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Jan 4, 2023

Announcing Our RYE Fellows

We’re so excited to announce our latest cohort of RYE Fellows!

The Rural Youth Empowerment (RYE) Fellowship is a paid year-long skill-building and leadership development program for LGBTQ+ young people in rural areas. The program supports RYE Fellows to successfully execute a social justice project serving rural communities while developing skills in community organizing and nonprofit management.

Over the course of a year, a cohort of RYE Fellows will attend weekend leadership institutes in different locations throughout the state, build a meaningful relationship with Equality NC and attend organization events, participate in monthly cohort calls, work one-on-one with community mentors, and develop and implement a change-making project in their region. Fellows will receive a monthly living stipend, travel reimbursements, and access to funding for their independent projects.

These are our new RYE Fellows!

Ry Baskerville


Warrenton, NC

Ry is a junior at NC State University majoring in Political Science and Plant Biology. They plan to be a politician and policy analyst working with low income rural counties. Since they were little, they have had dreams of being the president and they hope that being a member of this fellowship will be the first step in achieving this goal.

James Michael Sapp


Swannanoa, NC

James Michael is a middle school math and social studies teacher at a public school in Western NC. He graduated from Chapel Hill with a degree in history and a Master's in History Education. James Michael teaches in the same school he attended. His goal is to be an out mentor for LGBTQ students. His project includes starting a middle school club that allows Queer youth and allies to participate in team building activities, social emotional skill building, creating art project, and learning about marginalized communities.

Eric Reeves


Wingate, NC

Eric is a senior Political Science major at Wingate University. As the Vice President of Wingate's Prism Club (an LGBTQ alliance organization), founder and President of Wingate's first debate club, with 2 years of experience as a federal government fellow for the Department of Defense and Treasury's offices of diversity and inclusion, he has remained committed to fighting for LGBTQ people's inclusion, safety, and equity in many places. Eric plans on attending law school after graduation in hopes of becoming a Constitutional expert, continuing to advocate through Constitutional interpretation.

Avery Horne


Boone, NC

Avery is a Master of Social Work student at Appalachian State University who is passionate about serving the unique needs of rural Appalachians. Avery's professional interests are guided by a commitment to the pursuit of intersectional justice as well as a firm belief in the power of community. They are currently focused on the expansion of queer-affirming services for individuals in the High Country.

Safi Waqas


Greenville, NC

Safi is an advocate for queer students’ rights around Greenville and Pitt County. She has lived in the area her whole life and is dedicated to bringing support and love to younger LGBTQ students, especially in high school. She also has a love for the arts, cats, nature, and all things green (sustainability and color-wise)! Safi’s project will include a needs assessment for queer students in Pitt County Schools.

Molly Dorgan


Waynesville, NC

Molly is a student at UNC-Chapel Hill where she studies Religion and Sociology. She is a passionate coach and advocate for queer youth, working to ensure that all students are loved, supported, and respected as they are. Outside of work, you can find her running through the mountains or reading under the trees.

Timothy Moore


Pembroke, NC

Timothy Moore is a senior at UNC Pembroke. His major is business administration with a concentration in management. Working with the office of Community and Civic Engagement, Timothy, is familiar with the poverty, food insecurity, and housing instability that affect rural communities. He also understands these issues disproportionately affect the LGBTQIA+ community. Timothy’s project aims to help address these issues as well as create an LGBTQIA+ safe space within the community.

Breanna Culler


Greenville, NC

Breanna is a lesbian who grew up in Stokes, NC and currently works as the Suicide Prevention Coordinator at ECU Health Medical Center in Greenville, NC. Through her work, Breanna strives to promote affirming allyship, encourage mental wellness, and cultivate community for LGBTQ+ individuals across Pitt County. As someone who grew up in rural Eastern NC, Breanna is passionate about advocating for improved social inclusion and resource equity for rural LGBTQ+ southerners.

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