New International Fellow Brings History of Human Rights Leadership

| By Orain Edwards

My name is Orain Edwards, and I like to think of myself as a catalyst for change. I am a 20-something youth and human rights advocate with more than seven years of experience in the nonprofit sector. I joined Team NGLCC on April 1st, as the International Programs Fellow, and I will be helping coordinate NGLCC’s next trade mission and expand our work with international affiliate chambers. I am extremely happy to be a part of the NGLCC team and looking forward to an exciting year!
I am particularly excited about the work I will be doing with NGLCC’s affiliate chambers in Latin America, as I believe the experience will not only force me to exercise my five years of Spanish lessons, but also understand the economic and LGBT environment in my neighbor region. As a citizen of Jamaica, it is important to me that the economy of the Caribbean and Latin America promote entrepreneurship among its youth. I will definitely transfer all the knowledge and skills garnered at NGLCC to help promote and develop young LGBT entrepreneurs and business in these regions. 
 
 
Prior to my fellowship, I worked as the program manager for Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (JYAN), coordinating joint initiatives between Advocates for Youth and amfAR, where I focused on sexual reproductive health and rights, and HIV and AIDS. I coordinated three projects focused on family planning and comprehensive sexual education, LGBT and human rights along with HIV and AIDS issues, as well as issues affecting marginalized youth. 
 
In 2011, I deepened my passion and expertise in youth empowerment by coordinating a national HIV project tailored for LGBT, street youth, teen moms and gang members at the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition. I have also participated in the National Youth Parliament for three consecutive years and sat on the Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO Education Advisory Board. 
 
I have presented at the World Youth Conference in 2010, United Nations Conference on Climate Change 2011, Caribbean Regional HIV Conference 2011, Global Commission on HIV 2011, Aspen Environment Forum 2011, International AIDS Conference in Washington D.C in 2012, International LGBT leadership conference in Long Beach in 2012 and will participate in the Women Deliver Conference in Malaysia in 2013.  
 
I also have gained experience lobbying United States policymakers, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s office, Ambassador Eric Goosby at the Office of the Global AIDS Coordinator, and members of Congress around foreign policy and funding for HIV and family planning. 
 
My desire to be that agent of change stems from a childhood plagued with constant discrimination based on where I lived, the job my parents had, the way I acted, and my audacity to dream big! Having overcome all of these adversities, I made a personal promise to change the lives of young, ambitious, disadvantaged, youth by changing society's perception of class, race, and gender expressions.
 
Orain Edwards is originally from Jamaica and holds B.S. in International Relations from the University of West Indies Mona Campus. He will be working with Joanna Dees, Director, Corporate Relations and International Programs.