Ruby Corado, founder and executive director of Casa Ruby, a D.C. LGBT community services center with an outreach to the transgender and Latino communities, says she will step down from her job for between one and two years beginning “sometime” in 2016.
Corado initially told the Blade she planned to begin what she described as an extended leave or sabbatical on Jan. 1. But she called back to say she decided to postpone her leave for a short time until a Casa Ruby project to open a new home for homeless LGBT youth was further along in its development.
She cited health issues and a strong desire to engage in more aggressive political advocacy for the transgender community as her reasons for taking the sabbatical.
“As much as I love the community, I have to take care of my health,” she told the Washington Blade in an interview on Monday. “My T-cells have gone down,” she said, noting that she has been dealing with both HIV and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“I told the board that I’ll be gone at least a year or two,” she said in describing a recent conversation with members of the Casa Ruby board of directors. “And the board wants me to come back if I feel better. That’s what they told me – we want you to take care of yourself but we also want you to come back if you feel better.”
Corado said the board has named longtime transgender advocate Lourdes Ashley Hunter, who is currently serving as Casa Ruby’s comptroller, to assume the role of interim executive director at Casa Ruby at the time Corado begins her leave. Hunter holds a master’s degree in public administration from Rutgers University and was the founder and former development and operations director of the Trans Women of Color Collective, a national advocacy group.
Citing the D.C. government’s recently released HIV report and a groundbreaking needs survey of the D.C. area transgender community conducted by the D.C. Trans Coalition, Corado said these and other studies have shown that the local trans community is faced with alarmingly high rates of unemployment, HIV infection, incarceration and housing and employment discrimination.
“Our community is in crisis and the city and its political leadership is looking the other way,” she said. “I cannot see my community going backwards, but it is. I want to do something. I want to support this community and I want to do it from a different role.”
According to Corado, her new role while on leave from Casa Ruby will include consulting work and community and political advocacy on behalf of the trans community.