Phyll Opoku-Gyimah has announced that she will leave her role as Executive Director of Kaleidoscope Trust at the end of the year to take up a full-time post as CEO of UK Black Pride. But her departure will not mark the end of her near five-year involvement with the UK’s leading global LGBTI+ rights charity, as from the beginning of January Phyll will become one of Kaleidoscope Trust’s Patrons.
Speaking about her new direction, Phyll said: “I am delighted to have the opportunity to become first ever full-time Chief Executive of UK Black Pride, the organisation which I co-founded eighteen years ago. But I can’t deny that this has been a very hard decision to make, so I’m delighted that the Kaleidoscope Trust Board has invited me to continue my association with the charity by becoming one of its Patrons.”
“As a Black British-Ghanaian lesbian, the fight for LGBTI+ equality around the world is personal and close to my heart – and leading Kaleidoscope Trust over the past four years has been an honour. I have seen first-hand the toxic impact of colonial-era laws on LGBTI+ communities across the Commonwealth, and I’ve witnessed the formidable defences mounted by LGBTI+ activists and civil society organisations, who are working tirelessly towards a better present and brighter future.
“Kaleidoscope Trust is a proud collaborator with and accomplice to LGBTI+ civil society organisations across the Commonwealth, and I want to thank the team, trustees and The Commonwealth Equality Network members for entrusting me to drive forward our collective vision for LGBTI+ equality. The road ahead of us – in the UK and around the world – requires a continued commitment and determination to LGBTI+ equality, and I look forward to supporting Kaleidoscope Trust’s mission as one of the charity’s patrons.”
In her new role as Patron, Phyll will continue to champion Kaleidoscope Trust’s work to ensure LGBTI+ people across the Commonwealth and beyond can live free, safe and equal lives.
From January 2024 Jesse Sperling, the charity’s current Deputy Director, will take over as interim Executive Director until a successor is appointed.
Simon Millson, Chair of Kaleidoscope Trust’s Board of Trustees, said:
“We are naturally hugely sad to see Phyll leave the organisation but congratulate her on her new role, which is an exciting opportunity for both her and UK Black Pride. We are delighted that she will continue to support Kaleidoscope Trust’s work as one of our Patrons.
“I want to take this opportunity to celebrate the momentous impact Phyll’s leadership has had on Kaleidoscope Trust and the fight for LGBTI+ rights across the world.
“Only seven months after Phyll’s appointment Kaleidoscope Trust faced arguably the biggest challenge in its twelve-year history, when the world was rocked by the COVID-19 pandemic. At such an uncertain time, Phyll’s leadership ensured not only that Kaleidoscope Trust was able to continue its work but also that we were able to rapidly assess and provide evidence of the devastating impact the pandemic was having on those fighting for the human rights of LGBTI+ people.
“This evidence and effective advocacy and fundraising enabled us to provide over £330,000 in emergency grants to LGBTI+ organisations in 22 countries in the last six months of 2020 alone. This vital funding allowed them to stay afloat and in many cases provide support to community members who were facing destitution.
“Under Phyll’s leadership we’ve been able to hugely increase Kaleidoscope Trust’s reach through its programmes, supporting the work of over 45 organisations and coalitions fighting for the rights of LGBTI+ people in 36 different countries, mostly in the Global South and East. She has also guided the development of our comprehensive Policy Manifesto, which we are confident will form the foundation of the next UK government’s strategy to advance global LGBTI+ rights.
“Finally, I want to note the inspirational impact Phyll has had on Kaleidoscope Trust’s staff, Trustees, partners and supporters. During Phyll’s tenure Kaleidoscope Trust’s team has more than doubled in size, largely due to the efficacy of her strategic leadership. No-one who has worked with Phyll will have failed to be impressed by her dedication to the cause of ensuring LGBTI+ people everywhere can lead free, safe and equal lives. The whole team here wish her all the best in her new role and look forward to continuing to work with her as one of our Patrons.
“In many ways the greatest legacy of Phyll’s leadership will be the stability and strength in which she leaves the organisation. We look ahead to 2024 knowing that Kaleidoscope Trust will continue to thrive and grow.”
Steve Letsike, Chair of The Commonwealth Equality Network, said “It has been my honour to work alongside Lady Phyll to fight for LGBTI+ rights across the Commonwealth. Phyll’s impressive ability to build alliances and speak truth to power has undoubtedly increased the profile of The Commonwealth Equality Network and helped us advocate for global LGBTI+ rights on the global stage.
“As Secretary of The Commonwealth Equality Network she has helped both raise much-needed funds for the Network and ensure that its members can consistently make the case for LGBTI+ rights within Commonwealth spaces.”