Who We Are
BreakOUT! Founding Members
(L to R: Lhundyn, Milan, Jonathan, De-De, Amhari, and Kenisha)
Derwin Wilright, Jr., Youth Organizer
Derwin Wilright, Jr., 22 years old, joined BreakOUT! as a youth member in 2012 and quickly became a leader in the organization. Having started a colorful and captivating journey of work at the ripe old age of 8 on a St. Rose tomato farm, Derwin has gone on to excel and experiment in the fields of graphic design, film, and visual and performance arts (acrylic, oil, and dance being personal favorites). Derwin has previously worked with Amnesty International as a Southern Regional Planning Group Member and Individuals at Risk Planning Group Member, General Union of Palestine Students, The Louisiana Bucket Brigade, and was a University of New Orleans Leadership Cabinet Member. Derwin was also selected to participate in the Brown Boi Project’s Leadership Cohort Retreat in 2012 as well as the 2013 FIERCE! LGBTQ Youth of Color Summit in Chicago, IL. Derwin spearheaded the adaptation of NOPD's LGBTQ-bias free Policy 402 into a fun-but-informative social media campaign and was integral in shaping our partnership with Streetwise and Safe (getyrrights.org). He has also represented BreakOUT! in a video with Funders for LGBT Issues and appears in the “We Deserve Better” video produced by BreakOUT! and FosterBear Films about discriminatory policing practices in New Orleans. Today, Derwin is a Youth Organizer at BreakOUT! specializing in our Vice to Ice campaign which works to build the collective power, collaboration, and resilience of Latino and LGBTQ people.
Milan Alexander, Youth Organizer
As a Founding Member of BreakOUT!, Milan has been an integral part of BreakOUT!’s campaign development and base-building from its inception. She completed a paid internship with BreakOUT! in 2011, then completed a job training program at BreakOUT! with the city's workforce development program, Job1, in 2013, before coming on as a full-time staff Youth Organizer at BreakOUT! shortly thereafter. She has interviewed with PBS’s “In The Life” program, presented on LGBTQ youth in out-of-home care with the American Bar Association’s “Opening Doors” Project, and met with the Department of Justice multiple times about community experiences inside Orleans Parish Prison and with the New Orleans Police Department. Milan represents BreakOUT! in the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition in New Orleans and has spoken on behalf of the organization at press conferences, including with Women With a Vision and the Center for Constitutional Rights about Crimes Against Nature litigation and Human Rights Watch about discriminatory policing practices in New Orleans and the links to high rates of HIV transmission. Milan received the NOLA Unity Award for her work in the New Orleans LGBTQ community in 2013 and performs in BreakOUT!'s theatrical performance, "Say My Name, Say My Name" with the nationally acclaimed theater company from New York, Ping Chong + Company. She most recently graduated from the Center for Third World Organizing's Movement Activist Apprenticeship Program.
Nate Faulk, Leadership Development/ Healing Justice Coordinator
Nathaniel Faulk, Jr. is a BreakOUT! member who stepped into the position of Healing Justice Coordinator/ Youth Organizer as a Louisiana Delta Service Corps Member in September 2013, before coming on to staff as the Leadership Development & Healibng Justice Coordinator in July 2014. Nate is self-proclaimed lover of all positive energies, experiences, and people. Born in Lafayette Louisiana, Nate spent many of his years traveling along side his family with the US Army through his father, Sargent First Class Nathaniel Faulk, Sr. Attending the University of New Orleans, he is pursuing an American History degree with a minor in Environmental Studies. Throughout his studies, he has used his minor to more detail study the way Presidential Administrative policy has affected people and their surrounding environments. With overall career aspirations of working with municipal government, he prides himself on his community involvement and setting precedents for leadership through social awareness. During his tenure at UNO, Nate has served as President for the Student Activities Council, Leadership Recognitions Chair for the University Leadership Cabinet, Conference chair for the UNO Orientation Leaders, Public Relations Chair for the University Service Coalition, and Co-Captain of the UNO Hip Hop dance team. His hobbies including blogging, debating, dancing, reading historical fiction and non-fiction, and volunteering. Two quotes to describe himself include "Learn from every interaction," and "Don't be afraid of your sexy," the latter being a quote from Megastar Beyoncé in reference to embracing the essence of oneself. Nate was recently named one of 100 National Black Justice Coalition’s Emerging LGBTQ Leaders!
Ja'Leah Shavers, Outreach and Development Coordinator
Louisiana Delta Service Corps Member
Ja’Leah Shavers is a BreakOUT! member who was born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She moved to New Orleans to pursue both professional and educational goals as an organizer following her graduation from Baton Rouge Magnet High School in 2012. While attending the University of New Orleans, she started a small organization called Hearts for the A.R.T.S., a nonprofit-based club with the mission of bringing arts back into schools throughout the cities of both Baton Rouge and New Orleans. Ja'Leah is serving at BreakOUT! as a member of the AmeriCorps’ 2014-2015 Louisiana Delta Service Corp. She is very excited to serve as the Outreach and Development Coordinator and says she is honored for the opportunity!
Shaena Johnson, Program Director
Shaena Johnson has long been considered "family" to our organization, supporting us however she can since our founding in 2011. Born and raised in Louisiana, Shaena brings over 7 years of organizing and advocacy experience to the position as well as her extensive work in the community focusing on issues facing LGBTQ youth in the juvenile justice system. At the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana and the Louisiana Center for Children's Rights, Shaena investigated conditions of confinement for incarcerated youth and supported defense attorneys with zealous advocacy and investigation for court-involved youth in New Orleans. In 2013, Shaena became a Brown Boi after completing the Brown Boi Leadership Training Cohort. Interviewed by over 14 BreakOUT! youth members during an extensive interview process, Shaena said she most looked forward to bringing her "swag" to the organization.
Wesley Ware, Director
Wes is the Founding Director of BreakOUT! and a 2011 Soros U.S. Justice Fellowship recipient. He previously served as the LGBTQ Youth Project Director at the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana (JJPL) where he authored the report, Locked Up & Out: Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth in Louisiana’s juvenile justice system. Wes also serves on the Advisory Board for the Equity Project, a national initiative to bring fairness and equity to LGBTQ youth in juvenile delinquency courts. At JJPL, he coordinated the investigation for a class-action lawsuit on behalf of youth detained in New Orleans and monitored the conditions of three state-run youth prisons in Louisiana. His essay, “’Rounding Up The Homosexuals’: The Impact of Juvenile Court on Queer and Trans/Gender Non-conforming Youth” is published in the anthology, Captive Genders: Trans Embodiment and the Prison Industrial Complex. A native Southerner, Wes graduated with a degree in Gender Studies and African American Studies from Georgia State University and has organized across a span of social justice issues in Georgia, including organizing family members of incarcerated adults. His heart is in organizing around the intersections of race, class, and gender justice in the South. In 2014, Wes was honored to be named one of the Trans 100!
Advisory Board Members
Deon Haywood, Women With a Vision
Ursula Price, Office of the New Orleans Independent Police Monitor, Community Organizer
Charlotte D'Ooge, American Civil Liberties Union
Xochitl Bervera, Racial Justice Action Center
Volunteers, Interns, Allies, & Supporters
BreakOUT! could not exist without the support of our community, allies, partner organizations, interns, and volunteers. There are far too many to count!