Brave Space Alliance for LGBTQ+ residents announces leadership change amid probe into group’s finances

Activists, including Brave Space Alliance, present the city with a report card on Trans Rights during a rally on Trans Day of Visibility in Daley Plaza, Thursday afternoon, March 31, 2022. The organization has referred its own financial investigation to the Illinois attorney general’s office.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times, Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

The founder of Chicago’s first Black-led, trans-led center for LGBTQ+ residents is at the center of an investigation into Brave Space Alliance’s finances, according to leaders at the center.

The Brave Space Alliance’s board of directors announced this week they had submitted an independent accountant’s report to the Illinois attorney general’s office after conducting their own investigation into the South Side-based organization’s finances, according to a board statement.

The board accused the founder and former chief executive officer, LaSaia Wade, of allowing funds to be diverted into unknown bank accounts, and of “questionable spending” of the group’s funds.

“We are very disappointed that this happened,” board chair Channyn Lynne Parker said in the statement. “We are working hard to make sure BSA [Brave Space Alliance] survives and thrives.”

Located in Hyde Park, Brave Space Alliance provides services ranging from a food pantry to support groups to name change clinics. Brave Space Alliance has also been vocal about the deaths of trans people in Chicago.

In 2021, the organization listed 17 staff members, including the CEO, in the organization’s annual report published online. At the time, Brave Space Alliance reported total revenues of $3.3 million and expenses of about $2.5 million.

Parker stated that the organization’s staff would remain employed amid the leadership transition. Jae Rice, the organization’s director of communications, will serve as interim chief executive officer.

A spokesman for Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office confirmed they were reviewing the report referenced in the board of directors’ statement.

In a phone interview, Wade did not detail what took place during her tenure but said she left the organization in October in good standing with enough funds to pay the remaining staff for the next two years.

“All resources are supposed to be given back to the people, and I will stand by that,” Wade said.

She wished Brave Space Alliance well as they move forward without her, and she said she wants them to continue serving the community.

“Supporting those that do not have housing, do not have food, do not have clothes,” Wade said. “Making sure sex workers are protected and driven home. That they are fed at night time; making sure our community is safe. We have nobody else.”

Elvia Malagón’s reporting on social justice and income inequality is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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Source:: Chicago Sun Times


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