Orlando Strong Symposium: Fight For Our Collective Rights And Freedom 2023

Join us this fall from November 1st – 3rd, 2023 for the annual Contigo Fund’s Orlando Strong Symposium! This important event brings together hundreds of key community stakeholders, including grassroots leaders, funders, policymakers, corporate and business leaders, and elected officials across Florida and the US South. Together, we will engage in critical conversations centered on Queer, Trans, Racial, and Reproductive Justice frontline leaders and their vital work advancing collective rights and freedom. 

As a valued partner of Contigo, we personally invite you to be a part of this year’s OSS 2023: For Our Collective Rights & Freedom program. With a focus on Florida and Southern’s fight for our collective rights and freedom, this year’s symposium will include special discussions on the harmful impact of hate-inspired laws passed through the Florida legislature. Save the date and join us for this important event.

In addition to critical conversations, we will facilitate strategy sessions led by subject matter experts. These sessions will cover a range of issues, including rapid mutual aid and emerging strategies to respond to attacks on life-saving, gender-affirming care for Florida’s Transgender youth, adults, and families. We will also explore ways to resource and build Southern-specific safety and security infrastructure for marginalized people in urban and rural communities in response to escalating gun violence and threats from a rapidly growing white supremacy hate movement. 

Other strategy sessions will focus on Florida-specific countering hate messaging strategies that center the humanity of Trans and gender-expansive communities and communities of color. Additionally, we will discuss state-wide coordination of civic engagement efforts, focusing on protecting our democracy and preparing and empowering our communities to take action leading up to the 2024 election. Join us for these important strategy sessions led by experts in their fields.

Want to sponsor our upcoming Symposium? Contact Val Solomon, Donor Relations Manager, at [email protected].

Here's a glimpse of what to expect each day:

Day 1: Queer Philanthropy & Mutual Aid: Shifting Resources, Shifting Power (November 1st, 11:00-5:35)

– Lunch & Community Culture Performance by Decolonizarte Theatro

– Welcome by Marco Antonio Quiroga, Contigo Fund Founding Executive Director

– Opening Keynote Address by Ben Francisco Maulbeck, Philanthropic Consultant: The State of Queer Philanthropy 

– Two Plenaries: 

  1. Shifting Resources, Shifting Power: Philanthropy’s Role in Advancing Justice Moderated by Ben Francisco Maulbeck with Dani Martinez, Arcus Foundation, Mulan Williams, Divas in Dialogue, Asher Skeen, Southern Vision Alliance: Queer Mobilization Fund & Mario Colon (he/him), Hispanic Federation | ACT: Advance Change Together
  2. Community-Led Response to Anti-Trans Laws & Mutual Aid 

with Maia Moñet LGBT+ Center Orlando, Momma Ashley Rose, Rose Dynasty Foundation, Inc., Stephanie Loraine, Florida Access Network, and Jayson Oaks, Plume Healthcare.

Five Workshops 

  1. Getting over the fear of the ask: Fundraising with your Lived Experience
  2. Resisting Anti-Trans Healthcare Laws: Strategies for Health Equity & Justice from Leading Service Providers
  3. Mutual Aid Networks & Promoting Community Sovereignty
  4. State of Bodily Autonomy in Florida & the Path Forward
  5. Fostering Equitable Communities: Exploring Language Justice for Holistic Community Care  

– Day 1 Closing Reception from 6:30-8:30 at TBD

Day 2: Safety & Security (November 2nd, 11:00-5:35)

– Lunch & Community Culture Performance by Quincy Majors

– Opening Keynote Address by TBD Contextualization of What Queer, Trans, Immigrant, Black, and Brown Southerners are Facing & How they are Resisting at this Moment 


  • Learning from The Path Already Paved: A Conversation About Community Safety Strategies Moderated by Joshua Miller, Everytown for Gun Safety, with panelist  Subhash Kateel, Crime Survivors for Safety and Justice, Krista Flannigan, Florida State University, College of Criminology and Criminal Justice. 
  • What Do We Want, When Do We Want It: Centering the Voices and Experiences of Queer, Black & Indigenous People Moderated by Tatiana Quiroga, Come Out With Pride with panelist Amber Brown, Grantmakers for Southern Progress, Yasmine Prosper, Trans Safety Protection Project, Daniel Downer, Bros in Convo & Eli Garcia, Hope CommUnity Center.


  1. Planning Safety without Police
  2. Active Shooter Response Training
  3. Protect Trans Youth
  4. Ending Gun Violence and Building Safer Communities

Day 2 Closing Reception from 6:30-8:30 at Savoy Orlando

Day 3: Countering ‘Hate’ Messaging | Protecting Democracy, Building Electoral Power & Queering the Vote 2024 (November 3rd, 11:00-4:15)

– Lunch & Community Culture Performance by Just Imagin3

– Opening Keynote Address by Rae Leiner, National LGBTQ Task Force

Two Plenaries: 

  1. Protecting Democracy, Building Electoral Power & Queering the Vote 2024 

Moderated by Rae Leiner, National LGBTQ Task Force with panelists, Osvaldo Fonseca, Osvaldo Fonseca, Del Ambiente, Will Larkins, Student Movement Leader & Sarah Martinique, Floridian’s Protecting Freedom

  • Countering Far-right Nationalist ‘Hate’ Messaging Penlist includes, Felipe Sousa-Lazaballet, Hope CommUnity Center, Chevalier Lovett, Florida Rising, Maxwell A. Frost, US Representative, Anna V. Eskamani, State House Representative & Jeremy Rodriguez, Contigo Fund / Future Leaders of Orlando.

Day 3 Closing Reception from 6:30-8:30 at Orlando City Hall 

We are also thrilled to announce that Brian Didlake from WKMG News 6 will be partnering with the legendary Darcel Stevens as our co-host for the symposium. Their energy, expertise, and passion for our collective rights and freedom will undoubtedly enhance the experience for all attendees.

Call for Orlando Strong Symposium 2023: For Our Collective Rights and Freedom proposal!

This year’s symposium will take place in Orlando, Florida, and we invite proposals from organizations and individuals for potential workshops, speakers, and panels.

We are particularly interested in proposals from organizations in the Contigo Service area, which includes Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake, Volusia, and Polk counties. We want to ensure that our programming is community-centered and representative of the diverse perspectives and experiences in our region.

Our programming subcommittee will evaluate all proposals, and we encourage submissions that align with the following topics:

– Racial justice and equity

– LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy

– Immigration and refugee rights

– Gender equality and empowerment

– Disability rights and accessibility

– Environmental justice and sustainability

– Healthcare access and advocacy

– Criminal justice reform and advocacy

– Voting rights and civic engagement

We welcome proposals for workshops, panels, or other interactive formats that engage attendees and promote dialogue and action. Proposals should include a title, description, and a list of potential speakers or facilitators. Please note that all proposals should be submitted by July 27, 2023, and the programming committee will make final selections by August 2023.

To download the Request for Proposal (RFP), please click here. We look forward to reviewing your proposals and creating an impactful and community-centered symposium together!