileges, and long held beliefs to move into an active ally way of being.
Our workshops are experiential based. We believe that most people learn this work best by discussing and unpacking their own experiences in a safely guided learning environment. We believe that participants best determine active ally behavior both personally and professionally within the context of their own lived experiences. We work hard to adapt each workshop or presentation to fit specific needs. Alongside our growing trajectory of workshops we offer private and organizational consultations.
OUR MISSION

To be part of a more connected and inclusive social justice movement.

OUR VISION

Building Allies aims to work with those who are willing to learn how to identify necessary behavioral and emotional shifts to turn their privilege into change. We understand that allyship isn’t a destination. Which is why we believe in building active allies. An active ally is someone who witnesses an injustice and responds to it in any situation with actionable awareness.

Our belief is that everyone can become an active ally. Both in relation to their work, and within their overall way of being in the world. The more active allies that marginalized communities have, the greater chance we have of shifting the paradigm and creating a society that nurtures and supports the growth of those most often silenced and oppressed. Whether you’re a professional therapist, educator, intern, caring community member, or otherwise, we believe that being an active ally takes having actionable items to reference, and clear tools to practice.

our team

Kyle Sawyer

Kyle Sawyer

Executive Director

Kyle Sawyer

Kyle Sawyer

Executive Director

Pronouns: he/they

Kyle is a graduate from Antioch University Los Angeles with an undergraduate degree in Queer Studies and a Masters Degree in Nonprofit Management. He began Building Allies, the organization, in 2013 and now proudly claims the title of co-founder with MD Spicer-Sitzes. Kyle is a long time trans activist and spends much of his time connecting his passions to social justice and challenging privilege. Kyle has conducted many lectures and workshops regarding trans identity to help educate individuals, organizations, and service providers in the development of their own active ally behavior.

MD Spicer-Sitzes

MD Spicer-Sitzes

Director of Operations

MD Spicer-Sitzes

MD Spicer-Sitzes

Director of Operations

Pronouns: they

MD is Associate Director of  The Body Positive, co-founder of the L.A. Co-op Lab, and producer and co-host of Synergy Airwaves, a social justice podcast. MD spent over 18 years in the restaurant industry and now holds an M.A. in Urban Sustainability; a study at the intersection of people and planet. They work today supporting pathways to building curricula, supporting new programs, and breaking silos between movements. MD enjoys making and growing good food, hiking, storytelling, new economies, research, and a successful direct action protest.

Shirley Vilca

Shirley Vilca

Social Media Coordinator

Shirley Vilca

Shirley Vilca

Social Media Coordinator

Pronouns: she/her

Shirley is passionate about empowering young people, education, and social change. Her background includes case management work with refugee and historically under-served youth in Seattle, teaching music to incarcerated youth in Western Washington, crisis counseling for young LGBT*Q communities, and delivering LGBT*Q literature to educators and students nationwide. She cites her liberal arts education at The Evergreen State College as the jumping off point which lead to a Masters in Nonprofit Management and a continual interest in social justice issues. When she’s not busy with Building Allies and her day job, Associate of Family and Community Engagement Programs with the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, you can find her volunteering as a crisis counselor for LGBT*Q youth, walking her dog Carlos, or catching up on some bad TV.

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