Meet Our Family Equality Interns & Fellows

It’s National Intern Day! Today, we celebrate the future leaders of this movement: our talented Family Equality interns. We couldn’t do this work for LGBTQ+ families without their dedication, hard work, and expertise.   

Gabrielle Avellaneda, Public Policy Intern

Originally from the Lower Hudson Valley of New York, Gabrielle graduated from Boston University in 2019 with a degree in psychology. While in school she tutored at an inner-city elementary school, instilling her passion for public service. Gabrielle has spent the past year working at a runaway/homeless shelter for teens and plans to apply to law school in the fall with the intent of pursuing a career in public interest. 

Top favorite podcasts: 

  1. NPR Code Switch 
  2. Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard
  3. PANTS with Kate and Leisha

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? Playing the ukulele, yoga, and walking my dog, Tucker, along the lake

What drives you to do this work? In my experience working with marginalized youth, I have witnessed their capabilities and how the system in place hinders their potential for success due to its inability to provide them with a stable and supportive environment. Knowing what vulnerable youth both want to and can contribute to the world motivates me to advocate for their opportunities to thrive.

What does family equality mean to you? Everyone should have the opportunity to support and be supported unconditionally

Life motto: Keep going.

Laura Brennan, Public Policy Intern

Born and raised in New Jersey, Laura graduated from The College of New Jersey in 2018 with double majors in Political Science and International Studies. She went on to spend two years serving in Peace Corps Ecuador as a youth and family development volunteer. Now, she is living in DC and pursuing her Master’s degree in Public Policy at George Washington University. 

Top 3 favorite podcasts/books: 

  1. Pod Save America 
  2. We Can Do Hard Things 
  3. Crime Junkies

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? I really enjoy taking my dog, Maya, out around DC, or any activities where I can bring her along. When it’s not a pandemic, I love to travel – particularly to South America! 

What drives you to do this work? I’ve met so many incredible individuals, families, and young people who have been impacted by discrimination in foster care and adoption and it is their stories that motivate me. Particularly the stories of youth and their lived experiences in foster care. We need to do better to make sure that each child has the affirming and culturally competent care/resources they need.

What does family equality mean to you? Family is unique and can look different for everyone; however, we all should have the ability to form and be a part of a loving and affirming family. 

Alica Cantrell, Public Policy Intern

Alicia was born and raised in Texas and began her academic career at Northeast Texas Community College, where she discovered organizing by facilitating a U.S. congressional debate on campus. After being awarded the Jack Kent Cooke Transfer Scholarship, she studied politics, economics, policy, and law at Mills College. As a queer woman from the rural South, she was thrilled to participate in the Victory Congressional Internship Program. Working with openly lesbian Representative Angie Craig gave her an inside look at policymaking and law, which Alicia views as tools to uplift historically oppressed communities. She plans to attend law school and pursue a career in family law or civil rights law.

Top 3 favorite podcasts/books/tv shows: 

  1. Podcast: NPR’s Throughline
  2. TV Show: Pose
  3. Book: One Last Stop by Casy McQuiston

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? I love playing and cuddling with my cat! When I’m not doing that I enjoy running, hiking, reading, exploring new places with my loved ones, and trying new things. 

What drives you to do this work? I grew up gay in the foster care system in Texas. The conditions and experiences I had to go through should not be the norm for children and youth still in the system. My experiences in foster care have inspired me to push for better and bring the lived experience voice to the decision table.

What does family equality mean to you? For the first time in my life I saw people that cared about fixing the broken foster care system. The kindness and compassion I got to see from Family Equality staff provided me so much hope and optimism that I hadn’t realized I was lacking.

Life motto: You live and you learn!

Daniella Torres-Skendi, Public Policy Intern

Originally from St. Paul, Minnesota, Daniella is a rising senior at Vassar college studying Religion and Hispanic Studies.

Top 3 favorite podcasts/books: 

  1. Unlocking Us with Brené Brown
  2. Hannahlyze This
  3. Where Should We Begin? with Esther Perel

What do you enjoy doing when you’re not working? I enjoy playing the guitar and painting. 

What drives you to do this work? The stories of those with lived experience in foster care and those who have faced discrimination in their journey to forming or expanding their families.

What does family equality mean to you? Family takes many different shapes and should be supported in all its forms. Everyone deserves to be held by the people that love and care for them. 

Emily Frazer-Abel & Alan Plotz, Family Week Fellows

From tireless prep to daily fun with the families in PTown, our Family Week Fellows are essential to all the work we do for Family Week, the largest annual gathering of LGBTQ+ families in the world. So, it’s hardly a surprise that National Intern Day falls right in the middle of Family Week—the perfect time to recognize them for all the work they do!

Emily & Alan are currently hard at work with the Family Equality team in Provincetown making Family Week 2021 magical for countless LGBTQ+ families, and we are so grateful for their hard work, high spirits, and commitment to our families!