Sheila Alexander-Reid

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Sheila Alexander-Reid is a Washington, D.C. social event organizer, civil rights activist, publisher, and advocate for the lesbians of color community[1] . She is currently the Business Development Manager of the Washington City Paper, was founder and former Executive Director of the Women in the Life Association (formerly Women in the Life, Inc.), and the host of Inside Out (radio program), the only LGBT radio show in the Washington, D.C. area, which airs twice a month on WPFW[2]. She also served as the Vice-President of the Gertrude Stein Democratic Club[2].


Alexander-Reid was born in Cincinnati, Ohio but moved to Bethesda, Maryland with her family at age 11[3]. She and her brother grew up in the Washington, D.C. area at a time when the city was heavily segregated[1]. Due to the lack of accepting social spaces for people of color, house parties served as the primary venues for African American men and women to come together to socialize, especially within the African American gay and lesbian communities. It was in this environment that Alexander-Reid and her brother became well-known party organizers[1]. Building on this experience, Alexander-Reid and two friends founded VTR, an event management organization the focused on the needs of lesbians of color in the Metropolitan Washington, DC area[3].

Women in the Life

Social Event Planning

Alexander-Reid created Women In The Life in 1993. A blockbuster party organized by Women in the Life immediately following the 1993 March on Washington launched the organization on a regular schedule of parties. In the autumn of 1993, Alexander-Reid also launched a magazine addressing issues and news of interest to lesbians of color[1].

Non-Profit Advocacy

In 2001, Alexander-Reid steered Women In The Life away from its former function as an event management company to a non-profit organization focusing on health and advocacy issues for lesbians of color in the Washington, D.C. area[1].

Alexander-Reid announced in June 2011 that she was stepping down from leading Women in the Life after 18 years of continuous leadership[4] .

Wanda's Will Project

In 2005, Alexander-Reid's friend Wanda Alston was murdered. The absence of a will undermined Wanda’s own wishes and legacy from being carried out despite the knowledge of her friends as to what she had intended. In reaction to this, Alexander-Reid established the Wanda’s Will project through the WITL to help men and women in the gay community ensure that their “rights and ... wishes are fully honored in life and beyond.[1]


  • Community Pioneers Award (2007)[5]
  • Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. Distinguished Service Award (2007)[6]
  • DC Center for the LGBT Community Community Leader Award (2011)[7]
  • Thurlow Tibbs Award (2012). The Thurlow Tibbs Award is given "in recognition of outstanding individual effort for HIV programs and services in the African-American community"[2].


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Community Pioneers: Creators of Washington, DC's Gay Community: Sheila Alexander-Reid (2007 awardee) url= Rainbow History Project. Retrieved: 12 November 2012
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Sheila Alexander-Reid to receive the Thurlow Tibbs Award url= Us Helping Us: People into Living Retrieved: 12 November 2012}}
  3. 3.0 3.1 O'Bryan, Will. Woman in the Life: Sheila Alexander-Reid's journey from lesbian nightlife to nonprofit url= MetroWeekly, 15 February 2007. Retrieved 12 November 2012
  4. DiGuglielmo, Joey. Black lesbian event has final party this weekend url= Blade, 30 June 2011. Retrieved:12 November 2012
  5. Sheila Alexander-Reid url= Rainbow History Project. Retrieved: 12 November 2012
  6. Distinguished Service Award to Sheila Alexander-Reid url= Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C. Retrieved: 12 November 2012
  7. The DC Center Honors Sheila Alexander-Reid url= Retrieved: 12 November 2012

External links